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"'Abraham is our father,' they answered.’If you were Abraham's children,' said Jesus, 'then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man that has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.'
"'We are not illegitimate children,' they protested.’The only father we have is God Himself.'" John 8:39-41 (NIV).
These were men who, a few verses back were said to have believed in Jesus. Yet here they were still scheming to kill Jesus.
They prided themselves on being the descendants of Abraham and they even went as far as claiming God as their Father. But so did Jesus. So who was telling the truth? They could not both be descendants of Abraham since the fruit of their lives was so vastly different.
The Apostle Paul argued that the real children of Abraham are those who did what he did, not those who were his natural descendants. What did Abraham do? "What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.'" Romans 4:3 (NIV).
"It was not through the Law that Abraham and his offspring received that promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. Therefore the promise comes by faith so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring -- not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all." Romans 4:16 (NIV).
"Understand then that those who have faith are children of Abraham." Galatians 3:7 (NIV).
It is clear that the argument of these religious leaders held no water because their attitude and the intentions negated their claim to be the descendants of Abraham. Their snide retort, 'We are not illegitimate children,' was a backhanded slap in the face of Jesus. Were they insinuating that He was illegitimate because Joseph was not His Father? Once again their assumptions led them into dangerously false allegations.
What of those who claim descent from Abraham but who hate and murder believers in Jesus in the name of their god. Do they not fall into the same category as these men who were contending that they were Abraham's offspring yet they were planning to kill Jesus?
How important it is that we take the words of Jesus seriously! No matter what claims we may make, they are of no consequence if they are not backed up by fact. Our churches are full of people who believe that they are sons and daughters of God, yet they are no different from the people in the world. Signing a decision card or answering an altar call do not constitute a good enough reason for assuming that we are now children of God.
The real test is: Who do we resemble? The true children of God are those who resemble Him in their attitudes and behaviour. Jesus is God with a face. "He who has seen me has seen the Father," He told Philip. "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word." Hebrews 1:3 (NIV).
We can sum up the character of Jesus in two words -- merciful and generous. The true followers of Jesus are those who obey Him. "If you love me, (you will) keep my commandments." John 14:15. "A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34 (NIV).
These so-called believers in Jesus just didn't get it. Do you?
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