Eternal Reward
Saturday, November 21, 2009

 “God has planned something better for us so that only together with us would [all the saints who have gone before us] would be made perfect.”  Heb. 11:40 


                “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.  Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.  But I tell you, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Various quotes from the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain.)  Yesterday, I wrote about the joyous words Paul wrote from the prison cell, just before he was executed for his faith and devotion to Jesus Christ.  And Paul lived by those teachings of Christ. 

However, I suspect that Paul died believing fully that he was a failure.  His friends were few.  Churches he had established were already splitting and feuding.  He was cold.  Some of his scrolls were missing.  He didn’t even have his cloak.  And in his letter to Timothy you could hear a touch of sad reflection in his voice.  He said, “I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8)  Truly Paul was blessed according to the teachings of Jesus, for men hated him, insulted him, and rejected him because of Christ.  Yet Jesus told us that when we live for Him, great will be our reward.  So did Paul receive his reward when he died?  Well in one way he was rewarded beyond anything we can imagine.  He wanted to depart and be with Christ (Phil. 1:23).  And that in itself is a reward greater than anything this earth can offer – to be united with our Lord; to see Him face to face; to see fully the Greatest Love the world has ever known.  So yes, in that sense, Paul received his reward.  But in another sense, he has not.  For Scripture is clear we will be rewarded for the good we do while we are alive.  And the good Paul did has not run its course.  So in that sense, his reward is incomplete.

You see, since Paul’s death, because of his work on earth, billions have met eternity with Christ.  Clearly our New Testament would be vacant without his writings, which included 7 letters which came from his prison cell.  Every day, people come to Christ because of something Paul wrote or did.  And until Christ comes, Paul’s final rewards will be increased.  He lived his life for Christ and now almost 2000 years later his life is still providing meaning on this earth.  Think about that.  He could have lived for himself his 60 or 70 years on this earth and maybe he would have had a good life.  He was a Roman, obviously from a well placed family because of his education, and he had an honored profession.  He could have lived the good life and the world would have counted him as blessed.  But he chose a different route which caused him to be executed for his Lord.  And because he did, billions of people have received eternal salvation.  So each day, Paul’s eternal reward grows.

But you see, you and I are participating together to help Paul.  Not only Paul, but Abel, Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so many more are receiving ever increasing rewards because of what we do on earth for the cause of Christ.  Just as their work has given us the greatest reward of eternal life, we contribute back to them.  That is the point of the passage above.  They will be made perfect as the saints that follow continue to build the Kingdom of God.  All of that is a great mystery, but one that needs to be explored in our hearts.  Our eternal reward is not only linked to those men like Paul who have given so much, but also to those who follow us as they are blessed by our work on earth.  For those who live for this earth, they have already received their rewards.  And just maybe from an earthly standpoint those rewards look substantial.  But for our fleeting years on earth, they are pretty meaningless.  Solomon called them vanity, a chasing after the wind.  Yet, when we live our lives as aliens and strangers on this earth, looking forward to the City on the Hill, much will be added daily to our eternity through the faith and work of those who follow.

Maybe all that is too hard to grasp at first blush.  But there is real and abiding truth in the words of Scripture.  Love Christ, live for Him, and pass it on, for your temporary reward will be to depart and be with Christ which is better by far (Phil. 1:23), but your eternal reward will be fully gauged by the depth of that love on earth and the eternal footprint that you have left.

Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455

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