Will Some Get More Reward in Heaven?
What does it mean by “increasing your reward in heaven?” Doesn’t every believer receive the same reward, eternal life?
The New Testament has a lot to say about reward in heaven.
Matthew 5:12 [along with Luke 6:23, 6:35]: Jesus refers to great reward (great is your reward in heaven)
Matthew 6:2: Jesus speaks of receiving no reward for an act of generosity
Matthew 10:41 speaks of a prophet’s reward
Matthew 10:41 speaks of a righteous man’s reward
Matthew 10:42 speaks of a reward that can never be lost
Matthew 16:47 speaks of Jesus rewarding believers by a measure, according to their works
1 Corinthians 3:14 speaks of reward for those in Christian service
If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
1 Corinthians 9:17-18, Paul speaks of his own anticipated reward
Colossians 2:18 speaks of the potentiality of be cheated out of one’s reward
Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind
Colossians 3:24 speaks of the assurance and hope of reward
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
2 John 1:8 speaks of the hope of reward
Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
Revelation 22:12 gives us these words of Jesus: And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15: The Testing What We Build
According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
-  According to the grace of God: In describing Paul’s work among the Corinthians, he begins with a declaration of grace. He knew that his status as a worker in God’s field, or on God’s building, was based on God’s undeserved favor, not on his own deserving or merit.
- It is an exalted thing to be a fellow workerwith God. But God doesn’t choose exalted people to do His work. It isn’t anything in them that makes them worthy to be His worker, it is according to the grace of God.
-  I have laid the foundation: When Paul founded the church in Corinth (Acts 18), he set the only foundation that can be laid – the person and work of Jesus Christ. Yet he knew that others would come after him and build on the foundation he set.
- So,  let each one take heed how he builds on it. There is only one foundation for the church. If it isn’t founded on Jesus Christ, it isn’t a church at all. So one can’t build on any other foundation; but one can build unworthilyon the one foundation.
-  Each one’s work will become clear: God will test the building work of all His fellow workers, so each one’s work will become clear. Some build with precious things like  gold, silver, precious stones; others build with unworthy materials like wood, hay,and straw.
- By using the figures of  gold, silver,andprecious stones, Paul seems to have in mind the building materials used in the construction of the temple (1 Chronicles 22:14, 22:16, and 29:2). The “building” is what God builds in His people with the help of His fellow workers.
- Precious stonesdoesn’t mean jewels, but fine stone materials like marble and granite. Mixing the wisdom of men with the wisdom of God in the work of building the church is like using alternate layers of straw and marble in building. Straw may be fine, it may have a place (in the barn), but it is an inadequate building material. In the same way, human wisdom and fleshly attractions may have a place in life, but not in the building of the church.
-  The fire will test each one’s work: When God tests our work, it will be revealedwhat kind of work it was. Just as fire will destroy  wood, hay,and straw, but not gold, silver, and precious stones; so the work of some will be revealed as nothing on that Day.
- Notice that the amountof the work isn’t going to be evaluated (though it does have some relevance). Paul says the work will be tested to see  what sortit is. If one did a lot of the wrong sort of work, it will be as if he did nothing. His work will be burned and will vanish in eternity. Moody wisely said that converts ought to be weighed as well as counted.
- Paul also referred to this great testing in 2 Corinthians 5:10: 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. When our work is tested before the Lord, we will be rewarded according to what remains.
iii. It is a sobering thought: many, many people who believe they are serving God, but are doing it in an unworthy manner or with unworthy “materials” will come to find in eternity that they have, in reality, done nothing for the Lord. Some will be saved, but with a life that was wasted, and receive no crown to give to Jesus, for His glory (as in Revelation 4:10-11).  He himself will be saved, yet so as through the fire shows that some will be saved, but barely saved, and saved with everything gone
-  If anyone’s work: The fire does not purify the worker, it tests their workmanship. Roman Catholics use this passage to teach purgatory, the idea that when we die, we go to a place where we are purified by fire before we go to heaven. The idea of purgatory has nothing to do with this passage, and nothing to do with any other passage in the Bible. Purgatory is strictly a human invention, and denies the finished work of Jesus for the believer.
