Salvation and Rewards†
By Donald Grey Barnhouse
Dr. Barnhouse (1895-1960) was a pioneer in radio preaching, and, for 33 years, was the pastor of Philadelphia’s historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. He authored more than a dozen books and the following is an article from his book, Teaching the Word of Truth (pp 118-19).
God gives rewards to His children for the good things they do. Of course you know that we do not earn our salvation; that is “the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8-9). God does not give rewards to unsaved people, but only to His own saved children. If they do things which please Him, after they are saved, they will receive a reward. If they do not do the right things, they will lose their reward.
There are some boys and girls in your school* who seem to be able to get good marks almost without trying. They are so bright that they learn their lessons without seeming to work at all. Other boys and girls have to try very hard indeed. They work hours and hours to get good marks, and perhaps even so their marks are not so good as those of the extra bright pupils. If the Lord were giving rewards in school, He would not reward the one who got his lessons most easily, but the one who tried the hardest, and was most faithful. This might prove to be one of the brightest, or perhaps it might be one of those who found his lessons much more difficult. That is the way God always rewards. He is looking for faithful workers. (In the parable of Matt 25:14-30, note that the reward to the man who had two talents and to the man who had five, was exactly the same—verses 21 and 23 are identical). Revelation 2:l0b promises a crown to the one who is faithful. Anyone of us can win a reward, then, if we will only be faithful.
God's Word tells of a number of things for which we can receive a reward: Matt 10:41- 42; Matt 5: 11-12; Dan 12:3; 2 Tim 4:8; James 1 :12; Col 3:23-24; 1 Cor 9:24-25.
We do not know just what these rewards will be. The verses we have read speak of rewards, and crowns, and “shining.” Shall we have real gold crowns, with precious stones in them? We do not know. This may be in Heaven's language a symbol of some great blessing, which we could not even understand in earth's language. But whatever these rewards are, they will be very wonderful indeed, and we shall be very happy to have them.
The very best thing about these rewards is that it will make the Lord Jesus happy if He can give them to us. He wants us to have them, and He will be even happier than we are when we receive them.
We can have these rewards if we are faithful every day and let the Lord Jesus rule in our lives. “Trust and obey” should be our motto. If we do that, we may be sure of having rewards when the Lord Jesus gives them out.
*Editor’s note: This is part of a chapter in a book written by Dr. Barnhouse to elementary school children, hence the reference to boys and girls in your school.