Who’s Your Daddy?
“A huge billboard glared its message through the windshield of my car twice a day for years. I passed it going to and from my office located just east of downtown Dallas. The billboard rose high above Interstate 30 and contains a question and a phone number: ‘WHO’S THE FATHER? Call 1-800-DNA-EXAM.’
What a commentary on our times! Children born out of wedlock, mothers wondering who among their sexual partners might have fathered a particular child.”
[Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 170].
Mistaken for someone else
Calling for support
Part of serving with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), meant we had to raise our own financial support
We started the process by creating a list of people we knew from every place we ever lived, which included Pennsylvania for me
We added people from all over the country to our list and then prioritized them into A, B, and C lists
I had added certain people to our list that attended Prince Street UB Church while my father pastored there
The second step was to send letters out to the people on the A list
The final step was to call or visit those individuals who had received the letter to share with them about the ministry and to ask them to pray for us and potentially support us financially
As we began making phone calls, I called one of the families from Prince Street
They initially thought it was my father who was calling them
I guess I sound a lot like my father
There are certain attributes and features that let you know that I am a product of my father and mother
I have been mistaken for my cousin, Scott Bumbaugh, on my mother’s side of the family (again the family resemblance is there)
Have you been mistaken for a family member?
Perhaps it was your voice
Maybe it was your build and features
It could even be your gate when you walk or certain mannerisms
Sometimes it can even be words you say or jokes you tell (repeat)
Jesus is still teaching in the temple courts and He is telling the crowd about God’s true children. The believing Jews think they know what makes them God’s true children, but Jesus refutes all of their claims. As we’ll see, Jesus explains that . . .
BIG IDEA – Our actions and words prove who our father is.
GOD (John 8:31-47)
Abraham’s descendants (vv. 31-38)
Principle (vv. 31-32)
PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people hold to Jesus’ teachings and are true disciples.
What does it mean for us to “hold to” Jesus’ teachings?
It means to abide, continue, or remain in God’s Word [Borchert, New American Commentary, John 1-11, 303]
It means that we hang in there for a lifetime and not just a season or only when things are good [parable of the four soils (hard, rocky, thorns, good), Matt. 13:1-23]
It means accepting the good with the bad
“In short, perseverance is the mark of true faith, of real disciples. A genuine believer remains in Jesus’ ‘word’ (logos), his teaching (cf. notes on 1:1): i.e. such a person obeys it, seeks to understand it better, and finds it more precious, more controlling, precisely when other forces flatly oppose it.” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 348]
“To abide in the Bible means to hold on to the teachings of Christ and never let go. It means the Bible so fills us up that we can barely contain it. It means we’re willing to let the Bible dominate us. It means every area of our lives is being brought under the control of the Word of God. Every thought, deed, and action seeks conformity to the Scriptures. It means even when we don’t like something in the Bible, we still obey, asking God to change our hearts so the truth of the Bible will find a warm and friendly reception in us.” [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 195]
This is what it looks like to be a true disciple
Is this how we view God’s Word?
Is it precious to us?
Do we want to understand it better?
Do we want every area of our lives to come under its control?
If we were truly honest with ourselves, we would probably answer “No” to those questions
So, we have to ask ourselves, “Am I a true disciple of Jesus, based on abiding/holding to His teachings?”
If not, what do I need to do to become a true disciple?
Do I need to place a higher value on God’s Word?
Do I need to seek to understand it better, and if so, what do I need to sacrifice in order to spend more time studying it (either on my own with a group of other believers)?
What areas of my life do I need to place under the control of God’s Word?
My Next Step Today Is To: Make the necessary changes in my life to become a true disciple of Jesus.
Knowing the truth
Imagine how we’ll be transformed when we abide in God’s Word
Jesus makes it clear that we will know the truth
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit living within us to help us to understand the truths of God’s Word
John 16:13, But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
1 Corinthians 2:12-14, We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
We can know and understand the truths of God’s Word, because we have the Spirit of God living in us
And that truth will set us free!
Have you experienced that?
We see it in new believers all the time
There’s a joy that’s unexplainable
Family members wonder what happened to their spouse, father, mother, child, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.
