Adoption - Human Nature In Its Third Estate - RR131Q29

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Adoption
Course: Course - Human Nature in its Third Estate
Subject: Subject:Psychology
Lesson#: 8
Length: 0:48:08
TapeCode: RR131Q29
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Human Nature in its First Estate Part III.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

[Dr. Rushdoony] Our Scripture is Romans 8:14-18. And our subject, adoption. Romans 8:14-18. And our subject, adoption.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 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: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

The doctrine of adoption is very important to Scripture. Very important in particular to what the New Testament teaches. And yet sadly it has been very little mentioned in recent years, almost incidentally only. The reason is not far to seek. In April of 1970, when Billy Graham held a crusade in Germany, a Hamburg church monthly entitled ‘U-Point’ carried both co and con articles on Graham. The critical article compared Graham with Luther. Written by {?}, what it said was this, and I quote. “If you only want to have the change of heart, so Graham teaches, you can have it, and everything is well between God and you. Luther’s by grace alone means more to me than Graham’s by free decision of the will alone. Graham just does not know how much separates him from Martin Luther.” Unquote. Now this criticism point out a very important fact. If God is the universal Father of mankind and all men are natural sons, men then have a natural relationship with God which cannot be entirely severed or broken. Men can then choose to return home when they want. [00:03:41]

Now, in Billy Graham’s terms an act of faith is that

Now, in Billy Graham’s terms an act of faith is that which man wills to do. For Martin Luther an act of faith was the gift of God. Now St. Paul, when he talked about faith and adoption, salvation, used the word adoption deliberately, because in adoption the babe does not choose the parents, the parent chooses the child. It is entirely of the parent. And over and over again St. Paul uses imagery which enforces God’s sovereign choice. The language of adoption. Comparing the sinner to one dead in sins and trespasses, made alive through Christ. No dead man can make himself alive. So at every point the language of Scripture stresses the sovereignty of God in salvation. When the choice is made man’s, such a theology can have a fundamentalist or a modernist version, but it is humanistic, it is a denial of the sovereignty of God, and it is an affirmation that man’s freewill is ultimate. Man can open or shut the door to God. Christ cannot enter man’s heart unless man lets him in. Such a theology has no doctrine of adoption. It makes man the sovereign, it is humanistic.

The Westminster Confession speaks very pointedly on the doctrine of adoption. It declares, and I quote, “All those that are justified, God vouch safest in and for His only Son, Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God. Have His Name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enable to cry Abba, father. Are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by Him as a father, yet never cast off. Being sealed to the day of redemption and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation. Justification is that act of grace whereby we sinful subjects of God’s government are received into the number of, and given a right and title to, all the privileges of the kingdom of God. [00:06:54]

Adoption is that act of grace whereby we fallen sinners

Adoption is that act of grace whereby we fallen sinners are received into the number of, and are given all the rights and privileges of, the sons of God. The one terminates upon the servile relation, the other terminates upon the filio relation, the one restores the sonship, the other to sonship. In the Fall the sinner not only lost the rights and footing of a child, but he also lost the heart and spirit of the child. That is, he lost at once his filial position and his filial nature. He know stands in need for some scheme for regaining both his filial status and his filial spirit. Regeneration is that act of saving grace which, at least incipiently, re-imparts to him his lost filial disposition, while adoption is that act of grace which restores to him his filial standing. By the one he is given the heart of a child, by the other he is given the rights of a child. Both are unspeakably important. To have sonship is a law right and prerogative on the one hand, and to have the appropriate filial disposition to correspond to the legal filial state. So while adoption coincides with justification at one point and with regeneration at another, because the scheme of grace, however analyzed in thought, is in strict reality one and indivisible. It is eminently helpful in the comprehension in the scheme of salvation to treat adoption as a separate article of the Christian faith.” Unquote.

In this the declaration of the Westminster Confession and the commentary of Robert Alexander Webb thereon, we see very clearly that salvation is like a seamless garment. Justification and regeneration and adoption are all aspects of it. Each emphasizing a particular form or aspect of the doctrine. It is important to realize therefore that it is of God and it is irreversible. Because the word adoption has reference to something which in the Greco-Roman world at that time was an irreversible legal procedure. No one who was adopted could be disinherited. [00:09:44]

A natural son could be

A natural son could be. Not an adopted son. The purpose of this law of course was to put a brake on adoption so that adoption was made to be irreversible. So that when the writers of the New Testament, St. Paul in particular, used this word, they were talking about something in full knowledge of what it meant. God having saved us, no one can undo that salvation. It is an irreversible act of God. Our adoption is for time and eternity. Now let us turn to the psychological aspects of this doctrine, so that we can understand its implications for man. Adoption means that our relationship to God is not only on a law basis, that is, a need for obedience, but also on a family basis. It is personal and loving. The two go together. Virtues cannot be separated. It is a modern myth that somebody can be a moral degenerate in one sphere, and very wise and virtuous in another sphere. Virtues go together and they feed on each other.

