Ephesians 4:4-6, One hope of your calling: Eternal Reward, part 2.
Thursday January 7, 2021
Hope of your calling has an aspect of confidence in reward from God, as He deems proper, despite loss and suffering in this world for following Christ.
Let’s remind ourselves of Peter’s opening paragraph in his second epistle.
Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge [full or true knowledge] of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these [His own glory and excellence] He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature [at salvation], having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust [at salvation]. 5 Now for this very reason also [because this is true], applying all diligence [making every effort], in your faith supply moral excellence [arete], and in your moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, brotherly love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you [make your calling the foundation for your life]; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
He concludes it with the thought of an abundant entrance into heaven which likely refers to reward. And as reward from God is depicted in the scripture, it is enjoyed in time and eternity, as well as the crossing over from time to eternity in what we would deem dying grace.
We began last time to look at reward as our Lord taught it.
We will find in His teaching, as well as the expansion of it in the epistles that:
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.
We will also discover that reward is not a merit based system where we enter into a contract with God as we would with an employer on earth.
All believers have been blessed with life from God and all are invited to “Come and see,” and if they do, they will be rewarded with the blessedness of seeing that life.
Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" 37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" And they said to Him, "Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?" 39 He said to them, "Come, and you will see." They came therefore and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
Their answer to “What do you seek?” was greatly lacking in comparison to what Christ was going to show them. One wonders where Christ was actually staying at the time. It wasn’t a house or a permanent dwelling, but likely some small plot to camp under the stars, for:
"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."
What Christ would show them would be more than what they (John and Andrew) could have ever imagined, but they had to be faithful to follow Him, and they did. If they did not follow their calling, would they have seen all that Christ desired to show them? No. What they would see, in essence, was God Himself; His Person, His work, His way. It is a reward, but not in the manner of give and get. To see God is offered to every human being, and seeing is the reward for following.
Seeing and understanding the depth of God, as He has revealed Himself, would have its result on every aspect of our lives: our relationships, our marriages, our friendships, our work, our service to others, our graciousness to them, our alone time, our self-image, and many more things. Take relationships for instance. While perfect in the Garden of Eden under only the will of God, Adam and the woman, Ish and Ishah, enjoyed perfect harmony. When they ate from the forbidden tree, they, in essence, decided to determine good and evil on their own, apart from God. Rather than submit to God’s determination of good and evil, they took it upon themselves to discover what they may be. Yet, they were not up to the task. It is impossible for us to do it.
Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?"
“Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” “Come and you will see.”
Was the question to the hiding Adam one, not of location, but spiritual position? And with no hope now, being dead, of finding our way back to God, Christ comes and blazes the way back to God for us through His own love and sacrifice, and then He invites us to “Come and see.”
And what happened to the relationship of Ish and Ishah? They were ashamed of themselves, covered themselves, discovered frailty and inability. They were probably ashamed of one another, thus they blamed one another when finally confronted by God.
Reward is to comfort and motivate those who suffer on account of Christ. It is not a “quid pro quo.”
Christ has restored our ability to submit to the will of God. We can do so, thanks to Him, completely. When we do we will see and our relationships, for one thing out of many, will be a reward to us, while knowing that the ultimate reward isn’t the relationship alone, but the understanding of God and His way and life and truth.
Yet, as Christ showed us, the world would not go along with our new found and marvelous way. Many in the world would not separate unto God, and when they see that sanctification in us, as our Lord warned us, they would persecute us. In this He said, “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great.”
The Lord sets forth direct statements concerning future reward as well as the theme of reward 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.”
They persecuted the prophets before, and so, they did it before and they will do it again.
We also noted that for the Beatitudes to be true about us, we have to be a part of society while also being different from society as the salt, light, and city on the hill. We are to be sanctified, and set apart means distinct in the way that Christ is from the world.
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.
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.
Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The paradoxical call to be glad about the persecution is not one to try and learn to like pain but the blessing of the promised outcome – great reward.