The Cry of the Spirit

Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (v. 6)  

- Galatians 4:6–7

When we recite creeds and confessions, we usually read things like the Westminster Confession and the Nicene Creed, statements that have defined the boundaries of Christian orthodoxy in the post-apostolic age. Yet it should be noted that creeds and confessions were also central to worship and discipleship during the time of the apostles, and the New Testament apparently records many creedal statements from the first-century church. Philippians 2:5–11, for example, is probably a confessional hymn that Paul incorporated into his epistle. Galatians 4:4–5 and its succinct presentation of the roles of the Father and the Son in redemption is likely an early Christian creed as well.

Appending verse 6 to this confession gives us an expression of our Trinitarian faith. The Apostles’ Creed may even be modeled on Galatians 4:4–6, for like this passage it describes the Father’s sending of the Son, the incarnation of the Son and the redemption He purchased, and the procession of the Holy Spirit. In any case, Paul in verse 6 defines one of the benefits of salvation and assures Christians of our union with Christ as God’s children. Having made Jews and Gentiles His heirs through faith in Jesus, not works of the Law, the Father has given His people the “Spirit of his Son.” Christ’s work puts us in position as sons and heirs of God. The Holy Spirit gives us the experience of sonship.

It is the Spirit of God who enables us to call our Creator, “Abba.” We must be careful lest the familiarity with which we use this endearing term leads us to take lightly the privilege of having God as our Father. Abba was the intimate, Aramaic term used within Jewish families in the first-century AD and is also the manner in which Jesus addresses God (see Mark 14:36). Religions devised by men tend to view their deities as distant and unable to relate personally to creation. God Himself in His revelation tells us that He desires a close, familial relationship with His people and, importantly, that He is able to have one.

Spiritual gifts are important (1 Cor. 12), but they are not the main proof that we have the Spirit. Our ability to relate to God as our loving Father shows that we have the Spirit, and if we have the Spirit, we also have Christ (v. 3).

Coram Deo

Some Christians have had bad experiences with their parents and find it hard to relate to God as their Father. But while the deeds of our parents influence our understanding of God’s fatherhood, we must always remember that He is a perfect father, not prone to the faults of men and always concerned to protect us and provide for our well-being. God our Father never withholds good gifts from His children, and we can trust Him with all that we are.

Passages for Further Study

Deuteronomy 14:1a
Luke 11:11–13
1 Corinthians 8:5–6
Hebrews 12:3–11

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