In this lesson, we will try to understand what the word of God teaches us about how we can be saved and also about the rewards that the Lord will give us for serving Him. But first, let me ask you:
Suppose you were to die tonight and had to stand before the gate to Heaven. Suppose God was to ask you, “Why should I allow you to enter into Heaven? How will you respond?
Some will say, “I was not a bad person. I was a good person like most people are.”. Others will say, “I was a member of a church and I have done many good things to many people.”
If you thought you may answer like those people above you would be wrong. All those good things people do are all right in themselves. But the Bible tells us that no one will enter Heaven by doing any good thing. It does not matter how much we try, good works cannot remove our sins. Consider the following list of good works:
The list of things people do to try and please God so that they can get to Heaven is endless. We do know and appreciate that all these things are good and should be done. But no one can be justified before God by doing them. The Bible clearly states that,
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ…” Galatians 2 vs. 16.
We are saved only by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and not through our own works. This is what we read in the Bible in Ephesians 2 vs. 8,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”.
What is grace? Grace is a favor that God gives to us because He loves us and wants us to be saved. He has given to us a great and wonderful gift of salvation. We are going to see what this gift is in the book of Romans 6 vs. 23:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The gift of God to us is eternal life! Isn’t that wonderful? It is a free gift! Just like any gift you may have received, you didn’t have to work to earn that gift or do anything. Remember a gift is not a prize. You work for a prize but you do not have to do anything to receive a gift. All you have to do when someone gives you a gift is to accept it and enjoy it.
We all receive the gift of eternal life by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. You have to believe that first of all, you are a sinner. You deserve God’s punishment. But in His love, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to take your punishment by dying for you on the cross. If you receive Him by faith as your Savior you will have eternal life. The Bible has this to say in another passage,
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5 vs. 11-12.
SALVATION IS THROUGH CHRIST ALONE!
It is possible to know that you are saved. You have to trust what God says in His word. The Bible tells us that,
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5 vs. 13
From this verse we understand that as long as you know that you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior then you are saved. Going back to our original question, if God was to ask you, “Why should I allow you to enter into Heaven?” You could reply by saying,
“The Lord Jesus Christ is my Savior. He died for my sins and I have accepted Him. It is written in your Word that I have eternal life.”
Remember, salvation is a gift. You receive eternal life because you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. He died for you.
God gives gifts to His believing children for their service to Him. Before we go any further, we must understand the difference between Salvation and Rewards.
We receive rewards based on our faithfulness in our service to God. Only those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ are entitled to these rewards.
The Bible mentions various special rewards which will be given to His faithful children. These rewards are called “CROWNS.” A crown represents authority and glory. God’s children will reign with Him.
There are five types of crowns mentioned in the Bible:
1. A crown of rejoicing
2. A crown of righteousness
3. A crown of glory
4. An incorruptible crown
5. A crown of life
We shall for this moment consider each crown separately:
The Crown of REJOICING:
This crown is given to those Christians who serve the Lord by winning souls to Christ. They tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ and how what they need to do in order to be saved. Sometimes this crown is also called
“The Crown for those who win people.” 1 Thessalonians 2 vs. 19
The Crown of RIGHTEOUSNESS:
This crown is given to Christians who patiently wait for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. They look forward to His return. 2 Timothy 4 vs. 8
The Crown of GLORY:
This crown is given to those Christians who teach others the Word of God faithfully. They also preach the Word of God. 1 Peter 5 vs. 4
The INCORRUPTIBLE Crown:
This crown is given to Christians who “run the race well” in their lives as Christians. 1 Corinthians 9 vs. 25
The Crown of LIFE:
This crown is given to Christians who have suffered for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It will be given especially to those who were killed because of their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. We call them “martyrs”. Revelation 2 vs. 10
If we only live for ourselves and do not please the Lord, we will not receive any rewards. Instead, we are going to be humiliated and embarrassed when we stand before the Lord at the Judgment Seat.
We have to consider what the word of God says about anything before we do it so that we can only do those things which are pleasing to the Lord. For example, a Christian should not insult others or use vulgar and offensive words to other people. Christians should not steal. They should be forgiving and must not revenge when wronged by other people.
There are so many things to avoid as mentioned in the Bible. Therefore, before you do anything you must ask yourself the question, “will the Lord Jesus Christ be pleased to see me doing this thing?” Some people have come up with another popular question to help Christians decide what to do in difficult situations: “What Would Jesus Do?”
God will reprimand, punish or discipline disobedient Christians the same way a father does to his children. He can never allow us to continue in our lawlessness but at the same time He can never disown us even if we disobey Him. God punishes us by allowing troubles in our lives. We must remember however that God punishes us because He loves us. We read this in Hebrews 12 vs. 6:
“For whom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son whom he receives.”
2 Corinthians 5 vs. 10 “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.”
All Christians will be tested. This test is not to determine whether you are going to go to heaven or not. The aim of this test before the judgment seat of Christ is to determine whether or not you will receive a reward, a crown for the way you lived for God.
Therefore, let us remember and do our best to live for God faithfully. Then our appearance before Christ at the judgment seat will be a time of joy! But if we live to please ourselves and the world, we will be embarrassed and humiliated at the judgment seat of Christ. We will wish we had done better but it will be too late by then. The time to start living faithfully for God is now!
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