Receiving What Is Due

[This article is from our book The Christian’s Hope: The Anchor of the Soul.]

 

It is common to hear Christians talking about “being saved” as if salvation is God’s only goal for each person. Of course, having a guarantee of everlasting life is wonderful, but there is more to God’s plan. God speaks very clearly that He “wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Obviously, God does not think that salvation is the one and only goal Christians should attain. In addition to being saved, God wants every person to come to a knowledge of the truth. Why? God wants everyone to know the truth because rewards in the future Kingdom will be based on works. When a person knows the truth, then he knows what God desires for his life. He is in a position to obey the Lord and earn rewards in the Kingdom. It is sad to say that many people are “religious,” but, because their religion is based on tradition instead of truth, they are not doing the will of God. There are some traditions that run at cross-purposes to the Bible. Wise Christians make sure that the traditions they follow help reinforce the true teachings of the Bible. Christ specifically said that adherence to manmade tradition can prevent a person from obeying the true commandments in the Word.

Matthew 15:3
Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”

Tradition is not the only thing that can stand in the way of obedience to the truth. Inaccurate beliefs about what the Bible really says can also cause people to disobey God. The Pharisees would not heal on the Sabbath because they believed it was sin. Their intentions were good, but because their information about the Bible was wrong, they were outside the will of God. Christ warned about doing the wrong thing, even in ignorance.

Luke 12:47 and 48a
(47) That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.
(48a) But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.

Christ made it clear that we should check the “light,” i.e., the “knowledge,” that we have to make sure it is accurate, and that it is not “darkness,” i.e., “error.”

Luke 11:35
See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.

These verses seem quite harsh, but they should serve as a warning to those people who blindly follow tradition or church doctrine, especially if they have a “gut feeling” that what they are doing is somehow wrong. Christians should desire to receive rewards in the future Kingdom, and that means living a godly and obedient lifestyle. It is much easier to do that if you know what the Bible actually says.

Before going any further into the subject of rewards or losses at the Judgment, it should be noted that, although the Bible contains verses that speak of loss, shame, and even punishment at the Judgment, there are far, far more verses that speak of the wonderful life available in the future. God loves people. His desire for each person is obedience to Him because of His kindness and His promises of blessings. The Bible says, “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance” (Rom. 2:4). Therefore, God, through the Scriptures, speaks frequently of the blessings that will be awarded to those who are obedient to Him.

When God does speak of losses, He never threatens. He gives factual information so people can make informed choices. God never says anything like, “If you do not do ‘x,’ I’ll make you the lowest person in the Kingdom.” Rather, He honors free will and makes factual statements so people can choose. Regarding rewards, He says things like, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12, NASB). There is no threat, just information that allows people to decide on a path and a future, making each one accountable for his own actions. God is just, and it would not be just or right for God to “surprise” people by waiting until the Judgment to inform them that His judgment is based on their actions.

That a Christian can experience loss of rewards at the Judgment is not commonly taught in Christendom today. If you are hearing about losses at the Judgment for the very first time, you may be shocked at what you read in this article, but the verses quoted are in the Word of God. We need to be thankful that God is loving and just and has spoken of these things so that we can make informed choices about our day-to-day behavior now, before we reach the Judgment, because then it will be too late to change.

The Bible repeatedly declares that people will eventually get what they deserve. From the book of Job, believed to be one of the oldest books in the Bible, to Paul’s writings in the New Testament, the theme that God will give to people what they deserve based on their deeds is clearly set forth. The following verse from Jeremiah is a good example.

Jeremiah 17:10
I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.

Other verses that speak the same truth almost word-for-word are: Job 34:11; Psalms 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 32:19; Ezekiel 33:20; Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6, and 1 Corinthians 3:8.

A Southern Baptist minister, Rick Howard, writes:

I knew salvation was not attained or affected by good works, but our reward and position in heaven would be. Obviously, all Christians would not have the same station in heaven. When believers stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ at His coming, they will be judged according to their works; according to the fruitfulness of their lives. This judgment will in no way reflect on whether they are saved or lost. The Judgment Seat of Christ determines the reward or loss of reward for the service of each believer. Those standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ are not only saved and safe; they will already be in heaven!

