God tells us in His Word to address him as “Abba,” the Aramaic word meaning “Father.” Today, Barry Cooper considers God’s unqualified goodness as our heavenly Father.
Becoming a father is really something.
Years ago, an old friend of mine warned me about it. There I was, he said, hanging out with friends, playing computer games, going to work, not really caring about anything that much. And then I was standing in the hospital, and my little girl was handed to me, and right away I knew I’d die for her. It was overwhelming, he said.
Fast forward a decade or so to the Advent hospital in Daytona, Florida. I was handed my first-born daughter, and sure enough, I cried so hard I seriously thought I was about to drop her. Which wouldn’t have been the greatest of starts for either of us. There she was, her head in the crook of my elbow - I’m feeling it now even as I remember it - how can you feel so strongly about someone you’ve never met before? And yet weirdly, you feel as if you’ve always known them. I was on my guard when daughter number 2 arrived, and yet there it was - exactly the same response. I’ve experienced love before, but never love like that. The love a father has for his child.
What if Almighty God loves us like that? Even more than that?
God tells us, in His word, to address him as “Abba”. Abba is an Aramaic word meaning “Father”.
In Mark 14:36, Jesus uses it: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
In Galatians chapter 4 verse 6, the Apostle Paul picks up on this when he says to all believers, “[B]ecause you are sons [of God], God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'”
In Romans 8:15, Paul again tells us: “[Y]ou have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'”
I mentioned in another episode of Simply Put, the one about “Adoption”, that one scholar who studied Jewish antiquity has said that although in Judaism there were extensive lists of titles you could use to address God in prayer, not one of those titles was Father. Or take Islam, for example: there are 99 names for Allah. But not one of them is “Father.”
That God is our Father is a reality secured for us by Jesus. He came so that we might be adopted into God’s family. And the proof that we have been adopted into God’s family is the fact that we now have the same Spirit His only Son has. It’s that Spirit who enables us to cry out with confidence - just as Christ Himself does - “Abba! Father!”
Two immense truths began to fall into place for me on the day my daughter was born.
The first truth is to do with God’s unqualified goodness. If I ever doubted God’s goodness, if I ever thought - even for a second - that he might secretly resent me for my failures and sin, that he might bear a grudge against me, or deliberately withhold some good from me in order to punish me…
“What father among you,” says Jesus, “if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” Of course not. And if even an imperfect father like me has mastered the basics of giving only good things to my daughters, imagine what good things my heavenly Father will give to me. He’s not out to get me. He is always, everywhere, tirelessly good.
The second truth is to do with the extent of God’s love for me. He is my Abba, my Father. I now know, firsthand, how it feels to be overwhelmed with love for a child. And so I now have just an inkling of what God feels when he looks down at me, in the crook of his elbow.