Corporate Rewards: Does the Church You Attend Matter to God? -- By: Fred R. Lybrand
CTSJ 11:1 (Spring 2005) p. 11
Does the Church You Attend Matter to God?
Fred R. Lybrand earned his B.A. in English Literature from the University of Alabama and his M.A.B.S. from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing doctorate studies at Phoenix Seminary. Fred is the Founding Executive Director of the newly formed Free Grace Alliance and the senior pastor at Northeast Bible Church in San Antonio, TX. He is the author of three books: Heavenly Citizenship, The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change, and About Life and Uganda. Fred’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although eternal life is by faith alone in Christ alone, Christians will gain or lose eternal rewards based on their personal faithfulness (1 Corinthians 9:24–27). But is individual merit the only basis for eternal rewards? Could Christians also receive rewards based on their association with a local church? Before exploring these questions, it is necessary to consider the state of the doctrine of rewards.
The New Testament emphasizes the fact that doctrine (teaching) is essential for every Christian’s walk with God (cf. John 17:17).1 Religious belief underlies all—even erroneous—religious action. Consider, for example, how much of today’s terrorist activity links to the false doctrine of attaining glory in the afterlife through religious war. If the false promises of reward motivate terrorists, how much more should the truth of rewards inspire Christians? How much has the church’s neglect of this doctrine dissipated Christian action and impact? What might happen if the true teachings of attaining eternal glory reached the masses of Christians?
All is not lost. A number of scholars and pastors such as Radmacher, Lutzer, Wall, Dillow, Hodges, and Wilkin have recently spotlighted the issue of eternal rewards. These thinkers frequently invite criticism for their fresh and honest appraisal of the text, since discussions of eternal rewards suffer from an undercurrent of chronological snobbery—a logical fallacy which asserts that the older the quote, the truer it is. For example, many rely on Jonathan Edwards as the final authority on the subject. Though Edwards was a brilliant thinker, he confused eternal rewards with eternal salvation.
By the merit and righteousness of Christ, such favour of God towards the believer may be obtained, as that God may hereby be already, as it were, disposed to make them perfectly and eternally happy. But yet this does not hinder, but that God in his wisdom may choose to bestow this perfect and eternal...
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