July 5, 2011
Rewards in Heaven
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We have been studying judgments in the Bible. Today we will look more carefully at the rewards believers receive from Christ. Jesus told us to store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth or rust destroys, or where thieves break in or steal (Matthew 6:20). So, let us understand some of the judgment God renders in rewarding believers for their earthly service.
Building with Grace. Paul said that he laid a foundation at Corinth. We know that at Corinth, Paul preached Christ, and Him crucified, so that their faith would rest upon the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Now Paul uses the illustration of building upon their foundation to show that they continue to progress in Christ. Paul emphasizes that he builds upon the foundation by the grace (“χάριν“) of God. You may recall that grace means you get something you did not earn or deserve. In this case, Paul does not mean that he personally takes any credit for the building at Corinth, but attributes his work to the grace of God working within him.
Careful Building. Paul also directed us to be “careful” (“βλεπέτω“) in how we build upon the foundation. Paul said in this passage that he built with wisdom, as a master builder (“ἀρχιτέκτων“). As we labor in building by the grace of God, we too should build with wisdom, and be very careful how we build. Please keep in mind that Paul describes here the process of helping Christians mature in Christ through his ministry of spiritual gifts. Others will join in this building project, but the foundation always remains the same: Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds his life upon money, sex, pleasure, power, politics, or anything other than Christ builds like an idiot, and not like a wise master builder. Furthermore, when you choose anyone else but Christ to be the foundation of your life, your building will always crumble when the floods come upon it (Matthew 7:24-28). Remember to build your life today by the grace of God, with wisdom and care given to every decision you make for yourself and others today.
Gold, Silver Precious Stones. In Corinthians 3:10-11, we see that each man must be careful how he builds upon the foundation of Christ. The choice of building materials includes highly valuable material, gold, silver, and precious stones. Of course, Paul does not mean literal gold, silver, and precious stones, but rather costly and precious building materials–things which God highly values. When we offer food, clothing an shelter to children, widows, and orphans in the Name of Jesus Christ, we please God (Matthew 25:41-46; James 1:27). When we use our spiritual gifts, and minister to the spiritual and physical needs of others, we please God (1 Corinthians 10:31). When we worship in spirit and in truth, we glorify God (John 4:24). When we please God and glorify Him, we build carefully, according to the plan, and with wisdom from God. But, sometimes we build with other materials.
Wood, Hay, Straw. We see that you can also build with wood, hay and straw. We make the choice of what materials to use, and how we will conduct our lives, and spend our time. If we use wood, hay, and straw, when the judgment comes with fire, we will see what is left. All of us know that sin in all its forms wants to dominate our lives. Our flesh craves evil, and Satan constantly schemes to attack us (Ephesians 6:10-17). When we use our time and talents building with junk materials, our lives will crumble under pressure here on earth and fail to earn rewards when tested in heaven.
Fire Tests the Quality. The works we have done on earth will be tested with fire in heaven. When we look at our works, we cannot always tell whether they will survive the fire test. Sure, we know some of them fail automatically, but God will test the motives also (1 Corinthians 4:5). We will have salvation by faith, so our final destiny of heaven with Christ will never be in jeopardy. We will go to the judgment seat of Christ to be rewarded, and have our works tested. We will not appear before the great white throne for condemnation of sin.
Reward or Loss. For some believers, everything they have done on earth may be consumed by fire, but they will still be eternally secure in Christ. But for most other believers, they will receive a reward directly related to the work they have done in building upon the foundation of Christ with gold, silver and precious stones. When we labor steadfastly in Christ, we know that our labor in the Lord is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
So we learn more about Judgment and Decrees today.
● As believers in Christ, we must build with grace upon the foundation of Christ wisely and carefully, according to the plan of God.
● As builders in Christ, we must build upon the foundation of Christ with gold, silver and precious stones.
● Christ will reward each of us according to our works. Some of us may be saved by fire, if all our works burn up as wood, hay and stubble. All of us in Christ will receive the eternal love of God, and be rewarded by Him for the building we do with gold, silver, and precious stones.
Application for Today
As I live today, I will want to build upon the foundation of Christ. I want to build with gold, silver and precious stones in the lives of my wife, my family, and my friends. When fire tests my works, as surely it will, then I want them to be found to the praise and glory of Jesus Christ. Will you carefully build with grace upon the foundation of Christ today with gold, silver, and previous stones?