Galatians 4:4-7. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
For many of us, thinking about our relationship with God as a father-son relationship may be troublesome. Often we struggle with our relationship with our earthly dads. And so it just becomes easier to turn Christianity from a relationship into simply an ethic to obey. Rules to follow. A worldview. Something that doesn’t require too much intimacy.
But Paul won’t let us get away with this. He reminds us what Christianity really is, and what our union with Christ really is – a father-son relationship. An adoption as sons.
Galatians 3 is the first scripture written that reveals to us the depth of love and intimacy that we share with God through our union with Christ. Christ, the eternal Son of God, was sent by God in the fullness of time to fulfill the law’s demands and redeem all who were enslaved by the curse of the law (see day 182), so that God the Father might adopt them as his own sons. In the culture of Paul’s day it was actually quite common for someone to adopt their beloved adult slave and make them their legal son. Their heir, with every right and privilege of a natural born son. And that is exactly what God has done for us.
Here is the glorious fullness of the gospel – God did not just redeem us from under the slavery of the law. He went one huge step further. He adopted us as sons. If all God did was purchase us out from slavery would that not just leave us free to wander right back into that same condition? Would we not find ourselves as homeless refugees, without the loving family that we all need?
But God in his great love for us didn’t set us free to just wander aimlessly through life. He adopted us into his own family, made us his sons, brought us home, put his robe on us, placed his ring on our finger, and gave us all the same rights and privileges as our older brother, Jesus.
Now we live safe and secure in this eternal, unchanging relationship with our Abba. But still many Christians tend to think of their relationship with God as constantly changing. Getting better or worse depending on how well we are performing. We sing “nearer my God to thee,” or lament that a believer is “far from God.” But the wondrous reality is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. There is no present or absent, near or far, better or worse. To use this language is to place your faith in you, rather than in Jesus.
In Christ, God IS our Abba, and we ARE his children. This is our unchanging position. Just as a tantrum throwing toddler does not cease to be his parent’s child, no matter how we feel today, we are God’s sons and he is our dad. We are always dependent on him, and he is always faithful. By the indwelling Spirit of Christ, the Son, we are constantly crying out to God as our Abba.
This is the ongoing work of the Trinity in us – we cry to our Abba. The Spirit crying for us as the Son to the Father. This is Christianity. This is union with Christ. This is true spirituality. We have a Dad that we can go to no matter what life offers. Every fear, every doubt, every struggle, every sin taken to him. Our Dad is always there, always available, never too busy, never distracted, never apathetic, never far, never distant, never not there for you and for me.
Our relationship to God never changes. He is always our dad and we are always his son. But as we cry Abba Father, our desires are changing. Our will is changing. Crying Abba is surrender. Crying Abba is living from true love for the first time. Crying Abba IS faith. Faith that is transforming us into our Older Brother.
“To live is Christ” means embracing your adoption and learning to cry to your Abba. To live all of life from his delight in you, and your dependence on him. Knowing that you have the unchanging, unending, love of your heavenly dad. The love of a son. The love of the Son, Jesus himself.
Do you see your faith as a relationship with a loving heavenly dad?
You in Christ
How can knowing that you are God’s adopted and beloved son change how you trust God today?
Christ in you
What might you cry out to your Abba about today? How can you live your life in front of him?
Playlist: Songs of adoption.