Anger is gone, abuse is gone
Love is expressed, forgiveness is sought, care and concern are evident
Coworkers may see the transformation that has taken place in us
We are no longer critical of the boss or company, no longer participating in gossip, no longer using foul language or coarse joking, etc.
We become someone who is trustworthy, caring, diligent, hardworking, etc.
Our neighbors recognize the change
There is no longer a rift between us
We begin to look out for and help them
We may even invite them over for a meal
We may invite them to church
Our actions and words prove who our father is.
There is freedom in being set free from the bondage of sin
When sin has control of our lives, we don’t even recognize that we are in bondage to it, and not really free
“The worst bondage is the kind that the prisoner himself does not recognize. He thinks he is free, yet he is really a slave.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Vol. 1, 323]
Many people think they have to give up their freedoms to become a disciple of Jesus
Yet when they finally believe in Him, and truly become His disciple, they realize what Jesus says is true – you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free
It should come as no surprise that the believing Jews misunderstood what Jesus was trying to say, because it happened before
Jews – “We are free!” (v. 33)
The Jews were confident in their heritage
They could trace their family tree all the way back to Abraham
As Abraham’s descendants they were “free” from concern about their eternity
They were “guaranteed” entrance into heaven
From a spiritual perspective they had never been slaves of anyone
NOTE – from a physical perspective they had been slaves in Egypt, had been under the rule of seven other nations while in the Promised Land, and they were currently under Roman rule in the 1st Century – so they’re not trying to imply that they had never been enslaved physically – they knew their history
They didn’t understand why Jesus would say they needed to be set free, by the truth He was sharing with them
Jesus – “You are slaves!” (vv. 34-38)
Jesus needed them to understand that their heritage would not guarantee them entrance into heaven
Slaves to sin
Everyone who sins is a slave to sin
Romans 3:10-12, As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
We are all slaves to sin, because we have all sinned
While Jesus recognizes their heritage from Abraham, He also points out their sin – you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word
They refused to believe the truths that Jesus was sharing with them from His Father – Jesus was telling them what He had seen and learned while He was with God in heaven
They were slaves to sin, which meant they did not have a permanent place in God’s family – they were not guaranteed salvation or heaven
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Through Jesus, God is saving us from eternal separation from Him
Eternal separation means hell, not heaven
There is no biblical backing for universalism (that God will allow everyone into heaven)
They had to understand their need before they could understand the importance of the solution to their need
While slaves could be bought and sold between various families, a son belongs to his family forever
The Son mentioned here is Jesus and if He sets us free, we will be free indeed
Jesus came from heaven to earth, was born as a baby, grew into a man, ministered for 3 years, and then willingly gave His life on the cross to take our punishment for sin
He is the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)
He fulfilled God’s standard for a once-for-all perfect sacrifice
John 1:12-13, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is the only One who can set us free from the slavery to sin.
My Next Step Today Is To: Receive Jesus into my life, believe in His perfect sacrifice for me on the cross, and hold to His teachings, so I can be a true disciple and part of God’s family.
While the Jews thought they were already free from slavery to sin, Jesus showed them that they were not
In fact, they were listening to a different father, not God the Father
Abraham’s children (vv. 39-41a)
Jews – “We’re Abraham’s children!”
The Jews were starting to understand what Jesus was saying, spiritually
They were not guaranteed salvation just because they could trace their family tree back to Abraham
But, they still believed that they were going to heaven, because Abraham was their father
“It is not mere repetition of a biological fact. The Jews are advancing the argument by saying, in effect, that even in the moral and ethical realm, they measure up well enough to be considered the descendants of Abraham.” [Carson, 351]
Jesus basically says to them, “your actions don’t match up with your claim that Abraham is your father.”
Jesus – “No, your father is not Abraham.”
PRINCIPLE #3 – Physical heritage does not guarantee spiritual heritage.
Our actions and words prove who our father is.
The actions of the Jews proved that Abraham was not their father
Jesus says, if Abraham was their father, they would be doing the things that Abraham did
So, what did Abraham do?
He “welcomed divine messengers with eager hospitality” (Gen. 18:1-8) [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 264]
He “displayed obedience to God (Gen. 12:1-9; 15:1-6; 22:1-19) [Köstenberger, 264]
Read Hebrews 11:8-12
What were the Jews doing?