- This passage has first application to Christian leaders, because this is Paul’s topic in context, but the application extends to all servants of God.
To Summarize…. four principles
- There is some sense in which reward in heaven is proportional. There is “great reward” – and apparently not so great reward! There is “a prophet’s reward” and “a righteous man’s reward” – which apparently are greater in some way. There are also warnings against failing to gain or losing reward. Not everyone gets the same reward.
- The Bible uses the idea of heavenly reward to motivate us. There is nothing strange or wrong in that. Jesus spoke many times about having “treasure in heaven,” and Jesus said this with the sense that not everyone will have the same treasure in heaven. There are things we can do now to build or increase our treasure in heaven (especially in regard to our Christian service and our generosity).
- It’s hard (even impossible) to imagine that heaven will be a competition between those who have lots of reward and those who have little reward. The best way to think about this is that in heaven, everyone’s cup is full – to the brim! The reward is in having a bigger cup, a greater capacity in some sense.
- In the end, all the glory will go to Jesus. We like the picture seen in Revelation 4:10, where the 24 Elders – who represent the people of God through all God’s redemptive plan – cast their crowns before the He who sits on the throne. I’m sure that in heaven, whatever reward we have – greater or lesser – will be all surrendered to Jesus, and He alone will get the glory in heaven.
How do the verses Isaiah 9:6 and 2 Corinthians 3:17 reconcile with the teaching of the Trinity? Is Jesus the Everlasting Father? Is the Spirit the Lord?
Hi Pastor David. I hope you can help me with answers to Isaiah 9:6 and 2 Corinthians 3:17. I could not reconcile these two verses with the biblical teaching of the Trinity. Thanks for your answer.
2 Corinthians 3:17 says:
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Isaiah 9:6 says:
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
I believe that there’s a better translation of Isaiah 9:6 when it talks about Jesus as the Everlasting Father, and the better translation would be that He’s the Father of eternity. He’s the Creator, the source of eternity. It’s not trying to tell us that Jesus is God the Father, because the Trinity teaches us that there’s one God in three persons. The Father is not the son and the son is not the Father. However, it does also teach us that the one God is Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel.
In 2 Corinthians 3:17, Paul is telling us that the Holy Spirit is Yahweh, God, the Father is Yahweh, God the son is Yahweh, and God the Holy Spirit is Yahweh (one God in three persons).
That’s the best way to understand it in my mind.
What is my take on the “prophets” who predicted that Donald Trump will be the president of the United States over the next four years?
What’s your take with the “prophets” who said that Trump will be president for the next four years?
I would say this. It looks like they’re wrong.
Now, there are people who, I know, believe that even at this late date some completely unexpected thing is going to happen, and Trump will be inaugurated as the next president. It looks like they’re wrong. What else can you say? If somebody says that a word is from the Lord and they’re wrong, then they’re wrong.
I don’t believe that under the new covenant we should treat false prophets in the same way that they were treated under the old covenant.
Would you make a distinction between a false prophet and just a wrong prophet?
Maybe I would, but if somebody prophesied something and it doesn’t come to pass, I don’t think that we should kill them.
It should lead us to the recognition that that person is less trustworthy than we regarded them before. You can’t ignore if somebody makes a public prophecy and it’s wrong. You just have to agree that they were wrong in their statement, and you need to take that into regard regarding anything they would say in the future.
Do you think it makes a difference if that “so called” profit either apologizes or admits that they were wrong?
It does make a difference. It doesn’t make them any less wrong, but it does make them much more godly and much more humble. It shows that they’re not proud and that they’re real about such things.
Practically speaking, how do we enter God’s rest?
How do we enter God’s rest practically?
