Why Teach About Rewards?
no. 9 - Dr. Charlie Bing
The word reward (misthos)
comes from the Greek word for pay or wages. While salvation is
absolutely free, rewards are clearly earned. Reward passages are found throughout the Old and New
Testaments. Could something so prominent be illegitimate? Here are ten reasons why Christians
should be taught about rewards:
To emphasize our eternal significance.
As Godís children, we enjoy a relationship with
Him now and in eternity. The quality of that relationship can be enhanced forever as a reward for
our present and temporary lives. Rewards remind us that who we are outlasts this life. Rom. 8:17;
To teach our responsibility in this life.
That God rewards us for present choices makes
us accountable for those choices. Worthy actions, thoughts, and words will bear the fruit of reward
in eternity. Conversely, that which is unworthy will cause the loss of reward and shame. Rom. 14:10-
12; 1 John 2:28
To enhance our present life.
Rewards are not only eternal; some begin in this life. They
can greatly increase the enjoyment of our present experience. Matt. 16:25; Mark 10:29-31
To appreciate Godís pleasure in giving rewards.
God initiates rewards because He is
pleased to do so. And who are we to deny God pleasure? He delights to bless His children with good
things. It is a common and commendable human urge to express appreciation for or reward good
behavior in our own children. Would we expect less from our heavenly Father? Matt. 6:6, 18; 25:21
To give the proper framework for interpreting the Bible.
Many rewards passages are
incorrectly interpreted as salvation passages. This hopelessly confuses Godís free grace in salvation
with Godís earned rewards in the Christianís life. The result is a theology that undermines faith
alone in Christ alone and the Christianís assurance. For example, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 is a rewards
passage that some wrongly interpret as a salvation passage. That would mean the apostle Paul lacked
assurance, since he based it on his performance. Matt. 10:32-33; Rev. 2Ė3
To motivate us to do the good works which God purposes for us.
Ephesians 2:10 says
God created us in Jesus Christ to do good works. While not the only motivation, rewards are one
way God encourages us to do what He wants. 1 Tim. 6:17-19; 2 John 2:8
To balance our concept of Godís justice.
God punishes unbelievers according to the degree
of their evil deeds. It makes sense that He would also reward believers according to the goodness of
their deeds. If proportionate retribution curbs wickedness, then proportionate rewards cultivate
righteousness. 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:12; 22:12
To prepare us for eternal service.
Since some rewards imply an increased capacity to
serve God and others, and if that capacity is carried into eternity, then they will help us better serve
Him there. The Bible promises that we will reign with Jesus Christ. The extent of our rule is rewarded
according to our faithfulness in this life. Stewardship is constantly connected with rewards for the
faithful discharge of responsibilities. Matt. 24:45-51; 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27; 2 Tim. 2:12
To legitimately motivate us to godly living.
When rewards passages are wrongly
interpreted as salvation passages, the unavoidable motivation for good works is to validate oneís
salvation and escape hell. Fear can easily become the motive for good works. But fear of hell can
never motivate the believer, who is eternally secure. It should only motivate the unbeliever. The
believer can only fear loss of rewards. But even that fear is only one of many motives for godly living.
Deeds done from unworthy motives will be revealed for what they are and will not be rewarded. 1
Cor. 3:12-15; 13:1-3
To bring greater glory to God.
If rewards increase our participation in Godís glory, or give
us a greater capacity to experience Godís glory, then our rewards also enable us to give Him more
glory. In Revelation 4:10 the 24 elders cast their crowns before Christís throne. Whoever these elders
represent, the crowns that they wear certainly symbolize reward, honor, and glory given them for
some reason. They are then able to use that honor to glorify God by offering Him their crowns. In
other words, they honor God more by having crowns than if they didnít. The rewards we receive
will better enable us to bring Him more glory. Eph. 1:11-12; 1 Pet. 5:4
Initial salvation by the absolutely free grace of God does not conflict with the subsequent
merit of rewards in the Christian life. Rewards are not the only, or necessarily the best, motivation
for godly living. Love, gratitude, and duty are some of the highest motivations for serving God in this
life. But there is nothing wrong with the encouragement and consolation that rewards bring. Since
rewards are decreed and designed by God, they shouldnít be considered inferior or scorned in
contempt. Every Christian should be taught about rewards.
Dr. Charlie Bing, GraceLife Ministries
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