Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rewards and Losses - the Parameter

The New Testament frequently addresses the issue of rewards and losses concerning born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (I Corinthians 3:13-15).
    The Apostle Paul clearly teaches that salvation is not the issue regarding rewards and losses, just as we would expect since "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5).  Justification through Christ provides the freest gift ever given, a bestowal of grace that cannot be obtained or maintained by human effort.  "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God and not of works, lest any man should boast... He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:6).
    The life we live subsequent to having received this "freest gift," however, will be evaluated by He who will "judge His people" (Hebrews 10:30).  This raises a vital question: what are the parameters that determine whether our works will be accepted or rejected?  Interestingly, the answer is no less Christ-centered than the issue of our justification. 
    "He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18).
     Our Heavenly Father's eternal purpose is "in Christ Jesus."  "All things were made by Him."  "By Him all things consist," and He upholds all things "by the word of His power."  We "live through Him," and the Holy Spirit is in the world to "glorify" and "testify" of Christ.  We can do nothing without Him, we can "do all things" through Him, and He is "made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.  He will be the Judge of all.  God will ultimately "gather together in one all things in Christ."  And, "every knee should bow... and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Ephesians 3:11; John 1:3; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3; I John 4:9; John 16:14; 15:26; 15:5; Philippians 4:13; I Corinthians 1:30; John 5:22; Ephesians 1:10; Philippians 2:10-11).
    To the degree we are Christ-originated, Christ-perpetuated, Christ-illuminated, Christ-empowered, Christ-focused and Christ-saturated will be the degree to which we either "receive a reward" or "suffer loss."  Works of "gold, silver and precious stones" flow only from the deep
mine of the Lord Jesus.  Every thing else is "wood, hay and stubble" that will not stand the test of God's refining fire (I Corinthians 3:12).  The Lord Jesus is the standard, and the living presence within believers whereby the standard is fulfilled and revealed.  "Walk, even as He walked...To live is Christ" (I John 2:6; Philippians 1:21).
    Such truth both thrills and humbles the believing heart.  "Praise the Lord!" and "Uhoh!" always come to mind when I remember the exaltation of Christ to which our Heavenly Father devotes Himself, and to which He beckons the adjoining of our hearts.  Indeed, by definition Christians love the truth of Christ-centeredness, and we apply ourselves thereunto.  However, we also know how far we have to go in the quest to give Him "preeminence in all things" (Colossians 1:18). This is written as a reminder to my heart and yours that God so loves the exaltation of His beloved Son that the ultimate significance of our earthly sojourn rests solely on how much we have joined Him in seeking to direct, by both life and word, all attention and glory to the Lord Jesus.  He is worthy of such, and in that day when rewards and losses flow based solely on the person and work of Christ revealed in us, we will bow in full acquiescence to our Father's holy intention...
"God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
(Philippians 2:9-11)

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