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You see that faith was working together with his works, and by the works, the faith was perfected; (James 2:22)
James is calling his believer’s attention to Abraham’s faith, stating that faith was working together with his works. Abraham’s faith was authenticated not because he believed intellectually but was authenticated in the fact that he was willing to follow through with the act of sacrificing his son. It is for this reason that James says by the works the faith was perfected. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, and yet it was the very son, which God promised would bring him his descendants. Therefore, if Abraham was to offer up his son, how could he bring about descendants if he was dead?
Abraham would not have been sure how this would happen either, but he truly trusted God enough to follow through with the act of killing his son. Abraham believed that God would somehow allow descendants to come despite whether or not he sacrificed his son, and he was willing to trust God at all costs. Abraham’s act of attempting to offer up his son authenticated his faith in God, which was evidenced by his actions of obedience. The word for perfection means complete or finished. Abraham’s faith was perfect or complete in the fact that works, which made his trust in God complete by his actions of obedience, accompanied his faith. More on this below.
The faith that Abraham had moved him to do good works and contributed to his good decisions. We should also mention that you never find James saying that Abraham or anyone else had works alone. What he says explicitly is that his “faith was working together with his works.” If Abraham had had no faith, he would have never even attempted to offer up his son. Yet, if he had not acted on his faith, he would have never been declared righteous by God. Moreover, we can take it a step even further back in time. If Abraham had not faith that would result in actions, God would never have chosen him in Ur to come to Canaan. (Gen. 12:1-3) God could foresee that Abraham’s faith would motivate him to act. So, it is both by faith and works that Abraham was chosen and that he attempted to offer up his son. Notice what God said to Abraham right after stopping him from offering up Isaac. He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now, I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” (Gen. 22:12) That is, God-fearing (not dreadful fear), reverential fear of displeasing God out of one’s love for God.
We know that God saw Abraham as a faithful, righteous man even before Isaac was born. Jehovah said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of Jehovah by doing righteousness and justice, so that Jehovah may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” (Gen. 18:18-19) So, Abraham had this faith clear back in Ur of the Chaldeans. Each time he acted on it, his faith was perfected (τελειόω teleioō), or completed, that is, more fully visible for all to see what God had known of him all along. This attempt to offer up his son was the pinnacle of his evidencing his faith.
The attempted sacrifice was made to show all the legitimacy of his faith. So that there is no misunderstanding, Abraham’s faith before offering up Isaac does not mean that it was weaker or defective before this event. It does not mean that God used this good work to fix Abraham’s weak or defective, insufficient, flawed, inadequate, or inferior faith. It does not mean that it was a deficiency in his faith or that he did not have the right kind of faith, so God used this act to rectify his faith. No, Abraham’s faith was perfect or complete way back in Ur. Each and every action Abraham made along the way from Ur was a continued outward display of what God foreknew all along.
 An analogous situation might be a wealthy father testing his daughter’s fiancé. The father offers the fiancé $50,000 to leave his daughter. This test will tell the father whether the poor fiancé is in love with his daughter, or after the father’s money. Keep in mind, God never intended for Abraham to offer his son up, as he foreknew what Abraham would do in such a situation before he even asked. Let us adapt apologist William Lane Craig’s words to this situation. ‘God had morally sufficient reasons for permitting the test, which he placed on Abraham.’
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