Vol. 5, No. 10
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It is a well-established fact that children take on the characteristics of their parents. This is explained in the Bible by what we call the seed principle, namely that everything, plant and animal, produces, "After his kind," (Genesis1: 11, 12, 21, et al.) Farmers who plant corn expect to harvest, of all things, CORN! Contrary to the infamous theory of organic evolution, dogs do not produce cats; lizards do not produce birds; and monkeys do not produce people. This is true of human beings as well. Examining this subject in the negative, many times children have been disowned and disinherited because they offended their parents who felt that in some way, due to perhaps rash actions or decisions, their offspring no longer resembled them. The cutting phrase, "He's no son of mine," is sometimes heard because the child has done differently than his parents expected and is somewhat of a disappointment to them. This is, of course, tragic, but it is an occurrence that happens all too frequently. Jesus pointed this out in John 8:31-33:
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
To the first century Jew, just simply being born of Israel meant being in a covenant relationship with God, but because of their misbehavior, God, a disappointed father, was about to disown them!
Abraham was a righteous man. He was called the "friend of God" (James 2:23), because he trusted God, and obeyed him, even when God's commands were difficult. God's initial command for Abraham included leaving his relatives and country to go to an unfamiliar land that God would show him (Genesis 12:1). He would remain a foreigner for the rest of his days there. How many of us today would be willing to do such a thing? Abraham was also tested late in his life when God demanded that he sacrifice his son Isaac like the pagan idolaters of Canaan did. It should be noted that God did not want to institute child sacrifice as a means of worship, but he was simply testing the faith of Abraham. An angel was sent to stop him at the last moment (Genesis 22:11-12):
And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
So, Abraham was the exemplary man of faith, but as Jesus pointed out, the Jews did not take after their father (John 8:39): "They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father." They claimed in their foolish pride to be sons of faithful Abraham, even though they bore little resemblance to that great patriarch. Arrogance like this cannot go unchallenged! "Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham" (Verse 40).
John the Baptist faced this same arrogant attitude. Matthew 3:7-10:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
One can almost see the self-righteous Jews raising a finger and taking a deep breath to proudly proclaim they were not in need of repentance, but that they were the seed of Abraham. However, they needed to be more than just the physical descendants of this faithful Old Testament character.
Christians today need also to be able to make the claim that they are Abraham's children, perhaps not by blood, but by deed (Galatians 3:6-9, 29):
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham...And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
We need to be Abraham's children today, not by descent, but by imitating his faithful example.
They bragged in John 8:41, "We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God." This proved to be a huge mistake for them. If they could not imitate their human father, Abraham, how could they hope to imitate their heavenly Father? In John 8:42 "Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." Jesus imitated the Father perfectly, so much so, that he was capable of saying, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). How could those pompous religious leaders dare to claim they were like God, being his children? They did not even acknowledge the true Son of God. Jesus had already chastised them for this in John 5:39-40, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life." (Taken from the New English Standard Version). They had all the evidence of the prophets, and they had even correctly reasoned from an intense study of the Old Testament that there was eternal life to be gained, but they failed to recognize the object of the Scriptures -- Jesus himself, who was the means to obtaining that eternal life!
If we hope to be children of God today and to gain eternal life, we must imitate the example of Christ (Romans 8:14-17):
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.
In John 8:44 Jesus sadly affirmed, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." Remember, children take on the characteristics of their parents. Did they act like Abraham, faithful and obedient to God? NO! Did they act like God, with justice and mercy? NO! They were liars and murderers.
What about their claims in verse 33, viz. "We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man:" A lie? What about the 600 years of Babylonian, Persian, Grecian and Roman occupations they had so conveniently forgotten, not to mention the fact that they were in bondage up to their ears in sin? No matter how one looks at it, the Jews could never accurately make such a claim.
When Jesus was arrested and put through a mockery of a trial before the Sanhedrin, the Jews could not accuse him of anything except the trumped up charges of blasphemy and insurrection. Even the wicked and cruel Pilate after his examination sought to release Christ, finding "no fault in him." (Three times he says this in John chapters 18-19.) Just like their "father," the Jews lied about what Jesus had said and done, then they had him murdered on the cross by the Romans. Peter in his masterful sermon of Acts 2 put it this way: "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Verse 23).
We simply cannot allow Satan to influence us in such a way today. As in 2 Corinthians 2:11, we must be careful, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
It is a well-established fact that children take on the characteristics of their parents. We can take on the spiritual traits of God and of his Son Jesus Christ. (See Romans 8:14-17 again.) The Jews of old claimed to be children of Abraham and of God, but their behavior signified otherwise. In John 8:48, when accused of being like the devil, they responded in frustration by name-calling and false accusations. "...thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil..." When someone becomes that angry, it is usually because deep down, he knows he is wrong, and that the one accusing him is right, but he is unwilling to admit it. Do not get angry with the Savior when he convicts you of sin, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The attitude you display will determine whose child YOU are!