“God has sent the Spirit into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child [a son or daughter], and if a child then also an heir, through God.”
~Galatians 4:6b-7 (NRSV [modified]).
One of the things that continues to bemuse me is how people continue to add to their faith. As if God, through Christ, hadn’t already done enough. The resonant message through Paul to the Galatians is, ‘Wake up to the reality that grace has arrived—we have immediate access to it through Christ Jesus!’
For us, there always seems like there are seasons in life, and ways we experience faith, that take us back to this Galatians-like legalism of spiritual experience. We somehow forget we’re already heirs—we already have the keys to the kingdom.
Our Father in heaven is our “Abba Father.” We’re close to him now. He is the ultimate parent (and, of course, so much more). But, we’re sons and daughters, now, of the Most High, God Almighty himself.
Imagine being, as it were, part of a family. You reside in the family home, you eat with the family, and you play and laugh together. Even the family pains are shared. As a member of the family you’re privy to the nuances of family life. The Father trusts you and you him. The family trust and have confidence in each other. You’re not excluded from any of the foregoing like a slave would be.
Yet, we’ll continue to live like slaves when we forget this golden promise that has now been absolutely realised in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And one of the great beauties of this newfound status of being is we can correctly (and indeed, joyously) see our “safe” place in the constructs of our worlds—being placed under an authority structure, for our safekeeping (see Galatians 4:2; Hebrews 13:7; 17). And it is only our pride that resists such guardianship; that for all intents and purposes is set up as a privilege for us as heirs to the Throne.
God has sent the Spirit of the Son a.k.a. the Holy Spirit, into us. This is no abstraction. It was a deliberate and “purposed” activity of the Triune God. This propounds with awe the aligned-closeness of activity of the God-head—Father, Son and Holy Spirit fervently at action in the redemption of us as unconditional heirs.
And the Presence of the Spirit is destined to reside in our hearts—the Spirit directs our innermost being, steering and empowering us. Just about everything we do is based from our hearts at our core. From the Spiritual perspective, we have princely blood, visceral to our consciences. This is the surest sign we’re redeemed.
God is not a father we should be nervous around. We shouldn’t remain as scared of displeasing him. Like the best of parents, God is so much more resilient to our ‘little sin’ than we’d readily think. This is not to downplay our sin or our role in repentance. But, God’s Fatherly grace is so much more abundant than we can even imagine—we will never plumb its depths. He is kinder than we can even think.
As heirs let’s live like we are. Let’s dig deeply into our family identity! And in this we’re mightily blessed.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
Leon Morris, Galatians – Paul’s Charter of Christian Freedom (Downers Grove, Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 1996), p. 125-32.