This morning it is my intention to confront you with the reality of what it means to be a Christian. In order to understand, you will be asked to determine whether you are an Isaac or an Ishmael. In order to determine that, you need to look at the way you view your God. How you react to the what you discover will depend on whether you desire to follow the Holy Spirit. It will depend on what you are seeking in your life. It will depend on whether you believe God’s Word or not. At stake is your very trust. Who are you going to trust this morning? Let’s pray.
The Distinctiveness of Abba Christians
Romans 8:14-15 (ESV) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Galatians 3:1 (Phillips NT) O you dear idiots of Galatia, who saw Jesus Christ the crucified so plainly, who has been casting a spell over you? I will ask you one simple question: did you receive the Spirit of God by trying to keep the Law or by believing the message of the Gospel? Surely you can't be so idiotic as to think that a man begins his spiritual life in the Spirit and then completes it by reverting to outward observances? Has all your painful experience brought you nowhere? I simply cannot believe it of you! Does God, who gives you his Spirit and works miracles among you, do these things because you have obeyed the Law or because you have believed the Gospel? Ask yourselves that.
Paul was calling the Galatians ‘idiots’ for a very good reason. They failed to see the significance of the Holy Spirit for their lives. They were having a difficult time with a ‘no rules’ Christianity. They found the legalism of Judaism much more comfortable and ‘religious’. In fact, they were making stupid statements like:
God, I would rather be your slave than your child
Galatians 4:9 (NASB) “how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?”
Jesus did not die on the cross to save us to be His slaves. Sure, in a sense we belong to Him, we owe our lives to Him, but our Christian life is a life of sons and daughters, not the life of slaves. It is a life of freedom, not bondage.
We see this presented through the example of Ishmael and Isaac, in Gal 4:21-31:
Galatians 4:21-31 (ESV) Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
Ishmael was the child born according to the flesh. The rules were followed, it was perfectly legal. His birth represented the “Old Covenant”. Hagar bore children of slavery, slaves to the flesh, to pleasing God according to the flesh.
The Old Covenant was based on the law and flesh. God laid the responsibility on the people-“Thou shalt not…” It was fleshly effort to please God and win His favor.
Isaac was the child of promise. God promised his conception and birth. There was no physical way he could have been conceived and carried to birth. His birth was totally by promise of God. He was born not a slave to the flesh but a free man blessed with all the wealth of his father Abraham. His wife was provided for him, his home, his property, all was provided.
The New Covenant is based on the Spirit and promise-I will I will…Jesus Christ fulfilled the demands of the law and gave forth His Spirit of Promise to fulfill God’s demands!
Ishmael is a picture of religion in the flesh, what man can accomplish by himself, in his own strength.
Isaac is a picture of a God’s grace, and what God accomplishes in His power on our behalf. It is not natural religion, but supernatural way of life.
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
If you have a relationship with God, you tend to be either an Ishmael or an Isaac.
Ishmael’s see God as a Master, whom you have to try your hardest to please. You believe it is up to your strength and efforts to please God. Yours is a religion of the flesh. Yours is a religion of do’s and don’ts. Your religion is constantly evolving based upon what you are going through at the time, what God seems to be doing at the time. They feel they are either in or out of God’s favor depending upon the circumstances.
Isaac’s see themselves as capable of nothing that could ever please God. They see God as a wonderful Father who provides everything for them. They see themselves as son’s enjoying a marvelous relationship that is always aimed at their growth as sons. Circumstances are always seen as growth tools, opening their eyes to more and more of the Father’s love for them.
Are you an Ishmael or an Isaac?
HOW DO YOU VIEW GOD WHEN YOU PRAY?
What the Galatians failed to see was that life with Jesus Christ opens the doors to ‘son ship’ with God. Only in Christ can we inherit the promises, receive the grace and enjoy the freedom of God!
The Galatians were entering into a relationship with Jesus, only to revert back to slavery to rules and laws. They were slaves to their flesh, and their efforts to please God. They failed to see that Jesus brought this wonderful NEW relationship to them, one which required that they do nothing to please God! All they had to do was enter into this new relationship by faith!
Do You See God as Your Abba, Father?
Jesus had a unique way of addressing His Father. His disciples heard Him all the time:
Mark 14:36 (ESV) And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Romans 8:15 (ESV) For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Galatians 4:6 (ESV) And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
THE MEANING OF ABBA FATHER
To Jews the Name of God carries such an awesome mystique that it cannot be pronounced.
