Gifts of grace and reward according to works

“All the benefits that believers enjoy or will obtain are gifts of the grace of God (Rom. 6:23; 2 Cor. 8:9; Eph. 2:8; etc.), yet everyone is rewarded according to his works (Rom. 2:6-11; 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:5; Rev. 2:23; 20:12). Godliness holds promise for this life and also for the life to come (I Tim. 4:8). The thought of future glory spurs them on to patience and perseverance (Rom. 8:18; 1 Cor. 15:19; 2 Cor. 4:10, 17; Rev. 2:7; 10-11, 17; etc.).” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 236).

This is taken from a chapter on “Sanctification and Perseverance,” a passage I ran across in preparing a message on Revelation 2:1-7. I commend the quote to you, not because I value the author, whom I deeply respect, but because of his use of Scripture here. Read not only what Bavinck writes, but please read the passages (in context) which he references. Systematic theology is crucially important for the life of the church. But we end up in serious trouble if we try to strain Scripture through the screen of our theological system, rather than letting our theology flow from Scripture. There is no substitute for serious study of the Word of God.

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