Today we come to our fifth reading in John Murray’s classic book Redemption Accomplished and Applied. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve really been looking forward to reaching the book’s second section—the one dealing with the application of the atonement to God’s elect. This week’s reading begins this long-awaited discussion that really comprises the heart of the book and its most distinctively-Reformed teaching.
The first chapter of this new section provides Murray’s defense for the order in which he will discuss the various acts and processes that together comprise the way in which God has seen fit to save a people for himself. Murray dedicates a chapter to each of nine of these and seeks to do so in the logical order in which they occur. Hence in this chapter, as he provides his rationale for the order of the next nine chapters, he is at the same time providing a brief defense of the Reformed understanding of the order of salvation. Most theologians, Reformed or otherwise, agree with the general order. In any case, for example, justification must precede sanctification and perseverance must precede glorification. There are a couple of items, though, that generate a great deal of disagreement (with God’s call or election being the foremost among them). It is to these that Murray gives the bulk of his attention.
Carefully and logically, appealing to both Scripture and logic, Murray builds his case. Because this is just one small chapter in quite a short book he is unable to do an exhaustive examination of any one of the acts. Instead, then, he offers an overview. But even then it is one that would be difficult to refute.
As I’ve sought to summarize this chapter I’ve realized that no summary can do it justice. Murray moves very quickly and any summary I offer will either be far too long or far too short. Since this is a blog and most people only skim it anyway, I’ll err on the side of brevity. I’ll just skip to the end where we find that Murray settles on this order: calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, glorification. He says, “When this order is carefully weighed we find that there is a logic which evinces and brings into clear focus the governing principle of salvation in all of its aspects, the grace of God in its sovereignty and efficacy. Salvation is of the Lord in its application as well as in its conception and accomplishment.” God is sovereign from beginning to end.
Before I turn to other things, I thought I’d make a note of this brief but useful definition of faith—one I felt was worthy of a highlight: “Faith is a whole-souled act of loving trust and self-commitment.” That just about says it, doesn’t it? I don’t know that I could come up with a better and more concise definition.
For next Thursday please read the next chapter—“Effectual Calling.” This is likely to be one of the more challenging and contentious chapters in the book so be sure to read it well.
The purpose of this program is to read classics together. So if there are things that stood out to you in this chapter, if there are questions you had, this is the time and place to have your say. Feel free to post a comment below.