Rewards From Christ
Man is called by the Lord to worship and serve God in life. Ecclesiastes 12:13. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” This callng comes through the preaching and hearing of the gospel (Second Thessalonians 2:14: Romans 10:17). God calls man and draws man to Himself through Christ (John 12:32: 14:6). This is accomplished through teaching and learning. John 6:44.45. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets. And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.”
God calls and man must respond to that call. God motivates man to respond favorably and come to Him, appealing to man through the fear of hell (Matthew 10:28), through the expectation of reward (Matthew 5: 12), and by His own goodness and love (Romans 2:4; First John 4: 19). We shall concentrate on the second motivation.
Matthew 6:4, "That thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”
Mark 9:41, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.”
Hebrews 11:26. “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of reward.”
Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Matthew 19:27-29. "Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them. Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Peter asked a very logical question that all ask when considering discipleship. Where is the benefit in following Christ? We might add here that too many want to know what they can GET out of anything they do more than they want to know what they can GIVE for the benefit of God and others. God is not appealing to selfishness by offering rewards. He is motivating man to do what is good and right. Selfishness is evil and God does not tempt man to do evil (James 1: 13). Giving rewards is God's way of manifesting His love upon those who return His love. Rewards do encourage us to respond to God's love. It helps us to understand the nature of man and God's compassion toward men.
Not Something Earned
We are never to think that we receive from God spiritual rewards because we have earned them or merit them. Men may toil and reap certain rewards from their labors and may be due them (First Timothy 1:18).But we cannot earn the spiritual blessings God gives. His gifts are not in payment for our righteousness. The glory and honor for man’s reception of God's gifts belongs entirely to God.
God's gifts can be classified as physical and spiritual, or temporal and eternal. There are blessing for this life and for the life beyond this one. Every blessing is from God (James 1: 17). It is a good admonition that we sing. "Count your many blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God has done."
Not all physical blessings are conditioned upon man loving God. Matthew 5:45. "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust." The wicked often prosper in the material things of life. They can gather the fruits of the proper application of certain principles of gain as much as anybody. We should not fret over their prosperity. We have to consider their ultimate accounting. Proverbs 24:19,10, “ Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious of the wicked; for there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.” Psalm 37: 1-3. 16. 25, "Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed…A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked... I have been young, and now am old; yet, I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread. " But even the wicked are indebted to God for life, health, opportunity, material gain, etc., even though they honor Him not.
What Is and Is Not Promised
Christians are not promised a material abundance in this life, but are promised an abundant life (John 10:10). But we must remember, Luke 12:15, “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” There is more to life than material things, even though some material things are necessities. It is well that the child of God read and reflect on the promises of provision found in Matthew 6:25-34. We are not promised all our wants, but our needs as God sees we have these needs. But as great as this assurance of material provision is, this reward and blessing is less significant than the spiritual rewards.
All of the spiritual blessings from God are not confined to the next life. Many are received and enjoyed here and now. Only the child of God is promised the spiritual blessings. Ephesians 1:3, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” One must be “in Christ” to have God's spiritual blessings. It is important that we know how to enter Christ.
Man can know that his sins are forgiven. When we realize that we do sin (Romans 3:23), and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:3), there can be no comfort of mind without knowing our sins are forgiven. Upon certain conditions God forgives sin (Acts 2:38; 3; 19). Salvation is “in Christ.” (Second Timothy 2:10). We do not have to live life in fear and dread of condemnation (Romans 8; 1). That which bars a person from heaven, the barrier of sin, can be removed. Colossians 1:14, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”
This does not mean we shall no longer be tempted. First Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” But it means, First Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” When we do sin, First John 1:7: 2: I, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin…My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the riqhteous.”
In Christ we have that much-desired blessing of peace. First Corinthians 7:15, “…but God hath called us to peace.” Ephesians 2:14a. “For he is our peace…”
There are three kinds of peace. (1) There is peace within us. Even in time of trouble, we can have peace within. John 16:13, "These things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace…”
Few things are more desirable than a good conscience. When you know you can face yourself, and can live with your own deeds, even know that you are doing right, know that you are a part of something greater and bigger than you are, then you are blessed indeed. We can have this peace within ourselves when we are in Christ.
(2) Following Christ can produce peace with our fellowman. We realize that it can also produce conflict with others. How mankind has plotted, schemed and searched for ways to live peacefully beside each other! Yet, there seems to be more and more strife and warfare. Of course, it takes two to have peace between the two. One cannot make peace by himself. Not all people will follow the Lord, and when that is the situation there cannot be peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34-37).
But when two will walk with Christ they will also be walking together. The closer one draws to Christ the closer he is to others who draw near to Christ. Christ brought peace and reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14-16: Galatians 3:28,29).
The sweetest peace that can exist on this earth is the genuine love and fellowship of Christian brethren. What a tragedy when one will allow sin and error to break it.
We who are Christians must understand that armies, wars, councils, treaties, world organizations, etc. cannot and will not bring peace. To have peace there must be the conversion of the hearts of mankind to the will of God. Even though these things have a place and are useful in maintaining some semblance of peace, it is in the Lord and in His church where people “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
(3) The third kind of peace that we have in Christ is the greatest of all three, and that Is peace with God. Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We declare war against God by our sins. We must be reconciled to God, and only through Christ can this reconciliation be realized. Ephesians 2:16, “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”
To live in peace with God means life has meaning and purpose. We can enjoy the sense of accomplishment of that which is eternally worthwhile. We are permitted to live even to our last days without regret. We live day by day with what Paul calls “that blessed hope” in the heart (Titus 2:13). Who can measure the value of dying at peace with God? (Revelation 14:13).
Blessings to Come
The blessings we have been naming are both physical and spiritual. But they are blessings we can enjoy in the here and now. The grandest blessing of all is the reward in heaven. Matthew 5:12, “…for great is your reward in heaven…” Romans 8:16-18, “The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Second Timothy 4:6-8. “For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” First Peter 1:3-5. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
The reward of heaven, an eternal existence of bliss and joy in heaven that shall never be interrupted, is far too marvelous for adequate description. But such shall be the eternal destiny of those who live and die faithful in Christ. As John wrote, First John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” While the full import of that statement may escape us, we cannot doubt the glory of reward that awaits us.