Not long ago we looked at God’s initiative in our adoption. The more aware we are of God’s initiative the more amazed we are of grace. Our position and status as adopted sons and daughters was secured by God’s initiative in sending his Son.
Today I will focus on the work of the Holy Spirit in our experience of adoption.
“God’s purpose was not only to secure our sonship by His Son,” John Stott writes, “but to assure us of it by His Spirit. He sent His Son that we might have the status of sonship, and He sent His Spirit that we might have the experience of it.”¹
In other words, God first sent his Son to die for our sins and then God sent his Spirit into our hearts. The immediate cry of the Spirit within our hearts is “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15).
The Spirit’s Call
This cry—“Abba! Father!”—is the precious privilege and common experience of all Christians. This cry is evidence that we have received adopting grace. This cry assures us of God’s love. It is a means of certainty that God loves you!
I never tire of reading the following illustration from the ministry of Charles Spurgeon:
I once knew a good woman who was the subject of many doubts, and when I got to the bottom of her doubt, it was this: she knew she loved Christ, but she was afraid he did not love her. “Oh!” I said, “that is a doubt that will never trouble me; never, by any possibility, because I am sure of this, that the heart is so corrupt, naturally, that love to God never did get there without God’s putting it there.” You may rest quite certain, that if you love God, it is a fruit, and not a root. It is the fruit of God’s love to you, and did not get there by the force of any goodness in you. You may conclude, with absolute certainty, that God loves you if you love God.²
Let me ask: Are you aware that God loves you, if you love God? You can be. You can be assured of God’s love for you. That cry did not originate with you. That cry is a gift from God. That cry is an evidence of adopting grace. That cry is a means of assuring you of God’s love for you.
Yet it’s possible to grow less aware of this cry. It is possible to hear only the voice of slavery and fear and grow insensitive to the cry of the Spirit.
This was happening to Christians in Galatia. In Galatians 4, Paul writes people who have been seduced by legalism and no longer enjoy adopting grace and have grown deaf to the cry of the Spirit within.
Many voices cry out for our attention each day and seek to distract our attention from the voice of the Spirit. The cry of indwelling sin is one voice. So is the cry of legalism. And the voice of condemnation can be consistently noisy, too. These are loud and distracting voices.
Which voice are you most aware of?
If you are distracted by these voices and the noise in your soul created by sin and legalism and condemnation, this cry will be muffled.
If this is you, I would recommend a pair of divine noise-cancelling earphones. What I mean is that I would encourage you to memorize Galatians 4:1–7. What is revealed in these verses about adopting grace and the Spirit’s work within revealing and applying adopting grace will protect you from the voices of sin, legalism, and condemnation. And it will help you to better hear the Spirit’s cry—“Abba! Father!”—for yourself.
This post is part of a series of posts exploring and celebrating the adopting love of God, entitled Adopted.
¹John R. W. Stott, The Message of Galatians (IVP, 1968).
²Charles Spurgeon, sermon: “The Relationship of Marriage” (sermon No. 762).