Faith is not the one work we must do to attach to God’s grace.
Faith is the attachment we willingly enter in response to the grace of God that is willingly pursuing us for attachment.
The clarification that salvation is by grace, through faith, and “not of works”, is to minister to our hearts that our attachment to God is distinctly personal. It is about persons who want to be together. This is why I love the expression, “love-relationship”. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that relationship with God is a two-way relationship of love.
Although the works of God are distinct from the works of the children, and although the children do contribute works to the relationship, it is always wrong to think that God attaches to us because we are good enough for him to do so. If that were the requirement, there would be no children for God!
Instead, the love of God for his children is magnified in all the expressions of how this love has nothing to do with our works, our goodness, our righteousness, our holiness, our justness, or even our love for God. It is a love settled by the perfection of God so that God himself is the sole reason he loves us, and the glorious completeness of the work of salvation is to secure a relationship with sinners that satisfies every facet of the glory of God.
The Hidden Treasure of Attachment
My mind is still reveling in the wonder of this, that all these decades I have known that we are saved by grace through faith, not of any works at all, there has been this hidden treasure waiting for me, that faith means attaching to God. My extreme, hyper-vigilant, Attachment-Light-Always-On attachment need has been staring me in the face for decades as I have grown in the grace of God. But now the ministry of God is leading me to see that he himself is the healer of my attachment pain and the satisfaction for my attachment needs beyond anything I could “ask or think”.
Which brings me to the thing I now get to journey through more deeply because my planned sermon yesterday was bumped by an impromptu sermon that connected to things that came up in home church. In fact, it was only Saturday night when I was listening to another of Tim Keller’s messages that I was drawn to this particular reward of faith: Friendship with God. To have another week to marvel at this before sharing further is quite delightful.
Friendship With God in Mind and Brain
As soon as we begin talking about friendship with God, our minds step up to understand what the Bible means by such a thing. On the earthly side, our brains are combining the left-hemisphere focus on belief in friendship with God with the right-hemisphere focus on bonding to this friendship. On the spiritual side, the word and the Spirit are conspiring to lead us to both understand and know this friendship with God.
This is the verse about friendship with God that drew my attention to the distinctive “reward” of faith as we have been exploring as of late: “The friendship of Yahweh is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”
It is one of the strangest things in the whole wide world for me to think of God our Creator desiring relationship with me that could be described as a friendship. It is not that I am trying to absorb some strange notion that we are equals. That isn’t even remotely contained in the wonder of this gift.
Rather, it is this compelling and awesome reality about God that he reveals himself to us as a friend. He is the Almighty Creator seeking friendship with his highest creation. He is the eternal Father seeking friendship with sons. He is the eternal Son pursuing friendship with brothers. He is the eternal Spirit making friends with the beloved.
The Mind’s Left-Brain Belief
Since faith “must believe that he exists” as revealed in Scripture, the fact that God reveals himself to his people in terms of friendship begins with a belief-issue.
If anyone out there in cyberspace is like me, you may struggle with this personally, the idea of allowing ourselves to think of God as a friend. This is why we begin with believing that he exists as he reveals himself. There is no belief about God so cherished that it cannot be put to death if we discover a living truth that proves it wrong. There is no belief about God so strange that it cannot be believed when discovered as a treasure in the quarry of God’s word.
So many of our negative feelings about God are based on lies we learned in relation to traumatic experiences. We may find ourselves interpreting Scripture based on those lies without realizing we are doing so. Some church cultures are ruled far more by the fear-based identities of the people than the grace-and-love-based identities we see in God’s word.
For example, it is common for traumatized people to interpret what they read about God through the filter of worthlessness. What God tells us to believe about him as Father is denied because our traumatized souls were lied to that God is the same kind of father as any other. What God tells us about his love is denied by the lies that insist we are unlovable and God could never be “that” loving towards us.
As we must let our minds be renewed by truth in relation to the Fatherhood of God and his super-abounding love for his children, we must let God speak the truth to us in love regarding this remarkable reality of friendship with the Triune. No matter what feelings surge over our souls as we explore this, we must surrender our minds and left-brains to believe that God expresses himself in friendship to his children.
The Mind’s Right-Brain Bonding
Our minds are designed for bonding, and the right-hemispheres of our brains are distinctly designed to make this work in real life. We might find it easier to see this bond in the contrast between “slaves of sin" and “slaves of righteousness”. If we are still hanging on to a works-based view of acceptance with God, slaving ourselves in efforts to be righteous may almost feel like a righteous pursuit.
However, when our minds and right-brains are called to bond to the friendship of God, we may have a different story. Friendship almost sounds presumptuous. How can sinful slaves even think in such terms?
Again, once faith agrees with the word of God that, “the friendship of Yahweh is for those who fear him,” we know we cannot deny this based on earthly experiences that make it so hard to believe. Faith believes that God exists as revealed in the Scriptures. Period. God is who he is.