The doctrine of adoption tells us that the desolating loneliness which characterizes the sinner, the humanist, gives way to Christ in a new creation. In this new creation, St. Paul declared, all are yours. And ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s. This means heirship. To be an heir in Christ is to be a blessed possessor of all things in time and in eternity. It means that the earth was created to be the area of man’s dominion and heirship under God. And it has been restored to him as a joint heir in Christ. It means also that eternity is our destiny, our heirship, our estate. [00:12:26]

So that the extent of our inheritance, both in time

So that the extent of our inheritance, both in time and in eternity, is beyond our imagination. Our lives are tied to more than ourselves and to far more than we can imagine. For the humanist the idea of a man’s life being tied to more than himself, being tied to the future, to the kingdom of God, to other people in Christ, to eternity, is baffling. He refuses to believe that it is possible. But for a believer life is more than himself. He believes and builds for more than today. He has a future. It is this aspect that is disappearing in modern civilization. This was once a part of the life of the western world, of Christendom. Men moved in terms of more than today. Men always thought of more than themselves in any given situation, but this is now gone. Recently I was reading a very interesting book which was written by a top ranking military officer of the British Empire, who was an observer and an eye witness of the events of the second Balkan war of 1913. He was a thoroughly modern figure, and so, seeing these men who still had an old Christian past, left him something of an outsider. And so it is with something of amazement that he commented on the death, during the second Balkan war, of a peasant soldier who died at the gate of the monastery of St. {?}. And I quote. “His story was soon told. He was a Bulgarian soldier struck by a Turkish bullet near the spine and perished. Some peasants had found him in a field and filled with pity had brought him to where he lay. So that at least he should not die alone. Peasants are always kind. Those that had done this charitable deed were of no special race, although their lives were hard, but they had not lost their human sympathy, even in time of war. [00:15:28]

A woman brought a pillow for his head, a monk knelt

A woman brought a pillow for his head, a monk knelt at his other side repeating words that solace dying men. And then he spoke. The voice though weak, rang clear. In a hushed silence to {?} the final message of a man whose earthly course was run. His thoughts were far away, but not with wife or children. Nor did the welfare of his soul trouble his dying moments. He had a far in the {?} Valley, not far from {?}. There he had spent his life and lavished all his love and care. To him that strip of land was very dear, and dying he remembered it, to give some last instructions for the next autumn sowing.” Unquote. This kind of thing was once common place throughout Christendom. For this peasant the land was his calling under God. And like his family before him and after him, he belonged to the land even as the land belonged to him. It was his stewardship under God. So that even in his death there was a lack of self consciousness. Life had to go on, and so he gave instructions so that life could go on properly. St. Paul in our text speaks of adoption and heirship. For as many of you as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 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 of bondage. This is what we have left behind, St. Paul says. Now what is the spirit of bondage? It means, literally, the spirit of slavery. You can translate it either as spirit of bondage, or as spirit of slavery.

Now when we say slavery it’s important for us to know what kind of slavery St. Paul is talking about. There is on the one hand, statist slavery. This is the most common in the world. When a state owns people. Such as the millions that were owned by the Pharaohs and the Emperors of old, and the untold millions in the slave labor camps of Soviet Russia. [00:18:37]

These are brutally treated people who are quickly worked

These are brutally treated people who are quickly worked to death. This is not the kind of slavery that St. Paul is talking about. He is talking about privately owned slaves. Private ownership in slaves. This is the kind of spirit of bondage he is talking about. Now why? Well, in Israel the law did not provide for compulsory slavery. It provided for voluntary slaves. What was a voluntary slave? It was someone who couldn’t face the hardships of the world and he would sell himself and his labor to somebody and he would go there, he would lose citizenship, and he would then be given security in return for board and room and a place to live. In other words, it was a form of welfarism. If he wanted to leave he could leave, unless it were bondage in terms of working off a debt or if he has sold himself for a given number of years. As a result the spirit of bondage that St. Paul is talking about from which he says all believers have been delivered, is the spirit of a man who is afraid of life, who can’t meet the competition and the problems of everyday life. And therefore does not want the responsibility of freedom.

