Murray, John. Redemption Accomplished and Applied.
Introduction: This book was another freebie at the 2016 Shepherds’ Conference. It is a classic work on the doctrine of soteriology that I’ve always heard referenced, but never read for myself until now!
Summary: The book is divided into two parts. The first part of the book is, to no surprise, entitled, “Redemption Accomplished.” It reviews the work of Christ as an atonement for our sin. The second section is titled, “Redemption Applied.” It highlights the ordo salutis (“order of salvation”). He presents the order of salvation as (1) effectual calling; (2) regeneration; (3) faith and repentance; (4) justification; (5) adoption; (6) sanctification; (7) perseverance; (8) union with Christ; and (9) glorification. Each one of these items occupies its own chapter. For those in the Reformed circle of soteriology there really is no major surprise.
Strength(s): As an individual, my convictions align very strongly with the Reformed tradition’s doctrine of soteriology. The commitment to uphold and present this thoroughly biblical soteriology in a systematic and organized way is its major strength.
Weakness(es): A lot of the debate in Reformed soteriology revolves around the extent of the atonement. His treatment of limited atonement was great and sufficient, but there are other arguments that could have been addressed. While he did not aim to definitively defend limited atonement, it is one area that draws a lot of attention and ink. In this sense, don’t expect him to provide a definitive defense against all that has been written and said on the limited/unlimited atonement debate.
Recommendation(s): I would recommend for all Christians to familiarize themselves with this work. While having been exposed to Reformed soteriology for quite some time it may serve as a breath of fresh air as a seasoned Calvinist. This is why this book would be most helpful to those who have never systematically studied soteriology. It would also be helpful for new Christians to be able to identify and put doctrinal language to the multi-faceted experience of their salvation. New believers may not be familiar with the nuances of salvation and reading a book like this may help provide a doctrinal foundation.
“Regeneration is the beginning of all saving grace in us, and all saving grace in exercise on our part proceeds from the fountain of regeneration. We are not born again by faith or repentance or conversion; we repent and believe because we have been regenerated. No one can say in truth that Jesus is the Christ except by regeneration of the Spirit and that is one of the ways by which the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ. The embrace of Christ in faith is the first evidence of regeneration and only thus may we know that we have been regenerated” (pp. 107-08).
“We are warned and advised, therefore, that while regeneration is the action of God and of God alone we must never conceive of this action as separable from the activities of saving grace on our part which are the necessary and appropriate effects of God’s grace in us” (p. 109)
“Regeneration is the renewing of the heart and mind, and the renewed heart and mind must act according to their nature” (p. 111).
“It is very easy for us to speak of sin, to be very denunciatory respecting sin, and denunciatory respecting the particular sins of other people and yet not be penitent regarding our own particular sins. The test of repentance is the genuineness and resoluteness of our repentance in respect of our own sins, sins characterized by the aggravation a which are peculiar to our own selves” (p. 120).
“The purity of the gospel is bound up with the recognition of this distinction. If justification is confused with regeneration or sanctification, then the door is opened for the perversion of the gospel at its center. Justification is still the article of the standing or falling church” (p. 128).
“The obedience of Christ must therefore be regarded as the ground of justification; it is the righteousness which God not only takes into account but reckons to our account when he justifies the ungodly” (p. 131).
“Faith works itself out through love (cf. Gal. 5:6). And faith without works is dead (cf. James 2:17-20). It is a living faith that justifies and living faith United to Christ both in the virtue of his death and in the power of his resurrection. No one has entrusted himself to Christ for deliverance from the guilt of sin who has not also entrusted himself to him for deliverance from the power of sin” (p. 138).
“Sanctification is a work of God in us, and calling and regeneration are acts of God which have their immediate effects in us” (p. 149).
“An all-important consideration derived from the priority of calling and regeneration is that sin is dethroned in every person who is effectually called and regenerated” (p. 150).
“It is one thing for sin to live in us: it is another for us to live in sin” (p. 154).
“It is of paramount concern for the Christian and for the interests of his sanctification that he should know that sin does not have the dominion over him, that the forces of redeeming, regenerative, and sanctifying grace have been brought to bear upon him in that which is central in his moral and spiritual being, that he is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and that Christ has been formed in him the hope of glory” (p. 154).