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Running into the Two Hands of God

April 8, 2008

Yesterday we considered the issue of fatherhood or “sonship.” We observed that, like it or not, we are children of God or children of the devil (ouch)! This is observed by our actions, which reveal our motives—self-seeking or God-seeking. How can we escape sonship to the devil in favor of sonship to God? By trusting in the two hands of the Heavenly Father, to borrow a phrase from Irenaeus of Lyons. We renounce self-seeking legalism and license and rely on the Son and the Spirit.

The Hand of the Son

Let’s consider the hand of the Son first. Galatians 4:4-5 tell us that God sent his Son so that he might redeem us and that we might receive adoption: 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.So God initiates our adoption through redemption. Jesus redeemed us—rescued us from our devilish estate—by bearing the judgment and exile we should have suffered. Death and exile from the presence of God was embraced by Jesus at the cross and in the grave. He took our curse/punishment.

This should remind us of YHWHs redemptive rescue Israel in Egypt. He sent plagues against Pharaoh, conquered his army at the Red Sea, and delivered his people. But what did he do after that? Did he deliver Israel from Egypt only to leave them to wander the wilderness by themselves for 40 years? No. He led them with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. He provided bread from heaven and water from a rock. He made a covenant relationship with them and gave them the Law and promises. He became their Father and they became his son: “Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

Similarly, God did not just send his son to redeem us but also to adopt us. Jesus died to make us part of God’s family. As Galatians 3:26 reads, “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” So how do we get a new father? God sends his son to redeem us and adopt us. God forgives us of our sin in Jesus and offers us perfect acceptance. All we need to do is respond by faith, by trusting a Father who has shown himself infinitely good, gracious and godly. Biblical adoption is accomplished by faith, trust, reaching out to receive the embrace of the two hands of God. We have considered the first hand—the work and love of the Son to redeem and adopt, but what of the other hand of God? What of the Spirit?

The Hand of the Spirit

Galatians also tells us that God sent his Spirit: 4:6: “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit is the second hand of God the Father reaching down to pluck us out of our miserable estate and to place us in his delightful family. But why a second hand? Can’t God adopt one-handed? Gal 4:6 tells us that God sent the “Spirit of his Son” into our hearts. So, I guess if you wanted to change the image, you could—one really long arm—shoulder to elbow is Jesus, elbow to hand is the Spirit, Spirit of the Son! The point is that the divine family of God—Father, Son & Spirit—is adopting us.

Just as we are not only child adoptees, God is not only a Father. The divine community of God is conspiring for our eternal good. Now, back to the role of the Spirit. Gal 4:6 tells us just what the Spirit does in this adopted relationship. He cries out for and from us saying “Abba, Father!” What is the significance? The Spirit gives voice to our sonship, assuring us of our adoption into the family of God, reminding us that God is for us, not against us. The Spirit allows us to speak with our Father. Interestingly, this is Aramaic, the same language Jesus spoke from the cross when he cried out “Abba, Father!” The Spirit of the Son cries out from our hearts testifying that we are no longer children of the devil, spiritual orphans, deaf to the God’s voice, unable to receive God’s love. Why? Because God has, with his two hands, Son and Spirit redeemed us and adopted us. He has given us a new identity and a new voice by which we can have intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. Adoption is initiated by God and accomplished by the Son and the Spirit.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2008 7:31 am

    “The Spirit gives voice to our sonship, assuring us of our adoption into the family of God, reminding us that God is for us, not against us. The Spirit allows us to speak with our Father.”
    This is fantastic! How awesome it is that we have God’s very Spirit to speak to Him! Great job JD, in making the Gospel the Gospel, nothing more.

  2. April 9, 2008 9:31 am

    It is sweet isn’t it?!

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