Grace is free, but works are not—and free grace is not cheap. We are born again to have purpose and be useful. God expects certain things from you after you become a Christian. No wonder Paul wrote concerning this judgment, “knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (2 Cor. 5:11). [1]

Howard is correct when he says that, in the future, not all believers will have the same station. His position is supported by many clear verses that address the future Judgment and the rewards or losses each person will receive. Among those verses are:

Matthew 16:27
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

Luke 9:26
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. [2]

Colossians 3:23–25
(23) Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
(24) since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
(25) Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

1 Thessalonians 4:3–6
(3) It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
(4) that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable,
(5) not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;
(6) and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. [3]

These scriptures can be very sobering, even disheartening, to people who are recognizing God’s justice for the first time. This recognition may also bring with it a genuine sense of remorse for ungodly behavior. This is to be expected, and is an important part of turning around and becoming obedient to God’s Word.

The Apostle Peter’s life provides a good example of turning from sin, repenting, and walking in a godly manner. During Jesus’ arrest and trial, Peter denied his Lord. He was well aware of what he had done and wept bitterly when Jesus, already beaten and bloody, looked at him from the High Priest’s house. But the important point is that later, with the Lord’s help, he was able to “turn around” and overcome his guilt and grief. He “bounced back” to stand strong for the Lord, and at the Judgment he will be able to face the Lord with confidence. In contrast to Peter, some Christians will experience shame for their selfishness when they stand at the Judgment Seat and face the Christ they ignored or denied throughout life. With regard to this, John writes:

1 John 2:28
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

For most Christians, it is a new concept that some believers will experience shame when Christ comes. Most Christians hear the words of the old song echoing in their mind: “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be….” While it is true that everyone who has everlasting life will have joy about it, the verses that speak of shame, such as 1 John 2:28 and Luke 9:26, are also true. Scripture is silent on how long the feeling of shame will last, and surely there will be joy and blessings on the future earth. However, there are more verses that mention shame than the two quoted here, so some degree of shame will be a real experience for people who have lived selfish lives. It can be very upsetting to think that carnal and disobedient Christians will be reproved at the Judgment, but it is an undeniable part of Scripture. We should live our lives in such a way that we do not have to feel shame when we give an account of ourselves at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Joseph Dillow noted that it is distasteful to explain the consequence of carnal Christian living.

Equally distasteful is the task of explaining the consequences of carnality, and they are severe indeed. Once a man is born again in Christ, he is now in God’s family, and as any human father would, our divine Father takes a more personal interest in the moral behavior of those who belong to Him than to those who are outside the household of faith.

The practical consequence of carnality is forfeiture of reward. [4]

No tragedy could be greater for someone who is saved than the realization on Judgment Day that selfishness, self-focus, and failure to obey God has resulted in the loss of everlasting rewards and a position of authority in the Kingdom. The book of Ezekiel contains one of the most graphic portrayals of this kind of loss.

Ezekiel 44:10–16
(10) The Levites who went far from me when Israel went astray and who wandered from me after their idols must bear the consequences of their sin.
(11) They may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them.
(12) But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the house of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin, declares the Sovereign LORD.
(13) They are not to come near to serve me as priests or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; they must bear the shame of their detestable practices.
(14) Yet I will put them in charge of the duties of the temple and all the work that is to be done in it.
(15) But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign LORD.
(16) They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and perform my service.

This section of Scripture portrays two categories of Levites and priests: those who were faithful to God in their first life; and those who were not faithful to God but were “carnal,” even drifting into idolatry. The Bible makes it very plain that Christ is not interested in ministering together with Levites and priests who were idolaters in their first life. [5] They can do the work in the Temple, but “they must bear the shame of their detestable practices.” This record is very sobering and should cause any Christian who is living in sin to wake up and consider the consequences of his actions. The good news is that there is no need for any shame at the Judgment because it can be avoided by dedicating your life to Christ.

Here is another section of Scripture that demonstrates that rewards are earned and can be lost:

1 Corinthians 3:10–17
(10) By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.
(11) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
(12) If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
(13) his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.
(14) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.
(15) If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
(16) Don’t you [plural = “you all”] know that you [plural] yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you [plural]?
(17) If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you [plural] are that temple.

Note that in verse 10 God tells Christians to be careful how they build. It is sad to say, but many Christians are not careful. They say and do things that are harmful to the cause of Christ and they spend a lot of time doing what pleases them and not nearly enough time doing what pleases the Lord. Verse 13 says the quality of each man’s work will be tested. These are not idle words; they are the words of God. Verses 14 and 15 are very sobering. People who do good work for the Lord will be rewarded for it and people who do not produce quality work for the Lord will suffer loss. That should be strong motivation to pay attention to the directives in the Word of God and to strive to be obedient. The sobering effect of these words on the wise Christian shows why the Hope is called the “anchor” of the soul. Reminding yourself of what there is to gain or lose by your decisions can influence you to make godly choices.

