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Eternal Rewards

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Eternal Rewards

Among the last recorded words of our Lord Jesus Christ is this startling statement: “Behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”[1] Clearly, Jesus plans to reward believers and these rewards will be according to their works.[2]

Rewards and Grace

Salvation, of course, is not earned. Our salvation is by grace through faith.[3] In fact, grace and works are mutually exclusive.[4] God gives us His salvation, but pays us for our works.[5] Thus we must utilize very diligently the provisions He has given us.[6] God graciously supplies the means by which we may serve Him, but the decision to serve - and the diligence employed in doing so, - are our contribution.

Rewards and Selfishness

The doctrine of rewards is not only taught in Scripture, but we are actually commanded to pursue them. For example, Jesus said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”[7] Thus, the pursuit of heavenly treasure is not an optional matter. It is very clear that every disciple should lay up celestial wealth.[8] Pursuing eternal rewards is not a selfish endeavor but rather God’s appointed way of pursuing our eternal self-interest.[9]

When will Rewards be Given?

The doctrine of rewards is mentioned frequently in Scripture and is presented as a primary motivation for godly living.[10] But when will these rewards be administered? The answer is evident from Scripture: at the Judgment-Seat of Christ. “For we must all appear before the Judgment-Seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” [11] This, of course, occurs after the rapture of the Assembly when all believers will be gathered together with the Lord.[12] At this point the believer’s life-work will be evaluated[13] and his position for all eternity will be determined.[14]

What is the Nature of these Rewards?

These rewards are often described in figurative language[15] and sometimes in more straightforward terms,[16] but they all indicate authority in the world to come.[17] They are given on the basis of endurance,[18] faithfulness,[19] and other spiritual qualities that are developed in this life.[20] It is also clear in Scripture that not all believers will be rewarded equally, and some - hardly at all![21] My eternal reward is dependent upon whether my works have been accomplished in the power of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the commandments of Christ.[22] Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates[23] of the city.[24] Believer, will you receive eternal rewards? Can you say, Even so come, Lord Jesus”?[25]


[1] Rev. 22:12.

[2] The word for reward is the Greek word μισθός misthos which basically means pay, wages (see Luke 10:7). Thus these rewards are earned by us.

[3] Eph. 2:8-9. Our works have nothing to do with whether we go to heaven or hell. Salvation is a gift and it is absolutely free.

[4] Rom. 11:6; 4:4-5.

[5] This is not to say that there is no connection between God’s grace to us and the works we do for Him. We would not be able to do rewardable works if we had not been regenerated by grace through faith (2 Pet. 1:3).

[6] 2 Pet. 1:5. While eternal life is free (Rev. 22:17), discipleship is immeasurably hard (Luke 14:26-35).

[7] Matt. 6:19-21. See also Mark 10:21, Luke 12:33, 1 Tim. 6:17-19 where similar commands are given.

[8] Notice the passion in which Paul pursues rewards (I Cor. 9:24-27, Phil. 3:13-14), even to the very end of his life (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

[9] Selfishness is pursuing our self-interest in our own way. In fact, pursuing eternal rewards requires the strongest form of selflessness, namely love (1 Cor. 14:1: 13:5).

[10] See Matt. 5:12, 46; 6:1-6, 10:41-42, 16:27, Luke 6:23, 35; 1 Cor. 3:8-15, Col. 3:24 for just a few examples. It is also mentioned frequently in the Old Testament (See Eccles. 12:13-14, Dan 12:13; Cf Heb. 11:13, 26).

[11] 2 Cor. 5:10. This event is mentioned very often in the New Testament (e.g. 1 Cor. 3:8-15,  James 2:12-13; 5:8-9, 1 Pet. 1:13-17; 4:17-18; 1 John 2:28; 4:17 etc.) and occasionally in the Old Testament (Eccles. 12:14)

[12] 1 Thess. 4:13-18.

[13] Rom. 14:10-12.

[14] The believer’s eternal destiny is not at stake at this judgment. His sins will never be brought into judgment (John 5:24). The Judgment-Seat of Christ is an evaluation of our stewardship of the resources God gave us at conversion (Luke 12:42, 1 Pet. 4:10).

[15] Such as crowns (1 Cor. 9:25, 2 Tim. 4:8), hidden manna (Rev. 2:17), pillar in the temple of God (Rev. 3:12) etc.

[16] Such as rulership (Matt. 25:21, 24:47). prizes (1 Cor. 9:24, Phil. 3:14), inheritance (Matt. 5:5, 19:29, Rev. 20:6) etc.

[17] Note Rev. 2:26, 3:21. This will involve co-rulership both in the millennial reign of Christ on the earth and the eternal reign of God in the new heavens and earth (Rev. 21:7). The co-heirs of King Jesus are the elite of human history. To be numbered among them is the highest honor – and greatest victory – which any man or woman can achieve.

[18] 2 Tim. 2:12, Rom. 8:17, Matt. 16:24-27.

[19] Matt. 25:21, Luke 19:17, 1 Cor. 4:2.

[20] These include abundant faith (Matt. 8:10-12), devotion to Christ (Luke 22:28-30), kindness to Christ’s brethren (Matt. 25:34-36), watchfulness (Luke 12:35-37) etc. To reign with Christ, much more is required than an occasional good deed here or there.

[21] Note, for example, 1 Cor. 3:9-15, Matt. 25:14-30; 10:33; Luke 19:15-26; 12:42-48, 9:26, 1 John 2:28, 2 Tim. 2:12, Matt. 5:3, 5 10, Luke 22:28-30, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Gal. 5:19-21, Eph. 5:5-6

[22] Gal. 6:8; 5:16.; Col 3:16. Works not done in the control of the Holy Spirit will, in effect, be “burned up” at the Judgment-Seat of Christ (1 Cor 3:15). Spiritual victory is not an accident. It is the outworking of the fundamental truths and principles which permeate the word of God.

[23] The gate was where rulers entered and presided over a city (Cf. Jer. 17:25; 22:4).

[24] The New Jerusalem, where all believers will ultimately dwell (Rev.  22:14).

[25] Rev. 22:20.

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