Salvations And Rewards
Brief Bible Studies For Young Christians - part 6
Heretofore we have been looking into God's Word with reference to the necessity, assurance, and blessings of salvation, and now it might not be amiss to look at the same unfailing source of truth concerning the distinction between salvation apart from the effort of man; and rewards as the result of the faithful service of believers. Some of God's saints seem to be confused upon this point, and are in distress of soul, or at least, not in assured peaceful rest, in consequence.
1. Salvation is God's free gift to any one who realizes himself or herself a poor, lost sinner.
In the fourth chapter of John's Gospel Jesus is seen speaking to a poor woman whose life was stained with sin of the most open and defiling kind. She “had had five husbands” and he whom she then had was not her husband, and yet to her, a despised Samaritan, Jesus breaks the blessed news that salvation is a free gift. “If thou knowest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water” (John 4:10).
What marvellous love, amazing grace, wonderful picture, the spotless One of heaven offering to the sin defiled of earth salvation as a free gift.
See also Rom. 6:23; Is. 55:1-2; Rev.21:6; 22:17; John 3:16; 5:24; 10:28 etc.
So that the very first thing required of a sinner is that he or she accept the gift from God, and He publicly proclaims to all who take their place as such, forgiveness, justification, eternal life; in other words, salvation with all its attendant blessings.
On the contrary rewards are mentioned in Scripture as the outcome or result of faithfulness in the life and service of the believer, i.e., the one who by simple faith, believing God's statement as to salvation accepts it as a free gift; so that while salvation is obtained by faith, rewards are obtained by works.
2. The apostle Paul writing to the Corinthian saints distinguishes clearly as to the distinction this article is intended to bring out.
In the third chapter of his first epistle to them he says the foundation “is Christ,” and in v.14-15 he speaks of those on the foundation as being saved, apart from their works, for which however a reward will be given if the works will stand the test, other wise they will be burned up. “If any man's work abide which he hath built, he shall receive a reward.”
“If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved: yet so as by fire,” The believer is saved, because his salvation is the result of Christ's work - His death on the cross - but no reward for his works, unless they be able to stand the searching eye of God's holiness. How God's grace is thus seen in saving sinners apart from their works (Eph.2:8-9), and how His holiness is magnified in a test of the believer's works afterward, in that all that is done must have as a motive, not the benefit of man merely, nor in expectation of a re ward, but for “the glory of God.” “Whether there fore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor.10:31). This last verse will govern decision in every doubtful moment, and action.
See also Matt.10:42; 2 Tim.4:7-8; 1 Cor.9:24-25; Rev.2:10; Phil.4:1; 1 Thess.2:19; James 1:12; 1 Pet.5:4, etc.
3. God's salvation is a present possession of the sinner the moment he accepts it by faith.
“He that believeth on the Son HATH everlasting life” (John 3:36).
“As many as received Him, to them gave He power (right or privilege) to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).
“Verily, verily, I say unto yon, he that heareth My word, and believeth 011 Him that sent Me HATH everlasting life” (John 5:24).
See also John 6:37; 2 Tim.1:9; 1 John 5:11; 1 Cor.1:18; Tit.3:5. Notice the words “hath life,” “are saved,” “saved,” “hath saved,” as clearly showing a present position and standing before God.
We are nowhere told in Scripture that we have to “wait until we come to die, either to be saved or to have knowledge of it. 1 John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye way know” - that salvation is ours NOW, the moment we believe.
4. Just the reverse is the matter of rewards which will be future, conferred upon the believer at the judgment-seat of Christ, and manifested before the world at the coming of the Son of man.
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to “his works” (Matt.16:27).
The apostle realizing his course on earth was about over, writes to Timothy: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the righteous Judge shall give me at that day” (2 Tim.4:8). Surely he could not mean salvation here, or righteousness conferred, for he claims in his first letter to his “dearly beloved son” that he was saved, see 1 Tim.1:9; and writing to the Corinthians claims that as sin and its judgment were borne by Christ, so he was made, as all believers are also, the righteousness of God, in Christ (2 Cor.5:21).
It is only necessary to read 2 Cor.11:24-29 to see that Paul did not receive any reward here for his services, although in all his utterances stating he was saved.
See also 1 Pet.5:4; 2 Tim.4:8; Luke 14:14; Rev.22:12; 2 Cor.5:10; Matt.25:19).
Thus as believers on the Lord Jesus Christ we have God's free gift now; and, with purpose of heart to serve Him, for “the glory of God,” by life or in death, we may expect a reward hereafter, when with our blessed Lord in the glory. But we are not to labour or live with any lower standard than to be “acceptable” unto Him (2 Cor.5:9); and even as Abraham looked for a city, so we have an expectation, we look “for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil.3:20).
May reader and writer ever have Him, and Him only, before them.