We are exploring the great blessing of the Holy Spirit and our adult sonship in the Lord Jesus Christ. Every spiritual blessing we have come to us in Christ and through Christ and on the basis of Christ’s finished work of redemption. Previously we saw that as the Spirit of adult sonship, the Holy Spirit makes known to us the personal presence of the crucified, risen, and ascended Lord Jesus. As the Spirit does this, we have personal fellowship with Jesus, experience ongoing transformation into Christ’s likeness, and know with certainty that we are in God the Father’s family as adult sons and heirs. And then we looked at one application of this in regard to how we talk.
I. The Spirit of adult sonship persuades us about our relationship to God as Father
A. The Spirit witnesses to our sonship.
1. He gives assurance of our relationship to God. This is direct, internal witness that is not observable to other people. By the Spirit we have personal knowledge that God is our Father. Along with this the Spirit gives us a strong conviction or persuasion of the truth of the Holy Scriptures. We hear our God’s voice in them.
Comment: This experience can and does vary in intensity and clarity, in conformity with our interactions with God as Father (Eph 4:30; 1 Th 5:19).
2. This is very relevant to our attitude about our relationship with God.
a. We have the boldness of a son. The king’s son does not need to play political games to get to see his father. Neither do we have to play religious games to be able to approach our Father in heaven. Some suppose they need to go to church, to read the Bible and pray, and to give money to the church to “get God to like them”. My friend, get off of the religious treadmill. Adult sons and daughters of God may walk confidently into his presence. You are accepted as adult son in Christ, and the Holy Spirit calls out in you to act as such!
b. We have the trust of a son in life’s circumstances. “My Father will protect me; my Father knows what is best for me; my Father delights to share his mission with me; my Father wants me to share his joy in Christ.”
B. The Spirit develops our sense of our relationship to God as adult sons.
1. The Holy Spirit does this by effectively working in the inner person of the heart. He puts a “God as Father” consciousness into the mind of the believer. He cries out in us, so that we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Rm 8:15).
2. The word cry shows the intensity of this experience. “‘Crying’ (krazo) implies an importunate approach to God, in which the most appropriate basis is an appeal to our filial relationship to God” (Guthrie). “This cry points to the passionate, violent operation of the Spirit” (Ridderbos). The Spirit strives to make this real to our often dull hearts.
Apply: The Spirit of God doesn’t want us to be feeble and faltering in our spirituality. He wants us to claim what Christ purchased. Are we asserting this claim?
II. The Spirit of adult sonship develops our intimate fellowship with God as Father.
A. This should intensely affect the way we pray. Every prayer should be that of an adult son or daughter communicating with the Father in heaven.
1. The closest the majority of believers seem to come to this is when they begin their prayers by saying, “Dear heavenly Father,” or similar words. It is with sadness that we observe that they use the words without sensing and feeling their significance. Do they need to understand? Yes, they do, for the glory of God and their joy.
2. It might be helpful to pose this question. “Who is that believer on his or her knees? To whom do they pray?” From a new covenant position in history, the acceptable answers are that he or she is an adult son and that they are praying to their Father in heaven.
a. The Spirit of God works in the sons of God in such a gracious, Christ-based way that we fervently call out, “Abba, Father,” like Jesus did. The Spirit gives the attitude and confidence of sons to the new covenant people of God, so that we draw near to God together “as children to a father ready and able to help them” (Murray, Romans).
b. Notice that the Spirit of sonship is not the author of attitudes whereby a person acts out of slavish fear (cf. 2 Tm 1:7). To act out of slavish fear is to relapse into an old covenant condition.
Apply: Are your prayers characterized by the confidence and attitudes of this verse?
B. This should affect every aspect of our fellowship with God.
1. When believers under the old covenant would praise God they would often refer to him as “the God of Israel” (Ps 72:18; etc.) But since Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promises and what was “shadowed” in Israel, new covenant believer “bless him now as the ‘God and Father of Jesus Christ,’ and to view him upon that account as become a God and Father unto them” (Goodwin, Works, Vol. 6, p. 151).
2. Father is a word of family relationship. It binds God to us and it binds us to God. “We are to honour him as our Father, This one word is sufficient to express our duty to a father, and that is a word of reverence; for it includeth a mixed affection of fear and love” (Sibbes, Works, Vol. 6, p. 452). Here is the word that touches the very emotions of God when his children call out to him.
Illustration: Think of a parent’s reaction when their child calls out, “Daddy! Mommy!” As a parent of adult children the call for help still stirs me deeply.
3. Since we are in Christ, our relation to God is changed. God puts “aside the person of a Judge. Having received full satisfaction in Christ, he is now in the relation of a sweet Father to us” (Sibbes, Vol. 1, p. 361).
Illustration: It’s hard to have a relationship with a judge. Have you ever gone before a traffic court judge? “Let’s be friends.” I don’t think so!
a. The Spirit of adult sonship “gives a new character to his devotions; they are no longer the expression of an anxious and fearful heart,,, but the outpourings of a spirit confiding in a father’s wisdom, rejoicing in a father’s love, and committing itself to a father’s care” (Buchanan, The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 259).
Illustration: How does a child talk to his father? “Dad, guess what happened today!” Or, “Dad, could you help me?” Or, “Dad, I have a problem.”
b. Since we are adult sons, the holy and righteous God permits us to boldly, yet reverently, open our hearts to him and to enter into a reasonable discussion with him. Let’s consider a few examples. “Father, I seem to be forsaken. What is wrong? Where is the closeness that I used to feel to you?” Or, “Where are the mercies that you used to show me?” Or, “What am I supposed to do in this situation for your glory?” Or, “Father, I want to walk more closely with you! How can that happen?”
Apply: We need the direct work of the Holy Spirit to make this all real to us.
Apply: Read some of the prayers written in the New Testament Scriptures and seek to pray them with the Spirit of adult sonship helping you. Consciously depend on the Holy Spirit as you pray. And be sure to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ when you pray.
Apply: Continue our group project of blessing at least five people outside of our local assembly this week. Also continue to find five occasions to bless the members of your family by your words. Bless them as the adult son of God that you are, since you are called to inherit a blessing.