Pronouncing the name of God in 1st century Palestine constituted blasphemy and brought the death penalty. The idea of referring to God as "Father or as some say “daddy" must have been controversial.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray saying “Our pater (Father)”
Evidently Jesus in His private prayers said “Abba, pater”. He combined the Aramaic term for father with the Greek. It was as if He was saying “Father, my Father”
Abba was Aramaic for ‘father’
The name Barabbas in the New Testament comes from the Aramaic phrase Bar Abba meaning "son of the father".
ἀββᾶ abbá; transliterated from the Aramaic ʾAbbaʾ. Father, my father. This double expression was common in the early church.
ABBA AS ‘DADDY’ ORIGIN
This stemmed from an idea that was originally proposed by a scholar named Joachim Jeremias (b1900-d1979); mainly, that ‘abbā’ was "a child’s word"; originating from "child-babble." This led too quickly to the conclusion that abbā meant "Daddy”, but which has come back to haunt the study of the Gospel traditions ever since However, this idea was immediately challenged by a number of other scholars, such as James Barr who published an article entitled "Abba Isn't 'Daddy'" (in the Journal of Theological Studies) which outlined the numerous problems with such an assertion and addressed them in detail.
I believe that Mary Rose D'Angelo summed up what happened next nicely:
"Jeremias began almost at once to retreat from the claim that "abba" had the same connotations as "daddy." In a sense, Barr's title (but only his title) misrepresents Jeremias. Even as Jeremias acknowledged that the word was in common use by adults and was used as a mark of repect for old men and for teachers, he continued to stress the origins in babytalk and the consequent intimacy as a special component of Jesus' use of the word. This meaning seems to have been the basis on which he regarded Jesus' use as absolutely distinct from the Judaism of his time .
In light of Barr’s article, Jeremias changed his position, but the idea of Abba as Daddy was popularized by his follower’s, and is taught even today.
Many years after Jeremias' death, modern linguistic study of how children pick up speech has completely discounted his conclusions of abba as "babytalk."
But...there is still a point of confusion: In Modern Hebrew, "abba" has become commonly used as... You guessed it: "Daddy." So, when a Hebrew speaker happens upon this anecdote, to them it makes "perfect sense."
DADDY, DAD OR FATHER
However you believe Jesus referred to His Father, as “daddy” or “father my Father”, you will agree that Jesus had a relationship with God that was different than the people around Him, even the very religious ones.
Addressing Jehovah as Abba Father was so unique that Paul encouraged Christians to do the same.
Why should we address God as Abba Father?
There is something special that comes through faith in Christ that we could never get by the works of the Law: it gives us the position of sons of God. It brings us to the place of full-grown sons. When we start out in the Christian life, we are babes and we are to grow to maturation. However, God gives us the position of a full-grown son to furnish us with a capacity that we would not otherwise have.
WE ARE NOT TO BE CHILDREN
Galatians 4:1 (ESV) I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything,
I have no problem calling myself a “child of God”. After all, it seems that I am a child. But to think of myself as a “Son of God” almost seems sacrilegious, for that is Jesus. But we must understand what God expects of us, and we see this in Galatians 4, beginning with verse 1.
The word child in this verse is not the same as child in Galatians 3:26 (KJV) For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus; where it is from the Greek word huios, meaning "son." Here it is nepios, meaning a little child without full power of speech. "The heir, as long as he is a child (a little one in the family), differeth nothing from a servant."
Again we will have to go back to the Roman customs to see Paul's illustration in action. In a Roman home servants had charge of different possessions of the master. Some had charge of the house, others of the livestock, others kept books for him, and others had charge of his children. When a little one was born into the home, the servants cared for him and dressed him in play clothes so that he didn't look any different from the children of the servants with whom he was playing. And he had to obey the servants just like the other children did. This is mentioned in verse 2:
Galatians 4:2 (ESV) but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.
"Until the time appointed of the father." What time was that? It was the time when the father recognized that his son was capable of making decisions of his own, and he brought him into the position of a full-grown son.
Such were we
Galatians 4:3 (ESV) In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.
"Under the elements of the world" means under the Law; “the elementary lessons of outward things (literally, "of the [outward] world" . Paul is saying that it was the childhood of the nation Israel when they were under rules and regulations.