Verse 15 reiterates the truth that even if a Christian lives in a manner that results in loss and then enters the Millennial Kingdom “as one escaping through the flames,” that person will still have everlasting life. This clearly shows that sin does not keep any Christian out of the Kingdom. Sin may result in an extreme loss of reward, but such loss of reward will not include the loss of salvation. Once a Christian has been born into the family of God, that birth cannot be reversed. The Christian is “born again” of God’s “incorruptible seed.” In that light, verse 17 needs explanation because the word “destroy” gives the wrong impression. As it appears in the NIV and some other versions, it seems to say that a Christian can be “destroyed,” i.e., lose his or her salvation. This is not true. The Greek word translated “destroy” is phtheiro, and means, “corrupt, mar, bring into a worse state, spoil.” [6] Phtheiro is used in verses such as “Bad company corrupts good behavior” (1 Cor. 15:33) and “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires” (Eph. 4:22). In 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 17 quoted above, the “temple” refers to the whole Church, not an individual. [7] In the context of 1 Corinthians 3, the word phtheiro is best understood as “to bring into a worse state” or “to mar.” No one can “destroy” the Church. The point of the verse is that if a Christian “brings the Church into a worse state,” that Christian will be “brought into a worse state” by the Lord at the Judgment. In other words, no one mars the Church without personal consequences.

Another great truth contained in 1 Corinthians 3 is in verse 13, which says that God will “test the quality of each man’s work.” “Quality” is an important word when considering the subject of rewards. Some people have only a short time to serve the Lord. John the Baptist, for example, was active in his ministry for about six months before he was martyred by Herod Antipas, yet Christ said that among all those born of women there was no one greater than John. [8] Some people will live long lives and have more time than others to serve the Lord. The point is not to concentrate on how long you have to serve, but on the quality of your service. Everyone should serve God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength and seek first the Kingdom of God.

Directly related to quality of service for the Lord is the motivation that each one has for obeying the Scripture. God wants each Christian to serve and obey Him from a godly heart with pure motives. Shortly before he died, David spoke about motives to his son Solomon.

1 Chronicles 28:9a
And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.

Motive is important to God. People who go to church to be approved in the community or make business contacts do not fool God. Like the Pharisees who prayed in the marketplaces just to be heard by men, “they have received their reward in full” (Matt. 6:5). James says to purify the heart (James 4:8).

The following verses in Timothy also show the difference between salvation and rewards:

2 Timothy 2:11–13 (NASB)
(11) It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him;
(12) If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
(13) If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.

These verses must be read with great care and biblical understanding. As in the verses above from 1 Corinthians, these verses in Timothy show both that rewards are earned and that the new birth is permanent. Verse 11 refers to the fact that the salvation of the Christian is absolutely secure. The phrase “if we died with him” refers to the Christian’s identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is similar to the section in Romans 6:3–8, which says that the Christian died with Christ and will, like Christ, be raised from the dead. Each Christian died with Christ (which happens when he gets saved), and therefore he will live with him. There is no doubt about it. However, everlasting life is not the same as everlasting rewards. Everlasting life is by grace, while rewards in the Kingdom are earned.

Verse 12 begins to address the subject of rewards. Everlasting life with Christ does not equal everlasting reigning with Christ. Verse 12 says that, “if we endure [in this life], we will reign [in the future life],” but “if we deny him [in this life], he also will deny us [at the judgment for rewards].” Those who have been faithful will reign, while people who have been unfaithful will be denied and thus receive less. To make the truth about salvation clear, however, verse 13 assures the believer that even if he lives without faith, he will enter the Kingdom, because Christ is faithful and will not deny “himself.” This verse ties together with other verses that describe each Christian as being a part of Christ’s body. Since every Christian is part of Christ’s body, he cannot deny any Christian because to do so would be to deny himself.

There is another point that is important to understand when studying the Judgment. The Lord will judge individuals, not groups. It is unwise to feel “safe” about sin or disobedience because “everyone is doing it.” Scripture makes it clear that God will judge “everyone.” The Old Testament, which spans about four thousand years, details many incidents that serve as examples. 1 Corinthians 10 refers to the Old Testament record of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. After mentioning the fact that they complained, lusted, were involved in sexual immorality, tempted the Lord, and engaged in idolatry, Scripture then says, “their bodies were scattered over the desert” (1 Cor. 10:5). God did not excuse the sin of Israel because “everyone” was sinning. Verse 11 reveals why God wants Christians to know this.

1 Corinthians 10:11
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us.

Christians need to be warned, especially in light of the ungodliness of the culture in which they live. [9] God’s standards do not change just because “everyone” is disobedient. When Israel sinned by worshipping Baal, “everyone” went into captivity (Judg. 3:7 and 8).

