International Christian Fellowship

Elstree and Borehamwood to become a Christian Community

Mankind’s Future

Episode 13 Rewards

Last time we saw the time would come when true Christians would be snatched up to meet Jesus in the air, and go with him to Heaven itself. 

In this episode we are going to explore what happens, in heaven, when Christians appear before the Judgement Seat (Bema) of Christ.

This Bema judgement is likened to the judgement of Olympic judges handing out Gold, silver, or bronze medals. 

Everyone will face a judgement after death, both believers and unbelievers. This episode deals with the believer.

Some have the mistaken notion that going to Heaven is a reward for good deeds.

As Ephesians 2:3, 8-10 says, “3We were by nature children of wrath, just as the others”.

8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast. 

10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Notice: We are saved through faith by the grace of God.

To be forgiven the penalty of our sins is mercy. To be given gifts, in addition to forgiveness, despite our sins, is grace.

Entering Heaven is not a reward for our good deeds, but a result of God’s mercy and grace, the outcome of our trust in what Jesus has accomplished on the cross for us.

Some say “once saved” always “saved”, whilst other’s claim you can lose your “salvation”. The Bible is not a book of philosophy and therefore does not attempt to answer that question.

It is a Book of relationship, and therefore it gives complete assurance of salvation to those in a right relationship with Jesus.

Equally it warns of the reality of damnation to those not in a right relationship with God.

It nowhere claims that the relationship has to be perfect. Old Testament heroes like David messed up big time. Yet Acts 13:22 describes him as being a man after God’s heart.

New Testament saints, including Apostles, lived imperfect lives also.  God looks upon the heart. Is our desire to please self or Jesus is the question we need to ask ourselves.

2 Corinthians 5:10 We must all appear before the judgement seat (bema) of Christ that each one may receive his recompense in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Luke 14:14 tells us this will take place at the resurrection of the righteous. This is elsewhere referred to “as that day”.

Rewards are often associated with crowns. Jesus will wear a kingly crown in Greek called a diadema, while the crown the Christian may receive is called stephanos.

Stephanos is used of the crown won in games. In other words for achievement. And in that sense it is used for Christians.

In 1 Corinthians 9:25 Paul compares the athlete who competes to win a perishable crown compared to the Christian who lives to win an imperishable crown.

Philippians 4:1 and 1 Thessalonians 2:19 Paul refers to those who responded to his preaching as his joy and crown, suggesting winning souls for the Kingdom may result in winning a crown.

2 Timothy 4:8 speaks of being given a crown because of the righteous life Paul lived.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him

Temptation is common to all mankind. How we deal with it is what is important. Sometimes the fight against it can be lengthy before we get the victory.

1 Peter 5:4 tells us that those who willingly shepherd the flock of God will receive a crown of glory that will not fade away. 

Peter says this crown will be received when Jesus appears, that is when the Christians are snatched up to meet Jesus in the air.

Jesus, in Revelation 2:10 says “you will have tribulation, but be faithful to death and I will give you the crown of life”.

And in Revelation 3:11 Jesus says, “hold fast to what you have, that no one may take your crown”. 

In other words, at present you may have earned a crown but you could lose the right to have it if you don’t continue to live the life God intended for you.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15. Tells us the basis of Jesus’ examination.

11For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13each 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. 

14If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 

In other words, there are two types of activity we can engage in. That which pleases God, and that which is of the flesh.

Be aware. We may not see with our eyes the difference in this life, hence we need to live in the Spirit.

What is the significance of these crowns? 

During the 1,000 years we reign with Christ on earth our crowns will show the public the honour which Christ has bestowed upon us.

Elsewhere we are told that we will judge angels.

Several of Jesus’ parables spoke of being rewarded with riches and with geographical dominion. For example ruling of cities.

Who can tell of what other extravagant rewards Christ may give to those who have been faithful regardless of their situation?

Next time we will consider the Marriage of the Lamb.