But faith also believes that God “rewards those who seek him.” This means that, if we believe that God’s friendship is for those who fear him, then we seek God in expectation that we will be rewarded with the experience of friendship with him.
The Covenant of Friendship
The second part of the verse makes it clear that this experience of friendship applies to all who are in covenant relationship with him. “He makes known to them his covenant.” The witnesses of faith listed in Hebrews 11 lived out their faith under various expressions of relationship, including the first covenant. However, their stories must be interpreted through the filter of “by faith” even though the first covenant included the requirements of the Law.
Now bring this into the new covenant that has superseded the old with something so superior that the old is no longer required. Bring this into the new covenant in Jesus’ blood and consider what friendship with God is like for us who believe in Jesus. Do we dare to say that “the friendship of Jesus is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant”?
Would it help us if Jesus himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”, and you know that Jesus laid down his life for you? Would you believe in the friendship of Jesus if it is recorded in God’s word that he said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you”, and you know that you have obeyed his command to believe and be saved?
And what if Jesus was as clear as this: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”? Does the fact that the Holy Spirit has made known to you what Jesus was doing in salvation resonate within your heart that you are indeed a friend of this Savior?
The conclusion of the matter is that God wants us to both “comprehend” and “know” the love of Jesus Christ, and that must include this distinctive component of brotherly friendship. We must let our left-brains comprehend this loving friendship, and we must let our right-brains know this loving-friendship.
For myself, I am a work-in-progress feeling a lot of delighted wonder these days as I contemplate that all my attachment needs are met in Christ as my Lord, my Savior, my Brother and (drum roll please) my Friend. The more I believe this, the more I delight in it. The more I delight in this, the more I bond to it. The more I bond to the loving friendship of Christ, the more healing I feel for all the attachment-pain I have accrued in my journey through a sin-sick world. And the more healing my attachment-needs experience, the more freely I attach to the wonder of this gift, that Jesus came into the world to save sinners into friends.
If friendship with the Triune God is a legitimate facet of the diamond of salvation (and it is), then we must gladly enjoy it with all the others, and consider ourselves most blessed for everything we have in Christ.
Please join in the fellowship of friends and brothers in Christ!
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)
 Ephesians 2:8-10
 I first heard this term from Henry Blackaby who, in spite of the dishonest discernment snipers who have sinfully tried to take him down, has exemplified love-relationship with God as much as I have ever witnessed.
 John 14:15, 21; 15:9
 Isaiah 55:9
 James 2:18-26 makes it clear that works always express faith. At the same time, James would clearly agree with Paul that we are saved by grace through faith without works, and yet are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).
 Romans 3:1-20 makes this abundantly clear.
 In Jeremiah 31:3, Yahweh says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” He was speaking to an unfaithful people about why he remained faithful. His love is of the everlasting variety, something unique to God.
 Our Home Church considered this based on a study of Enoch’s life in which we discover that he “pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5) because he “walked with God” (Genesis 5:22, 24). In fact, Enoch’s walk with God was so close and real and personal that he was taken directly up to heaven without dying. The accounts make it clear that he was not taken up because of his “work” of walking with God, but because of his relationship of walking with God.
 Ephesians 3:20
 Home Church gatherings do allow for this quite easily, that we can unite in things that have just come up and interact with them in relation to the glorious truths of God’s word so that it truly does feel like we were led by the Spirit into mutual ministry no one had planned.
 The focus on both understanding and knowing God is delightfully expressed in such places as Yahweh’s clarification in Jeremiah 9:23-24 where he determinedly wants us to both understand and know him, and Paul’s prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21 where the apostle prays for the churches that we would both comprehend and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge itself. As we have come to a much greater understanding of how the brain is divided into the left and right hemispheres, it magnifies God’s deliberate design of human beings to have both understanding (beliefs) and personal knowing (bonding) that gives us the fullness of relationship that is after the image and likeness of relationships within the Triune.
 Hebrews 11:6
 Psalm 25:14 (replacing, “the LORD”, with the proper name of God, “Yahweh”, as per the original Hebrew language)
 God creating us in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) was so that we could have the same kind of relational attachment to him and each other as the Triune God enjoyed among themselves in eternity.
 Romans 8:15, 23; Galatians 3:26; 4:5-6; Ephesians 1:5
 Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:11
 I share this in the hope that, if anyone suddenly realizes I have just described your church, you will pursue the friendship with God that sets people free from fear-based relationships and delivers us into the love-based relationships of the Spirit of God.
 Romans 6:20
 Romans 6:18 (the context of Romans 6:1-23 shows the contrast between “slaves of sin” and “slaves of righteousness” quite clearly.
 John 15:13
 John 15:14
 John 15:15