By admin | October 4, 2011
The Bible is very clear that our salvation is based upon the completed work done on the Cross by Jesus Christ. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6b, NKJV). It is also clear that we must individually receive this salvation by repenting of our sins and trusting in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians that we are saved by grace through Faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
We then ask the question, what about works? When we look at the next verse, we see the answer. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). God has a job description for each of us and he has ordained that we should walk by faith in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Our natural gifts are enhanced and we are equipped with special gifts at the time we are saved and it is God’s will that we use them and let Him magnify them. We are saved from hell by accepting Jesus as our Savior but our works determine our crowns and rewards in heaven. We are not sure what this means but they could determine our roles and privileges throughout eternity. We should be very concerned about our role in eternity!
The apostle Paul tells us in Second Corinthians chapter five that each of us must stand before the judgment seat of Christ for judgment. This is not judgment applying to our salvation but judgment of our works. “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:9-10).
Paul also writes about the judgment of our works in First Corinthians. “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:11-15).
This is not the great white throne judgment where God will judge those who have not been saved. Our works will be judged in heaven to determine the crowns and rewards that we will receive. Our positions of service during the reign of Christ on the throne of David will be based upon those rewards. Works declared to be wood, hay and straw will be burned up. Therefore, the only works we are credited with in eternity are those of gold, silver and precious stones. How can we determine which is which? It behooves us to know what God expects in our works.
Only those works done through love, faith and humility will survive, but those done to gratify our own egos will be burned up. Our rewards will not necessarily be based upon our visual services, but they will be based upon what God sees in our hearts, and what motivates us to service. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48b), and “many who are first will be last; and the last, first” (Matt. 19:30b).
In the book of Romans, Paul writes the first eight chapters on the doctrine of sin and salvation. The next three chapters are about Israel. Then he begins in chapter twelve by telling us how to act. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (I Cor. 12:1-2).
Paul says that we should have the mind of Christ. The only way we can do that is to have the Holy Spirit guiding our lives. We receive the Holy Spirit at the time we are saved. He indwells us. However, we can and do quench the Spirit. The works classified as gold, silver, and precious stones are those done under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. They are works of faith and love. “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).
The prophet Habakkuk wrote about faith many years ago. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith” Hab. 2:4, NKJV). Paul lifts these words, “The just shall live by faith”, from Habakkuk and applies them three times to the Christian walk (Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:26). We should walk in the Spirit through faith. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
If the Holy Spirit is not quenched by our taking control of our lives and living in the flesh, then we will reflect the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Notice that the first fruit of the Spirit is love. Jesus had a lot to say about love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). The entire Christian experience is about us loving each other as God loves through us. We are to love each other as God loves us. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:25).
Paul’s Christian walk with the Lord should be an example to each of us. He became totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit to lead His life. He told the Church at Galatia: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20 NKJV). Paul also admonished the new Christians to love each other. “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph. 5:2) “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up” (I Cor. 13:4). Paul is saying that God can have our pride under control. For the believer, God considers pride to be the greatest of our sins.
Love seems to be the standard by which we show the world that we are children of God. However, it should not be self motivating but a reflection of the Holy Spirit living in us. The apostle John wrote much about Christian love in his first epistles – the Godly love that Jesus demonstrated. “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:5). “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3).
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). Who are the pure in heart? It is understood that the pure in heart must be children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. However, it may also have something to do with our obedience to God which impacts our rewards in heaven. Are we obeying Gods commands? A Pharisee once asked Jesus a question. “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets’” (Matt 22: 35-40).
The secular world has adopted the second command and has forgotten about the first one. We are bombarded with the statement that we should love our neighbor. We must be careful to watch the order in which Jesus gave these commandments. The first one is to love God with all our heart which means we must be in obedience to Him. Unless we are saved and become children of God, the second commandment will only glorify man and his ego. The second command must be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. It has been said that if we put all our emphasis on love, we become humanist, whereas, if put all the emphasis on doctrine we become legalist. The secular world is fast becoming a secular humanist society without God. The world is rapidly removing God from all aspects of our culture.
