Evangelicals typically use the month-long Christmas season as an occasion for evangelism, holding elaborate Christmas programs to show unsaved friends, family, and visitors the “real meaning behind Christmas.” This is of course well and good. The most important question of this life is: “where are you going to spend eternity?”
That question can be settled once and for all by inviting Christ into one’s life as Lord and Savior.
However, there is another question of nearly equal importance which we rarely ask and address to believers: ”WHAT will you be doing in eternity when Christ reigns in His kingdom?”
Scripture teaches us that we will not all be doing the same thing in the next age when Christ reigns.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 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.
Although a believer is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, he might suffer loss in his eternal reward in the next age because of the poor quality of his work for the Lord while on earth. Instead of sacrificially using expensive materials in building the kingdom of God—signified by gold, silver, costly stones—he used cheap, easy-to-get materials as represented by wood, hay, or straw. We are not referring to tithes and offerings here, but rather broader matters of diligence, conscientiousness, and wholeheartedness in one’s ministry for the Lord.
From the parables which Jesus taught about the kingdom of God, we know that there are different levels of authority given to believers in the next age as rewards. Not only is quality important, quantity (performance and production) is also taken into account in the determination of eternal reward for a believer. Holiness and obedience to the Lord’s commands are also factored in.
Exactly what is the nature of our eternal reward? Although this question obviously cannot be answered fully here on earth, Scripture provides some insight.
2 Timothy 2:12 if we endure, we will also reign with him.
Revelation 2:26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’–just as I have received authority from my Father.
Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
The Church understandably expends great resources on evangelism. But after souls accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we spend little time or effort teaching them to maximize their eternal reward—their position in the next age when Christ reigns. Instead we place priority on teaching believers how to live “successful” lives on earth. Their service and work for the kingdom of God are at best optional since they are “saved by grace through faith.”
But it should be clear that the matter of what will we be doing in eternity is far more important than living a “successful” and comfortable life here by earthly standards. Yes, “success” in life on earth can of course include fruitfulness for the kingdom of God. But often bearing fruit for the Lord is dangled as a nice side effect of the main catch of a successful earthly life. Rather, our main goal in this life should be to please the Lord by obeying His commands and bearing as much fruit as possible for him, thus reaping the eternal reward of a high position of authority in the next age when Christ reigns with His Church.
WHAT will you be doing in eternity? Look what Jesus is now doing…
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
But don’t we have to pay our bills in this life on earth?
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well.