There's a popular notion, it's been around for some time now, known as universalism. The idea of universalism is that everyone, no matter who they are or what they believe, will eventually be saved and the tenet of universalism is called the universal fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. That since God is the Father of all humanity, we are all one another's brothers and sisters. Well that would be lovely to think so. But it would also be wrong to think that. If you believe the Bible, moreover if you just believe the red words of Jesus Christ, you could not come to that idea. That idea and ideas like that fall under the category of well let's call them Hollywood truths. You know what a Hollywood truth is? If you were to just live your life watching films, you would come up with a whole worldview that's different from reality. Hollywood truths don't really happen in the real world. Let me give you an example of Hollywood truths. All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French bread. There's always one sticking out of that paper bag in the movies. The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. They're always up there. Here's another one: the Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris. Every time they shoot a movie in Paris, out the window is the Eiffel Tower. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds. Is that right? Man, he'll roll with the punches and this little girl dabs water... ahh! Wuss. Here's another one: persons not unconscious by a blow to the head will never suffer brain damage. It's always possible to park a car directly outside the building you're visiting. I've always been amazed that they never look for parking spaces--just pull right up. Nobody's there and they run right in--in New York. Any lock can be picked by a credit card or paperclip in seconds unless it's the door leading to a burning building with a child trapped inside. All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when the bomb will go off. Medieval peasants had perfect teeth... oh my goodness. It's not necessary to say hello or goodbye when you begin or end a phone conversation. And finally, it doesn't matter if you're heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts. Your enemies will patiently wait to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors. Those are Hollywood truths. Doesn't happen in real life.
Well Jesus didn't have Hollywood to contend with but He had, let's call it, Follywood to contend with. People with foolish and wrong ideas about spiritual things. Not only is God not the Father of all humanity, God is not the Father of many people who think God is their Father. That's what we're gonna find out today in this paragraph. The Fatherhood of God. Whose child are you really? Here's a group of people who believed that God was their Father, but they had the devil's DNA. They had murder in their hearts. They detested truth and they hated God's messenger. So Jesus will give them, in this paragraph, a paternity test, ways to tell who their real spiritual father is. Now paternity tests have become very popular in the last several years because it seems there are so many children that no one exactly knows who the father is. Every year in the United States of America, 220,000 paternity tests are performed. It's gotten so bad in England that according to one source at the University of Liverpool, one in twenty-five dads unknowingly are raising another man's child. Well how do we know what our spiritual DNA is? Are there tests that we can take? Yes, indeed there is a test we can take and we're gonna look at that this morning. But you can tell by simply seeing the similarities in traits. If I were to stand my son up next to me this morning, it's pretty easy to tell that we're related. There's so many features that are similar. And so it is spiritually. There are traits that children of a father, spiritually speaking, will exhibit. Now this morning I'm gonna begin going from wide to narrow, from the premise that Jesus is working off of, as seen in all of the verses we're gonna read, there are 11 verses we're gonna look at, verse 37 to 47. So we'll start with the premise, we'll move to the group that Jesus speaks to, the pretenders, those who pretended that they were children of God, and then finally to the paternity test itself.
Verse 37, the conversation continues from what we have been reading the last few weeks. Jesus is speaking. He says, "I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father." They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father." Now they have no idea what He's speaking about when He's saying your father. They will in a moment. "They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father--God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources [or his native language], for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."
The words of Jesus Christ indicate that He is working off of a premise. I don't want you to miss that. The premise is the devil is real. Jesus refers to the devil in this paragraph as being real. Not only that, but because He's speaking of the devil in the same paragraph as He speaks of Abraham, a historical figure, He's referring to the devil as a real, historical figure. Not only that but Jesus refers to the devil as someone personal. Notice the personal pronouns the Lord uses. He refers to the devil as he--not it. Him--not that. Personal pronouns. In other words, Jesus' premise is that the devil was real, historical, and personal. And even more than that, that he was fallen. He was fallen from someplace where he was before and has sunk to a lower level. Look at verse 44. It says, he "does not stand in the truth." The Old King James says he abode not in the truth. That is, he had once a standing from which he fell. He's not in that standing any longer. Now he's a murderer. He's a liar.
