“WHAT’S-IN-IT-FOR-ME?” ASKED THE CURIOUS BELIEVER

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12)

There are so many perplexing questions facing us in life. Such as, “Which came first the chicken or the egg?” GOD came first, creating the chicken with the ability to lay eggs. The WII-FM question is for you and you alone to answer. If you are living for Christ, then the answer would be, ALL ETERNITY!

However, separation from God through sin has ramifications on the individual, their circle of family, and friends. Justly, we do reap what we sow.  Sin has consequences that affect us momentarily, seasonally, generationally, and in some cases, eternally. Since we have free choice, we must choose our decisions in life wisely. We need faith in God to begin anything we try to do.

Hebrews 11:6 states, “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Notice, we first believe in the existence of God, then we must believe that God is good and rewards those who diligently seek Him. Faith is critical to our new life in Christ. Faith saved us; therefore, we walk in faith; we live by faith, and we bring glory to God when we grow in faith.

If we are to count it all joy during the fiery trials of life, it’s critical to our understanding “What’s-In-It-For-Me,”; so, we know why we are pressing on. We must get it right here on earth, so to be right when we arrive in Heaven. Remember, there are no do-overs once we leave this life behind.

We have many questions to answer, so we know what to do, how to do it when to do it so that we will receive our crown of glory. What are rewards, how many are there, are there different rewards on earth and in Heaven? When do we obtain them?

Before addressing these questions, God would have us pause a moment. Foremost on God’s agenda is the issue of our sins. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin separates us from God, and the penalty is death. Repentance begins our relationship with God through the forgiveness of sins, with the reward of life eternal.

Forgiveness of our sins through the work of Jesus Christ, our Eternal Redeemer, allows us the privilege to partake in all His mercy and grace. This forgiveness prepares us for our eternal salvation. Born again of the Spirit gives us complete access to the mystery of the gospel and all His provisions.

Justification begins our transformation into the image of Christ, setting us apart from the world to do God’s will. Entering this relationship, we “PUT OFF THE OLD MAN” and “PUT ON THE NEW MAN.”  Participating in His suffering through our trials allows us to live in the power of His resurrection. The fruit from this will enable God to help us overcome all the trials of life to live victoriously.

Exploring all the fantastic rewards we can work toward will teach us they are only a byproduct of our earthly life with Christ. We must discover how to live our new life to its fullest through obedience to the Word of God.

We do not receive rewards here on earth. What we do receive are His promises to guide us through this life and prepare us for eternity through His divine purpose. One thing we can count on is the promise that He will never leave or forsake us. We receive the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life crucified with Christ. Whatever benefits, gifts, or ministries given us here on earth are to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are to do good works and store our treasures in Heaven for all eternity. What we do for Christ and His church will determine our position and authority during the millennial reign with Christ at His second coming and throughout eternity.

Although NOT SAVED BY GOOD WORKS; WE ARE SAVED TO DO GOOD WORKS

And the Scripture is clear about that. Ephesians 2:10–“For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.” “Those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8).

God is setting up His Eternal Kingdom, and He uses the trials of life to reward those who DID what He told them to DO here on earth.  These are those who endured the fiery temptations of evil and yet remained faithful and obedient to JESUS and HIS WORD.

The Greater your sacrifice and service for Jesus, and the more that you suffered (putting the flesh to death) by giving up your sinful nature, the higher your reward. So, the greater the suffering (done with the Lord’s strength, of course)— the higher the glory. We should be quite aware of James’ statement by now, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12). The crowns and life everlasting are “WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU” and all faithful believers.

On the great day of His return, those that greatly multiplied and were faithful with what God gave them, shall be made rulers over much. Those that do NOT significantly increase what God gives them shall be made rulers over a smaller amount. And this prize is for all who eagerly look forward to his Glorious Return. Jesus says, “Behold! I am coming quickly, and My Reward is with Me, to Render (Reward) to every man according to what he has DONE” (Revelation 22:12).

TREASURES IN HEAVEN – INHERITANCE ON EARTH

We will receive our rewards and treasures in Heaven, not on earth. However, what we receive from Christ at His Seat of Judgment will set up our position, authority, service, and crowns during the Millennium reign on earth. Our inheritance is the earth during the 1000-year period, where we become joint-heirs with Christ. These rewards and positions of authority will follow us into God’s Eternal Glory.

Many Christians have served the Lord for many years only to give in to the enticement of desire, sensuality, or some other temptation that turns them from serving Christ to reveling in the appetites of the flesh. Although such individuals will not lose their salvation, they might be in danger of losing their crowns they have already earned.

Jesus said, “I am coming quickly [suddenly]; hold fast what you have so that no one will take your crown” (Revelation 3:11). Every Christian who desires to serve Christ to the maximum during the Millennium is advised to heed our Lord’s challenge to the church of Smyrna, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Paul taught the Corinthians, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).  The person’s salvation is not at stake. They are secure in Christ, “so as through fire.” These Christians will not lose their salvation, but they will have little or nothing to show for their life of Christian service.

Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:20, “Lay up FOR YOURSELF treasures in heaven.” We store up while living this life down here on earth. If we do not, we will not have any rewards when we get up there. Jesus teaches that we earn our wealth in Heaven for eternity. It may sound startling, but nowhere in Scripture does it show that anyone else will layup treasures for you.

When Christ died, He did not Inherit Heaven, that was already His. At death (that is when His body died), He resumed what He laid aside when He stepped into the human stream. He took again what He had left behind. He did not “inherit” the Glory of Heaven because that was His already.

