Fathers Are Followed
To Jesus and the apostle Paul, fatherhood wasn't merely biological. In 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 Paul claims that he was the Corinthian's father in the Gospel and, for that reason, they should imitate him. Jesus expressed a similar view of fatherhood in John 8:44 when he told the Pharisees that the devil was their father because their will was to do what he desired.
Abraham, the Father of Faith
Both Jesus and Paul refer to Abraham as a father but only to those who follow him. In Romans 4:11-12, Paul tells us that Abraham is a father to all who walk in the footsteps of his faith and in John 8:39-41 Jesus plainly states that, if the Pharisees were indeed Abraham's children, they would be doing the works Abraham did.
The Footsteps of His Faith
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4.3-4)
In this passage Paul quotes from Genesis 15:6. It is the beginning of a stunning exchange between God and Abraham where God confirms his promise to Abraham (to be the father of many nations) by establishing a unilateral covenant.
In the ancient Middle East covenants were confirmed by each participant walking through a bloody path created by killing several animals, cutting them in half, and laying them on either side of a trench. The walk down this path would symbolize that each participant would likewise shed his own blood if he broke the covenant. In Genesis 15, God establishes his covenant with Abraham by passing through the blood path alone in both directions! If Abraham broke his end of the covenant, God would shed his own blood not Abraham's! This loud, Old Testament proclamation of the Gospel was the basis for Abraham's confidence for the rest of his life.
Abraham feared God and trusted in his promises.
How Abraham Becomes Our Father and How We Father Like Abraham
As we fear of God and trust in His promises, we follow in the footsteps of Abraham's faith and he becomes our "father". We join him in the supernatural family that receives a righteousness from God apart from the law. And we father like Abraham in the same way - as an example of faith!
Fatherhood = Example
Our children need an example, not of a morally perfect father (which is impossible for father and child), but of a dad who fears God above all and who puts his hope in God's Gospel promises. Think about it. Your own father's legacy was shaped by what he feared and what he trusted. Undoubtedly these things have left a great imprint on your soul. So it will be in your own family. What do you fear more than anything? What do you trust?
Abraham believed God... Audio