And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
I. TRUST IN THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD IS A PECULIARLY CHRISTIAN GRACE.
1. Christ revealed the fatherhood of God. Mohammedans think of "Allah" as an omnipotent autocrat, and Jews regard "the Eternal" as a righteous Lord, but Christians know God as "our Father in heaven." It is not that the idea of the fatherhood of God was not conceived before the time of Christ, for Hebrew psalmists found comfort in it (Psalm 103:13), and even Homer sang of "the father of gods and men." But
(1) Christ gave prominence and supremacy to an idea which before was only co-ordinate with, or even less regarded than, other Divine attributes; and
(2) he revealed for the first time the richness and tenderness of this the inmost character of God.
2. The fatherhood of God is to Christians a relationship of love and gentleness. God is not regarded, like the Roman father, as one who might be a terror to his children. The "Abba, Father" in the old home language - the language of the nursery - suggests the feelings of little children to their father, and may we not say their mother (see Isaiah 49:15)? The type of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven is a little child; a little child's affection for his parents is the pattern of the purest Christian devotion. Nevertheless, this childlike confidence does not conflict with the rightful authority of God. The father is not weak because he is gentle. The trust of love is an obedient trust.
3. From trust in God's fatherly love the Christian life grows into a habit of aspiration. The yearning of the soul for God is met only to be deepened and intensified, so that the Christian learns to press on ever nearer and nearer to God, the burden of his heart's desire finding utterance in the cry, "Abba, Father."
II. THIS GRACE GROWS OUT OF AN INSPIRATION OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD'S SON. Christ reveals the fact of the fatherhood of God; but the mere knowledge of that fact which we may derive from studying the words and life of Christ will not enable us to realize the spirit of trustful sonship. It is little to know that God is a Father if we do not experience the love and close relationship of his fatherhood. So great a change is required before we can do this that nothing short of a Divine inspiration can make it possible. Indeed, it is Christ's Spirit in us that utters the cry, "Abba, Father." Thus the yearning of the soul for God is itself the result of God's visit to the soul. All aspiration springs from inspiration. Because Christ lived in trust and communion with God, his Spirit entering us enables us to do the same. He is the true Son, and therefore his Spirit gives to us the grace of sonship.
III. THE DIVINE INSPIRATION DEPENDS ON OUR RELATION OF SONSHIP WITH GOD. Though God is naturally the Father of all, it is not every one who can cry, "Abba, Father." The mingled trust and aspiration of such a cry are only possible to those who are sons indeed, reconciled to God and restored to the family home. The Spirit that inspires the cry is not given to all. We must be receptive if we are to receive it. The Spirit of God's firstborn Son is given to the true sons of God. The sonship, St. Paul teaches, is the consequence of our own faith, and the inspiration follows. Therefore the consciousness of trustful aspiration towards God as our Father is a proof of sonship. The Spirit thus bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.