GOD WANTS US TO BE SONS
The father determines when his son has reached the age of maturity. It wasn't an arbitrary law as we have in our society. In Paul's day, it was the father who decided when the age of maturity was reached. When a boy reached his majority, he discarded the crimson-bordered toga (toga praetexta) of a child and donned the pure white toga of a man. This was the toga virilis, and it was marked by a ceremony, procession to the forum, and a sacrifice to their god. The toga virilis, gave him the position of a full-grown son in the family.
A SPECIAL DAY
One day the Roman father realizes his son has changed. The father says, "Bring him here." So they bring him in -- he's a fine strapping boy -- and the father says, "Well, now we must have the toga virilis, and we'll send out invitations to the grandmas, the grandpas, the aunts, and the uncles." So they all come in for the ceremony of the toga virilis, and that day the father puts around the boy a toga, a robe.
Without uttering a single word, any Roman onlooker knew that regardless of the boy's young age, he was a free born male citizen.
In Roman society, there was a fundamental status distinction, as the jurist Gaius stated: 'The main classification in the law of persons is this: all men are either free (Iiberi) or slaves (servi) .... among free men, some are free-born (ingenui) while others are freed (libertini). Freedom (libertas) was a fundamental concept with a distinctly civic character. As Wirsmbski explains, it 'consists in the capacity for the possession of rights nd the absence of subjection.. ..the Romans conceived libertas as an acquired right, and not as an innate right of man. The assumption of the toga marked the acquistion of full citizenship and full Freedom, though not independence, a distinction that could never be overemphasized.
THE PRODIGAL SON WAS RECEIVED AS A FULL-GROWN SON
That is what our Lord meant in His parable of the Prodigal Son. When the boy came home the father didn't receive him as just an ordinary son, he received him as a full-grown son, put the robe around him, and put a ring on his finger. The ring had on it the signet of his father, which was equivalent to his signature and gave him the father's authority. You could see that boy walking down the street now with that robe on. The servant better not say anything to correct him now, and he'd better not try to paddle him now. In fact, he'll be whipping the servant from here on because he has now reached the age of a full-grown son.
That is what Paul meant when he went on to say:
Galatians 4:4 (ESV) But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law.
At the time determined by God, God the Father sent forth God the Son, born of a woman, born under the Law. Mary was a Jewish woman. Now what was God's purpose in sending forth His Son?
Galatians 4:5 (ESV) to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
God had a twofold purpose in Jesus Christ:
1. To redeem those under the Law.
• They were children under the Law.
• The Law never made anyone a son of God.
2. That they might receive the adoption of sons.
WHAT WAS ROMAN ADOPTION?
Adoption has a meaning different from that of our contemporary society. We think of it in relationship with a couple that may not have children of their own. They go to a home where there are children for adoption and see a precious little baby there. Their hearts go out to him, and they adopt him in their family by going through legal action. When the little one becomes their child we call that adoption. However, the Roman custom in Paul's day was to adopt one's own son. That was what was done in the toga virilis ceremony. Adoption (the Greek word is huiothesia) means "to place as a son."
A believer is placed in the family of God as a full-grown son, capable of understanding divine truth capable of being LED by the Holy Spirit!
If you want to know about Christ, only the Spirit of God can reveal Him to you. Even a mature Christian who has been in the Word for years is as helpless in studying the Bible as a newborn babe in Christ, because the Spirit of God will have to teach each of them.
If you are a new believer, the same Spirit of God who is teaching me can teach you. If you are God's child, He has brought you into the position of a full-grown son, into the adoption. And, my friend, there is nothing quite as wonderful as that!
THE EXPERIENCE OF THE SONS OF GOD
This brings us to the next thing that faith in Christ does for us that the Law could never do for us, which is the experience of sons of God.
Galatians 4:6 (ESV) And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Galatians 4:7 (ESV) So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
"Because you are sons" is a very strong statement.
PAUL EXPLAINS THIS FULLY IN ROMANS 8:11-16
Romans 8:11-14 (ESV) If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
If you are a child of God, you will be led by the Spirit of God. The flesh may get a victory in your life, but it will never make you happy. You will never be satisfied with it, because "...ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear."
You don't need to say, "My, I'm not living as I should live, and I wonder if I'm a child of God."
