We Call Him Father
The moment a child is adopted, her whole life changes; she gets a new name, a new family, and often an entirely new way of life. Yet that legal reality can exist without the child feeling an accompanying true sense of belonging to the family. It’s one thing for a child to come and live in a home; it’s another, deeper reality to fully experience and express the knitting together of a family—to call one’s new parents “Mommy” and “Daddy.”
The same is true of our spiritual adoption when we profess faith in Jesus Christ. Our adoption changes our status utterly, eternally, and incontrovertibly. But God isn’t satisfied with a simple name change, as it were. He wants us to know what it means to be His sons and daughters. He longs for us to have the experiential wonder of thinking of Him as our heavenly Father. To do this, He gives us His Spirit to mold our character and help us see our relationship with Him as that of child and Father. “Because you are sons,” Paul told the Galatian church, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6).
The Christian experience shouldn’t simply be like a legal transaction. It’s so much more than dogma or doctrine. Salvation is not just the forgiveness of sins; it is also the welcoming of Spirit-empowered transformation. Christianity is not mechanical but relational. What Jesus accomplished objectively and legally on the cross, the Spirit continues subjectively and experientially in our hearts. We have been rescued, accepted, and loved. With this change, we can anticipate devotion, passion, tears, enlightenment, involvement, and, ultimately, praise.
When we are tempted to forget our new status as God’s children, the Spirit stands waiting to testify, No, you truly are His! You’ve been bought at the greatest price. You are loved and cherished. When we haven’t done as God would have us do and when we’re feeling bruised, broken, and discouraged, the Spirit helps us cry, “O Father, Father, could You please help me?” Such pleas should serve as reminders of the wonder of Jesus’ finished work—His redeeming sacrifice and sending of the Spirit to live within our hearts. Without those, there would be no relationship with God other than as our Creator and Judge, and therefore no opportunity for our hearts to cry, “Abba! Father!”
God seals our adoption as sons and daughters not by some peculiar sign or gift but by the persuasive witness of His Spirit. As we talk to Him in prayer, hear from Him through His word, and walk with Him, we grow in awareness of His power and His work within us. Because we have been freed from sin’s curse and have been given the blessing of adoption, we can cry out to God as our Father, adoring Him and worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.
Christian, today, whatever else is true of you, here is the greatest reality: you are an adopted child of God. Nothing and no one can change that. So today, whatever else you are feeling, let this truth be what most comforts, grounds, reassures, and motivates you: you are a child of God.
Heirs with Christ
12So then, brothers,5 we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For 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. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons6 of God. 15For 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!” 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
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