The Oscars | An Eternal Reward

oscar-statue.jpgIt's Academy Award time where the words "The Oscar goes to..." are repeated over...and over...and over.

Most of us are not going to get a statue of a bald gold man. But for a Christ-follower there are rewards to be gained one day. Who will present it? How do actions count toward this? Some think our actions don't matter...while others think they are everything. As this has eternal impacts it's good to learn about it now. Let's explore your "Oscar".

But I Thought I Can't Earn My Salvation...

In this discussion, we need to draw a distinction between salvation and rewards. They are not the same thing. Salvation is what we receive as we put our faith in Jesus Christ, that He has paid the price for our sin and His perfect life covers the sin we have done or will do. We respond by faith with it being noted (Eph. 2:8-9) that:

  • it is by faith we have been saved
  • the faith is a gift from God
  • salvation is not by works

As one expresses an authentic faith that Christ's death has paid for their sin, God will see His Son's sacrifice for the person, not the person's sins. So, because of Christ, entry is guaranteed on judgment day.

...So What is the Importance of My Actions?

Think of it in terms of a door. If you believe you go to heaven for being a "nice" person or the good you do, those steps lead you to the door. But none of us do enough good to get there. The door will forever stretch beyond us. Forgiveness or atoning for our sins can't be earned.

Thus, we put our faith in Christ's work which paid the debt. In the door metaphor, that is how we get through the "door." But, even if you have entry, there are good deeds/actions in love that are encouraged (Heb. 10:24-25). If we have put our faith in Christ we will be a follower of his and it will begin to show...as steps on the other side of the door. We could think of it as how far we each go into the house is our actions/service. We will express the example of Christ as we are being re-cast in His likeness (Rom. 8:29). We'll do things he did...service to those in need, sacrifice when not easy, prayer when it's easier to act, forgiving the enemy, inviting others to Christ as the only way to God, and so on. (He did all these too.)

"And the Reward Goes to..."

There is a judgment for the Christian, but it is one of works, not of faith (1 Cor. 3:13-14). So while a Christian's works do not bring salvation, there is an impact upon the reward in the world to come. Rewards are conditional and dependent upon our faithfulness (2 Tim. 2:12). In fact, we will give an account for our actions as well as every word (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 12:36).

But what we do will never get us through the door. It is the good He has done. The reward discussion only begins after one opens the door of their own life to Christ (see Rev. 3:20 for a powerful door metaphor from Scripture).

And who will be your award presenter? No Brad Pitts or Angelina Jolies (or Jennifer Lawrences or Channing Tatums for the younger crowd). It is God Himself (1 Cor. 4:5).

If you'd like to read more about how to live in God-honoring ways around the theme of reward, check out these verses.

Question: How do you keep eternity before you on the days you feel discouraged or feel "why bother?"

4 Responses

  1. Mark
    I appreciate the thought that the good we do are steps on the other side of the door. Sometimes when I feel "why bother", I think about what will matter to me when I look back at the end of my life. It helps put perspective on the stresses and strains of the day to day...it helps me to reflect with an eternal perspective.
  2. Brian
    Thanks for joining the conversation Mark! A good suggestion for how to practice this. I was thinking how the older people get the more you hear those types of observations. (And the older I get the more I experience this. lol) So if we can live with some of that view, we'll better live for His glory today.
  3. Jeff
    As I grow in my walk with the Lord I prayerfully consider the demands for works or fruit that he places on me. I understand John 15:5 to mean two things: 1 as evidence of true salvation is the fact that I abide (remain in) him and he in me, again as Brian states this is not the cause of my salvation but rather a result of it. 2. Bearing fruit means to me that I am to do his work by following his teaching. Jesus Christ gives us commands not options! Where I have to be very careful personally is understanding exactly what it is he is telling me do to bear fruit for him. I must seek the wisdom from his word and also from more experienced and trained Christians to help me. I believe that the Holy Spirit has provided each us with a certain gift(s) which he expects us to use to his greater glory. We are not all going to be feeding and clothing the poor of the world. We are not all going to be converting the unsaved by the power of our speaking. We are not all going to be able to write or sing beautiful songs of praise. But we all have some thing, some gift that he expects us to use for him and his glory! We are all part of his plan and he expects us to do our part! So I TRY (note I did not say succeed) each day to pray to God asking him to help me to understand my part and to do my part. Praying that he would give me the courage if that is what it takes to do my part to bear my fruit for him. And always trying to remember that in the same bear fruit/works verse he says "for apart from me you can do nothing." God Bless!
    • Brian
      Glad you joined the conversation Jeff. Good point as you enter into the "how we do it" side of things. The fruit from being on the vine (or the steps beyond the door) are one's of listening for God's will and responding. (Having Jesus example in the Garden of Gethsemane where he prays for God's will even if it was not his. And he was willing not just to do, but listen for that will.) The observation about how we can be overwhelmed by all that can be done is a good one. Looking for the kingdom good God would have us do in the moment (or with those in front of us) and listening for Him day-to-day is the best we can do. In it all, being humble enough to realize He is God, not us, so He'll know the best of what we can do.

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