2/22 Luke 3:8

8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.

John the Baptist was proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). Those who recognized they were sinners and wanted to seek God's forgiveness came publicly to John in the Jordan River, where he immersed them in its water. It symbolized a washing away of the old and a new birth into a new life. But John was not claiming that the act alone would save someone from judgment.

In John's statement that we look at today, John was declaring that a life had to show the change. It had to produce good things that were the result of the change of heart. That was the only evidence that a change had truly taken place. We can talk about the Scriptures and perform religious rituals, but if these do not affect our lives, we may be only acting as if we have repented.

The Jews of Jesus' day believed that all children of Abraham would certainly go to heaven. John was declaring that belief to be wrong. Perhaps in an allusion to the prophet Ezekiel's prophecy of the Messiah turning hearts of stone into hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), John said that God could raise up children of Abraham from the stones. It was the actions that came from a repentant heart that showed one to be a child of Abraham. The Apostle Paul preached the same message in Romans chapter four. Abraham was a man of faith that resulted in actions. Those whose faith allows God to transform their hearts so that their lives are changed are children of Abraham.

Consider: Our parents' faith, the church we attend, or the rituals we perform do not change us unless we repent and personally believe. That is the beginning. Then, by the grace of God, we must allow God's Spirit to bear fruit in our lives.