“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For 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!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and 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.”—Romans 8:14-17
God has given us many benefits through faith in Christ. Among them is the gift of the Holy Spirit who leads us, even though at times we may be unaware of it; He also ministers to our human spirit, giving us the assurance that we belong to God.
Paul says those who belong to God are led by the Spirit in their struggle against sin, but the Spirit also gives us the gift of the assurance. He says the Spirit enables us to cry, “Abba, Father.” That word “Abba” is Aramaic for “daddy”—the word a child would use for his father. Yes, it’s the Spirit who inspires and enables us to call God, “Father,” thus affirming that we are His sons and daughters.
In Islam, it is anathema to call God “Father.” But, in contrast, Paul taught that “Abba, Father” is the witness the Holy Spirit gives us that assures us that we are God’s children; this assurance entails an invitation to come into His blessed presence. The Spirit of God gives that sense of certainty only to believers in Christ.
At a recent Chicago Marathon, I noticed the words “For My Father” imprinted on a t-shirt with an arrow pointing upwards. Very likely, this man was running for his dad who had died, and now the runner was hoping that his father was watching from above. When I saw the words, I thought of all the training that this man must have gone through and the hardship he endured in preparing for this grueling race. He did it for his earthly father; how much more eager we should be to run the race for our Heavenly Father.
The Son died for us; the Holy Spirit leads us, and the Father adopts us. We are given the “Spirit of adoption.” A baby who inherits a million dollars cannot enjoy it because he/she has to be an adult to enter into the inheritance. But Paul taught that God adopts us immediately when we receive Christ as Savior so that we can begin to enjoy our inheritance here on Earth. A new believer will have to grow into his inheritance, but ultimately he possesses the very same inheritance as a believer who has known God for many years.
Someday in heaven, the Son will crown us. We are, after all, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ sitting on His throne. An heir of God receives all that God has, and he inherits God Himself. And to think, the Word and the Spirit bear witness that all of this will be ours.
Let us pray for the gift of assurance.
Let Us Pray
Father, I pray that You might give me such a peaceful sense of assurance that I might never doubt that You own me; I am Yours both now and forever. I pray that I might let the promises of Your Word guide me during the dark times; I pray that my faith might grow each day in my walk with You.
I pray for _______ that they might treasure Your promises; let Your Word be internalized within them; cause Your truth to be their strength and joy. Deliver us from false assurance based on a “decision” that might or might not have resulted in saving faith. Deliver us from the presumption that one is a child of God based on a false understanding of salvation.
Where there is true faith, may it grow with such certainty that we become as confident of heaven as though we are already there. Thank You for the Spirit who cries within us, “Abba, Father.”
In Jesus’ name, Amen.