Robert Jeffress - Rewards In Heaven - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Romans 2:11 says there is no partiality with God. Aren't you grateful to serve a God who is just and fair? But that doesn't mean life after death will be the same for everyone. In fact, the Bible clearly states that God will reward believers in heaven for their good works on earth. And those who squander their earthly time, talents, and resources will miss out on those rewards. So, what should we be doing right now to ensure the best possible existence in heaven? My message is titled "Rewards in Heaven" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
When we become a Christian we are adopted into God's family and we all are given the same foundation, the foundation of Jesus Christ. That's 1 Corinthians 3:11. We all have the same foundation, the foundation of Jesus Christ. But you and I decide what kind of life we're going to build on that foundation. What are we going to do with the time, the gifts, the resources that God has given to us. Now Paul mentions in these passages in 1 Corinthians two different criteria by which God is going to do that evaluation, not of our homes but of our lives. The first criterion is the durability of our life. Write that down. That's what he talks about in verse 12, the durability of our life.
Have we constructed our life with gold, silver, precious stones or is our life constructed with wood, hay, and straw? Gold, silver, precious stones represent those things that are valuable and are lasting. Wood, hay, and straw represents a life that is built around the worthless and the temporal. If you build your life around career, building a financial portfolio, sensual pleasures, that is a life that is built around wood, hay, and straw. If you invest your life in advancing the Kingdom of God, of sharing his message with others, of developing a godly character in your life, that is building your life with gold, silver, and precious stones.
Let me stop here and ask you the question, what's the focus of your life? Is your focus that which is temporal or is it that which is eternal? And if you have a hard time determining what the focus of your life is, here are three questions that will tell you quicker than any questions I know what the real focus of your life is. Number one, what do you think about most often? That is in those quiet moments before you drift off to sleep at night, when you're at the red light, what do you think about? Second of all, what do you talk about most often? Just in your natural conversation with people, what do you talk about most often? Question number three, if you received an unexpected $100.000 gift, how would you spend it? What do you think about? What do you talk about? How would you spend $100.000?
Your answer to those questions, your honest answers, will tell you whether your life is built around the eternal or the temporal. Around gold, silver, precious stones or wood, hay, and straw. Paul says that's one criterion, the durability of our life. But there's a second criterion and that is the motives of our life. That is, sometimes why we do something is just as important as what we end up doing. In 1 Corinthians 4:5 Paul talks about that. He says therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will bring both to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts. And then each man's praise will come to him from God. If I share the Gospel with somebody because of my general and real concern for his well being, that's rendered as gold.
If I share the Gospel with somebody so I can brag about it to another person, that's wood. If I give a gift to the Lord, a financial gift because I have a genuine concern about expanding God's kingdom, that's silver. But if I give the gift so that I can be recognized by others, that's straw. God does care about our motives. Proverbs 16:2 says, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives". Now, one word of caution here folks, don't use motives as a cop out for disobedience. Some people will say well, my heart's really not in it so maybe I shouldn't do it at all. I'll wait until my heart gets right before I do it.
Did you know one of the purest motivations for obeying God is faith? That is the faith that God is going to reward me for my obedience to him. I may not feel like giving my money to the church this month but I'm going to give it because I believe God's going to reward me some day for it. I may not feel like coming to church today. I might feel like I'd rather be at the lake, probably not today but most Sundays. I'd rather be at the lake but I come and I teach my second grade Sunday school class because I believe somewhere there's going to be a commendation and reward for that.
Now you know there are people in the church who are more spiritual than God is, or at least they think they are and they say oh that's terrible pastor, that anybody would serve God for a reward. That is just unspiritual. We ought to serve God just because we love him. Is that true? Not at all. The Bible says one of the purest motivations is believing that God is going to reward us. For example, think about Abraham. What is it that caused him to uproot his home in Ur of the Chaldees and go look for that land that God had promised? Hebrews 11:10 says for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and building is God. Or later on in that same faith chapter, Hebrews 11, God said this about Moses who chose to endure ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. Why? For he was looking to the what? The reward. That's why Moses said no to the riches of Egypt. He believed God was going to reward him.
Remember what the writer said in Hebrews 11:6? The most important thing that God looks for in each of our lives is faith. Hebrews 11:6 says without faith it is impossible to believe God, for he who comes to God must believe that God is and that he is what, a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. There is no better demonstration of faith, God pleasing faith then making temporary sacrifices in this life built on the assurance, the promise that God is going to reward you in the next life. God honors that kind of faith. We've talked about the reality of the Judgment Seat of Christ. We've talked about the two criteria, the basis for the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Now what are the results of the Judgment Seat of Christ? That is if I make it into heaven, isn't that enough? Won't I be totally satisfied if I just make it into heaven? Paul doesn't hesitate in answering those questions. He says there are going to be real lasting felt consequences depending upon how we do at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Look at 1 Corinthians 3:14-15, here are the results. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. But if any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss but he himself shall be saved, so as through fire. Paul says there are two possible outcomes that await us at the Judgment Seat of Christ. One possible outcome is rewards. Verse 14 says the one who does well, he shall receive a reward.
What are these rewards? The Bible talks about crowns in heaven. And this isn't on your outline, this is bonus material for coming out on a cold day. But the Bible says there are some crowns in heaven that await the faithful. Jot these down real quickly. For example, there's the crown of glory in 1 Peter 5:4 for those who serve in church leadership. There's the crown of joy in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 which is associated with evangelism. There's the crown of life, James 1:12 which is reserved for those who endure the trials of life. There's the crown of righteousness. Paul talked about that in 2 Timothy 2:4 that is bestowed on those who lived their lives in anticipation of the Lord's returns.
