Summary: Salvation is a free gift from God, our rewards are accoring to works.
Knowing that rewards will be given should make believers want to become a better and more productive Christian. There is a vast difference in the doctrine of salvation for the lost, and the doctrine of rewards for the saved. Salvation is “a free gift of God; you cannot earn it for it’s not of works.” Salvation is received by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, rewards are according to the works of the believer. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16/27
Here is a most revealing scripture on rewards it’s found in 1 Corinthians chapter three and verse eight Paul said, “Now he that plants and he that waters are one; and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are labors together with God; ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
The believer is to build on the Lord Jesus Christ, the only sure foundation. And has two choices for his building materials; “gold, silver, and precious stones” this is building with eternal materials; or “wood, hay, stubble” this is building with temporal materials.
The believer who builds on Christ with eternal values shall receive a reward. Those who build on Christ with temporal values, their works will be destroyed at the “judgment seat of Christ.” And the believer will suffer loss, not the loss of salvation, but the loss of eternal rewards.
The rewards that I want to talk about are called crowns in the New Testament. The apostle James stated “Blessed is the man that endures temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.”
Now this is the crown of life or the lover’s crown. When we look at this verse, we discover that the believer finds strength to overcome temptation and endure trials, to press through hardships because of God’s love. And we only glory in tribulation if the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Without His love in our hearts we may become bitter and critical and lose the crown of life.
All believers have eternal life, but not all believers will be rewarded with the “crown of life” This crown will be given to those who are faithful unto death. And recipient of this reward must have a fervent love for the Lord more than his own life. “Whosoever will save his life shall lose; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”
Then there is the crown incorruptible that will be given to believers. Paul said, “Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”