By Gary Amirault
In the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, the one volume edition, under “Abba” we find:
A: In Judaism. This Aramaic word is a familiar term for “father”; it is also a title for rabbis and a proper name, but is almost NEVER used for God.
B: In Christianity. Jesus probably used abba for God not only in Mk. 14:36 but also whenever the Gk. Pater occurs. It denotes childlike intimacy and trust, not disrespect.
This change in the use of “Abba,” between the Old and New Testament, I believe highlights the difference between the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant. Contrary to some current teachings by some denominations and church organizations that teach they are basically the same except where it is written (stone and animal skins versus the human heart), the difference between the two covenants is like the difference between light and darkness, or between death and life.
Abba in Aramaic is like Dadda in English. Is Dadda not one of the first words we try to teach our babies? Don’t we love it when a child first makes sounds that sound like Dadda or Mamma? Doesn’t our heart rejoice with those simple expressions? Don’t we feel good when our little one recognizes who we are by name – even a simple name like Dadda? Our heavenly Father has the same joy. I believe this term of endearment means more to Him than all the many accolades, names and titles we can heap upon Him. Even the angels in heaven rejoice when one of Father’s lost children cries “Up, Abba, up!” (Luke 15:10)
Every small child from a loving family loves to be picked up and held. They find great security in the arms of their parents. I have memories of my children in their cribs or on the floor with their arms lifted up wanting me to pick them up. This is the image I see when I think of the term Abba. “Lift me up, Dadda,” is what is communicated to me by their facial expressions and outstretched arms.
Most of us usually prefer ground level rather than being in high places. But not children who love to be in their parents’ arms. In their parents’ arms, they find greater security than on the floor. They have a “higher view” from the viewpoint of their Dadda or Mamma. (There’s a big spiritual truth here, folks.)
This is the attitude God wants us to have: as a small child is incapable of raising themselves up into the heights of a father’s arms. It is simply too high. They do not have the strength to climb up a father’s legs to reach the comfort of his arms. The father must reach down and pick the child up. This is Christianity in its simplest form. The child cries “Up, Dadda,” and the father responds by picking the child up with caressing, strong arms. We cry -- God responds. True salvation is ALL God, none of man. It is a gift, not or our works lest we fall from grace through pride through our own efforts. Too often, we Christians, nullify the efforts of God’s grace towards us by believing we have something to do with it. Oh, foolish Galatian, who has bewitched you. (Gal. chapter 3)
Old Versus New
The change in the use of the word Abba between the Old and New Covenant really summarizes the difference between the two covenants. The relationship to a stern, hard Law-giver and Judge (Old Covenant) is turned into a loving, yet disciplined relationship of Father to son (New Covenant).
“Mark 10:15, NRSV Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."
Moses, presenting law, did not bring the children of Israel into the promised land. The Mosaic law, nor Roman Catholic law, Common law, Hammurabi’s code, the Ten Commandments nor any other law will bring one into the promised land. Legalism will not work, NOR will mixing legalism with some grace.
A little child does not know many rules. It is not yet locked up in fear of rule-breaking like most adults. A small child is not very articulate. It cannot make long petitions filled with logical reasons why God should hear and answer our prayers. A small child does not know to justify itself. Grown ups are masters of “self-justification,” especially religious grownups. I tell you the truth, street sinners are closer to the kingdom of God that religious grownups. The Pharisaic spirit is alive and well in the earth and we don’t have to go outside our churches to find it. It is alive and well among us. The fear produced by this spirit constrains millions of God’s children from lifting their hands and voices to cry “Up, Abba! Up!”
Romans 8:15-16. KJV For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
A small child is not afraid to be several feet above the ground. A fall from that height could seriously injure a child. A child does not take that into consideration. A small child prefers to be in the place where sounds come out (faces) rather than looking at legs and feet. But having been in hundreds of churches, I have found most of us are not “seated in heavenly places.” Fearful teachings of men and women have kept us penned up in earthly habitations with an earthly mindset. We read passages like the one below and hope one day we will go there when, in fact, the Scriptures plainly reveal that the door is open and has been open for nearly 2000 years. The arms of our Father are there waiting for us to cry and believe that He wants to take us up into heavenly places right now!!
Ephesians 2:4-10 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us (past tense) with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Christian Killers: Dead Works and Traditions of Men
There are millions of Church-goers who have heard or read this passage of Scripture dozens of times and have never appropriated the provisions contained therein because of enslavement to “traditions of men which make the word of God of no effect.” (Matt. 15:6-9. PLEASE meditate on that verse!) Please note that Eph. 2:4-10 tells us that we HAVE BEEN (past tense) seated with Him in heavenly places. But if we believe through the doctrines of our denominations, that it is not until death or until a rapture that we can enter the kingdom of God, then we won’t exercise the faith to enter into it NOW. We won’t lift our hands in faith. We won’t cry in expectation, in faith, for our deliverance. Our heavenly Father’s hands and His kingdom have been open to us for 2,000 years. Few Christians have found the faith to cry “Up, Abba.” We have been robbed of our inheritance in Christ through false teachings. Most of us have never seen things from the heavenly place of our Father’s arms. And millions who have seen for a moment, especially when new-born babes, have lost this heavenly position due to mixing grace with some parts of the Mosaic law thus “falling from grace.” “A little of leaven leavens the whole lump.” (1 Cor. 5:6) Falling from grace returns us to a carnal mind which closes the door to the heavenly realm. (Galatians Chapter 3) This happened to me shortly after my conversion. I was spiritually poisoned my ministers (some well-meaning) who mixed law and grace. It spiritually killed me. It blinded me. And it took years to finally be set free and healed. I think there is more healing to come for me.
