The Message of Sonship

Posted: May 11, 2011 in adoption, bible, books, exegesis, sonship, theology

The title of this blog is “huiothesian,” which means “adopted as sons.”  Over the past few years, the doctrine of God’s gracious adoption of sinful men to be part His beloved family has become dear to me (see my introduction to the doctrine of “adoption”).  However, foundational to the doctrine of “adoption” is the doctrine of “sonship,” a broader motif that, although pervasive in the pages of Scripture, is not often given the attention and study it is due.

As a step in remedying this oversight, Trevor Burke (who also authored Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor) has written a new book entitled, The Message of Sonship (IVP, November 2011).  From the publisher:

“Sonship” is an important, yet often overlooked, theme throughout the Bible. Adam, the first human being, is identified as a “son of God”; Israel is God’s “first-born son”; the covenant with king David is cast in father-son terms; Christians are children of God, “adopted as sons”; and the same designation brings Scripture to a triumphant conclusion: “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son” (Revelation 21:7). The story line of the Bible makes clear that God is making for himself a family of sons and daughters who will serve him and reign with him in his kingdom forever–and this purpose is achieved through Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.

In his warm-hearted, edifying exposition of this theme, Trevor Burke shows how “sonship” is the focus of creation, is a metaphor for salvation, carries moral obligation and is the goal of restoration of broken, suffering humanity. For those whom God the Father adopts into his household as sons and daughters, the family bonds that begin in this life will last for all eternity.

I have had the privilege of reading some of the book already and have no doubt that it will be an insightful and beneficial look at an oft neglected theme.  One of Burke’s primary strengths is his “warm-hearted,” pastoral perspective.  This is not mere detached scholarship.  Rather, it is a glorious look into what John Murray calls “the apex of redemptive grace and privilege.”

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1


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