I would say there’s two ways to do it. Now, the first way is not so much practical. It’s more spiritual, but I believe that the spiritual engages with the practical. Here it is: We put our trust in Jesus Christ, in who He is and what He did for us, and we rest in that. If your own works are the basis for your right standing with God, you can never be at rest. You’ve never done enough. You’ve never done good enough. That is a spiritual thing that takes place in the practical.
The second thing is, you need to take a real day off regularly. I’m terrible at that. I tend to be too obsessed on work and accomplishment. I hope to be getting a little bit better as the years go on, but it’s very inconsistent.
I do know that this is practically one of the best ways that we can say, I’m resting in You Lord. I don’t have to do everything. I can trust you to do and to provide, instead of having the mentality that I have to do everything. I think that’s a very practical way.
This is an answer from my wife Inga-Lill:
I think that for a lot of us, we need to look at our Savior and our Lord as our good shepherd. Psalm 23 describes what he does for us. I think if we put ourselves completely in His care and His work in our lives, we will let Him be our good shepherd. We will let Him lead us beside still waters. We will let Him make us lay down in green pastures, and we will let Him restore our soul.
You need to allow God to be your good shepherd that draws you into His rest, and you willingly go into His rest. You willingly receive that rest in His presence. I think that is a key part. We seek Him for Him, because He becomes our rest. He becomes what we need whenever we have a greater need than we, ourselves, can meet.
I would encourage anybody here this year to continually see God in that light of being our good shepherd, and allowing Him to lead us, guide us, and prepare for us what we need. I wish everybody to have a Psalm 23 year where they not only see His goodness and experience His goodness, but not want anything other than Him.
Does God hate Satan?
What is God’s attitude towards Satan? Does God hate Satan?
I would say, yes, God hates Satan. He hates the work that Satan does.
Now, some people will say, “Didn’t Jesus tell us to love our enemies, and if we’re supposed to love our enemies, why doesn’t God love His enemy?”
I would describe it like this. The relationship that angelic beings have with God and the relationship that human beings have with God, is different. It’s a different relationship.
Here’s the difference. We only know and can say that human beings are made in the image of God. We cannot say with any kind of confidence or with any kind of assurance about any other being in the universe. I believe that human beings have a relationship with God and angelic beings do not. Because there’s a difference in how those beings relate to each other, God is under no obligation to love Satan. In that sense, God does hate Satan and his work.
Do you recommend the video series “The Chosen”?
Are you recommending the series/app The Chosen? What are your feelings about it? I’m enjoying it.
I have to confess, I have not seen it. It has been well recommended to me by many people. I can’t give you a first hand assessment of The Chosen, but I can give you a second hand assessment. People that I know and trust consider it to be very good. I don’t blame you at all for enjoying it. I really should watch it. I think it would be interesting. So that’s about all I can say to you about it.
Will the antichrist be Roman, or will he come from the Middle East?
In my opinion, there isn’t enough biblical evidence to give a definite answer to your question. There is indication, again, in my opinion, that the Antichrist will be connected with a revived Roman Empire. People have thought that the revived Roman Empire is expressed in different ways. Some people think it is whatever the dominant world power is at the time, which could be said to be the United States of America. Other people have stretched more the geographic continuity with the old Roman Empire and think it could be the European Union.
I just don’t think that there’s enough evidence, biblically, to say he’s a Roman, not a Roman, or that he comes from the Middle East.
Do our prayers reach heaven, or are they sometimes blocked?
I wanted to know if our prayers reach heaven, or are some of them being blocked from reaching heaven?
We speak, kind of, symbolically of our prayers not reaching heaven. I think that that is sort of a figurative way of speaking. God hears every word we say. Matter of fact, one of the more sobering verses of the New Testament is where Jesus said that we will be held to account for every word that we speak. It isn’t that we speak and God doesn’t hear what we say. Rather, the Bible uses the terminology that God hears our prayer when He answers favorably and responds to our prayer.
When the psalmist says “Lord hear my prayer,” he’s actually asking for God to answer his prayer. God hears every word we speak, and we will be held accountable to it. It isn’t that our prayers don’t reach heaven.
