While salvation is free and available to all without cost, rewards in Heaven are promised in various places in the Bible and for various reasons. In Revelation 14:12, we read, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Their works do follow them. Not their words, not their reputations, but their works follow them. Some Christians talk a good game, but do not play the game by the rules.
First Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. Notice the word “strive”. That word means working hard, energetically, for a goal, a prize, a crown. The athlete in the Olympics gives his very best to earn a prize that will someday fade away. Paul says that we should work even harder as Christians, since our reward is one that will last throughout eternity, a crown that is incorruptible. Jesus put it this way in the Sermon on the Mount, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21.
Again, in that same sermon, our Savior talked about rewards in Heaven. Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about a reward for good service for the Lord. First Corinthians 3: 8 “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” Note that good deeds done by family members, other church members, missionaries or pastors will not count for rewards for you as a Christian. It is the work of each individual Christian that will count toward that Christian’s reward – “according to his own labour”
In the last book of the Bible, the last chapter, we are again reminded of the existence of rewards for Christians. Revelation 22:12 “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Notice that every one will receive a reward, not just the “stars” of the Christian community or family. So many times we only hear of the great things that have been done by those who are the famous among the Christians. Some missionary is martyred for his or her faith, and we are sure that they will receive the “Martyr’s crown.” Or some evangelist has one hundred or more come to Christ through his ministry, and we say that his reward will be great in Heaven. Yes, the Bible says in Daniel 12:2,3 “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” However, the evangelist may have to take a back seat to some saint who prayed for God’s power to be manifest in that preacher.
Jesus put it this way in Matthew 10:40-42 “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Ephesians 6:8 says, “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”
2Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:Let’s look at several of the rewards or crowns that are to be given to Christians, and what the standard is for their award. Second Timothy 4:7 & 8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Paul states that a crown of righteousness is to be given to each one who fights the good fight, finishes his own course, looking for the Savior’s appearing. That means that the Christian does what God gives him to do, accepts what God has given or withheld from him, and still looks for the return of our Lord.
We read about a faithful follower of our Lord in Hebrews 11:24-27 “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” He accepted the reproach rather than the riches looking forward to the reward! A crown of righteousness would be the reward for this king of life.
Another reward is promised for a faithful saint who endures great trials and temptations without falling or losing confidence in God. James 1:12 “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” While the Christian may not understand the trial and may feel that it is undeserved, he nonetheless accepts it from the Lord and endures it. To the church at Ephesus, God said in Revelation. 2:10 “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
To Pastors and others who shepherd and lead God’s people, a special reward is promised. First Peter 5:1-4 “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock and when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” The under-shepherd is told to exercise the oversight of his flock, willingly, not for gain of money, and by setting a good example for his flock. For faithfully doing that, he is promised a crown of glory in Heaven.
The under-shepherds will also receive some kind of reward, based on the actions and attitudes of those they lead, First Thessalonians 2:19 & 20: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” The flock will also receive a crown of rejoicing for following the under-shepherd faithfully. Second Corinthians 1:14 “As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Wouldn’t this lessen the number of church fights and conflicts if church members could realize that a reward awaits the Christian that willing follows faithfully the pastor who follows the Lord faithfully? It is not a competition between Pastor and flock, but a team effort shared by both!
Yes, there are rewards to be given in eternity, but remember they will be based on what we have done for the Lord here and now. Perhaps you have never thought of this concept of the Christian life. Obviously many are ignorant of this truth, or Christian lives would be different. Some who now live for the here and now, the self-gratification of this age, would live in the light of eternity. Remember, the rewards or crowns are often spoken of as not fading away! Will you have any eternal rewards?
For more about this topic see: 040203 Rewards for believers