When we focus on the first commandment, obedience is measured by our relationship to God through Jesus. The Bible says we are to pray, study His word, give, assemble ourselves together in worship and fellowship, minister, and witness. How well are we doing? Our relationship to our neighbor should be moral and ethical. When we observe the world today, we are bombard with immoral behavior. Ethics has become a major problem in our relationship with others. So if we say that we love our neighbor and live an immoral life style, this is a contraction before God.
Paul said that, “we should pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). This means that we should always be in an attitude of prayer. To be in an attitude of prayer, we must have a clean heart. A clean heart cannot hold grudges or unforgiveness. God tells us that we are not to regard iniquity in our hearts: The Psalmist says “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps 66:18, KJV). There are five steps in prayer which are represented by the acrostic, “ACTSI”: Adoration (or praise), Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication, and Intercession. We are to praise God, confess our sins, thank him for all our blessings, bring our sorrows and heartaches to Him and intercede on behalf of others. Are we doing this?
Jesus said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:19-21).
Jesus expects us to give our tithes and offerings in order to fulfill God’s work on earth. This includes our time as well as our money. All of this should be done in love, as God tells us that He loves a cheerful giver. Jesus states very clearly that our ego should not be gratified through our giving but He should be glorified. “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven (Matt 6:1).
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And prove Me now in this, “Says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it’” (Mal. 3:10). “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
The apostle Paul said; “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15, KJV). One of the biggest problems in the world today is that so few know what the Bible says about who God is and what He wants us to do. We have both Christians and Non-Christians teaching things about the Bible which are not true. The only way to know what the Bible says is to study it under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Paul says we should “rightly divide the word of truth”. What a shame if we miss rewards in heaven because we do not know God’s word. We need to get into a good study program and learn what the Word says. The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
The prophet, Hosea, tells us that Israel was destroyed for lack of knowledge. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6). What a shame if we and our country should be destroyed for lack of knowledge of God’s word.
The Bible says that we should fellowship with believers. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” Heb.10:24-25. The Bible admonishes us to worship in God’s house, fellowship with believers, study God’s word and edify and comfort one another.
God has given each of us special gifts to use in ministering to others. The Church is a body of believers working together and using their God given gifts to meet the needs of those who are suffering and in tribulation.
We should all be good witnesses. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28: 19-20). God wants all of us to witness for Him as there are so many confused and lost people in this world.
Among the commandments that Paul gave to the Church at Thessalonica are the following: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:19). It is sad that we, who call ourselves Christians, do not abstain from every form of evil. We have become so accustomed to the immoralities of the world that our conscious has been dulled and often even Christians participate. The world constantly admonishes us to change with the culture. But God’s word says otherwise!.
We should be careful not to judge others as to their Christian walk because we do not know their heart. Jesus says in the Sermon of the Mount: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (Matt 7:1-3).
The question is what about ourselves. Have we been saved? Are we losing our rewards in heaven because we are not living as Christ wants us to. The Bible says that we must examine ourselves. If we have not been saved then we must be or we miss heaven and go to hell. If we have been saved but have quenched the Spirit, then we need to confess our sins before God thus restoring our fellowship with Him. John says in his first epistle, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Paul tells us to be filled with the Spirit of God, “And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18, KJV).
The filling of the Spirit is a continuous process sometimes called spiritual breathing where we breath out our confessions and breath into our lives the power of the Holy Spirit. Campus Crusade Ministry had a model prayer which explains very well the filling of the Holy Spirit. I prayed this prayer many years ago and it changed my life.
“Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have been in control of my life; and that, as a result, I have sinned against You. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take control of the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I now thank You for taking control of my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit.”
“Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? If so, bow in prayer and trust God to fill you with the Holy Spirit right now.”
How do we know that we are saved? Paul answers this in his letter to the Romans. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Rom. 8:12-17).
Have you ever had the Holy Spirit living in your life? If so, you are saved. Paul says in Ephesians that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and it is an earnest of our salvation Eph. 1:4-14). The Roman’s reference listed above says: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”.
We are also told, as Christians, we will reign with Him. “If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12). “And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10, NKJV). Now this is where our potential rewards and crowns become important. What will our role be in the Kingdom of God? Will we have rewards and crowns from our works of gold, silver and precious metals or will our works be burned up as wood, hay and straw? Let us reread what Paul said, “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). This tells us that Christians will be saved from hell fire but go to heaven with few or no rewards and crowns.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).