In Genesis 6 “everyone” was sinning—in Genesis 7 their vanity was flooded out. “Everyone” was sinning in Genesis 19—fire and brimstone from heaven fell on everyone. The records in Genesis 6 and 19 are specifically identified as types or foreshadows of the Judgment that will come at the end of the world (2 Pet. 2:5 and 6). The point is worth repeating: God has never changed His standards just because “everyone” was sinning. Furthermore, there is no reason to expect Him to change in the future. People who want to be disciples need to follow the example of Jeremiah and remove themselves from sin and sinners.

Jeremiah 15:17
I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation.

Sitting alone can be difficult, but it is better to sit alone than to enter into sin with “everyone else.” Thankfully, there are a large number of Christians in the world today who do want to obey God. The wise Christian will search for them and then associate with them.

The fact that rewards will be handed out in the future for what one does on earth now is mentioned numerous times in Scripture—far too many times to record here. Nevertheless, the following is a partial list:

Matthew 5:12. There will be a reward given for standing against persecution.
Matthew 5:19. Obedience to the commandments helps determine your future position.
Matthew 6:1,5. Do not do good deeds and pray so that men will reward you; rather do them in a way that will gain a reward from the Lord.
Matthew 10:41 and 42. Give hospitality to a prophet and receive a prophet’s reward.
Matthew 16:24–27. When Christ comes, he will reward people based on what they deserve.
Matthew 18:1–4 (Mark 9:33–35; Luke 9:46). Who will be greatest (i.e., be assigned the most important position) in the Kingdom?
Matthew 19:29 and 30. If you have left worldly things, there will be a reward.
Matthew 20:20–26. The mother of James and John asks Christ to let one of her sons sit on his right hand (the most important position in the Kingdom) and the other at his left hand (the second-most important position) in the Kingdom.
Matthew 25:14–29. The parable of the talents shows that faithful people will be rewarded for their faithfulness, while wicked and lazy people will lose even what they have.
1 Corinthians 3:12–15. Christians will be rewarded for how they build on the foundation of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:9 and 10. People will receive what they are due, whether good or bad.
Colossians 3:23–25. Christians will be rewarded or repaid for what they had done, and there is no respect of persons with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:3–8. Unconfessed sexual sin will be punished.
1 John 2:28. Continue to obey the Lord so you will not be ashamed when he comes.
2 John 8. Be watchful so that you receive a full reward.

The Bible makes it clear that the bottom line for receiving rewards is obedience to God’s commands. In that light, there are certain things clearly commanded in Scripture that every Christian should endeavor to do and even to excel in. For example, prayer is commanded throughout the Bible. Romans 12:12 says, “Be…faithful in prayer,” and Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer.” Do not make excuses if you have a weak or even non-existent prayer life. Learn to pray. Another thing commanded throughout the Bible is giving and generosity. Christ complimented the widow who only threw two “mites” (about one dollar) into the treasury (Mark 12:42). [10] Christ said she had given more than all the others he saw giving that day because she gave even though she herself was in need. Never be discouraged if you do not have much to give. Obey God and He will bless you. Romans 12:13 says, “Share with God’s people who are in need.”

Obeying God with commitment and diligence promises great reward. On two occasions, Christ used the phrase, “Great is your reward in heaven,” when he was speaking of people who obeyed God (Matt. 5:12; Luke 6:23 and 35). [11] Every Christian should desire to obey God in order to receive great rewards. This will involve finding out what the Lord wants done and then carrying through with it. This may not be easy, in fact, it may be quite difficult. To really obey God may involve significant changes in attitudes and behaviors, but this is why knowing about rewards is helpful. Confronting and overcoming weaknesses and shortcomings is worth it because change carries the promise of everlasting rewards. Few people have given up as much as Moses. He was a prince in Egypt. He had attained “the good life,” including good food, power, prestige, nice clothes, a couple of chariots, slaves. He had a very posh lifestyle but gave it all up. Why? The Bible says he gave it up because he saw the reward in the future.

Hebrews 11:24–26
(24) By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
(25) He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
(26) He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

Moses gave up the good life because he “looked ahead” and saw that he would be rewarded in the Kingdom. Do not be shortsighted. All of us should look ahead to the reward we can have in the future and act in a way that will attain it.