If we do not pray in faith or if we do not pray in the name of Jesus, there is no promise to God that He will answer our prayers.
Again, let me clarify. Our prayers reach heaven, in the sense that God hears every word that we speak, but God is not obligated to answer prayers that are not made in faith or based in faith in Jesus Christ and in His work as a mediator.
Who were the saints raised to life in Matthew 27:52?
Who were the saints that were raised during Jesus’ resurrection in Matt 27:52? Is there any other information regarding this?
This is one of the strangest verses in the New Testament. It says that when Jesus died, there were saints who were raised from the dead. They, for some time, walked in Jerusalem.
Matthew 27:52 says,
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
I have to tell you that this is the only indication we have of this event. To be honest, it doesn’t give us much to go on other than something remarkable. Something completely out of the ordinary happened. We don’t know specifically who these people were, and we don’t know how long they had been dead. I would guess that they were saints, those who died in the Lord, who had been recently dead, but I’ve nothing to go on other than a supposition with that.
We’re not told who they were, how long they were dead, or how long they walked the earth. We aren’t told much about this, and the only reason it seems to be that Matthew included it is to simply remind us or express to us that something absolutely history changing happened when Jesus died on the cross.
This happens right after Matthew’s explanation of the veil in the temple tearing in two, spontaneously, from top to bottom, as if it were from heaven to earth when Jesus died and gave up his life on the cross.
I really think that that’s the idea here, and we’re just not told much specifically about this.
Are Adam and Eve a metaphor?
They are a metaphor, but they are not only a metaphor.
Were Adam and Eve real people? Yes. That’s just simply how the Bible presents them. They are not presented to us as symbolic people. However, they do have a representative purpose. Their representative purpose is clear in the scriptures. They are a picture of something greater, but that doesn’t take away from the absolutely essential fact that they were real people.
I believe that there are certain trip wires, a wire that if you break it something bad happens. There are certain trip wires regarding the Christian faith. One of them is simply this. If you abandon belief in a literal Adam and Eve, that’s trouble. I believe that that shows that you’ve gone to an interpretive place that is far too fast and loose with the scriptures.
Now, Adam and Eve are, in essence, something greater than just their own individual lives. What they did speaks both literally and metaphorically across the generations.
I would say, yes, they are a metaphor, but not only metaphorical.
How do you answer someone who says that if you don’t speak in tongues, you aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit?
I would simply say this. The Bible speaks very plainly in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 that not all speak with tongues. Paul, in that section of scripture, is asking rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question is a question where it is understood that the answer is no. Do all work miracles? No. Do all have this other gift? No. Then, he specifically mentions, do all speak with tongues? No.
The idea that the gift of tongues is the evidence of somebody being filled with the Holy Spirit, is very misguided. If somebody wants to say it is a piece of evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit, okay, but it is not the evidence.
The evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit in your life. If somebody’s life is absent of the fruit of the Spirit, it doesn’t matter how much they claim to speak in tongues all day long, there’s something very wrong.
I would say that nowhere does the Apostle Paul present the spiritual gifts as if all of them or any one particular gift was given to everybody.
As it says in First Corinthians 12, the gifts of the Spirit are distributed by the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit wills. It’s according to His choice.
How do you answer someone who says that if you don’t belong to their congregation, then you aren’t saved?
How do you debate with someone who says that his own congregation is the only one?
All I would say is that Jesus said that He had sheep that were of another fold in John 14, 15, or 16. I think there’s a lot to that statement. The followers of Jesus cannot be comprehended in just one congregation. If somebody believes that you have to be a part of their denomination to be saved or to be right with God, that is a danger signal.
Jesus said that He had sheep that were not of this fold, so to speak. There is more than one congregation in the family of God. We shouldn’t be excluding denominations based on minor or lesser doctrinal things. Rather, we should receive them as being brothers and sisters in the Lord.
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