Monday, April 03, 2006

Different Modes of Salvation

One of the objections that is usually made against Dispensational theology is that it teaches different modes of salvation. This objection usually frustrates dispensationalists because this type of dispensationalism is nearly non-existent today. Though this objection stems from a lack of understanding of dispensationalism as it is held today, it has its warrant against some of its founders. I found these quotes reading through a few sections of Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology.

On Justification he said,

“A distinction must be observed here between just men of the Old Testament and those justified according to the New Testament. According to the Old Testament men were just because they were true and faithful in keeping the Mosaic Law. Micah defines such a life after this manner: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Men were therefore just because of their own works for God whereas New Testament justification is God's work for man in answer to faith (Rom. 5:1).”

Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology Vol. 7 p.219

On Assurance of Salvation he said,

“Assurance was in the past age (Old Testament) a recognition of one’s own righteous character: but in the present age it is a recognition of the righteousness of God which is imputed to all who believe.”

Vol. 7 P.21

I bring this up because about I year ago I was speaking with a professor from Lewis Sperry Chafer Theological Seminary and I had asked him this same question, whether or not Dr. Chafer believed in different ways of salvation. The answer was a resounding no, with a further explanation that he had never taught anything like that.

I do not bring this up because I want to harp on dispensationalism, the seminary, or Dr. Chafer himself (I actually have respect for all three), but it seems that this is another area where we tend to talk past each other. Dispensationalist need to recognize why Covenantal theologians make this objection and Covenantal theologians need to realize that this type of dispensationalism is rarely held today.

I’m currently trying to push my way through the Israel/Church distinction. I see many passages which seem to make this distinction but what exactly are those distinctions? Especially since we are all saved by grace through faith. I'll let you know if I come to any conclusions.

God Bless,



At Monday, April 03, 2006 1:33:00 PM, Blogger Lorie said...

I saw your comment on someone else's blog and just wanted to check out your musings. I'll be interested to see what you learn through your study of the Israel/church distinction...

At Monday, April 03, 2006 5:24:00 PM, Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Greetings, Doug. One of the things I find odd about Dispensationalism is the consequence of their view regarding the temple and the ceremonial law. What the Scriptures seem to teach is that they were types and shadows, the substance of which being found in Christ. Why, in the millennial reign, would we return to the types and shadows when the fulfillment has already come?

At Monday, April 03, 2006 5:49:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...


That puzzles me too. I see no reason for it unless someone held to old-school dispensationalism which teaches different modes of salvation for Israel. If that is true then the sacrifices would have to come back to save Israel in the end times. But that view is not held today (nor is is scriptural), so I'm not sure why they would need to come back.

Thanks for stopping by,


At Monday, April 03, 2006 8:07:00 PM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

TWD--you raise an interesting point. As a dispensationalist, let me assure you that there are many who do not hold to that view at all. I think the NT clearly teaches that Christ fulfilled all ceremonial aspects of the law. In that the kingdom will characterized by righteousness and ruled by the Lamb of God, there will certainly be no need for animal sacrifices.

Doug--concerning Israel/church, there are three categories of the seed of Abraham as listed in Scripture: 1. The physical seed (i.e. Isaac, Jacob, etc.) 2. The physical/spiritual seed--those who were among the physical seed and like Abraham were justified by faith, and 3. The spiritual seed--those not of the physical seed, yet like Abraham were justified by faith (Gentile believers). I think if one applies these distinctions to the biblical references to the seed of Abraham, it can reveal how believers are "grafted in" and yet the church can retain a separate and distinct identity from Israel.

At Monday, April 03, 2006 8:07:00 PM, Blogger Puritan Belief said...

A distinction must be observed here between just men of the Old Testament and those justified according to the New Testament.

The problem is they don't See the glory of Jesus as the God of the Old Testament.

John 8:58
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"

Immediately after this statement they pick up stones to kill Jesus.

In the Old Testament they had to look forward to Calvary (the mystery revealed) Where as we who are under the New covenant (Christs blood) Look back.

