The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"Grace and Rewards"
Grace and reward may seem to be conflicting realities. However, careful Biblical consideration reveals a direct connection between freely given favor - grace - and our Heavenly Father's commendations merited for faithful service - rewards.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
"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 3:14-15).
First, salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ constitutes the freest gift ever given, purchased by the highest cost ever remitted. We can do nothing to earn or merit forgiveness, newness of life, and the relationship of God we receive by grace through faith. The case can be made Biblically that the only way one can fail to receive the gift of salvation in Christ is either to reject it outright, or to seek to pay for it by any price whatsoever. "Paid In Full" marks God's saving grace, as purchased by the precious blood and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary, who cried out in victory as He died, "It is Finished!" (John 19:30). Yes, the freest gift, purchased by the highest cost - this is the saving grace of God in Christ.
That being said, the Lord Jesus referenced rewards for faithful service by God's children, as did the Apostles Paul and John.
"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works" (Matthew 16:27).
"Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor" (I Corinthians 3:8).
"Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward" (II John 1:8).
How do we reconcile grace and rewards? The writer of Hebrews perhaps most directly answers the question.
"Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).
Paul accentuates such blessed truth:
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Colossians 2:6).
Just as we received grace to be freely born again, we receive grace to serve God acceptably after being born again. Thus, if rewarded by our Heavenly Father when our works will be judged, the commendation will based on our having humbly received the grace that led to faithful service. The reception of Christ the Savior by grace through faith began our redemption. The reception of Christ as our empowering life and guidance leads us to bear the fruits of our redemption. The latter He terms a "reward" because works are involved, the works we perform, but which flow from His gracious presence and working in us.
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13).
Paul teaches that some believers will "suffer loss" at the Judgment Seat of Christ (I Corinthians 3:15). Christians who do not consistently and increasingly receive God's grace for a life of faithful service may, in John's terms, "lose… those things which we have wrought." No loss of relationship with God will occur, but rather the rewards that will give believers so much opportunity to give glory to God as they are received. Yes, rewards received will be based on grace received to perform the doings that result in commendation, just as the free gift of salvation was received to be redeemed into eternal acceptance and relationship with God. Grace, the freely given favor and working of the Lord Jesus, ever abides as the hope of salvation, and for a life that reflects and honors the Savior who provides it.
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."
(II Corinthians 8:9)
"For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward."
(I Timothy 5:18)
Weekly Memory Verse
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
(I Timothy 1:14)