Ephesians 4:4-6, One hope of your calling: Eternal Reward.
length: 66:28 - taught on Jan, 6 2021
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Then Peter concludes his opening thought:
for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
Hope of our calling: the diligent who produce virtue by having these qualities in abundance will have reward in heaven. The particulars about heavenly rewards are not given in scripture.
I would think that part of that reward is dying grace.
In the New Testament the believer’s reward in the life to come is set forth. All believers will have certain blessings in heaven, like a resurrection body and perfect communion with God in holiness as well as with the whole body of Christ. In some passages it is stated that there is reward in the next life for faithful service to God here on earth.
A word of caution: we must be careful not to go farther than what is said. If we experience some things with faithfulness that our reward in heaven will be great, we must not jump to conclusions that are not stated, as in - those believers who were not faithful in certain experiences will not have such a great time in heaven.
I have deemphasized heavenly rewards in my teaching of late so as to counter what I have seen develop in the hearts of believers who become self-absorbed with eternal materialism and then compete with others in an ugly sort of Christian pride.
Perhaps this was in error or perhaps I wasn’t ready. In any case, we will all grow in our knowledge of reward by studying the scripture.
Rewards are a gift from God for time and eternity. Be faithful and wait and see what they exactly entail.
Since details of “reward” are not clearly set forth, perhaps it is best to look at them as a grace gift from God. He will not tell you exactly what they are, but you know that gifts from Him can only be of a certain type.
I have always said that there is reward in eternity, but it is not material. What is valuable in heaven is not gold or silver. The valuables in heaven are the excellencies of Christ. Hence, the crowns given to believers all have modifying names such as glory, righteousness, life, and incorruption. It is also true that in the parable of the vineyard owner, the people who labored one hour received the same as those who labored fourteen hours. That doesn’t directly translate into heavenly rewards per se, but it does emphasize the graciousness of our Lord while also bringing to our own minds the question of whether or not we would be angry with Him if indeed others were rewarded as we were who did far more work then they.
Reward is to comfort and motivate those who suffer on account of Christ. It is not a “quid pro quo.”
We will let the word of God speak for itself.
First we look at the teaching from the Lord.
The Lord sets forth direct statements concerning future reward as well as the theme of faithfulness in parables.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
And so in vs. 10, the pursuit of righteousness arouses opposition.
Besides laziness and ignorance this is likely the reason why some Christians do not pursue it. Personal interests and so-called self-respect are threatened and killed by experienced righteousness.
Laid out before us in this Beatitudes; the merciful, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of righteousness - the disciple is not a hermit engaged in the solitary pursuit of holiness but is one engaged in society, and such engagement in the public has its costs.
The disciple is not an inaccessible hermit nor indistinguishably assimilated. He is engaged in society as salt, light, and a city. This has costs of persecution.
The statement about persecution is followed by three metaphors. First, they are different from those around them. Salt has its effect only because, and for as long as, it has a distinctive saltiness. Light is effective because of its contrast with the surrounding darkness. It is this visible distinctiveness which arouses the hostility of others and leads to the slander and persecution that the “ninth” beatitude celebrates.
But, on the other hand, it is only those who are involved with other people who will be seen to be different and so attract persecution. Salt is of no use as long as it stays in the salt cellar. Light is of no use under a bowl. It is the town conspicuously sited on the hill which people notice. And the outcome of distinctive discipleship is intended to be that other people will notice and, though sometimes they may respond with cynicism sand persecution, ultimately the light will have its effect and some will recognize and acknowledge the goodness of the God who is its source. Disciples, therefore, must be both distinctive and involved. Neither the indistinguishably assimilated nor the inaccessible hermit will fulfill the mandate of these challenging verses and know their reward in heaven is great.
Notice that in vs. 11 the persecution is not only because of righteousness but also “on account of Me.”
Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
“On account of Me” means that this discourse is not just a call to moral conduct but in grounded in submission to Christ’s authority and demands that originate from Him alone.
The suffering, the persecution, and push-back against us is due to our behavior and also because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The moral unbeliever (by worldly standards) is not pushed. The man or woman with fidelity to Christ is.
The first epistle from Peter carries a lot of this theme.
To live as subjects of the kingdom of heaven is to be set over against the rest of society which does not share its values and the result will be persecution.
And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
“Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,
A people in whose heart is My law;
Do not fear the reproach of man,
Neither be dismayed at their revilings.”