In short, the Puritans taught that regeneration and adoption are to be distinguished in several ways. Here is a summary of points made by Thomas Manton and Stephen Charnock on the differences between the doctrines of adoption and regeneration:
- Regeneration brings us to close with Jesus Christ – adoption causes the Spirit to abide in our hearts.
- Regeneration is the Spirit’s renewing. Adoption, the Spirit’s inhabiting. In regeneration, the Holy Spirit builds a house for Himself, in adoption, He dwells in the house—much like bees that “first make their cells, and then dwell in them.”
- Regeneration is not conditioned by faith, adoption is.
- Regeneration enables us to believe unto justification and adoption.
- Regeneration engraves upon us the lineaments of a father; adoption relates us to God as our Father.
- Regeneration makes us God’s sons by conveying the principle of new life (1 Pet. 1:23); adoption keeps us God’s sons by conferring the power of new life (John 1:12).
- Regeneration makes us partakers of the divine nature; adoption makes us partakers of the divine affections.
- Regeneration affects our nature, adoption, our relationships.