MorningStar Ranch Ministries

Lesson Seven

REWARDS

There is a vast difference in the doctrine of salvation for the lost, and the doctrine of rewards for the saved. Salvation is "the gift of GOD; not as a result of works" (Eph. 2:8,9). Salvation is received by faith in the finished work of the LORD JESUS CHRIST (John 3:36). Rewards are according to the works of the believer (Matt. 16:27).

A most revealing Scripture on rewards is found in 1 Corinthians 3:8-15.

"Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

According to the grace of God, which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one, which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is {to be} revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work, which he has built upon it, remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire."

1 Corinthians 3:8-15

First, every believer will be rewarded "according to his own labor" (verse 8). We do not labor for salvation.

Second, "We are GOD's fellow workers" (verse 9)... not for salvation, but for rewards.

Third, the believer is not to build "a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST" (verse 11).

Fourth, the believer has a choice of two kinds of building materials: "gold, silver, precious stones" this is building with eternal materials; or "wood, hay straw" this is building with temporal materials (verse 12) also 2 Corinthians 4:18).

The believer who builds on CHRIST with eternal materials, "gold, silver, precious stones" shall receive a reward. Those who build on CHRIST with temporal materials "wood, hay, straw" will receive no reward. The works of "wood, hay, straw" will be destroyed at the at the "judgment seat of CHRIST," and the believer will suffer loss... not the loss of salvation, but the loss of eternal reward.

Some believers will suffer loss of potential rewards and some theologians will offer that they will be ashamed citing 1 John 2:28. A careful reading of that Scripture will demonstrate that we are given a choice to stand in confidence or run in shame in this life... not at a time of judgment. It will be impossible to feel shame or guilt in the presence of absolute, unconditional love and forgiveness. It is in this life that we feel shame and guilt.

Years ago I sat at the bedside of a dying friend. As we talked of his home going, tears filled his eyes. Being young in the LORD, I thought he was afraid to die, and attempted to speak words of encouragement to him. He said, "I am not afraid to die, I am shamed to die." He went on to say that CHRIST was his Savior, but he had lived for self, and now had to meet the LORD JESUS CHRIST empty handed. His life loomed up before him as "wood, hay and straw." He considered himself "saved, yet so as through fire." There will be no shame in the presence of JESUS.

Rewards are called "crowns" or "wreaths" in the New Testament.

I

THE CROWN OF LIFE

    "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the LORD has promised to those who love HIM."

    James 1:12

    The reward could be called the lover's crown. Upon examination of this verse, we discover that the believer finds strength to overcome temptation and endure trials, through the love of GOD. Paul said, "We also exult in our tribulations." The question is: Do we today exult in tribulations? We can, only if the "love of GOD has been poured out within our hearts through the HOLY SPIRIT" (Rom. 5:3-5). With out the love of GOD in the heart of the believer, trial can cause him to become bitter and critical and lose the "crown of life."

    All believers have eternal life (John 3:15,16), but not all believers will be rewarded with the "crown of life." This crown will be given to those who are "faithful until death" (Rev. 2:10). To receive the "crown of life" the believer must love the LORD more than his own life. "For whoever wishes to save his life (live for self) shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for MY sake and the gospel's (live for CHRIST at all cost) shall save it" (Mark 8:35). This reward will be given to those who live for CHRIST, and endure temptations, in the power of the love of GOD (1 Cor. 10:13).

  1. II
  2. THE WREATH IMPERISHABLE

"They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable."

1 Corinthians 9:35b

Paul makes use of the Greek games to illustrate the spiritual race of the believer. They ran to win a "perishable wreath; but we an imperishable" wreath. No young man could contend in the games unless he was a Greek citizen, born of Greek parents. No unsaved person can participate in the services of the LORD for rewards; only the born of GOD are eligible (John 3:3).

Just as the athlete must deny himself many gratifications of the body so the believer must say, "I buffet my body and make it my slave" or he will become "disqualified." He will not lose his salvation, but he will lose the "imperishable wreath."

The Greek games had hard and fast rules for all participants. The New Testament contains the rules for believers who would enter the spiritual race to win the "imperishable wreath."

  1. III
  2. THE CROWN OF EXULTATION

"For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our LORD JESUS at HIS coming?"

1 Thessalonians 2:10

The "crown of exultation" is the soul winner's crown. The greatest work you are privileged to do for the LORD is to bring others to a knowledge of CHRIST as personal Savior. The degree of your joy in heaven will be determined by the souls you have had a part in bringing to CHRIST. Paul tells the Thessalonian believer that they are his "... hope or joy or crown of exultation" now and when JESUS comes.

How you can win souls to CHRIST:

  1. IV
  2. THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

"...in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the LORD, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who love HIS appearing."

2 Timothy 4:8

The "crown of righteousness" is a reward, and it is not to be confused with the "righteousness of GOD" which the believer receives when he becomes a Christian; for at that time, the believer is to "...become the righteousness of GOD in HIM" (2 Cor. 5:21). This saving righteousness is a gift to be accepted by the lost. The "crown of righteousness" is a reward to be earned by the saved. If the believer looks for, and love the doctrine of the Second Coming of CHRIST, it will affect his whole life. Look at the dynamic impact this truth had on the life of the Apostle Paul. He could say:

  1. V
  2. THE CROWN OF GLORY

"And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory."

1 Peter 5:4

The "crown of glory" is a special reward for the faithful, obedient GOD called pastor. He will receive this reward when the "Chief Shepherd appears." It is eternal; it is "unfading." Every believer may share in the pastor's "crown of glory." He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward" (Matt. 10:41). Support your faithful, GOD called pastor by praying for him and encouraging him in the work of the LORD. Undergird his ministry with GOD's tithes and your offerings (Mal. 3:10), giving freely of your time to the service of the LORD. And GOD will reward you for supporting HIS chosen servant by allowing you to share in your pastor's reward. The pastor will earn this "crown of glory" by:

Now Proceed to Lesson 8