As a Christian, you’ve entered into a relationship with God that presses past knowing him as King, Creator, Judge, and Ruler over all things and have come to know him in the most tender, the dearest, the most intimate and heart- moving way. You know him now as “Abba.” This little word only shows up three times in the New Testament, but don’t let its brevity drive you to miss its immense importance. As Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating blood, knowing the brutal death that awaited him the following Good Friday morning, Mark writes, “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’” (14:35–36). Paul uses the phrase two times. In Galatians 4:6 he writes, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” And in Romans 8:15, he says, “The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Ronald Fung, research fellow of the Chinese University in Hong Kong, writes, “Abba is an Aramaic affectionate diminutive for ‘father’ used in the intimacy of the family circle.” Commenting on Galatians 4:6, Protestant reformer Martin Luther said, “Although I am oppressed with anguish and terror on every side, and seem to be forsaken and utterly cast away from Your presence, yet am I Your child, and You are my Father for Christ’s sake; I am beloved because of the Beloved.” Luther understood that no matter what was going on in his life, one thing was certain—he was God’s child.
The Christian God is three-in-one. Three distinct persons–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–and yet One. This is known as the Trinity. Notice what Paul is saying, in the Galatians reference; the Trinity is at work in this Galatians verse: God sent sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba! Father!” Believer, prop up your feet in the hammock of the love of God for you. God does not disown his children, though his discipline can be quite painful at times. Because you are in Christ, you are just as safe, loved, and welcomed as Jesus is right now. Jesus has dealt with your sin at his cross, he has gifted to you his righteousness, and your identity is secure.
The craziest idea in the whole universe—that God cherishes you, sings over you, delights in you, and is wild over you being his child—is actually true! All the demons in hell, the liars in the streets, and even the deceptions of your own heart are no match for the landslide of the love of God that has broken loose for you. Nothing can quench the raging, blazing, longing heart of Almighty God! Your Abba will always be tender, truthful, and available to you.
Excerpt from The New Believer's Guide to the Christian Life: What Will Change, What Won't, and Why It Matters, pp. 54-56.