Probably all readers of this blog will agree with me when I say that the doctrine of eternal rewards is a fascinating topic. What will these rewards involve? What will they look like? These are issues that cause a great deal of discussion in any Bible study that deals with them.
But it is also a complicated topic. We know that Christ is the One who will determine the rewards we receive. We know His judgments will be perfect. We also know that rewards will not be handed out based solely on the volume of work done; the believer’s motivation as well will determine the rewards each receives. Some works that appear to be good will not be rewarded. Some rewards will also be given because of what we do as a body, within the local church we attend (1 Cor 3:12-14; 4:5; 2 John 1:8-9).
When we read such stipulations, I think we rightly conclude that, for many reasons, we do not know what rewards we each will receive. We might wonder if a particular ministry we are involved in–whether done individually or as a group within the local assembly–is pleasing to the Lord. I have heard many believers ask if the Lord will reward a certain activity. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4, in many respects we will simply have to wait until the Lord returns and we stand before Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Even though I say this with a certain amount of fear and trembling, I think there are some things we do that are pretty much guaranteed to be rewarded. We might call them “sure-fire rewards.” Jude, verse three, tells us to “contend earnestly for the faith.” The word faith refers to the body of teachings passed down by the Lord and His apostles.
Major parts of these teachings would include the doctrines of eternal security and assurance, as well as the topic of this blog—rewards. In fact, the author of Hebrews says that it is impossible to please God unless we believe He will reward those who are faithful to Him (Heb 11:6).
I am so indebted to the ministry of GES for emphasizing these aspects of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. As almost all readers of this blog realize, the eternal security of the believer is not proclaimed in the majority of Christendom. Neither is the assurance of salvation at the point of faith. In fact, such doctrines are often ridiculed, minimized, or even designated as heresy. To teach that the Lord will reward works done for Him with greater glory and power in His kingdom is also derided and said to be selfish.
But I know that most of you “earnestly contend” for these things. The word for contend implies a fight. It is a battle. If you teach these things, you are in a distinct minority. That fact alone causes many to attack you. They point out that you cannot be right because there are so few who believe such teachings. They accuse you of being divisive. You are like the Spartans in the movie 300. The Spartans have 300 soldiers who fight against the Persian army led by Xerxes and his 300,000 men. The Persians even have ogres, elephants, and various other weapons.
Assurance is of the essence of faith, and eternal life can never be lost. At the same time, works are important because they will result in eternal rewards, above and beyond the gift of eternal life. I suppose somebody could believe such things, and then teach them because of wrong motives. But that, it seems to me, would be crazy and a rarity. What would those wrong motives be? Only a masochist would do so.
I choose to believe that when I hear people proclaim such wonderful truths, they do so because they want to faithfully teach what the NT teaches. They do it because they want to honor the Lord. When I see somebody doing it, I believe I am watching them doing something that will surely be rewarded. It is almost a sure-fire thing. That should encourage the vast majority of the folks who read this blog.