Samuel Wesley, the father of John Wesley, wrote to him on one occasion, and said to his son, “the inward witness, that is the strongest proof of Christianity” (Wesley’s Works, Vol. 12, p. 100). The apostle Paul was the source for this important spiritual insight. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Rom. 8:15-16)
The importance of the Spirit in the life of the believer is a constant theme among the saints of God for by the Spirit individuals are made to be sons of God. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 3:1)
It is an amazing concept, that individuals might be born again and have a sense that we really are children of the eternal God. Romans chapter eight can almost be summarized in two statements. First, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1) Second, there is no separation from the love of God. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38-39)
In matchless grace, God takes sinful and fallen individuals and brings them into His family. Then God pledges Himself to work all things together for the good of those who love Him, and walk after the Spirit. The blood bought children will be conformed to the likeness of His own dear Son, Jesus Christ. This is the whole of the Christian life.
The purpose of the Spirit’s ministry is to bring us into the family of God, to give us a consciousness that we belong to the family of God, and to enable us to live as a proper child of the family of God. What father would not want goodness of life, and holiness of character, for his children? This is what our Father in heaven wants for His children. It is the will of God that His children look at Him and say to Him, “Father” on the most intimate of terms. The child of God can pray as Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father” (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Gal. 4:6)
In the Old Testament Scripture, the face of God, and the unveiling of God are closely united. There is a reason for this, for it is the Spirit of God that unveils to the face of God to individuals. It is the Spirit that reveals God to us as our heavenly Father.
We honor God as Father when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven.” We honor God as Father when we as Christians refer to one another as brothers and sisters. Because God is our heavenly Father, He gives us the Holy Spirit in order to have a consciousness of being part of His family.
Sinclair Ferguson tells the story of a little girl who was adopted by a missionary couple. However, she could not bring herself to say, “father” to her adoptive dad for the longest of time. Then, one day it happened. The child appeared at his desk with a little shoe in her hand and said, “Father, I’ve broken my shoelace.” The heart of the missionary was touched. The child knew who her true father was, though she was adopted. She was his, and he was hers. One of the great privileges of being a Christian is the dawning awareness that we really are the children of God, having been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.
By referring to God’s children as the “sons of God”, attention is given to the cultural context of Biblical times. It was a time when sons inherited the estate of the family, though the blessings of that inheritances could be enjoyed by others. In Christ, male and female share in the glories of His Sonship. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:17-18) God makes those who were once a child of hell, His heirs, so that all the blessing bound up in Jesus Christ may be brought to all, by the Spirit as He works in our hearts.
There is something very marvelous found in Romans 8:15 and that is we are born to call, indeed to cry out, with a loud voice, “Abba, Father.” “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The work of the Holy Spirit is to prompt the believer to cry out to God in an hour of need. This sense of being a child of God is not reserved for the most spiritual in Christendom. It is given to the new born in Christ. as well as those who have walked in the sphere of saving faith for a long time. The weakest Christian, in his most difficult situation, can call upon the Father with assurance that He is listening, because He cares. In times of need, those who are born of the Spirit do not cry out, “If there is a God, help me!” Rather, they cry out, “Oh, heavenly Father, help me.”
Do you have this sense of truly belonging to the family of God? Do you have assurance that God is, in this hour, your Heavenly Father?” “Do you know that He has adopted you into His family?” “Do you believe the He is yours, and you are His?”
The true believer possesses a deep seated instinct to cry out in times of crisis, “Oh, Father!” The name of God is not called upon in vain, but in honor, reverence, worship, and esteem. In that very cry, the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
Sometimes we do not feel like we are the sons of God because of sin. We know we are acting in a hypocritical way. We know we are covering ourselves with shame, which will result in guilt, and remorse. Nevertheless, sin compels us forward. There is a will to power and the principle of pleasure to satisfy. Because of sin, the relationship to God as Father can become strained, and will seem strange. Nevertheless, God never stops being our Father, no matter what happens. Even when the believer goes into the far country of sin for selfish reasons, the Father is waiting and watching. Then, the Father will move to correct wayward behavior. The objective is to induce authentic repentance, a return to the narrow path of righteousness, renewed fellowship, and a consciousness of His favor.
Jesus always did those things that pleased the Father, and that must be the bent of the heart of every Christian. (John 8:29) The bent of the Christian’s heart will be to please the Father by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, which is why we must ask for Him. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?’ (Luke 11:13) And the Comforter will come.
“Oh, spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found,
Wherever human hearts and human woes abound;
Let every Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:
The Comforter has come!
The Comforter has come, the Comforter has come!
The Holy Ghost from Heav’n, the Father’s promise giv’n;
Oh, spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found—
The Comforter has come!”
Frank Bottome, 1890
When the Spirit is asked for, when His presence is discerned, when the heart cries out to God, the realization comes, “He really is my heavenly Father who loves me. I am safe with Him.”
This is something the non-Christian cannot understand, explain, or say. The unbeliever can mock at those who do have faith. Some might even wish they could believe it is all true. A few will tentatively seek after the Lord, but soon fall by the wayside in bitterness and despair. Their anger against God is even greater when that happens, and their hostility towards people of faith intensifies.
Such poor souls fall away because they stop seeking, they stop knocking, they stop looking for the Father in heaven. Jesus, who does not lie, promised, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt. 7:7)
Let the sincere heart pray, and say, “My Father, who art in Heaven, sanctify thy name, forgive me of my sins, save me now, and in the hour of my death, love me forever, and cause me to love and serve You,” shall not be denied. Such a sincere person will receive the gift of faith.
Then, when a person receives the gift of faith and is born again, when a person bows before Jesus, and follows Him, they will be led to the Father for to know Jesus is to know the Father.
Here is an amazing truth. It is a wonderful experience. It is yours for the asking and yours for the receiving.
Now, if God has given to us His Spirit, adopted us into His family, and wants us to truly experience the sweetness of His love, grace, and mercy, why do we not believe in Him more? Why is the Father’s name used carelessly? It should not be and for this reason. God has a grand purpose in manifesting Himself as Father, and that is to show Himself faithful, not only when good things happen in life, but when bad things happen as well.
Evil is real. There are countless expressions of evil in the world twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Evil is defined as injurious behavior to self and to others. Because there is evil in the universe, we need the Father, who tells us the goal to which He is working in our lives. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29) Because the Holy Spirit loves the Father, He regenerates individuals. Because the Holy Spirit loves the Son, He conforms us into the image of our Elder Brother so that we might be like Him more and more.
Oh come and taste of the goodness of God. Call Him Father, today. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and then walk in the Spirit, who has the great work of conforming you into the image of Christ. Then let the Church sing praises to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.