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What the Bible says about Spiritual Children
(From Forerunner Commentary)

John 8:39

He uses the words "father" and "children" in a well-accepted, spiritual way—that is, a son or a daughter can be considered the child of another if he or she shows the nature and works of that other person. Thus a "son of Belial" shows the characteristics of Belial, meaning confusion, though he is not physically Belial's child. A "son of Abraham," then, would behave or live as Abraham did.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part Three)

1 Corinthians 3:3

This is similar to what Paul says in Hebrews 5:12. Because they were still children in the faith, he has to speak to them as if they were spiritual babies. This happens all over—it is not confined to Corinth or to the Hebrews, wherever they were. It certainly is applicable to us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wisdom of Men and Faith

Galatians 3:29

The apostle directs our understanding of Abraham's offspring away from the usual biological definition and toward one pivoting around a relationship with Christ. A few verses earlier, he shows that faith is the crucial substance (see Hebrews 11:1) of that relationship: "Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham" (Galatians 3:7).

Operatively, then, "the faith of Christ" (Galatians 2:16, KJV), not a faith we inflame within ourselves, is the source—we could even say, the functional cause—of our spiritual kinship with Abraham. Through our exercise of Christ's faith in us, we become Abraham's children. Regardless of lineage, we are not his spiritual children by birth. For the purposes of spiritual salvation, reconciliation with God by the faith of Jesus Christ renders irrelevant the genetic, national, social, and gender differences among Homo sapiens (see Galatians 3:26-29).

Thus, the apostle stresses the importance of faith over genealogy. Israel, from God's viewpoint, is first and foremost a spiritual entity, a nation and people (I Peter 2:9) of faith, and only secondarily—subordinately—a physical or natural entity.

Charles Whitaker
Servant of God, Act II: God's Gift of Faith

Galatians 3:29

Abraham is the father of the physical nation God elected to work in and through, and he is also the father of those He calls to be part of His forming spiritual nation. Appreciating Abraham as the father of the physical nation is easy, but seeing him as father of the spiritual nation is not so simple, as we are more apt to think that, because God begets us, He is our spiritual Father. We must therefore see Abraham's spiritual fatherhood in a different light.

The Jews of Jesus' day did not grasp Abraham's spiritual fatherhood correctly. Jesus gives the answer to this perplexing title in John 8, where a great deal of the dialogue involves ancestry.

"And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. . . . I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me." They said to Him, 'Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also." . . . Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." (verses 16, 18-19, 28-29)

Abraham's spiritual fatherhood soon becomes the focus of Jesus' instruction:

They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?" . . . "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." (John 8:33, 37-40)

Members of the same family bear a likeness to one another. It is this principle that designates who is a spiritual child of Abraham. It is not a matter of physical resemblance but a similarity of moral and spiritual attitude and behavior. Christ designates that resemblance to be believing God as Abraham did, as well as doing the works that he did. In the larger picture, a spiritual descendant of Abraham will grow and overcome, gradually changing into the spiritual image of Jesus Christ.

The factor that set Abraham apart above all others was that faith drove, motivated, inspired, and guided—sometimes dramatically—what he did with his life. Thus, Abraham is not only the physical progenitor of Israelites but also the spiritual, moral pattern that his descendants are to conform to.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)

Ephesians 4:14-15

Paul suggests that a new convert is a child, unstable in his ways, who really does not know which end is up spiritually. He can easily be tricked and deceived.

Someone who has grown, on the other hand, is someone who is stable, who will not be swept aside by persecutions, trials, deceitful teachings, and false doctrines. He can fight these off because he knows, understands, is convicted, and continues in the truth. However, he did not get to this point without also going through a process of growth. He had to pray, study, obey, make choices, analyze, compare, look at the fruits of things, and so on. He had to set his will and change. As he does these things, growth takes place.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Nineteen)


 




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