15For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
What is real knowledge of God? As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones follows the apostle Paul’s teaching on the adoption as sons of God, he gives special attention to the Christian’s true emotional and effective knowledge of the truth. The Holy Spirit leads the Christian from a spirit of bondage and fear to this Spirit of adoption, which is marked by the deep cry, “Abba, Father.” In this sermon on Romans 8:15 titled “Sons of God,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones further explores this teaching as it relates to assurance. Similar to someone in love, one may not be able to express it intellectually, but they are certainly aware that it is true. Likewise the child of God knows he or she is a child of God. This, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, is the proof of adoption. Practically, then, God is not off in the distance nor is He difficult to approach. The Christian may approach Him in a familiar way, even a spontaneous manner. Listen carefully to this sermon on Romans 8:15 as Dr. Lloyd-Jones talks about the delight, joy, peace, and rest of genuinely knowing God — that is, knowing God as Abba, Father.
- The apostle Paul is reminding us that we are sons of God. No one is led by the Spirit of God except one who is a son of God.
- We have known something about the spirit of bondage and of fear.
- We have been delivered from that spirit of bondage and of fear.
- This is a negative statement, but an important one. To be delivered from bondage and fear is proof we are sons of God.
- We dealt with difficulties that seem to arise regarding fear in the Christian life. The fear Christians know is different - it is fear of offending God, not fear of punishment.
- We will now look at the second half of the verse - we have received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry "Abba, Father." This is a positive statement.
- It is the Holy Spirit that produces the spirit of adoption and the cry "Abba, Father." This is clear from the parallel passage in Galatians 4:6.
- The nature and character of the proof provided by the Spirit is subjective, not a deduction. It is in the realm of feeling, not intellect.
- The spirit of adoption is a consciousness of being adopted into God's family. We feel like Christ in his mediatorial work, able to call God "Father."
- The spirit of adoption is concerned with our feelings toward God, not just belief in doctrine. It is a reciprocation of God's love, an enjoyment of God.
- The spirit of adoption shows itself in our response to Scripture's statements about our relationship to God, and a general feeling of relationship to God.
- The supreme manifestation of the spirit of adoption is crying "Abba, Father." This defines our approach to God, especially in prayer.
- "Abba" is an Aramaic word used by children to address their father. "Father" is the Greek translation. Together they show God is Father to both Jews and Gentiles. More importantly, "Abba" shows the intimacy and tenderness of a child addressing their father.
- The word "cry" means a loud cry expressing deep emotion. Paired with "Abba, Father" it implies real knowledge of God, speaking to one we know intimately.
- Crying "Abba, Father" implies God is no longer distant but near. We speak to him spontaneously, confidently, warmly, and sometimes in groaning. But always with reverence.
- Only those adopted as sons can cry "Abba, Father." We can only do it through Christ. It is the ultimate object of salvation.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.