Jesus Christ told us that we are to be a friend of God. However, what does that mean? It is more than singing the once popular worship song, Friend of God. There is a reality of having friendship with the Lord. We see this played out in John 15:13-16.
My personal journey into the friendship of God was full of up and downs and twists. I was raised, as many, in the classic Pentecostal church that Jesus was holy and as such, we have so much honor for Him that we can not be friends with Him. Just like we are not on the first name basis with the President, the Lord deserves even more honor. While this is true, it caused an non-biblical view of the Lord.
It did not help that when I was in bible college, I learned about a cult that took the friend of God message too far. The group even became known as the Friends of God. They took Christian Mysticism to the extreme and got really crazy. However, it is worth noting that many believe they were the start of what would ultimately become the Reformation.
However, I still had to wrestle with John 15:13-16. It was out of this struggle to understand what I was raised with and what I saw in scripture in the place of prayer that I learned these five realities about being a friend of God.
Surrender to the Lord
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
The most important thing you must do to be a friend of God is actually being born again. In the words of the Apostle Peter, you must be converted. Many people want to be saved but few actually want to be converted. Conversions requires actual changes in our behavior. Most just want enough to go to heaven and that is all.
Those are want to have true friendship with God must do more than just pray the made up “Sinner’s Prayer.” They must become laid down lovers in the Holy Spirit. This requires more than just asking Jesus into your heart. It means total surrender without conditions.
When Japan ended the World War in the Pacific, they signed the unconditional surrender to the United States. They did not say, “We want to end the world but here is our conditions for ending it.” They signed the agreement that was very much not in their favor. It was complete and total surrender. That is what is required of us to be true friends of God.
For a believer to have total surrender, they must lay down everything. They surrender their goals in life, all the plans they had, and expectations for success. They lay it all for the cause of Christ. They will do what C.T. Studd did, walk away from their success for the Lord to have His success through them. This remains the biggest challenge to become a friend of God.
I knew of a young woman that got saved from her life of fornication and partying. She wanted to be a nurse. When she got saved, she “christianize” her fleshly desire to be a nurse. She never truly lay down their desires at the altar and allow the Holy Spirit to alter them to the cause of Christ. In the end, her quest for worldliness success would drive her to do things that today she is hardly a believer at all. This is the story a million times over in our Assemblies.
One thing that John Wesley had right was if he could find a hundred men that feared nothing but God and hated nothing but sin that he could change the world. The hard thing is finding those men or women who truly have surrendered their lives for the cause. Part of the reason this remains such a challenge is we tell people not to surrender in our sermons of prosperity and health.
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Mark 8:36)
Concerning the Will of God
You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:14)
In order to be a friend of God, you must do His will. I know this should go without saying but so many struggle with this. The will of God is not as complex as some make it out to be. No matter in what area you do it, be it a lawyer or a trash man, the will of God is that reach people with the reality of Jesus Christ.
Scriptures tell us that the Father wishes that none would perish and all would come into relationship with Christ. Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost. The Holy Spirit is present to convict the world of sin. All three persons of the trinity are committed to the same mission: lost souls of this world.
Someone who is a friend of God does not have concern for their own safety or their comfort. All they care about is making Jesus famous in the earth. They will go to anywhere, at any time in order the name of Jesus to be proclaimed and people to be saved, healed, delivered and filled.
The final words of Jesus was about being a martyr for the cause of Christ. That was the will of God for everyone in Acts besides John (and he went through living hell too!)
When the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will receive power to be a witness….to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The word we use for witness is actually the greek word we get martyr from. Biblically speaking, the will of God is to preach with boldness and authority until you are silenced by martyrdom. That’s a biblical witness.
I remember when I was called to preached in Tuvalu by the Lord. I flew half around the world to a country I hardly even knew existed for the cause of God. I was more than willing to surrender my time, talents and treasures for the glory of the Lord to be revealed in this small Pacific nation. God might just call you to preach in places you don’t know about as His friend!
This is counter culture to what the world calls success. They chase materialism and looking “blessed.” Capitalism is the name of the game with the sinners around us. However, we are called to live in the world and not of the world. How does that work out? I am not totally sure but selling our soul to the dollar is not the will of God for the believer.
At the end of our lives, how many cars we have had or how big our home is will not matter in light of eternity. What will matter is if we did the will of God or not. The only thing we can take with us to heaven is the people we have reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything else is mere rubbish in light of eternity.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
If you are friend of the Lord, you have prophetic access to the things of Heaven. You are regularly in the presence of the Lord in the throne room. This is the main difference between someone who is a friend and someone who is just casually calling themselves a believer. Friends like to be around the Lord. They do not treat Him as the random guy they see at Wal-Mart.
Revelation 4 tells us what the throne room is really like. When His friends set their face before the Lord and spend time praying in tongues, they literally join the angels, creatures and the saints before them in a prayer meeting that will never end. It is what we will do for eternity.
As the friend of God, whatever we are crying out for in prayer is challenged by the holiness and worthiness of the Lord. When we pray for healing, it is confronted by the holiness of Jesus. Disease can not stand in the face of the holy nature of the Messiah! When we pray for deliverance for someone, it is challenged the worthiness of the Lord. Jesus is worthy to deliver.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you… (Ephesians 1:17-18)
Paul wrote the believers who had seen the greatest revival in the Book of Acts and he gave them what we known as an Apostolic prayer. He asked that the Lord would give the faithful in Ephesus a spirit of wisdom and revelation. He wanted the people there to grow in the knowledge and understanding of the Man Jesus. In other words, he wanted them to become friends of God.
