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Adoption’s Assurance (Part 1)

by Dan Cruver Published Jun 17, 2008

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6).

In Galatians 4:4-6, Paul not only informs us that God the Father sent His Son into the world to give us the status of sonship, he also tells us that He sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to give us the experience of our sonship as the Spirit cries, “Abba! Father!” Have you ever wondered why it is we need the Spirit to cry “Abba! Father!” in our hearts? We probably would not have thought twice about it if Paul had only written, “And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts” with no mention of the Spirit’s cry. But that is not what Paul did. He wanted us to know why the Spirit was sent into our hearts, namely, to cry “Abba! Father!”

So why might we need this particular ministry of the Spirit of His Son in our hearts? I think Sinclair Ferguson touches on one of the reasons for this ministry of the Spirit in his book, Children of the Living God. In his discussion on the parable of the prodigal son, he writes:

Jesus was underlining the fact that—despite assumptions to the contrary —the reality of the love of God for us is often the last thing in the world to dawn upon us. As we fix our eyes upon ourselves, our past failures, our present guilt, it seems impossible to us that the Father could love us.

Many Christians go through much of their life with the prodigal’s suspicion. Their concentration is upon their sin and failure; all their thoughts are introspective. That is why (in the Greek text) John’s statement about the Father’s love begins with a word calling us to lift up our eyes from ourselves and take a long look at what God has done: Behold!—look and see—the love the Father has lavished upon us (p. 27)!

I believe that our tendency not to believe that God is really committed to us as our Father—due to our growing awareness of the sin in our hearts along with Satan’s aggressive accusations against us—is one reason why God the Father sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to cry, “Abba! Father!” We need the experiential assurance of our adoption as sons, and God has gone to great lengths to provide us with it.

Because of the self-sacrificial, self-donating work of God’s Son at the cross, God has given us none other than the Spirit of His Son, our Elder Brother, to place “Abba! Father!” in our hearts and on our lips. According to the Gospel of Mark, our Elder Brother cried out “Abba! Father!” (Mark 14:36) on the eve of his accomplishment of redemption. So when we are told that God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to cry “Abba! Father!”, we are meant to understand this gift as experiential evidence that Jesus’ work of reconciliating redemption was fully accomplished. God the Father graciously sent His natural Son to become a curse for us (Galatians 3:13) that we might not only receive the status of sonship but also be eternally assured by the ministry of the Spirit within us that we are His children. God the Father spared no expense to convince us of His unfailing commitment to us as our Father.

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