Monday, August 24, 2009

On works and rewards.........

"Our good works are a strong indicator of our readiness for judgement day."  This statement was made by a pastor in my old church and then discussed in a care group meeting.  Wow! I can't disagree with this strongly enough, so I will let Andrew Farley do it for me. (author of "The Naked Gospel" which I am thoroughly enjoying reading, thanks to Matt, and I highly recommend it.) 

"The events surrounding the great white throne are recounted 

in Revelation 20 and 21. Revelation 20:11 – 15 informs us that 

God calls “the dead” to his throne for judgment — those who 

are pulled up from the sea, death, and Hades. They are judged 

according to their deeds and then hurled into the lake of fire. 

There’s one criterion that dooms them: their names aren’t written 

in the book of life. 

Chapter 21 then addresses the church. Here God calls believers 

his “bride” and says there’ll be no sorrow for us in heaven. So we 

see a clear distinction made between the dead pulled up from hell 

in chapter 20 and Christ’s precious bride in chapter 21. The bot- 

tom line is that Chris tians won’t be put 

on trial and judged, since we believe in 

the Lord Jesus Christ and our names are 

written in the book of life. 

One eye-opening statement con- 

cerning our perfect standing before 

the Judge is made by Jesus himself: “He who believes in [Jesus] is not 

judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because 

he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” 

(John 3:18 NASB, italics added). 

Despite the clarity of God’s Word, I’ve heard some use the 

final judgment to instill what they term “godly fear” in believ- 

ers. I’ve even heard some say that they determine the quality of a 

sermon by how guilty they feel afterward! Taken out of context, 

the great white throne judgment can seriously damage our sense 

of assurance. "


speaks of our works being tested to see if they’ll endure: 

No one can lay any foundation other than the one al- 

ready laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this 

foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay 

or straw, their 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 person’s work. 

1 Co rin 

thi ans 3:11 – 13, italics added 

The principle is simple: Anything built on Christ will stand

the test of time; anything done in fleshly effort will not. But you 

are never on trial. You are not on the conveyor belt. 

This is a crucial distinction to make, since many Chris 


aren’t clear on it. God has divorced who we are from what we’ve 

done, so that our destiny and standing are not in question. At the 

same time, the Father wants to showcase all that his Son has ac- 

complished. And there’ll be a grand celebration at the end of time 

as we know it. "

Also, in this same vein of thinking is the whole idea of earning rewards in heaven. Quite like was mentioned to me the other day as I met with someone. She said she wanted to get rewarded for her efforts to live a holy God pleasing life. So let's see what Andrew says regarding this thinking. 

“OK, so maybe we ourselves are not going to be judged, but I 

still want to earn tons of rewards in heaven!” Quite often I’ll hear 

a statement like this after teaching on our freedom from God’s 


As humans, we always seem to be looking for a punishment- 

or reward-based motivation to keep our behavior on track. While 

we’re more apt to dismiss a blatant guilt motivation, the picture 

often painted is that God will be doling out mansions of various 

sizes and other merit-based awards when we hit heaven. Chris- 

tians have commonly used the term rewards to refer to extra 

square footage or certificates redeem- 

able for crowns and jewels in heaven’s 

gift shop. 

 In reality, the term rewards does not 

appear anywhere in the New Testa- 

ment. The apostle Paul speaks of a “re- 

ward” (singular, not plural) or a “prize” 

in the context of running a race and reaching the end. But Paul 

also notes that everything else is like garbage next to knowing 

Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8). Given this truth, do we  really be- 

lieve that God will be awarding larger homes and nicer jewelry to 

those who depended on Jesus more? 

God doesn’t want us to think and act in certain ways because 

we’re seeking to accumulate heavenly merchandise. Just as Paul 

was willing to lose all things for the sake of knowing Christ, we 

too should make it our agenda to know him. For more wealth in 

heaven? No, we want to know him simply because it’s the greatest 

thing going on planet Earth.

But doesn’t Jesus himself tell us to store up treasures in heaven 

(Matthew 6:20)? Yes, but treasures aren’t rewards.  

People discover 

treasures. They don’t earn them. Once a treasure is discovered, it 

can be abandoned or it can be stored somewhere. 

When God tells us we can store up treasures in heaven, he’s 

asking us to consider our daily choices and their outcomes. Some 

choices end in a worthless product that is later burned up like 

wood, hay, or straw. Other choices endure for eternity since they 

are expressions of Jesus Christ. 

Essentially, God is posing the following questions: Given who 

you are and what you know, what will you invest in? Will you 

store up attitudes and actions that endure forever, or will you 

pursue dead works that end up being burned? 