Now I bring all of that up as the premise because to most people the idea of a real, historical, personal, fallen being called the devil is sheer nonsense. Sheer nonsense. It's mythological. People made it up. They had to deal with their guilty conscience so they talk about a devil. That's what most people believe. And that's because he's the stuff cartoons are made out of. He's that little guy in the tight red underwear runs around with a goatee and horns and a pitchfork. I'm not gonna believe that. The Gallup organization helps us understand what Americans really believe. According to the Gallup poll, 70, 70% of Americans believe in a devil. 70. However, of the people that believe in the devil, according to Gallup, 35%, or excuse me, half of that 70% say that the devil is a personal, real being. The other half believe that he's a metaphor of evil, a symbol of evil, not a real person. The Barna research organization gives us even further help. They made a statement and they asked people to respond to the statement. Do you agree with the statement or disagree with the statement? Here's the statement: the devil is not a living being. He's just the symbol of evil. That's the statement. They asked people that. Let me make a statement, now would you please respond to it? Here's what they found. Of those who claimed to be born-again Christians, 32% strongly agree the devil is not a real being. He's just a symbol. Also, 11% agree somewhat--whatever that means. 5% don't know. Here's the point they're making: 48%, almost half in this survey, almost half of those who said we're born-again Christians, would say the devil isn't real, he is simply a metaphor or a symbol of evil. Like the two little six-year-old boys who were having a conversation and one said I don't believe in a devil. And the friend said you don't believe in the devil? He's written about all over the Bible! And the first guy said yeah, I know, but he's sort of like Santa Claus. The devil turns out to really be your dad.
Well according to Jesus, he might be your dad--spiritually speaking. But the premise He's working off of is the devil is real, historical, personal, and fallen from his original position and is now a malevolent being wrecking havoc. There's another part of the premise. Not only is there a real devil, but everyone has a relationship with him. Everyone has a relationship. And that is he is either your spiritual father or God is your spiritual Father and everybody would like to say well God is my spiritual Father but Jesus says not so quick. Everybody has a relationship with the devil. You're either on his team and part of his family or you follow Jesus Christ, which means you defected. You jumped ship. And the devil is now your enemy. A lot of people will immediately and automatically resist that notion that I just stated. They'll say something like nobody controls me. I make my own choices. I'm the master of my own ship, the captain of my own fate. You'd love to think so. According to John White, he writes in a great little book called The Fight, I love that book, he writes this: you may not have realized you had a relationship with the devil at all unless you were fooling around with the occult. Yet aware of it or not, his spirit was at work in your body unknown to you his deceptions obscured your thinking while his music enflamed your senses and influenced your will. He thought of himself as your master but, like credit rating agencies, he makes himself unobtrusive as possible. His greatest skill lay in giving you a feeling that you were your own master. That's his lie. You're the master. You make your choices--nobody influences you!
It's interesting that White, in that paragraph, said unless you're fooling around with the occult. I was. I've been there; done that. Played around with astral projection, spirit writing. I've told you my story. Here's the deal: when I was doing all those things, I knew they were wrong. I knew that I was dealing with something demonic. So one day I got to thinking, because I had a religious background, I thought if there's this much power on the wrong side, there's gotta be a whole lot more power on the right side. But I understood there's something very powerful that is happening here. However, for most people, they play this unknowing part of being part of a global satanic conspiracy while they are unaware. See the Bible says in Ephesians, Paul writes, we don't struggle against flesh and blood but principalities and powers. He sums it up by saying spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms. So the premise Jesus works off of is there's a real devil. He's historical, he's personal, he's fallen, and everybody has a relationship with him. Once again, I love how Jesus puts it so simply and breaks it down to the irreducible minimum. You're either born-again or you're not. You are either in light or you are in darkness. You are either saved or you are lost. You are either sons of God or sons of the devil. You're either for Me or against Me. He does that a lot.
