Rewards In Heaven?
By Pastor Tony Butler
Rev 22:12 And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each according as his work is.
For a lot of people this just doesn't seem to sit quite right. After all, aren't we saved by the free and unmerited action of God? So how then can we be judged by God and rewarded based upon what we have done? However, the bible seems to be clear that God does indeed give people rewards and that these are based upon what we have done in our life.
What are these "rewards"? What kind of rewards do we get?
Most Christians at some point hear a sermon on rewards given one day to the saints. As for the nature of the rewards the bible seems to little specifically speaking on the subject. Some authors have likened rewards to crowns or medals while others have said that having a larger reward will translate into something like having a larger house in heaven, or more cities to rule over, shining brighter, or having more honor. While these images may turn out to be true, they say more than what the bible says on the subject and probably assume too much.
THE SOUL-WINNER'S CROWN 1 Thessalonians 2:19
THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS 2 Timothy 4:8
for those who look for and love Christ's return.
THE CROWN OF GLORY 1 Peter 5:4
for those who faithfully teach and preach God's Word.
THE INCORRUPTIBLE CROWN 1 Corinthians 9:25
for those who "run a good race" in the Christian life.
THE CROWN OF LIFE James 1:12
for people who endure suffering, knowing there is a better life in the world to come.
Rev 4:4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. Rev 4:10 the twenty-four elders fell down before the One sitting on the throne. And they worshiped Him who lives for ever and ever, and threw their crowns before the throne, saying, Rev 4:11 O Lord, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You created all things, and for Your will they are and were created.
What rewards aren't.
Why Are Rewards Mentioned in the Bible?
In Ephesians Paul writes "whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord" (Ephesians 6:8). Paul also says "Let each one take care how he builds upon it [that is, the foundation that is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:10).
Are Rewards Motivation Or Encouragements For Works? (I Cor. 15:58)
What other motivations are there for works?
The question of rewards
The question is, does every man receive rewards in varying degrees depending upon how much/long/hard he worked, or do all receive according to the promise of eternal inheritance of Sons? Are we rewarded by grace through the finished work of Christ, or are we rewarded by how we ourselves do good work? (see- Mat. 20:1-16)
Is reward anti-grace?
"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work". Romans 11:6
Those that say there are no individual rewards in heaven use the following logic:
No one would say we should get a reward for what Christ did alone on the cross. We rest in the cessation of work within the grace exercised at the cross. We would boldly declare we deserve no reward for Christ's sacrifice on the cross, because all the glory is due Him.
If this is true, and all the Christian life is born from grace, whereby all activity and glory is to go to Christ. Then how can we believe we get a reward for what Christ does through us any more than getting a reward for what Christ did for us on the cross? If we get a reward for working, how can we say it is Grace, but a debt that God owes us for work. Because "GRACE" is unmerited favor of God because of the work of Christ.
The believers reward is eternal life: Matt. 19:27-20 - Mt. 5:12 - Mark 10:28-31 - Lk. 6:35 - Acts 10:42 - Rom. 2:5-7 - Col. 3:23 - I Pet. 1:4
The unbeliever's reward is damnation: Rev. 22:11-12 - Rev. 18:12 - Mt. 25:29-30 - Jn 5:22-28
How could you use Christ's work on the cross to argue against this?
(Hint - Jn. 5:30 & Phil. 2:5-9)
Believers will receive Rewards
Verses used to show reward - Mat. 19:21-22 - Mark 10:21;30 - I Cor. 3:11-15 Heb 6:10
Can one lose rewards?
Rev 3:11 Behold, I come quickly. Hold fast to that which you have, so that no one may take your crown.
Mat 25:28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will abound. But from him who has not, even that which he has shall be taken away from him.
Mat. 25:14-27 - 2Jo 1:7-9 - Lk 8:18. I Cor. 3:3:11-15
How does one lose a reward?
Do the points pile up over a lifetime and the accumulated points determine the overall reward or does each righteous act constitute a reward on the spot, which will be handed out in heaven one day.
Let's say you get a crown reward for doing something good in God's sight. Then you mess up later and your crown is given to someone else. Why would you lose a crown for some past action where there was reward and then lose the same crown for something you did or didn't do in the future?
Or could it be that the loss is what you could have had if you maintained faithfulness?
If a work was done in the flesh would it have ever been counted as a reward for it to be lost in the first place?