Now let me illustrate that kind of slavery. That kind of slavery existed in many parts of the world, and still does in some places, but it existed, for example, in the Caucasus Mountains to the beginning of this century. When Czar Nicholas’s troops finally conquered the Caucasus. The Russian Viceroy called in the Caucasian chiefs and ordered the abolition of slavery. He was very surprised at the ready cooperation he received. All the slave owners said oh, surely, we’ll be very glad to cooperation with the Czar. The next day there was a very angry delegation of slaves. And these slaves protested to the Viceroy of the Czar saying, slavery is our sacred right. Many of us are of the hereditary nobility and some of us are free. But the Czar should have a respect for the rights of the native nobility. [00:21:50]

Now this was quite upsetting to the Viceroy and a commission

Now this was quite upsetting to the Viceroy and a commission was appointed to investigate what was going on. And the report was very interesting, and {?} abridged version of the report is worth quoting. The material which this commission assembled brought some amazing facts to light. The house slaves were indeed members of the oldest aristocratic families in the land. Centuries ago an impoverished member of the family had sold his freedom to some prince or other. Whereby the rights and duties of the new slave and his descendants were exactly prescribed. The slaves were only obliged to do the work which had been done by the first of their line. And for this they were maintained by their masters all their lives, and in certain circumstances they were rewarded with presents. In the course of time it was the princes who became impoverished and the aristocratic slaves who increased, in a most devastating fashion. It thus came about that many a slave owner had to expend his whole income in supporting the descendants of his original slave. If the first of them had been a cook or a groom, all his descendants, and their number increased with the passage of time to dozens, could be nothing else but cooks or grooms. One slave owner with three horses had to maintain 30 grooms and their families, who lived in his own home and demanded presents from him. Another who was living from hand to mouth himself had at his disposal 20 cooks and their families, and it never occurred to a single one of them to do anything but lounge about in the kitchen. All the slaves had valid documents in their hand which protected their position, and they regarded this attempt to free them as a brutal injustice and violation of their ancient privileges. Whereas for most of the owners the riddance of their slaves meant bliss unheard of.” Unquote.

Well of course the end result of that situation was that the Czar said they would be provided for, for a year, and in that year’s time they had to find a way of providing for themselves. [00:24:26]

Now of course today, because men are not Christians

Now of course today, because men are not Christians, this same spirit of bondage possesses them. This is why we have the kind of world we do. Whether they are capitalists, multi-millionaires, or they are workers, they all have the spirit of unregenerate men, the spirit of bondage, the spirit of slavery.

Now, St. Paul said, ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear. He says, in other words, that fear is the mark of the slave. Now the word fear is almost the same word as flight, in Greek. So, it’s the spirit of slavery which runs away from problems. From trouble, from anything that threatens the individual. So, St. Paul says. The unbeliever has the spirit of bondage or of slavery, which makes him react to any problem, any crisis, any responsibility, by fear, which means running away. Now incidentally there is more than one word for fear in Scripture. There is another word which means reverence, the fear of the Lord is reverent. And it also has the significance of caution. But here the word means flight. Running away from responsibility. So, St. Paul says, fear, flight is the mark of a slave. A search for womb like security, an unwillingness to face responsibility. The word fear incidentally, in Greek is phobos. Which we have as phobia. Phobia. The spirit of slavery, or bondage, is a phobia with respect to responsibility and freedom. Now this says something about our politics today. Our politics today is the politics of unregenerate men. It is the politics of an age which is denied Christ. And no political party and no conservative movement is going to change the situation, if God’s word is true. Because the spirit of bondage, the spirit of slavery, is the spirit of unbelief and it is the spirit of flight from responsibility, of phobia where any responsibility is involved. [00:27:27]

And so your capitalists want protection from competition

And so your capitalists want protection from competition, and your workers want cradle to grace security, and everybody wants to be protected from life. The spirit of bondage heads for a dream world. It wants escape from reality into a world of its own imagination. But in the believer this spirit of bondage or slavery is replaced by adoption. And St. Paul says ye have received the spirit of adoption, you didn’t get it, you received it as a gift, entirely of sovereign grace. Moreover, he says, this adoption is not yet complete. In the 23rd verse he says, and not only they but ourselves also which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body. So that our spirit has been adopted irreversibly, and in the world to come our body will also receive the adoption, the irreversible acceptance into sonship. And so we shall put on the resurrection body. This faith gives man a future orientation, a hope. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature or a new creation, St. Paul declares. The old world he knows is dying around him and a new world is coming to birth on all sides, and he can thus also rejoice. Rejoice and again I say unto you rejoice, because he knows the certainty of triumph.