Now if you're a Christian, the devil is your enemy. Can I just say that's where you want him? you go, you do? Yep. If you're gonna have any relationship with him at all, you don't want him as your friend. You want him as your enemy. You want to have defected from his kingdom and be followers of the Lord because greater is He that is in you, that is the Lord Jesus Christ, if you're a believer, than he that is in this world system, that is, the devil. Let's move and get a little more narrower from the premise to the pretenders, the crowd Jesus is speaking to. Verse 37 He says, "I know that you are Abraham's descendants," now they had claimed they were--and they were. They were physical descendants of Abraham. They were Jewish people. however, they were pretenders because what they're doing is hiding behind their physical ancestry trusting in that for their spiritual standing before God. He acknowledges I know you're Abraham's descendants. Look at verse 39: "They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me". If you're gonna have somebody in your family tree, Abraham's a good guy to have in your family tree. He's the man of faith in the Old Testament. It says in Genesis 15, Abraham believed God and God accounted that to him for righteousness. In fact, the New Testament holds up Abraham as the example of faith. An entire chapter of Romans, Romans 4, Paul devotes to Abraham, the example of faith. Hebrews chapter 12, that list of people who believed, Abraham is one of the first. And the writer of Hebrews says by faith Abraham obeyed God. So you have Abraham believed God, Abraham obeyed God. There's something else Abraham did. Abraham received heavenly messengers. Remember Genesis 18? Those three people that came as visitors and Abraham went out of his way to get Sarah to whip something up for them, a nice meal, and he treated them real special? They were God's messengers.
And so we're Abraham's children. Jesus is saying you might be Abraham's children physically, but you're sure not Abraham's children spiritually because Abraham wasn't trying to kill anybody. You're trying to kill Me. Abraham received heavenly messengers. You don't receive Me. Abraham believed God. You don't believe anything that I have said and I'm God's messenger. You're not Abraham's offspring. But they were relying upon their physical descent for their spiritual well-being. You know, you can be related to somebody physically but be miles away from them spiritually. Let me give you a classic example. Ever heard of King Manasseh? King Manasseh. Nobody has? Ok. Only a fourth of you have? Ok. King Manasseh was called the wickedest king in Judah, more wicked than all who had come before him, more wicked than the pagan kings around him. His dad was King Hezekiah, one of the best kings Judah ever had. Great dad--really bad son. Related genetically--miles apart spiritually. So here's this group claiming to be Abraham's children. They were descendants of Abraham physically. But they go from their physical birthright to their spiritual boast in verse 41. Notice what they say. Jesus says you do the deeds of your father. They have no idea what he's meaning. "They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication," now let me just stop right there. I have to explain what that is. This is an insult. They're trying to embarrass Jesus because Jesus, we know, was born of a virgin. She had no relationship physically with Joseph. The Holy Spirit impregnated her. She was a virgin when she was pregnant. But the rumor mill was that Jesus was an illegitimate child, that his mom had been fooling around before they got married and got pregnant. Now if you want to insult somebody, you just talk badly about their mama, is that right? They're trying to bring this up and pointing it at Jesus. We're not born of fornication. That's an insult.
Look at the second part of their statement: "We have one Father--God." Now to this group, both the first and the second claim, were tied together. Because we are descendants of Abraham physically, therefore we will be God's children and be in heaven. They believed that. The rabbis told them that. Did you know that one of the sayings of the rabbis was that Abraham was sitting next to the gates of hell forbidding any Israelite to enter; even the most wicked Israelite couldn't enter because he was a child of Abraham, a descendant of Abraham. That was their security blanket. They automatically believed that if you're Jewish, you will occupy a place in heaven. Why? Because there's a little Scripture in Exodus 4 where God Himself, speaking of the nation, says Israel is My firstborn. That must mean then that every single Jew that would be born, children of Abraham, will occupy a place in heaven. Well that's not what Paul says. Romans chapter 9 verses 6 and 7, Paul the apostle says for not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. Let me press this point applicationally. If you have Christian parents or grandparents, you have a great heritage. But if you think you will automatically go to heaven because you have Christian parents or grandparents, you better think again. I once had a conversation with two people who claimed to be Charles Haddon Spurgeon's descendants. I don't know if they were or not, but they said they traced their ancestry... I was delighted. I love Charles Spurgeon. But I was a little disappointed after a conversation with them. Because they didn't seem to quite reflect the value system of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Physically attached; spiritually maybe not so much.
