Rewards and Salvation – Part 1
In this study, we must keep in mind a principle that can be a huge stumbling block.
That principle is condemnation before investigation. — Edmund Spencer
That principle could be used as supposed-proof against all argument and if it is wielded, that principle will keep man in ignorance, barring him from understanding truth.
He that answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him. (Prov. 18:13)
Whoever answers before listening is both foolish and shameful. (Prov. 18:13 ISV)
So let us carefully examine scripture to learn what God wants us to know.
Let’s begin this study with a few questions:
… neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. … and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:28-28)
Notice, there are two hands involved. If you are saved, and if you could lose your salvation, then God’s hand, and Jesus’ hand are not strong enough to keep you.
Therefore, if we are saved, aren’t we going to be equal in Heaven?
Understand, all Christians are equal in being justified which is declared not guilty.
There is a difference between entering the Kingdom vs. Inheriting the Kingdom.
When Jesus said on the cross, ‘It is finished’, the word used means ‘paid in full.’ John 19:30
Salvation has three tenses: past, present, and future.
I am saved. Justification – separation from the penalty of sin.
This is a gift from God of everlasting life received by faith in Christ alone.
I am being saved. Sanctification – separation from the power of sin.
A work in progress that involves the faith and the works [fruit bearing] of the believer.
I will be saved. Glorification – separation from the presence of sin.
All believers will be glorified (resurrected and given a body like Christ).
Justification is for us:
Sanctification is in us.
Justification declares the sinner righteous:
Sanctification makes the sinner righteous.
Justification removes the guilt and penalty of sin:
Sanctification removed the growth and power of sin.
Many Christians have been taught if you’re saved, you will rule and reign with Him.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ … (Romans 8:16-17)
Most Bible teachers and preachers stop at that point. But notice, Paul adds a footnote:
“… if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
Ouch: a footnote. It has a condition.
Paul also says something else in: But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1Corinthians 9:27)
Wait a minute. Is Paul terrified about losing something? What’s he afraid of?
Keep in mind, Paul is not afraid of losing his salvation. He’s the one who penned Romans chapter eight. He wrote the book on eternal security.
If we should travel across the country and go to a hotel, we can enter the room, but it doesn’t mean we inherit the room. Inheritance means privileges, in other words, rewards.
There are two kinds of inheritance:
The word partakers means: one who shares in, companion, comrade; partner (in work, office, or dignity.)
Throughout scriptures, inheritance is always conditional upon faithful obedience.
In the New Testament, the word for inheritance means a reward for a life of faithfulness.
When we study the Old Testament, we can find where sonship, heir (inheritance), and firstborn, were promised by virtue of birth, however it was subject to conditions of obedience.
The land of Caanan was an inheritance — Deut. 15:4; 19:14; 25:19; 26:1
At the same time, it was to be merited by obedience — Exodus 23:20; Deut. 2:21
Israel was God’s ‘firstborn son’ — Exodus 4:22-23
Other inheritances were forfeited
Esau sold it for a dish of pottage.
Ruben, Jacob’s firstborn
Not Cain, but Abel
Not Japheth but Shem
Not Ishmael but Isaac
Not Manasseh but Ephraim
Not Aaron but Moses
Not Eliab but David
The generation of Israelites during the Exodus was promised an inheritance but failed to obtain it at Kadesh-Barnea. (Numbers 14) It was there that God did the following:
The Lord told Moses that because the Israelites had provoked Him, he would disinherit them. Moses interceded for the people, and God then pardoned them. However, the Lord swore on His own Name that those people would not see the Promised Land. Numbers 14:11-12, 19-21.
Because of Moses, they were forgiven, but they would not receive their inheritance.
Only two persons of the 2 million people took possession of their inheritance, Joshua and Caleb. Even Moses was excluded because of disobedience.
So we see that they [the Israelites in Exodus] could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews. 3:19)
Their inheritance was conditioned upon faithfulness.
Notice Israel did not lose their status as a redeemed people.
They were still the redeemed: the chosen people of God.
Nevertheless, they did lose the blessing of their inheritance in the Promised Land.
Rewards and Salvation – Part 2
Now let’s look at passages in the New Testament.
In reading the parable of the prodigal son, he lost his inheritance, but he never lost his sonship.
Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Hebrews 4:11)
The writer of Hebrews is not discussing salvation, rather rest attained from works and obedience.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10)
When Paul said we must all appear, he referred to everyone who was saved.
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Cor. 3:11-15)
Again, Paul is indicating every believer’s work will be revealed by fire. It’s fire which shall be applied to the work. Rewards will be handed out based upon work. A person’s work will be either consumed by the fire, or revealed as precious by the fire.
It is not the fire of hell, it’s a fire to test the quality of work. The fire does not test the person.
It’s all about rewards. The person is already saved. Only the person’s works are being tested. It’s important to note, this has nothing to do with salvation. These are believers; their justification is not the issue.
But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (Hebrews 6:9-10)
The writer is encouraging the believers to press on to maturity to receive God’s blessing of rewards.
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11-12)
It appears that some promises are optional, and dependent upon faithful works which leads to rewards.
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. (1 John 2:28)
How could a believer be ashamed before Christ at His return? Because of a lack of faithful works which cancels out any rewards.
For we [believers] must all appear before the judgment seat [bema seat] of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10)
Believers [already saved] are being judged by Christ according to their works/fruit that they have done while they were believers.
This is a time of rewards for faithfulness:
Some are entrusted with special privileges – some not (1 Cor. 3:11-15)
Some will reign with Christ – some not (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev 3:21)
Some will be rich – some not (Luke 12:21, 33; 16:11)
Some receive heavenly treasures of their own – some not (Luke 16:12)
When we study scripture, we know there are at least five crowns mentioned which believers will earn. There could be more.
Crown of Life – for those who have suffered for His sake (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10)
Crown of Righteousness – for those who loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8)
Crown of Glory – for those who fed the flock (1 Peter 5:4)
Crown incorruptible – for those who press on steadfastly (1 Cor. 9:25)
Crown of Rejoicing – for those who win souls (1 Thess. 2:19)
Those who receive a crown can be called overcomers. In Revelation seven are mentioned.
Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Revelation 3:11)
Ouch. Notice that determination and steadfastness are necessary. Or else a believer may lose their reward.
Salvation is never in question. That was sealed at the cross for all who believe. Rewards are determined by the faithful works of a believer after having received the Lord into their life.
Sin is not an issue. That is done at the Cross.
Our fruit bearing is at issue. Our rewards depend upon this.
The opportunities we wasted, or the ones we blew.
The judgment seat of Christ may leave us with tears in our eyes.
Regret, when we realize at what was at stake.
We know the Lord will reward every believer for whatever good he does. (Ephesians 6:8)
Our challenge today is to search-out what the Bible says and not accept what others may say.