You have a New Relationship with God for you wear the TOGA VIRILIS:
Romans 8:15-16 (ESV) For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
The Spirit, therefore, gives us an experience of being a son of God, whereby we can cry out -- not just saying the word or putting on a false "piety" -- and call God our Father, because the Spirit is bearing witness with our spirit. This gives us the experience of being a son of God.
There are many who believe that the only way you can have an intimate relationship with Holy God is either by reaching a high degree of holiness or you have to have some ‘baptism with fire’ experience.
Let me assure you, if you are a new believer or a weak believer, that you can experience God as your Abba Father regardless of your ‘spiritual level’, because son ship comes to you through faith in Jesus Christ.
When you place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, God gives you the “Toga Virilis” ceremony. He sees you just as He sees His Son. He is saying “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased”,
When people reach a high level of spirituality, they tend to think they are superior to the rest of us. However, we are always God's foolish little children. We are always filled with ignorance and stubbornness and sin and fears and weaknesses. We are never wonderful; He is wonderful. The Lord Jesus is wonderful, and faith in Him will give us a wonderful experience.
One preacher said, "The old nature that you and I have is just like an old dead cat. What you need to do is reach down and get that old dead cat by the tail and throw it as far away as you can."
I wish I could get rid of my old nature. Problem is, our old nature has 9 lives, and then some! When you throw him away, he is going to be right back tomorrow." We will never become perfect saints of God, but we can experience being sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
"And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."
Many times you and I plod along in our Christian lives, and we don't have an experience with God. Sometimes life becomes very drab and a little monotonous. But there are other times, especially when God puts us on trial and really tests us, that we have a wonderful experience with our Heavenly Father.
I don’t like attention, especially attention that comes through dumb mistakes that end you up in the Emergency Room. Laying on the bed, with big John the EMT twisting a tourniquet around my wrist, I didn’t know what damage the bullet had done. I know I wanted there to be no damage, for things to be ok and be on my way.
"Lord, I want you to know that I have been here many times, and I have patted people on the hand and told them that You would be with them. As their pastor I prayed for them and then walked out. But I am on the bed now, and I don’t know what is going to happen”.
I know what I wanted God to do, but I just welled up inside, and said, "Abba Father, I’m in Your hands. Whatever You want done, You do it. You're my Father and I am your son."
He was so wonderful to me. That is when He becomes a reality.
THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADS US TO EXPERIENCE ABBA FATHER
We need to experience Him as our Abba, Father. " The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God " (Rom. 8:16).
Now, I don't wish you any trouble, but I think it is generally in times of trouble that God makes Himself real to us.
John G. Paton was a pioneer missionary in the New Hebrides. He went to the mission field as a young man with a young bride. When their first child was born, the child died and the wife died. He buried them with his own hands. Because he was among cannibals, he sat over the grave for many days and nights to prevent them from digging up the bodies and eating them. His testimony was that if the Lord Jesus Christ had not made Himself real to him during that time, he would have gone mad.
God reveals Himself as Abba during times of distress
2 Timothy 4:16-17 (ESV) At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord stood by Paul. He stood by John Paton. He stood by me. He will stand by you. How reassuring it is to have a Father like that! At such a time He says, "...I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5).
WE NEED AN ABBA CHRISTIANITY
We need to see and love God as a Son does. On the one hand we are confident Sons, wearing our toga virilis, on the other, we are reaching to our Father with all the confidence and trust of a small child.
In the garden Jesus was certainly all man, willing to take on the crucifixion and the cross, yet on the other, he was a child crying out to His Daddy, asking that He not have to drink the cup of His wrath. Yet Jesus drank from that cup, so that you and I could experience ABBA Father.
A. Abba Christianity is Founded upon a Loving Father
God is a loving Father and wants you to see Him as someone who is loving and wants to be helpful and redemptive in your lives. An Abba relationship sees that everything that happens in our lives has a redemptive sonship quality. It is designed to bring us into a closer more intimate relationship with our Abba Father.
1. An Abba Christian Sees God as an Intimate, Involved Father.
You view God as an intimate Father. He is always there. He is always proud. He is always going “Attaboy!” He knows your failures, your defeats, yet He loves you so. He knows you aren’t the star athlete, yet He cheers you on anyway.
