The Names of God: Abba Father

By Kathy Johnston


“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”  (Galatians 4:4-7)


One of the most profound ways God has revealed his heart to me as Father, was one night not long after we had brought our newborn daughter home from the hospital. I had gone upstairs to get ready for bed and noticed that the door to her room was wide open.  When I went to see why, I saw my husband standing silently in the dark staring at his sleeping infant daughter.  Tears were streaming down his face.


As we talked about it later that evening, he shared with me how overwhelmed with love he felt as he looked at our daughter.  It was hard for him to put into words. But the feelings of love, protection, tenderness had washed over him as he stood and looked at her.  


The Lord really spoke to me through that moment as I pondered the love my husband felt about his child.  It was as if the Holy Spirit was saying to me, “If a broken and flawed human being can have such tender love for his child…how much more does your Heavenly Father have love for you?”   


When my sons were little, I remember how they would go running to the door when their dad would come home from work.  All three little boys would go running and yelling to see who could get to the door first. All three little faces looking up to him as he came through that door.  They knew that no matter whether they had done something naughty that day or not, their dad would still be excited to see them. How he loved his boys! But as I think about it, how much more could God himself love his children than a mere human being?  


Unfortunately, because of the broken and fallen world we live in, not all have experienced this kind of love and tenderness from their earthly fathers.  

There are some of you who are reading this that have been abandoned, ridiculed, abused and rejected by your earthly fathers.   For some, your experiences with an earthly father bring about painful memories rather than a tender and loving relationship.


Your pain and wounds are real, and at times, those memories are a difficult burden to bear.  But I have some good news for you!


God is not like man! There is hope and healing for your heart.  You have a father in heaven that loves you in a way that you can’t even comprehend.   He wants to show you what a true father is like. A Father that will never abandon, always protect, and always love.  


He’s a Father who would give everything to protect and rescue you. (John 3:16)   A Father you can run to even when you have messed up! A Father who has power to heal and restore.  


Jesus’ relationship with God the Father has shown us what this looks like.  He had complete trust in his Father and did nothing apart from him.


So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father[a] does, that the Son does likewise.”  (John 5:19)


And Jesus made it clear that he and the Father were one.  He claimed to be one with God in the sense of being equal to Him. Jesus wasn’t claiming to be just a messenger or a prophet of God but of equal power with God!  (see John 10)

The Jewish people were not happy about this.  Up until Jesus came, the Jews had never heard someone refer to God as Father. This was not a concept they had of God at all.  His name represented fierce power and might. And it enraged them that Jesus would refer to Yahweh in such an intimate way. Yahweh represented holiness and reverence, so much so that they wouldn’t even allow his true name to be spoken out loud. Yahweh was not accessible to them in a personal way.


Stefanie shared about this in last week’s blog. And it’s very important for us to know this aspect of  who God is. He is holy!  We should absolutely have a reverent fear and awe of Jehovah God, the One who has existed forever, is completely independent, complete, perfect, holy and right in all of his ways.


But Jesus called God his Father. And not only Father, but Abba Father.  The word Abba was an intimate relational term used by little children when they came running to their Father.   It indicated an affectionate, close, loving relationship.


And it infuriated the Jews!  How dare he use such a familiar tone with Yahweh?

Yet here was Yahweh himself in human flesh, inviting them to know him not only as Yahweh, but as their Abba Father.  But they didn’t recognize him because of the hardness of their hearts.


Abba Father, the very core of Christianity, having personal knowledge of God.  Everything else about Christianity is birthed out of that personal knowledge and relationship with the Father. It’s Galatians 4:4-7.  He came to redeem all that would believe in him, so that we could receive the spirit of adoption as sons/daughters and heirs.


The truth is, we deserve to be rightly judged for our sins and receive the wrath that is the payment for them.  But because Jesus Christ came and lived the perfect life we should have lived, and died the horrible death we rightly deserved and then defeated death by his resurrection, we can boldly come running to the Father and are received as his sons and daughters.  


In my mind I can picture myself standing before the Judge of all the earth, waiting to have the record of my sin read out loud and for justice to be handed down.   I wait fearfully, knowing exactly what I deserve. But instead, the Judge looks up and says: “Your record is perfect…it’s all been paid.” (Colossians 2:13-15)


And then that same Righteous Judge gets up from the judgment seat and comes down to where I stand trembling, wraps his arms around me, and says that he has adopted me.  The Judge has not only canceled my debt, but has made me his own daughter! My heart is overwhelmed.  Amazing Grace!


“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 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.”  (Romans 8:14-17)


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