Endnotes

[1] Rick C. Howard, The Judgment Seat of Christ (Naioth Sound and Publishing, Woodside, CA, 94062, 1990), pp. 5, 12, 13. Howard makes the statement that Christians will already be in heaven when they stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ. However, as this book has previously documented, Christians will not stay in heaven, but will return to earth with the Lord.
[2] The Greek word translated “judgment seat” is bema. There are some Christian groups that teach that a bema is a place where only rewards are given out. This is incorrect. The bema of Christ will be a “judgment seat” in the common sense of the word. Because of the confusion about the bema, a quick study of the word is merited. Vine’s Greek Lexicon is very helpful in understanding bema: “Primarily, a step, a pace (akin to baino, to go), as in Acts 7:5, translated ‘to set (his foot) on,’ lit., ‘foot room,’ was used to denote a raised place or platform, reached by steps, originally that at Athens in the Pnyx Hill, where was the place of assembly; from the platform, orations were made. The word became used for a tribune, two of which were provided in the law courts of Greece, one for the accuser and one for the defendant; it was applied to the tribunal of a Roman magistrate or ruler.” W. E. Vine, The Expanded Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN, 1984), p. 612.

The uses of bema in the New Testament make its meaning clear: it is used of a place for the foot (Acts 7:5), it is used as a place from which to speak to people (Acts 12:21) and it is used of a judgment seat (Matt. 27:19; John 19:13; Acts 18:12, 16, 17; 25:6,10, 17; Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10). The fact that Jesus Christ was sentenced to death from a bema and that the Jews brought Paul to Gallio’s bema for trial (Acts 18:12, 16, 17) is proof positive that it was not just a place for oration and rewards.
[3] It is sometimes taught that verses that mention punishment or wrath such as this are referring to God’s punishment now, not in the future. This is not the case. God is not punishing Christians now. He does “prune,” but that is totally different from inflicting loss or punishment on people. The verses quoted in this article make it clear that loss, shame, or punishment will be consequences that the disobedient will receive from God at the Judgment. For a more detailed exposition and the explanation of some difficult verses see Appendix G. For more on when God will judge, our book op. cit., Don’t Blame God!, Chapter 7, “The Justice and Judgments of God,” pp. 95–106.
[4] Dillow, op. cit., The Reign of the Servant Kings, pp. 341–44.
[5] It should not confuse the reader that some of these priests were idolaters in their first life but still end up saved and in the Millennial Kingdom. They may have, like so many, worshipped God and idols at the same time. Many Christians go to church and worship God, but also check the astrological column in the newspaper for daily guidance. Or they rely on objects such as a rabbit’s foot, a “lucky coin” or a “lucky hat” to help them, and when they do, they are preaching idolatry. Physical objects that people look to for “invisible help” are idols.
[6] E. W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance of the New Testament (Samuel Bagster and Sons, Ltd., London, 1969), p. 220. The definition is commonly known and can be checked in other lexicons such as Thayer’s Greek Lexicon of the New Testament and Vine, op. cit., Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 234 (“corrupt”).
[7] When I quoted the verse, I indicated that the “you” is plural by placing “plural” in brackets after it. It is sometimes taught from these verses that a person’s body is the Temple. Although a person should not mistreat his body, that is not what is being taught in this section of Scripture.
[8] Matthew 11:11 shows the value of being in the Kingdom. It reads, “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Christ was speaking hypothetically to motivate people to live righteous lives and enter the Kingdom. He said that anyone in the Kingdom would be greater than John. John was a powerful prophet, but he was not a part of the Kingdom yet because the Kingdom had not come. The “least” person inside the future Kingdom is greater than a “great” person not yet in the Kingdom.
[9] The greater context of 1 Corinthians 10:1–11 indicates that these verses elaborate (by way of an example) on Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 9:24–27. In 1 Cor. 9, Paul talks about Christians striving for an incorruptible crown (a reward) and states that he makes his body a slave lest when he has preached to others he himself would be “disqualified for the prize.” Some theologians say that 1 Corinthians 10 is referring to the fact that a Christian who does not stay faithful will lose his salvation, but the greater context indicates that the subject is rewards, not salvation.
[10] The coin the widow threw into the Temple treasury, which many versions translate as “mite,” was the lepton, which was worth about 1/128 of a denarius, which was a day’s wage for a common laborer. If a laborer makes eight dollars per hour and works an eight-hour day, his wages are sixty four dollars and 1/128 of that would be half a dollar. Since the widow threw in two coins, she gave a dollar—hardly enough to run the Temple. However, God does not look on the task to be accomplished, He looks on the heart of the giver. Bromiley, op. cit., Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 923.
[11] The reward is actually given out on earth when Christ sets up his Kingdom. See Verses used to support the idea that our everlasting future is in Heaven, the section, “The Reward in Heaven.”

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1 comment

  1. One of my very favorites although this teaching would not be well accepted in many Christian circles today. Never the less, it is still the Word of God. What we do now counts and we will all give an account!

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