What then is His inheritance? – What is it that we are to share with Him? The heritage of the Lord is “earthly.” If it is something He inherits, it must be earthly. He inherited the privilege of returning in POWER and GLORY to set up His kingdom. Jesus is coming back; however, He is not coming back as the suffering Lamb of Calvary, but as the roaring Lion of Judah.

The Carpenter is coming back again, but He is returning as a KING! Jesus Christ will appear a second time, not in humility, but, instead, He will arrive in the clouds as the GLORIFIED SON OF GOD to rule on earth. The earth will behold the same Jesus coming, but this time “in the glory of HIS FATHER with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

Jesus is STILL in the role of the Son, and, having fulfilled all on the Cross, He returns to be HONORED on earth as He is in Heaven. And, now, He invites us to be joint heirs, to share His kingdom with Him. Jesus said in Matthew 25:34, “Come ye blessed of MY FATHER and inherit the kingdom of God prepared for YOU!“That is our inheritance prepared for us! The “come ye,” in Matthew 25:34, is Christ’s invitation to SHARE in His earthly inheritance as joint heirs with Him.

Joint-Inheritance” with Christ

So, our “joint-inheritance” with Christ has NOTHING to do with rewards.  Instead, it must do only with the privilege of appearing with him on earth to taste the glory that goes with His EXALTATION. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).

One way to prove (Validate) that you are a true Christian is your obedience to Jesus and His Word. We show evidence by our “Fruit” and obedience to Jesus— out of our Love for Him. 

WHAT GOOD WORKS NEED TO BE DONE?

Salvation is by faith alone; however, if we say we have faith, we prove it by being doers of the Word and not hearers only. Since good works will receive rewards, we need to know what constitutes an excellent work. The following are some possibilities described in Scripture. Once again, faith is hearing, believing, which leads to obeying God’s Word out of a Love for Jesus.

Deeds and works are the basis of our rewards, not a condition for our eternal salvation. The Scripture is clear on that subject. Faith is the only condition. Jesus did everything necessary to secure Heaven for us when He died in our place and paid for our sins on Calvary. There isn’t anything we can add to what He has done. We can only rest in it. And that’s what faith is resting in the finished work of Christ. Salvation is by faith alone. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Witness:  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Christians are to let their light shine for the world to see.  They stand for the Lord Jesus Christ before the world that, for the most part, does not know Him.  Part of a Christian’s good works involves living a pure life and being a consistent witness for the Lord.

Worship:  Jesus referred to the worship of Himself as an excellent work.  When a woman anointed His head with precious ointment, He told His anxious disciples to leave her alone because she had “done a good deed to Me” (Matthew 26:10).  Very often, we limit our concept of worship to the adoration of and praise to God.  Worshiping Christ is decent work, as well.

Generosity:  1 Timothy 6:18 says, we learn that being “rich in good works” involves being generous and willing to share.  Specifically, the verse says we’re to be “ready to share.”  In other words, it is primarily the attitude of generosity that makes up the good works.  If we have the wrong position or motivation, our so-called charity is not good works.  But all acts performed with the proper motives will stand the test of fire and receive a reward.

Jesus makes it clear that even the smallest deed is excellent work.  In Matthew 10:42 He said, “Whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”  Even a seemingly insignificant word or deed for the glory of the Lord will receive divine compensation.  So, virtually anything done for Christ with the right attitude and motive will receive a reward.  As described in 1 Corinthians 3:12, these deeds are as gold, silver, and precious stones.

Works with Wrong Motives: By contrast, Jesus tells us that deeds done with the intention of impressing men are worthless in His sight.  In Matthew 6:2 He flatly states that anyone who does a clever work to receive praise from others will receive no reward from God.  Earthly approval is the only reward that a person will receive.  These works, of course, are the wood, hay, and straw mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:12.  They will not survive the test of fire.

Rewards That Last: The two greatest enemies of Christian service, selfishness, and laziness have robbed many of God’s children of awards they should have received.  Don’t let these enemies overcome you lest you become a victim of the judgment of loss (1 Corinthians 3:15).

What kinds of rewards will we receive?  In Scripture, we find mention of five different crowns reserved for those who are faithful to do God’s work. We will look at these crowns along with a diverse list of rewards, in detail, in another article.

Crowns are a symbol of authority. As such, they denote the authority granted to some Christians during the Millennial period when they reign with Christ for 1,000 years. Christians are earning their position of service for Christ here on earth.  Knowing this should give us the incentive to pursue better and more lasting heights in fulfilling God’s purpose for our life.

  1. AN INCORRUPTIBLE CROWN – THE VICTOR’S CROWN
  2. THE CROWN OF LIFE – THE MARTYR’S CROWN
  3. THE CROWN OF GLORY – THE ELDER’S CROWN
  4. THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIS APPEARING
  5. THE CROWN OF REJOICING – THE SOUL WINNER’S CROWN

Loss of Rewards: There will be a loss of rewards for individual believers (see, 1 Corinthians 3:14-15). God’s Word does not reveal to us all that that entails, but what we do know is that: However much a true Believer obeys his Master (Jesus), they will receive rewards. We should take nothing for granted. We should fear God and live a Holy Life.

We should Heed the Warnings from Jesus to be a Bride that is Ready for His Appearing (wearing the White Spotless Wedding Dress) – Holy— and without spot or wrinkle. Always be Ready and waiting for the Return of Jesus.

We are THE BRIDE OF CHRIST, – Faithful and Blameless.

Written by, Brad Wyrick

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