Have you heard of Aaron Burr? Aaron Burr was arrested for treason at one point. He was the guy who shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Um, he claimed himself as the emperor of Mexico even at one point. Anyway, he was charged with treason. Did you know that Aaron Burr's grandpa was a guy by the name of Jonathan Edwards? Jonathan Edwards was one of the greatest not only intellects but spiritual preachers this country has ever seen. And yet his grandson was Aaron Burr. It doesn't matter who your parents or grandparents or great-grandparents were. Who are you? You've heard the adage: God has no grandchildren--only children. Every generation has to have their own relationship with Christ. So from the premise, there's a real devil and everybody has a relationship with him, to the pretenders, spiritual posers who said well because we're Jewish and descendants of Abraham, therefore we will occupy a place in heaven. Now Jesus gives the paternity test. Is there a way to know today for us, as well as for them back then, who our spiritual father is? Yes. There's four questions you need to ask. Number one: who do you love? Who do you love? Look at verse 42: "Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me." Now did they pass this test? No! They hated Jesus! They hated Him! They wanted to kill Him! One of the telltale signs that a person is truly following God and God is their heavenly Father, spiritual Father, is they love His Son. Any parent gets that. Anybody who has shown favor to My Son shows that that person loves Me. They win a special place in My heart. If you, if you were God's children, you'd love Me. If you'd honor God, you'd love Me.
One of the first things you notice about people who come to God, who really are saved, is they love Jesus. When I first got saved, um, I could say I went overboard. I wanted the Jesus t-shirt. They didn't have one like manufactured. We had to make our own--tie-dyed. So I'm giving away my era. And I put bumper stickers on my car. I carried Bibles around and tracts with me and it wasn't because I was trying to show off. I just really loved Jesus and I wanted people to know Him. it happens. You love Him. You want to talk to Him. you want to spend time with Him. I get an email from this ministry in the Middle East. They put out a radio program throughout the Middle East and many Muslims come to Christ and it's very secretive but there's one, they give them different names, but there's one guy, we'll call him Salim from Pakistan who moved to Saudi Arabia. When he moved to Saudi Arabia, he had met some Christians in Pakistan and he was always curious: who is Jesus? He always wanted to know who's this Jesus. He's even mentioned in the Koran so he kept wondering who is Jesus. In Saudi Arabia, on several occasions, he tried to have conversations with people. tell me about who Jesus is. Nobody would talk to him about Jesus because if the government authorities found out you're having a conversation about Jesus, you're in trouble in that... no freedom of speech. So he said I kept praying Allah, show me who is Jesus. I kept praying that. Show me who Jesus is. I wanna know who Jesus is. That was his prayer. He said one day he went into a mosque, Friday prayers in a mosque, and he said Allah, who is Jesus? He said I actually heard a voice speak to me say this Jesus, He is God. He heard that in his mosque--praying to Allah. This Jesus, He is God. Well he got on the internet when he got home, did a little bit of research, eventually he gave his life to the Lord and he's writing this radio ministry back and he said, first words out of his mouth that he wrote, I love Jesus Christ. That's how you can tell if a person is spiritually connected to God as Father. They love the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter writes this: even though you have never seen Him, you love Him and you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. You know why Peter wrote that? Because Peter was asked the same question after the resurrection by Jesus. The same question three times. Remember what it was? Peter, do you love Me? Peter, do you love Me? Peter, here's the big issue, Peter, do you love Me? Do you love Jesus? Do you love to talk about Jesus? Do you love to tell others about Him? Do you love to spend time with Him? That's first part of the paternity test. Who do you love? Here's the second part: what do you understand? Notice verse 43 Jesus says, "Why do you not understand My speech?" He gives them the answer: "Because you are not able to listen to My word." Here's one way that I know that you're not God's child, you're the devil's child, is because I'm speaking God's language, you don't understand it. Children always understand the language of their father. I'm speaking the language of My Father. You don't get it. You speak a foreign language. You don't understand My words. Why is that? This is what Paul writes, 1 Corinthians chapter 2: the natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God. They are foolishness unto him. Have you ever shared with someone and as you're talking to them about Jesus, God, the gospel, their need, they're looking at you sorta like huh? And you're thinking don't they get it? Don't they understand? No they don't. They don't. It's sort of like describing a beautiful sunset to somebody blind. They lack the capacity to appreciate it. Why is that? Paul tells us, this is 2 Corinthians chapter 4: Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe so they are unable to see the glorious light of the good news. They don't understand the message we preach. They lack the ability to get it. That is why, any person who is saved, has to have their heart opened up by the Lord Himself. You can't do it. I can't do it. Only the Lord can do it. It has to be sort of this ah-ha moment. This epiphany. A revelation of who they are and who God is.