Now, some people believe that these are actual crowns that we're going to wear in heaven. Other people say they're actual crowns that according to Revelation 14 we're going to cast down at the feet of Christ but I prefer to believe that these crowns, and I think there's reason to do so, are symbolic of very real and tangible rewards that await the faithful. The fact is revelation 4:10 pictures the 24 elders around the throne casting down their crowns and there's going to be worship but that doesn't mean we're going to give up our rewards in heaven. The Bible says there are real tangible rewards awaiting those who serve Christ obediently.
What are those rewards? Let me mention three of them that the scripture talks about.
First of all, there are going to be special privileges in heaven for the faithful. When our girls were little we made several treks to Disney world and if you've been to Disney world and had your money taken from you almost at gunpoint it seemed like down there, they have a way to get the money from you but if you've ever been to Disney world you know that for a single price, you can enjoy all the attractions in the theme park. And yet, if you're willing to pay just a little more you can get some special perks. I mean, for a little bit more money you can go into the park early or you can stay in nicer accommodations or best of all, you can have breakfast with Mickey and Minnie, you know. I mean, those extra perks are nice for those who are willing to pay a little bit more.
Did you know there are going to be extra privileges in heaven for those who do well at the Judgment Seat of Christ? For example, 2 Peter 1:11 says there's going to be a special entrance into the kingdom, not of Mickey, but of God. There's going to be a special gate, an access to the Kingdom of God. Revelation 2:7 says there's going to be special access to the tree of life. Even Luke 12:37 says there's going to be special treatment by Christ to those who are faithful. This idea that Jesus is going to treat everybody the same, I'm sorry, that's just not true. There is special treatment by Christ by those who do well at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Now look, I don't pretend to understand what all these perks mean but the Bible says they are real and they're really worth working for, they're worth sacrificing for in this life. Special privileges from heaven.
Secondly, there's going to be special praise from the Lord for those who are faithful. Can you remember ever a time when either your mom or dad said to you I am so proud of you. It's an honor to be your mom, your dad. Can you ever recall a time when your employer brought you into his office and said I want you to know how much I appreciate what you're doing for our organization. We couldn't make it if it weren't for you. You know that kind of praise can keep you going on for years just to hear a word of commendation like that. Or Matthew 25:21 says those who serve faithfully in this life will hear that kind of praise from the Lord, well done, good and faithful servant.
Thirdly, there are going to be positions of authority for those who do well at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Matthew 25:21, his master said to him well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master. Those who do well at the Judgment Seat of Christ, one day will rule over planets, over the angels, over other believers. Special positions of authority. Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking you've got to be kidding. More work in heaven, that sounds like hell to me. I mean, the last thing I want to do is have responsibility. I just want to float around on my cloud up there.
Well think again. You know Genesis tells us we were created in God's image. God is a worker, he created us to be workers. He wanted us to find satisfaction in our work. He wanted us to be exhilarated, not debilitated by our work. The only reason work became painful is because of sin that entered into the world. But one day that sin is going to be gone. We'll no longer have bodies that get tired. We'll no longer have soured relationships that characterize many work places. We'll never have any more government regulations. We'll be able to work as God intended us to work and it will be satisfying. And those who do well at the Judgment Seat of Christ are going to have these extra positions of authority. There's one possibility, one outcome is reward. But there's another possible outcome he speaks of in verse 15 and that is loss.
If any man's work is burned up, verse 15, he shall suffer loss. But he himself shall be saved, yet as through fire. Or another way would say it, he will be saved by the skin of his teeth but he will suffer loss. I want you to notice what Paul says, not what Robert says, what Paul says, some Christians are going to experience real tangible, measurable loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ when they realize what could have been theirs had they been more faithful to Christ.
Now ladies and gentlemen the Bible says you'll find that same mixture of joy and loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Joy, eternal joy that we've escaped the flames of hell because of what Christ has done for us. But for some they'll be a sadness, a regret, a loss as we realize what could have been ours had we been more faithful to Christ. Now I realize we need to be balanced here. As somebody said, to overdo the sorrow aspect of heaven is to turn heaven into hell but to ignore the reality of regret in heaven is to make obedience to Christ in this life inconsequential. The Bible says what we do now does make an eternal difference.
My friend, Irwin Lutzer, tells the story of a beggar in India who stood along the side of the road with a little bowl begging for rice. One day a wealthy rajah pulled up in a chariot and he stepped down from the chariot and he went up to that beggar and said, give me some of your rice. The beggar couldn't believe it but he held out the bowl and the rajah picked up one grain of rice. He said give me another. And so he held out the bowl and the rajah took another grain of rice. He said give me one more. He held out the bowl and he took another one.
By this time the beggar was seething with anger. He couldn't believe somebody so wealthy with so much would ask that of somebody who had so little. The rajah got up in the chariot and he sped away. Once he had regained his composure the beggar looked down at that bowl and he noticed something glittering. On further inspection he realized it was a grain of gold. Then he looked closer and there was a second grain of gold and a third grain of gold. For every grain of rice he had given the rajah, the rajah had returned it with a grain of gold. Irwin Lutzer makes this application. If we clutch our bowl of rice we shall lose our reward. If we're faithful and give God each grain, he gives us gold in return. And the gold God gives will survive the fire.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are real measurable rewards awaiting those who are obedient to Christ. And it's the reality of those rewards that caused Paul to write these words, therefore, therefore we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to God. Why? For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that each man may be recompensed for deeds in the body according to what he has done, whether they be good or worthless.