We Believe In Rewards -- By: Zane C. Hodges

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 22:42 (Spring 2009)
Article: We Believe In Rewards
Author: Zane C. Hodges

We Believe In Rewards1

Zane C. Hodges

I. Introduction

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).

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 gift and it is absolutely free. Faith in Christ is the means by which this gift is received.2

Faith, then, is not a good work (as it is taken to be quite often in Calvinistic circles). Faith is accepting the testimony of God as true (1 John 5:9-12). One may believe the Gospel without saying a prayer, without raising the hand or walking the aisle, indeed without any effort whatsoever. Work, on the other hand, always requires some effort on our part. To turn faith into a good work is a colossal confusion of categories and annuls the Pauline antithesis between faith and works.

Saving faith is a mere beggar’s hand (to use the Lutheran metaphor), without any trace of meritorious activity at all. It offers nothing to God, and receives everything from Him.

Paul taught us clearly that grace and works are mutually exclusive. His words are important:

And if...

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