If you’ve ever wondered how important spiritual adoption (i.e. God adopting us as His children) is to God, take a look at Galatians 4:4-6.
“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!’”
Consider the lengths to which God the Father went to give us adoption as sons and daughters. First, He sent His eternal Son—the one with whom He enjoyed eternal communion—into the world to redeem those who had committed cosmic treason against Him. It’s not just that He sent His Son to redeem the weak and helpless (though we are those things). No, God the Father sent him to redeem those who were in utter rebellion against Him (Colossians 1:21-22), those whom Scripture describes as “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). We could go on and on, but I think it’s already clear that the Son’s redemptive mission was no small undertaking. He was sent to deal decisively with our cosmic treason and rebellion in order that “we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5). He came not to condemn us (John 3:17) but to graciously give us the unbelievable status of sons.
Second, because we have been given the amazing status of sons (Galatians 4:6), God the Father sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Did you notice God the Father’s two sending actions? Both of them concern our adoption. He first sent His Son to give us the status of children (Galatians 4:4). He then sent the Spirit of His Son to give us something else in addition to status, namely, the experience of our family relationship. God the Father sent the Spirit of His Son—His only-begotten Son—into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Jesus is the only one in Scripture who ever cried out, “Abba! Father!” (Mark 14:36), and, get this, he did it on the eve of his crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane. So, I think we can safely say that this expression carries with it deep, profound, heartfelt affection and emotion. No one loved the Father like the eternal Son. His love for the Father was and is infinitely greater than the vast universe in which we live.
So, when Scripture says that God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to cry “Abba! Father!”, it’s telling us that we have been brought into something that is far greater, far more wonderful than we can even begin to imagine. This is what God the Father has done in adoption. He was not content merely to give us the status of sons, to bring us in but keep us at arms’ length. No, His intention was to bring us in to share in His most precious communion with His eternal Son. If we meditate on this so that it works itself down into our hearts, it will deeply enrich our understanding of orphan ministry and adoption. It will also mobilize the church to reach out in ministry to orphans.