As many of these posts will show, I have very intriguing and challenging questions that come up during my classes sometimes. Many times I will have opposition from a student on a topic that I have never been strongly challenged on before. One such incident occurred this week and it stirred me to write down my thoughts for clarity. I need to be clearer on a topic such as this because of its centrality to the Christian life. So if you would like to peer into my attempt to lay out the biblical evidence for eternal rewards and the importance of us pursuing them, then by all means, read on…

Like many theological topics in the Bible, Satan tries to undermine its truth and minimize its importance to cripple the Church from stepping into their full potential. I believe this can be seen clearly with the doctrine of rewards. Many come at this subject with an attitude of disgust because they believe that it is all about Jesus and we should desire nothing else other than Him. Since He laid down all, we should in turn give all because He is worthy of all. “It is all about Him” they may say, “and not about  me.” The only problem is that you cannot separate who Jesus is from what He has to offer. He desires us to invest our lives into Him and in the same way a financial venture has the appeal of a reward so does our investment into Christ.

We all talk about Christlikeness and being like Jesus. You cannot discuss this subject without the paradigm of rewards. Our Messiah was who He was because He understood that if He lived a certain way and accomplished some specific things then He would get a something. You were the reward that He was thinking of. He didn’t want to just die on the cross and save humanity unless He knew that He would end up getting humans to return to Him. Jesus knew the bible really well and understood that if He laid it all down then He would be given the name above every name. That every knee would bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. That He would be divided a portion with the great. Christ understood this clearly and it motivated Him to follow through with the task of death of on a cross. (Is. 53:10-12; Heb. 12:2)

To live like Christ means to be motivated like Christ. Rewards and a holy desire for greatness in the Kingdom of God was God’s idea. I would even say that it is hyper-spiritual and unchristian to try and have no self-interest as a Christian. It is essential to understand the way the Bible uses the promise of reward to motivate the believer to right attitudes and actions. It is right and holy to be motivated by the proper kind of self-interest that is aligned with the purposes of God.

We cannot deny who we are. We were created in the image of God and if God understood the power of being motivated by rewards to accomplish His task on this earth then how much more us? That being said, it is good and right to desire greatness in the kingdom of God (Mt. 5:19). God invites everyone to be great in His Kingdom. He understands the journey into this place of Christlikeness comes through the promise of reward. He wants us motivated my the proper kind of “self-interest” that we might be “selfless”. This is a primary teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7). We cannot repent of the desire for greatness because God designed our spirit with this longing. However, we must repent for seeking greatness in a wrong way because this is seeking self-interest for the wrong reasons. It is for this reason that many struggle with the notion that it is a very good thing that they seek rewards in the age to come. We do not know what it is like to be motivated by the proper kind of self-interest and thus think anything similar to this is wrong. Those of us in this category need to repent for neglecting to seek greatness (simply because Jesus designed and called us to be great in His sight). Without the paradigm of being on a journey to greatness, the Sermon on the Mount lifestyle is much more difficult to sustain.

Through the teaching of Jesus a new paradigm for greatness is revealed where we are to focus on being great before Him rather than before men. Promotion and greatness in God’s sight is available to all but since, as believers, we are part of an upside down kingdom, we must understand this is accomplished without regard to outward achievements but the development of the heart in love and meekness. In this life greatness is an internal thing but in the next life the greatness cultivated on the inside of us will be made manifest on the outside. So rewards are 95% (made up percentage) about what we will receive in the future and 5% (made up percentage) about what we will receive in this life. I picture the 5% in this life as blessings. Many times God withholds these from us because He is not thinking about how to make us comfortable during our 90 years here but how to make us great in the billions of years that follow. This topic was so important to Jesus that He taught on it more than any other man. A whopping 60 specific verses throughout the Gospels and Revelation 2-3 I have counted. That is not even bringing the entirety of the parables, messages or epistles where the verse is pulled from into the total. This is just the specific verses. There would be over 150 verses if the context, from where the verse was pulled from, is included. (Contact me here and I will send them all to you.)

Paul was also motivated by rewards and attempted to motivate others with them. Here are a few verses where Paul does this.

“I have suffered the loss of all things… that I may gain Christ ” (Philippians 3:8)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:6-8)

“Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward (compared to a partial one that we lost or did not achieve)” (2 Jn. 8)

“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. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 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.” (1 Cor. 9:24-27)

What are these rewards? Well interestingly there will be many different types of heavenly rewards that believers will receive at the time of the Second Coming. These rewards are not of secondary importance but rather are an important part of our destiny. Therefore, all believers should be familiar with them. Here they are:

1) The Glory of God in our Resurrected Body

There is one glory of the sun…and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. (1 Cor. 15:41-42)

Those who sleep in the dust (physical death)…shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever… (Dan. 12:2-3)

The righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Mt. 13:43)


2) Intimacy with Jesus and the Revelation of God

I will write on him the name of My God…I will write on him My new name. (Rev. 3:12)

They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. (Rev. 22:4)

I will give him the morning star. (Rev 2:28)

I, Jesus…am the Bright and Morning Star. (Rev 22:16)

I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Rev 3:20)


3) Work Assignments

I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord. (Mt. 25:21)

Have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth. (Rev. 5:10) 

To him I will give power over the nations. (Rev 2:26)

I will grant to sit with Me on My Throne. (Rev 3:21) 


4) Praise and Honor From God

That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold…though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus… (1 Pet. 1:7)

The time…the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God. (1 Cor. 4:5)

I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Rev 3:5)

Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things… (Mt. 25:21)

I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written… (Rev 2:17) 


5) Heavenly Crowns and Precious Stones

Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Rev. 2:10)

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved (found consistent), he will receive the crown of life…promised to those who love Him. (Jas 1:12)  

They shall be Mine…on the day that I make them My jewels. (Mal. 3:17) 

I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written… (Rev. 2:17) 


6) Eternal Garments

To her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev. 19:8)

I counsel you to buy from Me…white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed… (Rev. 3:18) 

Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. (Dan. 12:3)

Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Mt. 13:43)


7) Tree of Life and Hidden Manna

I will give to eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. (Rev 2:7)

The Tree of Life was also in the midst of the garden (of Eden) … (Gen. 2:9)

Those who do His commandments…have the right to the Tree of Life… (Rev. 22:14)

I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. (Rev 2:17)


8) Life in the New Jerusalem

I will write on him…the name of the City of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. (Rev. 3:12) 


9) Gold, Riches and Treasure

So is he who…is not rich toward God…33 Provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail (Lk. 12:21, 33) 

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich. (Rev. 3:18) 

If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones… (1 Cor. 3:12) 

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… (Mt. 6:19-20)

Author: Brandon Hammonds

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