The choice is ours.


jul said...

Whoever thinks their good works are an indicator of their readiness for judgement day...I don't know if I should say what I'm thinking...

I'm thinking they may be in for a terrible shock on judgement day. 'Nuf said?

silent wings said...

Great stuff!

lydia said...

tee hee, ruffled feathers Jul? :)

...........Cirra!!! Thanks.............still miss you!!!

lydia said...

Hey can someone tell me if the link for the book works, it should take you to the download of the naked gospel. But I am thinking it may not work for others since I already have it downloaded on my computer - I may need to change it. Okay, so someone kindly let me know, please!!!!

Phil said...

I've been reading this book. I'm about half way. But the same stuff confuses me..Law conviction for unbelievers aside, what's being said about not having a sin nature but having the flesh infected by the entity called sin..I don't see what the point of saying we're new creations where everything's new and then saying the flesh is inherently sinful etc. For all intents we may as well say we've got two natures..And to cut it by being determinate about a definite 3part humanity seems biblically stretched to me. I don't feel comfortable with what sounds like 'infused righteousness' regarding the 'spirit'..Thoughts? I know there's a difference on some of this between folks. I know Ryan Rufus for example cuts it more simply. His view on Rom7 says that 'indwelling sin' is sin ruling the show. Not a believer who's heart's new...Then as regards the new spirit and what it is..I heard Bertie Brits talking about the heart of man being his belief system. Interesting. Cos I feel uncomfortable with what sounds like an inherent infused righteousness that people talk about..I wonder that Ryan's right. The flesh is just our humanity. There's nothing morally wrong with it. We can't live as humans without it! It's just it's got no spiritual resources against sin and it's passions and desires etc make it a liability without being reigned in. That needs just a pattern of life under grace righteous apart from works. With the Spirit. We haven't got that without believing the message of the gospel of righteousness. If we have, we do, we love, and the Spirit works in us to will and to do..I just think I see the problems of saying otherwise..Speaking aloud ;-)

lydia said...

I loved the book, but that was the one part that I did not totally jive with. I agree with what you are saying totally. The way I see it is like I described in my latest post. We are totally new creations in our spirits, our bodies, flesh, soul all that were united to our old nature, and have memories and patterns. So as new creations we are learning to live from our new source, rather than our old nature, and all the ways we used to learn how to get by and to cope, are just that and they affect our soul and body. (am I making any sense?) We have to learn a whole new way of life, because we have a whole new life in Him, dependent on Him and not our own resources or abilities.
As for having any kind of sin nature - I don't have one, it's been cut out. I don't think it's helpful to call our flesh, the sin nature either that gets confusing, I think Steve McVey teaches that. I don't identify by my flesh!! My identity is in Christ alone!!!

Phil said...

Wow,that was quick. Must have caught you near your computer..I guess I don't feel comfortable with the moment-by-moment 'law of gravity law of aerodynamics' view of life in Christ. I think Rom7 shows that our humanity is a slave to sin by the principle of works righteousness. The more we try the worse. But everyone died in Christ and was raised positionally. Everyone. When we believe the message of imputed righteousness apart from works we've been reckoned died to sin by God the same way Christ died to sin. Not deeds. Imputation of guilt. That is the message that frees up our humanity to be what it's intended like you say. I'm thinking that to have a new mind on the message of the gift of righteousness is to have a new spirit and be delivered from sin. To know that God will not impute sin moves the human heart to love God out of his love to us. I think that might be quite simply what it is to have a new spirit. Genuine believers and unbelievers don't have a different humanity..a new spirit is not a substantive new bit that replaces an old bad bit,but a change in our thinking about God at the most fundamental level that God says changes everything..Just a thought.

sparrow girl said...

Can you explain what Ryan Rufus teaches on this subject (flesh, indwelling sin, new spirit, etc.)? I have only read a little of his writings, but I enjoyed what I read..

lydia said...

Hey Sparrow Girl,

I have a link to Ryan's book, 'Do Chrisitans have a sinful nature?' over to the right, it's a free download and a pretty quick read.
But anyway, I believe a quick summary would be he teaches we have a new nature, our old nature (the sin nature, or indwelling sin) has been cut out, and as christians we identify by our new nature, not by our flesh.
Gee I hope that helps, I can't get into all of it right now, my head is spinning, ha! But if you get a chance check out the link............AND for more good reading on what you mentioned go on over to Grace Roots, Joel is DA MAN!!!! Oh and try my friend Julie's blog too, Voice of Grace. She can preach it!!!

Best to you!!