Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chafer on Rewards and Salvation

Continuing with a Chafer theme here, I was also reading about what Chafer has to say about rewards. In vol. 7 of his Systematic Theology, Chafer says this:

(begin Chafer quote)"Having saved a soul on the basis of grace . . . , God recognizes an indebtedness on His part to reward believers for their service to Him. . . What the believer has achieved for God He recognizes in faithfulness with rewards at the judgment seat of Christ."

Chafer then quotes Scofield approveingly, " . . . salvation is invariably spoken of as a free gift (various scriptures listed); while rewards are earned by works (scriptures listed)."

In his little book Salvation (p. 66), Chafer says: "Salvation is God's work for us. Rewards are always connected with the believer's works and merit."

What do you think about the mixture of a "grace" system and a "merit" system in the Christian life? Is there a dichotomy or can the two ideas be synthesized or integrated somehow?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chafer on Grace

As some of you know, Lewis S. Chafer was the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary and his Systematic Theology was formational and foundational for dispensational theology. A huge component of this theology is his understanding of grace and it's relationship with law. I discovered a perspective in his theology that included this comment in Volume 4, pages 162-4, under the category "Rules of Life in the Old Testament". To give you some context, he has been saying that God's bringing the people out of Egypt was an expression God's grace. He now continues:

(begin quote from Chafer) "Until that hour they had been sustained in the faithfulness of Jehovah and in spite of their wickedness; His plan and purpose for them had remained unchanged. He had dealt with them according to the unconditional covenant of grace made with Abraham. The marvelous blessedness of that grace-relationship should have appealed to them as the priceless riches of the unfailing mercy of God, which it was. The surrender of the blessings of grace should have been allowed by these people on no condition whatever. Had they said at the hearing of the impossible law, "None of these things can we do. We crave only to remain in that boundless mercy of God, who has loved us, and sought us, and saved us from all our enemies, and who will being us to Himself," it is evident that such an appeal would have reached the very heart of God. And the surpassing glory of His grace would have been extended to them without bounds; . . . In place of the eagles' wings by which they were carried unto God, they confidently chose a covenant of works when they said: "All that the LORD hath spoken we will do." They were called upon to face a concrete choice between the mercy of God which had followed them, and a new and hopeless covenant of works. They fell from grace. . . . The children of Israel definitely chose the covenant of works, which is law, as their relationship to God" (end quote from Chafer)

Well, what do you think? When God gave the law to Israel gave the 10 commandments and the rest of the law on Mt. Sinai, was he giving them a choice that He actually hoped they wouldn't accept? Or is law somehow also an expression of grace? Or is there another option?