Rewards Matter (1st in series)
1. We tend to think that whatever is far ahead doesn’t matter that much, and that we will get by with whatever.
2. One dad didn’t think ahead to take shampoo with him into the shower, and writes, “Today, while my eyes are closed in the shower, I asked my son to hand me the shampoo. He gave me my wife’s hair removal cream.”
3. Let me start with an illustration. A young man buys first car — a real clunker. Only one window opens, a hole in the passenger side floor, blower is intermittent. But it starts well, runs well, and bakes well. He is excited because he can get where he want to go w/out depending on others.
He then hears a voice: this will be your car for eternity.
Many Christians think, “I’m just glad I am going to heaven. I am not going to be concerned about rewards.”
They are like that young man. Although in heaven there will be no jealousy, this man will see others driving new, good-working cars, and some in Cadillacs and some even in Rolls Royces.
Many of us don’t understand that rewards make a difference, esp. when their duration is not just a ceremony, but they effect us for all eternity. And no opportunity to earn more rewards in heaven.
4. “After all,” they think, “I will be glad just to have a house!”
5. But that is the exact attitude some believers have toward heaven. Yet the Bible itself commands, urges, and exemplifies that we seek to earn rewards and have a rich entrance into heaven.
2 Peter 1:11, “Then our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will give you a glorious welcome into his kingdom that will last forever” (CEV)
6. To suggest that it is arrogant to desire a “glorious” entrance into heaven in contrast to a discreet one runs completely contrary to Scripture. We are instructed to humble ourselves for the purpose of being exalted later. To humble oneself on earth & not desire to be exalted in heaven completely misses the point, & makes one more spiritual than Jesus, who endured the cross for the glory that lay before Him.
Main Idea: The Bible is overflowing with statements that teach us we gain or lose rewards in heaven based upon how we live here on earth. But, in order to enter more deeply into this subject, we need to understand some basics.
I. The Difference Between Salvation and REWARDS is Significant.
A. Salvation is by grace through faith APART from works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
B. Rewards are given to those who are already SAVED.
C. Rewards, unlike salvation, are a joint venture: our EFFORT coupled with God’s empowering grace.
Colossians 3:23-25, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”
2 Corinthians 4:17, “ For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…”
Luke 14:12-14, “He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
Philip Melanchton, Luther’s theology man, wrote: “We teach that good works are meritorious, not for the remission of sins, for grace or justification (for these we obtain only by faith), but for other rewards, bodily and spiritual, in this life and after this life because Paul says, 1 Cor.3, 8: Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor. There will, therefore, be different rewards according to different labors. But the remission of sins is alike and equal to all, just as Christ is one, and is offered freely to all who believe that for Christ's sake their sins are remitted.”
II. God Instructs Us to Actively SEEK Heavenly Rewards, So This Must Be the Right Way to Think.
A. Serving God faithfully is the LEAST we can do (Luke 17:10), so God rewarding us is another instance of His generosity, not obligation.
Luke 17:10, “ So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
B. The Bible commands us to seek heavenly rewards REPEATEDLY.
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 10:41-42, “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
C. Paul was very reward CONSCIOUS
I Corinthians 3:8, “He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.”
I Thessalonians 2:19, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?”
I Corinthians 9:24-27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
• Notice that it is possible to lose and neutralize rewards (finish well)
One of Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions reads as follows: “ Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.”
III. There Are Eternal Differences Among Those in Both HEAVEN and Hell.
A. All are judged and rewarded according to their WORKS (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Romans 2:6, “He will render to each one according to his works…”
• Difference between sins, confessed sins, and works.
B. Some lost people receive a greater CONDEMNATION (Mark 12:40)
C. Christians are rewarded according to their FAITHFULNESS (Luke 17:11)
1. Not results (the world), but faithfulness and sincerity of heart (God)
2. Many of you have served in a ministry for decades…
3. Maybe you did the right things in raising your kids, but didn’t turn out.
I Corinthians 3:12-15, “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
Leon Morris put it this way: “This does not mean that God has put all men on a flat level in the hereafter. Here and now the man who gives himself wholeheartedly to the service of Christ knows more of the joy of the Lord than the half-hearted. We have no warrant from the New Testament for thinking that it will be otherwise in heaven.” (The Biblical Doctrine of Judgment, Eerdmans, 1960 p. 67).
Jonathan Edwards’ illustration: Believers are like vessels. Some of us will be like cup, filled to the maximum in heaven. Others quart containers, others gallons, etc. The difference is in capacity. All fulfilled. No jealousy.
D. It is a FEARFUL thing to be judged and distressing to see potential rewards lost.
2 Corinthians 5:10-11a, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…”
Hebrews 4:13, “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”