We Believe In: Rewards -- By: Zane C. Hodges
JOTGES 4:2 (Autumn 91) p. 3
We Believe In:
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Among the very last recorded words of our Lord Jesus Christ are these:
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev 22:12; italics added).1
This is a clear and definitive statement on the subject of rewards by the Lord Himself. Not to believe in rewards is not to believe His words. The Grace Evangelical Society does believe in rewards!
II. Rewards and Grace
Some Christians are troubled by the doctrine of rewards because this doctrine seems to suggest “merit” instead of “grace.” They argue that a doctrine of meritorious good works is a contradiction to the truth that we are not under the law but under grace (Rom 6:14).
This point of view is a serious misreading of the Scriptures. As a matter of fact, it badly confuses the doctrine of divine grace with the truth of human responsibility.
Look again at the words of Jesus quoted above. Our Lord says clearly that His “reward” is according to each man’s “work.” There is no way to escape the obvious implication that “rewards” are earned.
Salvation, of course, is not earned. Therefore it can be said to be “by grace… through faith” and “not of works” (Eph 2:8–9). Our works have nothing to do with whether we go to heaven or hell. Salvation is a
JOTGES 4:2 (Autumn 91) p. 4
gift and it is absolutely free. Faith in Christ is the means by which this gift is received.2
Paul taught us clearly that grace and works are mutually exclusive. His words are important:
And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is not longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work (Rom 11:6).
In the light of this clear-cut statement, we dare not confuse the Bible’s teaching about rewards with the truth of God’s unconditional grace to us. If we claim that rewards must be “by grace” then we are saying they can have nothing to do with “works.” But if we say that, we contradict our Lord’s words which relate His “rewar...
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