I have full confidence there are some who will be set free from an earthly mentality by reading this article. They will soar as eagles when revelation hits them while dwelling in the arms of a loving Father being able to see from His viewpoint. This is truly knowing God’s will – seeing Him face to face – child to Father.
Millions of Christians are in the following condition. Have you ever seen a huge bull circus elephant tied to a small stake in the ground? That elephant could easily break free from that small stake, but it doesn’t. While a small elephant that stake was strong enough to keep it from breaking free. But days of pain trying to break free put the elephant into a mindset that it could not break free no matter how much effort expended. The elephant could not overcome its past. It did not recognize that the circumstances had changed, that it had increased its strength enormously over the months. The elephant was held prisoner by its own thoughts of the past.
So, too, with fleas in a flea circus. They are put in an open container and a piece of glass is placed on the top. The fleas would jump and hit the glass top. Quickly, they learned to control their jump to go no higher than a little lower than the glass. Then the trainer could remove the glass without fear of the fleas escaping.
For many years of my Christian life, I was an elephant and flea Christian. Jesus came to set me free. He came to bring me abundant life, to make my joy full. He came to seat me in heavenly places in Him. But I found myself sitting in pews in dozens upon dozens of churches that held me to a life far below what He desired for me. I was trapped many years in a circus quality Christian life constrained by pews and pulpits, traditions of men, man-made rituals, doctrines of demons, denominationalism, articles of faith, creeds, entertainment, etc.
There are over 30,000 different denominations dividing the ONE body of Christ into thousands of little splinters. When one analyzes why we are divided, it all boils down to “following the traditions of men which make the word of God of no effect.” In Christ’s life, we find ourselves seated in heavenly places face to face with our Father. In most churches we find ourselves looking at the back of our brothers’ and sisters’ heads while being entertained by professional orators, singers and musicians. Brothers and sisters, this division between “ordained” and laity is demonic. We are ALL called to be priests unto our God. We should be seeing each other face to face ministering one to another, not being entertained by some preacher’s oratory skills and listening to music, even if it’s good music..
All Christians Are Called To Be Ministers
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
I speak the truth when I say the pulpit/altar/pew arrangement found in most church buildings is a terrible sin. It is just like the stake for the elephant and the glass to the flea. This arrangement of furniture, and many hundreds of other traditions found in many churches, constrains Christians from experiencing the freedom to soar into heavenly places with Christ. True body ministry required face to face assembling. Face to face with each other and face to face with our Father.
John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
My dear brother and sister in Christ. May the full revelation of “Up, Abba!” be your portion in the days ahead. Having been a Christian for almost two decades, I have found the lives of millions of Christians to be at the level of circus fleas and elephants. What is even more amazing is when one tried to tell them they are tradition-bound, many of them react exactly the same way the Pharisees, lawyers and scribes reacted to Jesus’ words. Often they get outraged when one tells them they are in bondage to teachings and traditions of men.
Many of the children of Israel wanted to return to the leeks and onions of Egypt. Many Jews in Jesus’ day were content being in bondage to the traditions of the Pharisees and Sadducees. And many Christians today are quite content being “entertained” on Sunday morning. Jesus came to bring life, abundant life, 24/7 life. Yet the glass and stakes of tradition-ridden churches have made such a deep impression upon the minds of God’s children, we no longer desire to be free enough to have the full life Jesus came to bring. I say “we” because I have been in this condition for many years in dozens of different denominations. In this condition, we have a slave or spectator mindset. And we can get very upset when someone comes along and tells us that we are enslaved. We prefer being entertained over laying down our lives for our neighbors and enemies. We have been conditioned to believe life is much easier being confined to a little box we call “our church.” But very often “our church” is nothing more than a large glorified coffin.
I heard a preacher once say a rut is a grave with both ends knocked out. In tens of thousands of churches, the same old rituals are performed by the same old people week after week, year after year. This is NOT what Jesus called “abundant life.” This is what He called DEATH! Many thousands of churches are nothing more than glorified coffins. (By the way, this has nothing to do with church buildings, it has everything to do with what the true building of God, God’s people, are allowed to do and are encouraged to do within and without that physical church building.) I’m sure there is some teeth-gnashing going on right now by some reading this article. That’s fine. The truth cuts both ways. It hardens some even more than they already are and it sets some free.
If this article helped set you free, please email me and let me know. If it made your blood to boil and gave you sore gums, please don’t contact me, especially if you are a pastor or leader of one of those glorified coffins I was talking about. Humble yourself (step down from your exalted position) and become as a small child. Ask your heavenly Father to send you the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth Who will lead you (lift you up) and set you free from your demons and man-made traditions. Learn the words “Up, Abba! Up!”
May the peace that passes all understanding come upon all who read this article. May your eyes be enlightened to see the door to the kingdom of God which is right before you, “ that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Eph. 1:17-23, KJV) Amen. (Now that’s a Pauline sentence if I ever saw one!) GA