They were not welcoming Jesus as God’s divine messenger
They were not being obedience to God’s Word, because they were not holding to Jesus’ teachings
They were determined to kill Jesus, even when He had shared truths, He’d heard from God
Jesus says that the Jews were doing the things their own father does
Are we doing the things Abraham did or are we doing the things the Jews did?
Have we welcomed Jesus as God’s divine messenger or have we rejected Him and the truths from God?
Have we displayed obedience to God’s leading, with faith or with doubt?
Are we trusting God to fulfill His promises to us or are we pushing ahead in our own strength, timing, and understanding?
Are we holding to Jesus’ teachings, so we can know the truth and be set free?
My Next Step Today Is To: Welcome Jesus into my life, display obedience to God, and trust Him by faith to lead, guide, and provide for me.
The Jews didn’t want to be considered illegitimate children, now that they couldn’t rely on their connection to Abraham for salvation, either physically or spiritually
God’s children (vv. 41b-47)
Jews – “God is our Father!”
I guess their logic led them to the conclusion that if they couldn’t rely on their connection to Abraham they would move up the line to God
That led them to claiming that the only Father they had was God himself
That’s where their allegiance should have started, to begin with, and yet Jesus again refutes their claim
Their actions and words prove that God was not their Father
Jesus – “The devil is your Father!”
God is not their Father and here’s why . . .
If God was their Father, they would love Jesus (v. 42)
They would recognize Him as God’s divine messenger, sent from God, and not sharing His own ideas and truths
They would hold to His teachings and allow God’s Word to control every area of their lives
If God was their Father, they would hear what God says (v. 47), but they don’t hear what He says, because they don’t belong to Him
They belong to someone else
The devil is their father and here’s why . . .
They don’t understand Jesus’ language (v. 43)
It’s not clear to them
They aren’t able to hear what He says
1 Corinthians 2:14, The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
They don’t believe that Jesus is telling the truth (vv. 45-46)
They are doing the things that the devil does
The devil is a murderer
Twice in this section of scripture Jesus says that the Jews are trying to kill Him
We know that eventually they accomplish their goal, and yet it wasn’t really their goal, but God’s fulfillment of His redemption plan
The devil is a liar
He started this all the way back with Adam and Eve by twisting God’s words and creating doubt in their minds
He took some truth and mixed it with a little bit of untruth, which made it a lie
The Pharisees had to hire men to give false testimony about Jesus in an attempt to create grounds to have Him put to death
Jesus asks the Jews here if any of them could prove Him guilty of sin? (they couldn’t and neither could the men who gave false testimony at His trial)
Jesus made it clear that Abraham was not their father and neither was God – they were following their true father, the devil
Who’s your daddy?
It’s not determined by a DNA test
Our actions and words prove who our father is.
If you’re holding to Jesus teachings and doing what Abraham did, then your Father is God
If you’re rejecting Jesus and hurting others through your words (lying, gossiping, etc.) and actions (cheating, hitting, hating, etc.), then your father is the devil
We can live our entire lives believing that our heritage will somehow get us to heaven, but that is simply not true
We have to have a personal relationship with Jesus and hold to His teachings in order to be a true disciple
“I will never forget a ministry trip to southern Germany after my sophomore year in college. We conducted tent campaigns all over Bavaria, three services a day, including an evangelistic rally each evening. Sometimes we would stay in a town for a week, sometimes two weeks. In Hassloch we found our most productive ministry of the summer. For two weeks we proclaimed God’s truth throughout the town and on the closing Sunday held a testimony rally.
My host for the two weeks, a quiet farmer, waited in a long line of local people whose testimonies for Christ lasted well over three hours that Sunday afternoon. When he approached the microphone he said quite simply, ‘You people know me. I have lived in this town all my life. You know that I have been a faithful member of our church and I’ve always believed that would take me to heaven and grant me favor with God. But last week I understood the gospel for the first time and I know that I can only go to heaven because Jesus died for me, and I trust his death to give me eternal life. So today I stand before you as a real Christian for the first time in my life.
The truth will set you free. This was true when Jesus first proclaimed those words, and it was true nearly fifty years ago in Germany. And the truth still sets people free today – free from faith in relationships, faith in religion, and faith in their own righteousness.”