It is in this context that every believer grow in the faith. We are all called to be people who are surrendered and called to the will of God through the wisdom and revelation of the Holy Spirit. This is how we become the friend of God.
Jesus gave the final message before going to the Cross about 10 virgins. Half of them were prepared for the catching up of the saints. The other half was not and they were left behind for the times of testing or great tribulation. The moral of the parable was not to lose your intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, the same Greek word used for Quenching the Spirit is used also for those who lost oil in Matthew 25.
The greatest challenge to someone who wanted to know God is to keep the oil of intimacy. It is not easy and many do lose it from time to time. It is hard to always be Mary of Bethany and not have times of being like her sister, Martha.
A friend of God bear fruit
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)
When we are surrendered to the Lord, doing His will and live in a place of intimacy; the product will always be fruit that remains and touches people for the cause of God. A friend of God always has one eye on the Lord and one eyes on the harvest of souls.
It is not possible to be intimate with the Lord and not feel the pain He feels over people dying without the revelation of Jesus Christ in their lives. Scriptures tell us that Father wishes that NONE would perish but that ALL would have eternal life. People who are close to Him feel the empathy of the Messiah for broken people.
Jesus has chosen us to go to the world. He has appointed us to go. It is through His anointing that we go and bear fruit. It is with His power that we can proclaim that Jesus saves, heals, delivers and fills people with the Holy Spirit. He has promised to confirm our message to the lost world with signs, wonders and miracles. We can rest in that.
When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; (Acts 17:6)
As keepers of the Great Commission, our fruit should always be either revival breaks out or riots are caused by the preaching of the gospel which confronts people in their sin. If there is neither of these, something is horribly wrong with the gospel you are preaching. It has lost its’ salt.
This verse in Acts is translated like this in The Message, “These people are out to destroy the world, and now they’ve shown up on our doorstep, attacking everything we hold dear!” The religious people who profit off the system of the time feared that their well oiled machine was being destroyed by apostolic ministry. They lived in concern that everything they hold dear was going to be history because of the true authentic gospel.
The early church was a group of committed friends of God that flipped the world upside down and changed most of the known world. They did not care if they died a martyr because they were that committed to the cause. Many of them did not know their future once they came to Christ. All they knew was they have been branded with the fire of God.
In the context of the apostolic church, bearing fruit was always related to the expansion of the faithful to the lost world around them. They would not understand a person who claims to love Jesus but does not desire to proclaim the love to everyone around them.
Friend of the Bridegroom
The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. (John 3:29)
John the Baptist has a relationship with the Lord that none of us can really have. He was not just the cousin of Jesus, had a similar birth but he was the only person in history that could say he was the forerunner to the Messiah. This in unique and will never be repeated.
In those days, the friend of the Bridegroom prepared everything for the wedding. He would invite the people, select the location and even plan the honeymoon for them. He would actually go where they would have the honeymoon to make sure it was up the standard. John the Baptist was the one who prepared the way for the Bridegroom Jesus to come to save humanity.
As friends of God we also are preparing the world as forerunners for the catching up of the saints. We are inviting the world to the wedding, the marriage supper of the Lamb. That is the gospel. It is a call to be married to the Messiah for eternity in New Jerusalem. The reality is that our destiny is to be with him where He is the tabernacle.
Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
We are called to wait on the Lord. He is coming. He is not slow but He is patient. He is longing for Matthew 24:14 to be fulfilled. As people of faith, we wait and we watch for the catching up of the saints, our Blessed Hope. We are to have our lamps full of oil but burning bright in intimacy with the Holy Spirit. The idea of waiting is not being bored waiting for someone to get to the mall but active engaged in intercession.
When we are a friend of God, we are full of joy to hear the whisper of the Spirit. We long for His voice. To quote Misty Edwards, “What is on your mind? What are you thinking? We have to know.” Nothing is more important to one that is friendly with the Holy Spirit than receiving fresh downloads from the Lord.
In the last days, we will see more people who have detailed understanding of what the Lord is doing and saying like never before. It was told to us that this would happen by Daniel.
But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” (Daniel 12:4)
Are you a Friend of God?
Every believers is called to be a friend of God. However, most people of faith never actual become one. They are happy with just being saved and having their “golden ticket” into eternity. They just surrender enough to have some type of a relationship with Jesus. They love themselves too much to lay down everything for the cause of Christ.
Abraham and Moses were friends of God and they lived on the other side of the torn veil. They lived in a time that friendship not an easy task to have with the Lord. However, they paid for price to have that connection. Very few on the other side of Golgotha got the opportunity.
Now, the veil is ripped and every person who has been converted has the opportunity to have that type of relationship with the Lord if they want it. The problem is most people just don’t want it. They are content with 15 minutes of prayer in the morning and an hour on Sunday.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles…praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
The apostolic church understand that be devoted to the knowledge of Jesus and to prayer was directly connected to the miracle ministry of Jesus among them and through them. It was through their dedication to be intimate with the Holy Spirit that revival broke out in the land.
How much do you long to be a friend of God?