Now the spirit of bondage is also the spirit of sin and death. So that in verse 21 St. Paul calls it the bondage of corruption. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. The word translated here as corruption means also destruction. You can render it into English either way, it has both meanings. So that the spirit of slavery, the spirit of bondage, which is all around us in this generation, because it is ungodly, is the spirit of destruction and the spirit of corruption. [00:30:40]

It will continue to pollute, it will continue to destroy

It will continue to pollute, it will continue to destroy, it will continue to corrupt anything it touches. And you won’t reverse that process by any set of laws. Only by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. Because the spirit of slavery, of bondage, is the spirit of corruption, or destruction. But, says St. Paul in the 14th verse, all who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. It is interesting in this passage, from the 14th verse to the end of the chapter, how St. Paul alternates his use of language between sons and children. Sons is used where maturity is stressed. We have received the spirit of adoption, we are now the sons of God, in other words, we are placed in a position requiring maturity, requiring growth. On the other hand, the word children is used in verses 16, 17, and 21. In verse 16 the word children is used in relationship to God by contrast to His majesty and sovereign grace. In verse 17 children is used in the sense of heirship together with the Son. Christ is the heir by nature, as the only begotten Son of the Father. In contrast to him is the sons, we are children. Then in the third instance, verse 21, because that glorious liberty, the resurrection, is in the future in its fullness, we are children in our experience of that liberty. Adoption means heirship. It means deliverance from the spirit of bondage or slavery. It means deliverance from the disinherited mind.

Now the term, the disinherited mind, is a very interesting one. It has been coined by the humanists themselves to describe themselves. In fact there’s a very interesting book on the leading humanists of the past century entitled simply, ‘The Disinherited Mind’. The term is a very good one. [00:33:44]

The modern humanist is a disinherited mind, he is a

The modern humanist is a disinherited mind, he is a homeless man, a homeless wanderer, even like Cain in his own home, a stranger to all things wherever he is. But the adopted sons of God are not disinherited, they are heirs. They are not strangers and foreigners to this world, although they are pilgrims in it. Even in their pilgrimage they can sing this is my Father’s world. The disinherited live in the suburbs of Hell, but the heirs make time itself an outskirt of Heaven because in time and in eternity they are heirs. Joint heirs with Christ.

Let us pray. Almighty God our Heavenly Father we give thanks unto Thee that in Jesus Christ we are joint heirs of all things. That by Thy sovereign grace we have been redeemed and adopted and have a glorious estate in time and in eternity. Give us therefore joyful, grateful hearts, that we may serve Thee as we ought. And might render unto Thee that sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving which is Thy due. Bless us to this purpose, in Jesus name. Amen.

Are there any questions now, first of all with respect to my lesson? Yes.


[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. Now the law of slavery that I discussed is the Hebrew, the Old Testament law. However our Lord in, through St. Paul, in admonishing slaves to avoid rebellion, but to be as free as they could, was saying, in effect, that while slavery is not the life for a Christian, he must not be a revolutionist. He must seek freedom by godly means. [00:36:29]


[Dr. Rushdoony] Oh yes. The Romans did enslave the Christians and other peoples as well. Through force.



[Dr. Rushdoony] Words that are in italics in Scripture are words that are not there but are understood in a verb or in the declension of a noun. If you study foreign languages you know that some words are understood in the declension, they are part of the declension. So the King James is very particular to translate only the exact words and then what it is understood to put into italics. In one or two cases where there is a reading about which there is some question, the entire reading is italics, there’re only one or two instances of that.



[Dr. Rushdoony] No, that is….

[Audience] {?}..

[Dr. Rushdoony] That is one version of the doctrine of reincarnation and it’s a pagan belief. Now some of those who are dabbling in witchcraft today are very partial to such opinions. But it is primarily the doctrine of metempsychosis. Yes. And untrue of course to the core.

Any other questions? Yes.


