Few people have heard of the distinction between eternal life and eternal rewards or the difference that rewards will make in the millennial kingdom. We are trying to change that.
Did you know that there are two kinds of Christians? Some will be rewarded, and some will be rebuked. Don’t believe me? Here’s what Jesus said:
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matt 16:26-28).
Jesus is coming to reward you according to your works. But what does that mean? What is at stake in that evaluation?
Here’s a quote from Watchman Nee’s The Salvation of the Soul:
Hence the gist of this Scripture is to divide into two classes the disciples who have believed in the Lord and possess eternal life. One class denies self and takes up the cross; the other class does not deny self nor takes up the cross. One class is willing to forsake all for the Lord and to lose the soul, while the other class seeks to gain the pleasures of the world for self and is unwilling to lose the soul. A disciple of Christ is one whom the Lord has separated out from the sinners. And once again He will separate: this time, separating a self-denying disciple from the non-self-denying one. We ought to know that our future position in the kingdom is decided by our deeds today… (Nee, The Salvation of the Soul, p. 10).
You may not have known there would be a kingdom, let alone positions in the kingdom. And yet, that truth is written across Scripture. It’s not just Free Grace advocates who see it. Nee, a Chinese theologian, pointed it out early last century.
If you choose to live for the world instead of living for Jesus, or if you choose to gratify your desires instead of gratifying your Lord, you will lose your rewards, including the position of reigning with Christ in His kingdom:
all who are gratified by the world today shall lose the position of reigning with Him in the future (Nee, The Salvation of the Soul, p. 11).
In Free Grace circles, we sometimes say that not every disciple is a believer, and not every believer is a disciple. And that is true.
However, in light of Nee’s comments, I wonder if we should add a clarification. Jesus will evaluate every believer as someone who had the responsibility of being a disciple whether you’ve followed Him as one or not.