Scriptures teach that God is very near and intimate with us: “In Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). He is not some remote creator who set nature in motion and went away.
2. An Abba Christian sees God as a Caring Father.
Often this is the very place the devil attacks our faith, trying to make us believe that God does not care about us personally. He is not distant, self-absorbed like your earthly father. He is not someone who does not want to be bothered with your problems.
3. An Abba Christian sees God as a Trustworthy Father.
God is the Father you can trust completely. “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). Sometimes life gets heavy, and if you can feel the love of God underneath you, you can trust His everlasting arms to hold you up.
B. Abba Christianity sees Yourself as His beloved Son
1. See the Value of His Sonship
An Abba Christian sees the value that God places upon His children. This is not a matter of pride or conceit, but a realization of our position and responsibilities. We are the Son of God. We are wearing the Toga Deitis, the Garment of God!
Most Christians react to positive attitude thinking. But an Abba Christian is a confident Son of an all-powerful Father! There is a thin line between confidence and conceit, but Abba Christians can be confident without being conceited.
If you do not see yourself as a person of worth, then the devil has blinded you to the true meaning of Christ’s sacrificial death on Calvary. From God’s point of view, you are a person of worth, and no matter how low you might feel about yourself, you should never forget that.
2. See the Confidence of Sonship
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Abba Christians are Confident of Christ living through them, confident of their value, confident of forgiveness, and confident that God is ever working in their life!
There is no room for pride for God is never finished with us until He takes us home.
C. An Abba Christian develops a compassionate Care for others
1. Abba Christians are secure in their Father, and need not fear man.
Everyone is a potential friend because of your relationship with the Father!
2. Abba Christians can be more accepting of others because of their acceptance before their Father.
Look at the contrast between Jesus’ view of other people and that of the Pharisees. They were very intolerant, very judgmental. But Jesus was open and accepting with a wide variety of people. He could be at home with tax collectors, adulterers and prostitutes.
3. Abba Christians see a responsibility to reach out to others in the Name of their Father.
You need to develop a compassionate care for others. We should be serving others and doing things for them as though we were doing it for the Lord. We love and serve others not to be seen by them, but out of our love for the Lord and our love for them.
ABBA CHRISTIANS VIEW LIFE DIFFERENTLY
It is not always easy to find God’s will in the circumstances of a person’s life, but it is always simple to know God’s will concerning our attitude toward life: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Thanksgiving and gratitude open the gates of God’s presence in our lives.
Thankfulness has to do with WHO I AM not with WHAT I AM EXPERIENCING.
I will go through many experiences in life for which I am not thankful. But even as I pass through those experiences, I can still be a thankful person, i.e., in the midst of those circumstances, give God thanks.
The word for children emphasizes the relationship.
But son emphasizes character. If someone calls you a son of a dog, they aren't talking about your parentage. They're talking about your character.
• DO You Know Abba Christianity?
• Are You being Led by the Holy Spirit?
• Are you overcome by your circumstances, or do you know Who you are?
Who's Your Daddy?
A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, "I hope he doesn't come over here." But sure enough, the man did come over to their table.
"Where are you folks from?" he asked in a friendly voice. "Oklahoma," they answered.
"Great to have you here in Tennessee." the stranger said. "What do you do for a living?" "I teach at a seminary." he replied.
"Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I've got a really great story for you." And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple. The professor groaned and thought to himself, "Great... Just what I need... another preacher story!
The man started, "See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, 'Hey boy, Who's Your Daddy?'
Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, 'Who's Your Daddy?' He would hide at recess and lunchtime from other students. He would avoid going in to stores because that question hurt him so bad.
When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, 'Who's Your Daddy?'. But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, 'Son, Who's Your Daddy?'
The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, 'Who's your Daddy'. This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him, and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy...
'Wait a minute!' he said. 'I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a SON of God.' With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, 'Boy, you've got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.' With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, 'Who's your Daddy?' he'd just tell them, 'I'm a Son of God'."
The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, "Isn't that a great story?" The professor responded that it really was a great story! As the man turned to leave, he said, "You know, if that new preacher hadn't told ME that I was a SON of God, I probably never would have amounted to anything!" And then he walked away.
The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over and asked her, "Do you know who that man was who just left that was sitting here at our table?"
The waitress grinned and said, "Of course. Everybody here knows him. That's Ben Hooper. He's the former governor of Tennessee!"