Relying on Abraham

LeRoy Koopman

READ : John 8:39-47

“Abraham,” boasted the religious leaders of Israel, “is our father” (v. 39).

They were not simply saying that Abraham was one of their ancestors. They were claiming Abraham as their spiritual father. They were in a sense engaged in religious “name-dropping.” They were validating their religious status through their family connections with a great ancestor and believer. They were, in fact, claiming that the unique ritual of Jewish circumcision, introduced by Abraham, gave them the necessary religious credentials and the special security of being right with God.

Don’t bank on it, said Jesus. “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did” (v. 39). Family connections are great, but ultimately we are responsible for ourselves. Faith is a choice, a decision, not an accident of birth. Salvation is not passed on through the genes. Baptism, like circumcision, is the sign of God’s covenant, a promise that our faithful and loving God will do his part. But his covenant is always a two-way street.

The point is we must not expect baptism, religious heritage, Christian society, or church affiliation, to save us. “Whoever is from God hears the words of God” (v. 47). Tradition does not save. We must believe.


Lord, I thank you for my spiritual heritage. I thank you for your promises, but I also claim your salvation for myself.