Eternal Reward for Believers in the Next Age
My goal is not simply getting to heaven—which for me is a settled issue…
The basic reason why Christians believe in Jesus is fundamentally to go to heaven when they leave this life, and of course not to end up in hell.
For me, going to heaven is a settled issue. My goal during the rest of my time on earth is to MAXIMIZE my treasure in heaven.
Matthew 6:20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
1 Corinthians 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the QUALITY of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a REWARD. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
There will be believers who enter heaven “only as one escaping through the flames”. The works they have done for the Lord on earth did not withstand the test of fire since they used inferior materials (“wood, hay or straw”) in what they built for the Lord. Consequently they will not receive any REWARD in heaven apart from salvation. Therefore I am do my best to use only “gold, silver, costly stones” in what I do for the Lord. Such expensive materials will indeed stand the test of fire.
Therefore the quality of our work for the Lord counts.
But quantity also enters into the equation for determining eternal REWARD.
Luke 19:12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned TEN more.’
17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of TEN cities.’
18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned FIVE more.’
19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of FIVE cities.’
The reward given to these two servants was directly proportional to the quantity of what they earned for their master.
20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”
In my life on earth, I want to maximize the REWARD the Lord will graciously give me in heaven for what I have done for Him on earth through His grace at work in me. Thus in the ministry He has graciously entrusted to me, I use only quality materials corresponding to “gold, silver, costly stones” for teaching His disciples in order for them be maximally fruitful for the Lord in their earthly lives. I limit what I teach to what is strongly support in Scripture. I do not teach how to be “happy” in this life, but how to please the Lord by living holy lives and bearing good fruit that lasts. If they seek first His kingdom and His righteousness in their lives, all their earthly needs will be provided for them.
And I seek to maximize the quantity of fruit which I can bear for the Lord in this life. To do that I seek to train as many disciples as possible to bear as much fruit as possible in this life.
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Note: The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20 refers not to eternal reward in heaven, but rather to the same salvation which every believer receives in heaven regardless of what they have done for the Lord in this life. Eternal reward, however, is in addition to and beyond salvation.