[Dr. Rushdoony] I didn’t see that but I would say today, with the lack of any maturity and responsibility people are so unstable that they do give themselves freely and readily to almost anything that comes by. It’s a part of their immaturity.



[Dr. Rushdoony] The book of Romans as a Christian constitution? Yes, in a very good sense, because it is the most doctrinal book of Scripture, the most theologically oriented book.

Yes. [00:39:45]


[Dr. Rushdoony] I couldn’t quite… could you repeat that?


[Dr. Rushdoony] No. No, no. No. We aren’t… we are always creatures in time and in eternity. We are never a part of God. But we are His creatures. We are received into a state of glory. And we have the eternal inheritance, we are joint heirs with Christ in that, but we never are anything but creatures.


[Dr. Rushdoony] There’s one verse in which St. Paul speaks of us being made partakers of His divinity. The meaning of that is, we partake of the blessings, the government, and so on. Not that we become sharers or one nature with Him. We are one nature with Christ’s new humanity, we never are turned into gods.

Our time is just about up, but in view of what we’ve been dealing with, the spirit of bondage as against the spirit of adoption, I think a letter that was awaiting me when I returned home last night was of interest. It was from Gary North. And in part he says, “Every night, as in my Westminster days, I listen to this John Sheppard radio show. He is a humorist, but a very clever social critic. His latest book is in the best seller list and after being out less than a month. It’s fiction, but based on life in a mid-west steel town in the mid-thirties. He said tonight that he had received a letter from a schoolteacher who told him that they are not allowed to check for lice any longer in the schools. [00:42:31]

Supposedly teachers are told it will embarrass students

Supposedly teachers are told it will embarrass students who have lice. She said that the problem is really serious in some schools. He did not say if she’s a New Yorker or not, I suspect she is, or at least an urban teacher in the north east area. His show is on WR radio. Then he read a long piece in the New York Times, again without specifying date, but I gather that it’s quite recent, on the lice problem. It is becoming an upper middleclass problem, the article says. But the letter from the teacher is the killer. He spent the rest of the show talking about an incident in grade school where one girl was found to have lice and the whole class was treated at once. He then rambled on about the return of our civilization to the Dark Ages, witchcraft is getting popular, bubonic plague is popping out, lice are returning. In this light I saw a book in a bookstore today among the stock market books called ‘Wall street and Witchcraft’. The author shows how a number of very successful stock market operators are using demonology to get their money. I think the author was Max Gunther.” Unquote. Now, what he reports is actually happening in several places of the country. And it’s a part of this whole spirit of bondage. You’ve got to equalize everything because, after all, it is traumatic for people if any differences are made between individuals. It puts too much responsibility on those who are out in front and those who’re way behind. So equalize them all. And it is unfair to embarrass students who have lice, because that puts a difference between them, and it put the responsibility on those that is regarded as unfair.

Now long ago, a century ago, a great Christian, Dr. Hodge, in dealing with the public school movement, and I have his quotation in full, in the ‘Messianic Character of American Education’, says that, “Once you began the public school movement”, he said, “It would lead to a continual integration downward. You would equalize down. Until he who has the most faith would give to him who had least, and he who is the least is him who had none at all, until you finally work downward to render everyone on a common level, so that” he said, “the public schools, (this was in the 1870’s that he wrote, and he was lecturing to women’s groups, it was a lecture he prepared for them) will end up as the greatest instrument for the destruction of this country, or of any country, that the world has ever seen.” Now that was his conclusion. [00:45:46]

And this is what equality does

And this is what equality does. And if you allow it to come into the churches or into the Christian schools or into any aspect of society, the spirit of bondage, that’s what it is, will destroy it totally in time. Because it is the spirit of corruption or of destruction.

I have a few announcements. The Chalcedon Gourmet dinner will be on Saturday October the 16th, so that if you have not already turned in your reservations please see Mrs. Thurston or Mrs. {?} about it after the meeting. Then there will be on Saturday the 13th, from 2 to 9 p.m. at Nottsberry{?} Farm, the Chalcedon guild Steinhope{?} economic seminar. And again, get your reservations in as soon as possible, they are coming in very nicely, and we may have to turn away people again, because both for the dinner and the last seminar the guild held we were not able to accommodate everyone. So please get your reservations in. Then remember Saturday December the 4th, the Chalcedon Christmas Festival. The dinner on the 16th, incidentally, will be held at the Glendale Masonic Temple.

Let us bow our heads now for the benediction. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.

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