In a recent blog I suggested that missed rewards would be missed forever. One person strongly disagreed and commented in response that “rewards are for time, 1000 years, not eternity.”
Someone else responded to that comment with this question: “Where does the Bible tell us that rewards are just for a short time? It is an honest question!”
Here is why I’m convinced that rewards last forever, not just for 1,000 years:
- Paul said in 1 Cor 9:24-27 that we are to strive to receive “an imperishable crown.” An imperishable crown is one which does not perish. A crown which lasts 1,000 years is a perishable crown, especially in the scope of eternity.
- The Lord Jesus commanded us to lay up treasure in heaven “where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt 6:20). He was comparing earthly treasure which is perishable (Matt 6:19) with heavenly treasure which is imperishable. If heavenly treasure lasted 1,000 years, that treasure which will decay and be lost.
- The Millennium is not a separate kingdom from the Lord Jesus’ kingdom on the new earth (Revelation 21-22). The Millennium is the first thousand years of what Peter calls, “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:11). Peter says that if we add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Pet 1:5-7), “an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” That rich entrance is to the Millennial kingdom, which is part of “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” If our rich entrance was not for the entire kingdom, then Peter has misled us.
- Jesus will rule forever. See Daniel and Revelation 21-22. If He will rule forever, so will those who are coheirs with Him.
- If after the Millennium everyone ruled with Jesus, then the Lord and His Apostles misled us. The Scriptures say we will reap what we sow in this life (Matt 16:27; Gal 6:7-9). And in many texts the Lord and His apostles say that we will only rule with Christ if we endure in faith and good works in this life. See 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 2:26.
- Peter said that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day” (2 Pet 3:8). If rewards lasted 1,000 years and then ended, that would be rewards that lasted for only days in terms of God’s timing.
- Revelation 21-22 deal with the eternal state on the new earth. Yet there are several passages that refer to rewards there which will only be for the overcoming believers. See Rev 21:7, which says that “he who overcomes shall inherit all things,” I and contrast the rewards there with the free gift of everlasting life all will have in the eternal state in Rev 21:6. See also Rev 22:14, which says, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (two rewards), and compare that with Rev 22:17 which speaks of the free gift of everlasting life all will have in the eternal kingdom.
Frankly if all believers are going to rule with Christ forever, great. If God wanted to give out rewards that last for just one divine day, and the rest of eternity there will be no rewards, then that is fine with me.
But if the Scriptures teach that how we live now determines our eternal ability to glorify Christ—and they do, then I need to get my thinking in line with Scripture.
i The verse goes on to say “and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” I believe that is a reference to a special intimacy that the overcomer will have as he rules with the Lord Jesus forever. For further information, see The Grace New Testament Commentary, Volume 2, s.v. “Revelation,” by Bob Vacendak, p. 1328. Vacendak says, “Victorious believers will be given many experiences and rewards in eternity, among which is the privilege of ruling with Christ (cf. 2:26-27; 3:21; 2 Tim 2:12). The term son (never used elsewhere by John of believers) is a reference to the Davidic Covenant and God’s ‘adoption’ of the Davidic king as His son (cf. 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 2).