So who do you love, what do you understand, here's the third question: what do you do or what are you doing? That's the third part of the paternity test. Verse 44: "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks [his native language or] from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." You do what he does. Like father, like son. Your actions prove your relationship. That's the point that He's making. Jesus will say when we get to it in a few chapters, whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. Ever had somebody say oh I love God, I love Jesus, I'm all about God, and you look at their life and you go really? Because everything you do is totally opposite to a life conformed to Him. Jesus said I'll tell you who really loves Me--the one who has My commands and does them. The paternity of God is demonstrated by the conformity of God's kids. That's why in Luke chapter 6 Jesus said why do you call me Lord, Lord, and you don't do the things which I say? So it's an easy point. Obedience proves relationship. Make sense? Obedience proves relationship. Doesn't produce relationship. It's not like I'm gonna work really hard and be a really good person and then I'll get saved by doing that. Not at all. Once you are saved, you prove that you are by the obedient lifestyle that has developed because of that.
Erma Bombeck, you may have heard her name, she was an American humorist who wrote in newspaper columns, but she always had witty ways of saying things. This is what she said: Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died. Isn't that good? I mean, if you're sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office and he's gonna work on you and you look around his office and every living thing in that office is dead, you're going hmm... I don't think so. Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died. How do we apply that? It's simple. Nobody's gonna go to a Christian for direction if that Christian seems lost himself. There has to be something compelling and that comes by what they see in terms of our deeds. So who do you love, what do you understand, what do you do, and the third question in the paternity test is when do you listen. This is a good question. Before I read this, when do you listen? I like those messages that make me feel really good about myself. I listen to that. When there's hard truths--I don't listen. Not good sign. Verse 45: "But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God." A telltale sign that a person is not spiritually related to God as their Father is their refusal to hear. Not just their inability to get it, but once they do get it, to go: don't want it. they have a hardened or recalcitrant heart.
Now this wasn't new to Jesus. You have to understand something. This nation had a history of that. You think of prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah. You know what their biggest problem was as prophets? Is many people they were preached to turned away, walked away, from what they heard because it was getting too close to home. listen to Isaiah chapter 30. God says for these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay any attention to the Lord's instructions. They tell the prophets shut up! We don't want any more of your reports. They say don't tell us the truth. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. You know if Jesus would've walked up to this crowd and said ok, you guys, I want you to know something. You're ok. I'm ok. you're a bunch of good guys. I'm a good guy. Let's just all be good guys and believe whatever we want because in the end, it'll all pan out. They would've loved Him. they would've... if He could do miracles and say that, man, we're in business with Him! But they want to kill Him. You know why? They didn't want true preachers. They wanted court jesters. They wanted entertainment. They wanted sermons that would not disturb their comfortable way of life and, because Jesus didn't comfort their affliction, but afflicted them in their comfort, rattled their feathers, they want to kill Him. they don't want anything to do with Him.
This group was like Christmas trees: decorated on the outside, dead on the inside. I love Christmas trees but I always look at them. Once I put up all the lights and stuff I go that looks so beautiful but I always remember it's dead. Just give it a week and all those needles fall off; you gotta clean up those puppies like every day. These people were like that. Now I don't want to stop here. I just want to stop with the alternative to this because if you leave here moping thinking I guess I have some of the devil's DNA I'm just saying this: it's quite simple. Jump ship. Defect. Leave his kingdom. And if the light is turned on in your heart and you realize I've been on his team all along, I just didn't know it--now you know it. Now jump ship. Now defect. Now leave that family because here's the thing about Jesus Christ. He came to seek and to save those who are lost. And you know what? Only people who admit they're lost get found.