I am a day late with this week’s Reading Classics Together. I had something else I wanted to post yesterday, so bumped this back just one day. I trust no one was too bothered! Today we continue in our journey through John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied. To this point he has taught about effectual calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, and justification. Today we come to the great doctrine of adoption, one that has undoubtedly been much neglected.
“By adoption the redeemed become sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty; they are introduced into and given the privileges of God’s family. … We become children of God by the bestowment of a right or by the conferring of authority, and this is given to them who believe on Jesus’ name.” Murray turns immediately to an examination of adoption in light of the other acts of God’s grace. He shows:
First, that adoption needs to be distinguished from both justification and regeneration. Though all are inexorably linked one to the others, we cannot allow ourselves to blur the important distinctions between them. Murray says adoption “is never separate from justification and regeneration. The person who is justified is always the recipient of sonship.
Second, adoption, like justification, is a judicial act. “In other words, it is the bestowal of a status, or standing, not the generating within us of a new nature or character.”
Third, “Those adopted into God’s family are also given the Spirit of adoption whereby they are able to recognize their sonship and exercise the privileges which go with it.”
Fourth, there is a close relationship between adoption and regeneration. So close is the relationship “that some would say that we are sons of God both by participation of nature and by deed of adoption.” Murray, though he admits the possibility, says there is no conclusive evidence to support this. “There is a very close interdependence between the generative act of God’s grace (regeneration) and the adoptive. When God adopts men and women into his family he insures that not only may they have the rights and privileges of his sons and daughters but also the nature or disposition consonant with such a status.” This he does by regeneration.
Murray makes it clear that adoption “is an act of transfer, from an alien family into the family of God himself. This is surely the apex of grace and privilege.” Have you stopped recently to consider what it means that you have been adopted into the family of God? Should this not cause you to pause and to praise him?
A good bit of the chapter concerns itself with the nature of the fatherhood we speak of in adoption. “Adoption is concerned with the fatherhood of God in relation to men.” Here Murray wants to ensure that we realize that there is a sense in which God is Father to all men (as their Creator) yet that adoption is a special kind of fatherhood offered only to those who have been justified. He shows also that the relation in adoption is specifically between the believer and the Father, not the believer and the Son or Holy Spirit. He says, “The people of God are the sons of God the Father and he sustains to them this highest and most intimate of relationships. This fact enhances the marvel of the relationship established by adoption. The first person of the Godhead is not only the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ but is also the God and Father of those who believe in Jesus’ name. … Though the relationship of Fatherhood differs, it is the same person who is Father of the Lord Jesus Christ in the ineffable mystery of the trinity who is the Father of believers in the mystery of his adoptive grace.”
He closes with this great question: “Could anything disclose the marvel of adoption or certify the security of its tenure and privilege more effectively than the fact that the Father himself, on account of whom are all things and through whom are all things, who made the captain of salvation perfect through sufferings, becomes by deed of grace the Father of the many sons whom he will bring to glory?” Ponder that for a few moments this morning.
For next Thursday please read the next chapter—“Sanctification.”
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 or to link to your blog if you’ve chosen to write about this on your own site.