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Matthew 23:15

Whose Children?

15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him two fold more the child of hell than yourselves.

Hearing themselves referred to as "children of hell" must have been a great shock to the self-righteous Pharisees. Jesus used the Greek word "Gehenna, "a transliteration of the Aramaic word for the valley of Hinnom, which was well accepted by that time as a synonym for the site of final judgement. There were three reasons for its acceptance as such. First, because it was the site for sacrifices to Molech, which involved burning children in the fire. Secondly, it was defiled by King Josiah (2 Ki 23:10) by engaging in that idolatry. And thirdly, it had become the site of Jerusalem's city dump where trash was burned. A "child of hell" was one who would face his final judgement in the fires of hell, just as the children were cast into the fires of Molech. The Pharisees, however, considered themselves to be children of Abraham and thus protected from final judgment.

Many Christians might find themselves in similar circumstances with the Pharisees. Jesus also said to His own followers, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:20-23) These are also the "children of hell."

The name that one ascribes to himself, ... "child of Abraham," ...."child of God," .... "Christian," ... cannot keep him from final judgment. There must be a total surrender to the will of God, which the Pharisees and many Christians failed to do. These are so totally condemned, because they believe that they are safe from judgment and will never make any effort to change.

Furthermore, these groups seek converts (proselytes) to their sects. The proselyte in Jesus' day was a Gentile who believed in some of the basic tenants of Judaism, but had not been baptized and circumcised in order to become a Jew. There was an effort under way at that time to convert many of these to Judaism, but the Pharisees sought to convert them to Pharisaism. While they seem to have made few converts, Jesus nevertheless condemned them for it, because the spiritual condition of a convert to Pharisaism was worse than it would have been, if he had remained a heathen.

Unfortunately, our churches are guilty of similar practices. We have ritualized "salvation." How many walk the aisles of our churches to receive Christ and to be baptized, but never repent of their sins, never experience a spiritual transformation, and, because of the lack of follow up and discipleship, they believe they are eternally secure, but are hopelessly lost?

How many believe that, because they were baptized as an infant and later studied their catechism to become church members, they are the "children of heaven?" They are more hopelessly lost than any heathen who has never heard the name of Jesus Christ.

There is only one way to become a child of God. Pharisaism cannot save, nor can baptism, nor catechism, nor walking the church aisle, nor any amount of good works. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) This requires complete surrender to Him and to the will of His Father.

Before The Throne:

Where do you stand today? Ask God to examine your heart to see if you are completely surrendered to Him. Pray about your conversion experience. Were you changed by Him, or are you trying to work your way into the kingdom? If you do not have that kind of personal relationship with Him, pray right now to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Don't be a child of hell for one minute longer. His salvation is free!

For Further Study:

** for. Ga 4:17; 6:12; ** proselyte. Es 8:17; Ac 2:10; 13:43; ** ye make. Joh 8:44; Ac 13:10; 14:2, 19; 17:5-6, 13; Eph 2:3;


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