This post is an excerpt from a leader preparation article in Gospel Basics for Kids.
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.
When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives, we, too, can cry, “Abba, Father.” The same Spirit that proceeds from the relationship between the Father and Son implants in us. The difference between Jesus and us is that He is the natural Son of the Father, whereas we are adopted into the family through His sacrifice.
We are all spiritual orphans. Our rebellious and sinful nature cut us off from God the Father. The Bible says quite clearly we are not born children of God and therefore must go through an adoption process. The price of our adoption was the death of God’s Son. C.S. Lewis wrote, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God.”
The good news is that when we recognize we are spiritual orphans in need of the Father, we can go through the Son. When we acknowledge that our sin has severed the relationship with the Father and that Jesus is the gracious payment for our sin, and when we then accept the gift of forgiveness offered by inviting the Spirit of Jesus into our life, then we can cry, “Abba, Father.” We are at home, at last, welcomed into God’s family.
As adopted children, we can enjoy the same favor Jesus has with the Father. We, too, are the apple of God’s eye, the pleasure of His love, the delight of His focus. If we didn’t get all we wanted or needed in our human fathers, we are invited even more deeply into the pleasure that the Father of heaven and earth takes in His Son and us. We have been included in the family and hear the Father say, “You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” We now have the Father we always needed and wanted.
Our Rich Inheritance
But that’s not where the text ends. If we are full-fledged members of the family, an inheritance is waiting for us. “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory” (Romans 8:17a). We have been included in the will and stand to inherit such things as resurrection bodies that do not decay, a new heaven, and a new earth, for starters. The will also mentions we’ll have a family to spend eternity with, in a life free of pain, crying, disease, and death. However, that’s still not the best part. The best part is that we are heirs of God.
They will reads, “I, God, bequeath myself to you for all eternity.”
We are heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, and therefore we get in on all Jesus inherits. When Jesus was in the upper room before going to the cross, He longed to return to the presence of His Father. He prayed in John 17:5, “Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.”
Jesus was looking forward to the joy on the other side of the cross. The writer of Hebrews says that “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:2). As coheirs with Jesus, we get to share in the glory the Father bestows on the Son. As Jesus prayed moments before His arrest, He made our inheritance with Him plain: “Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began” (John 17:24). Jesus wraps up His prayer by asking the Father to bestow on us the same love He has for Jesus: “I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them” (John 17:26).
We are drawn into the family circle and get to enjoy the spillover of the Father’s love for the Son. As we bring this section on the message of Christ to a close, we end where we started. We began examining the meaning of being created in the image of God and discovered this meant we were created for relationship. To be adopted into God’s family is to be restored to paradise lost. God sent Jesus as the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) to restore the image of God in us. We find our way home only when the Holy Spirit comes to take residence in us, and we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Welcome home!
When are times you have seen a small child cry, “Dada”? (Abba means Dada.) Why does a child call for a parent in his or her time of need?
Do you ever call God “Dad” in prayer? If not, how might your times in prayer change if you called God “Dad” instead of simply “Lord” or “God”?
What is an heir? How is being an heir better than being a slave?
This post is an excerpt from a leader preparation article in Gospel Basics for Kids. If you’re looking for a way to intentionally disciple the children in your family or missional community, you can begin reading the first chapter here.