David says in Psalms The Lord is my light and my Salvation (Psalm 27:1) He knew what it was to be saved by Grace by Jesus because he Looked forward to calvary.

David, Moses, Abraham, Jacob etc etc were all Justified by the blood of Christ.

At Monday, April 03, 2006 8:41:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...


I had just covered that distinction today after I posted this topic. In fact, you defined it identically to the way S. Lewis Johnson did, and it is helpful.

I guess my struggle with the distinction has to do with how we are different besides not being of national Israel (e.g. Bloodline). When covenantal theologians say we are grafted into the tree of Israel they keep that distinction quite clear also. They never say that we are of the bloodline of Jacob. But we are spiritually Israel. What sets the two apart? Does it have to do with their eschatology?

God Bless,


At Monday, April 03, 2006 8:42:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...


Thanks for your comment.


At Monday, April 03, 2006 11:06:00 PM, Blogger edwardseanist said...

Lorie said, "I saw your comment on someone else's blog and just wanted to check out your musings. I'll be interested to see what you learn through your study of the Israel/church distinction..."

What distinctions? There is one covenant of grace. One redeemed covenant people of God.

Looks like you are getting somewhere Doug!



At Tuesday, April 04, 2006 5:19:00 AM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

Doug--I believe that it does have a lot to do with their eschatology. There are certain prophecies that deal specifically with Israel and some that deal with the church.

Another way of looking at this is to see the over-arching concept of the Kingdom. Through the OT, God's work toward establishing the kingdom was through the nation of Israel, i.e., bringing about the birth of Christ, bringing the nations to Israel at that time. In the NT, He is using the church to do the work of the kingdom. After the rapture, His effort will be to draw Israel to Himself (Gentiles will not be excluded, but much of Revelation's prophecy concerns Israel--antichrist, temple, sacrifices, etc.) After the tribulation, the kingdom will come to fruition and Israel and the church will be brought together.

At Tuesday, April 04, 2006 9:04:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Thanks Gordon,

That is helpful, I have so much going through my head on this topic I almost forgot about the literal interpretation of the promises of the O.T. for Israel.

Do you see the millenium as the time that Israel (national) will see the land promises and kindom promises fulfilled? And during this time, how would you define the church of Jesus Christ? As national or spiritual?

I ask that because I'm still trying to see if there is any spiritual difference between Israel and the church. In other words is the land promises and such the only real distinction?

Thanks for your help,


P.S. These are not leading questions to hit you with an argument, I'm just trying to get a good understanding. :-)

At Tuesday, April 04, 2006 5:49:00 PM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

Doug, these are certainly some probing questions. I will do my best to answer them.

I believe that the land promise (as well as several other items in the Abrahamic Covenant) have already been fulfilled. Moses led the children of Israel to the land that God had promised them. Even though other nations have taken control of that land since then, it has always returned to the nation of Israel.

Those nations who have been a blessing to Israel (i.e. U.S. and Great Britain) have been blessed of God. Those nations who have been a curse to Israel have endured judgment from God (i.e. Germany, Turkey, Russia).

Having said that, I do believe that in the millenial kingdom, Israel will function as a nation that has reached its peak. Jesus Himself will be on the throne and this will be a glorious time for Israel.

I am not sure that the church will be a particular nation, so in that sense I believe it will be spiritual, but in another sense, we will literally be there to rule and reign with Christ.

It would seem to me that the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant are the primary distinction between Israel and the church. There may be others, but they don't immediately come to mind.

To be perfectly honest, this "progressive dispy" still has much progressing to do in knowledge. :)

At Wednesday, April 05, 2006 11:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you aware that John Darby wasn't first with any of dispensationalism's crucial aspects? You will be if you focus on "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" while Googling. This and many other fascinating facts make up this one-of-a-kind historical break-through. To see scholarly reactions to this Google piece, type in "Scholars Weigh My Research." B.R.

At Thursday, April 06, 2006 7:39:00 AM, Blogger bluecollar said...

Thanks Doug!


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