Christ – Coming With Rewards


Dr. John Hoole – October 5, 2014




Revelation 22:12 NKJV


12     "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 


We have been studying what the Bible calls, The Judgment Seat of Christ.”  Part of our study has been the subject of “Rewards” and how believers will receive them.


I would like to start today’s lesson with some verses taken from the Sermon on the Mount.  In Matthew 6, Jesus addresses 3 important areas of a Christian’s life.  Jesus gives 3 representative illustrations of outward religious activity


                   1.      The first has to do with giving (2-4)  

                   2.      The second deals with praying (5-15)

                   3.      The third with fasting (16-18)


The first - giving - is an act towards others.  The second - praying - is an act towards God.  The third - fasting - is an act in relation to ourselves.  The reason I want to start here today is because it speaks about God giving out rewards.


Let’s read part of this Passage.


Matthew 6:1-6, 16  (variation on NIV)


1       "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2       "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

3       But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

4       so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you openly.
5       "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

6       But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you openly.


16     "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”


 In this Passage in Matthew 6, Jesus is warning us concerning our piety and acts of righteousness.  In each illustration He warns about having incorrect motives for our good deeds.  He warns about having motives that lead to personal praise and gain, without regard to praise and glory which should go to God.  And to drive home his point, He directs our attention to the issue of rewards.


Some may wonder, “What’s all this talk about rewards?”  Doesn’t it seem a bit self-centered to live life looking forward to being rewarded by God?  The old saying is, “Goodness is its own reward.”  Shouldn’t it be sufficient to do what is right because it is right thing to do, without any thought of reward?


There is a Christmas song that kids sing called “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”  In its lyrics, we find the phrase; “so be good for goodness sake.”  This isn’t by any means meant to be a theological, or even a religious, statement, but many Christians think believers should be good for the sake of just being good.


Some may believe that rewards are a poor motive for obedience, but Jesus did not think so.  To be sure, character or virtue is reward enough, but in His grace, Jesus was willing to add something extra.  After all, whatever rewards we receive only bring greater glory to Him, both here and hereafter.


The discussion of rewards here in Matthew 6 is no isolated case in the Bible.  The issue of rewards is found 106 times in 101 different verses in the King James Version.  Matthew 6 is not even the only time Jesus mentions rewards in The Sermon on the Mount.


In Matthew 5:46  (NIV) we read:


46     If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?


The subject of rewards also comes up in connection with the 8th Beatitude.  That’s the one on persecution.  This is the only passage in the KJV that includes that phrase, for great is your reward in heaven.”


Matthew 5:10-12   (NKJV)


10     Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

11     "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 

12     Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 


Jesus says there are definite rewards for the believer who suffers persecution in doing the will of God.  He also say in Matthew 6 that a reward awaits those who perform acts of righteousness with a motivation to honor and glorify God.


The 8th Beatitude tells us that there is both a present and a future reward.  There is a PRESENT reward.  It says, “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  He was not talking about entering or enjoying the kingdom only sometime in the future.


When we exercise ourselves in true acts of righteousness, that is, when our motivation is right - He must increase and I must decrease - then we enter into the joys and riches of His glory and blessings.


Another reward in our present life is our identification with Christ and the prophets.  It says, “For so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matt. 5:12)


What a holy band of saints to belong to.  Here were believers “of whom the world was not worthy,” according to Hebrews 11:38.  A man’s company is a great revealer of a man’s character.  And we are privileged to fellowship with the prophets of old.


There is also a FUTURE reward.  Matthew 5:12 says, “for great is your reward in heaven.”


Never minimize the present power of a future reward.  The holy band of Old Testament prophets and saints lived with the expectation of reward.  Moses turned his back on Egypt and suffered for it because “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  (Hebrews 11:26)Abraham walked by faith as he looked for that city God promised him (Heb. 11:10).


Jesus encourages us today by promising us heavenly rewards tomorrow.  2 Timothy 2:12 teaches us:  “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”


Now, let’s return to our Passage in Matthew 6.  The point Jesus is making in the 3 illustrations – giving alms, prayer and fasting, is that all acts of righteousness receive rewards.  But the rewards can come either from men or from God.


Jesus tells us what happens if we imitate Jesus and seek glory for God rather than self.  “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Verses 4, 6 & 18)Jesus also tells us what happens if we are a spiritual exhibitionist (i.e., doing it for show).  “You will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (verse 1)


If you and I get involved in acts of righteousness hoping to receive praise from those around us .then Jesus says we have already received our reward.  And any reward from God has not just been diminished a little.  Reward from God has been eliminated because of their hypocrisy.  If we receive our reward from men, we have received it in full.  There is no more reward to be received from God.


Think about your life, your devotion to God, your worship, your service in the church and the kingdom.  How many times have you - have I – done things for the praise of others?  Can you - or I - really expect any kind of reward from God for such acts?  In my estimation, that is a terrifying thought.


And I think that when we get to heaven, and the rewards are passed out, there are going to be many surprises.  I believe we are going to see many who were like the widow who gave an offering of two small coins (Luke 21:2).  She was greatly praised by Jesus.  And I think many people you and I know who worked quietly, yet faithfully, for the Lord are going to be rewarded greatly.  And yet, they are people who didn’t do it for the reward.


There is another Passage that echoes this same thought -- the thought that a follower of Christ can do acts of righteousness for either the wrong or right reason.  It is found in 1 Corinthians 3.  We looked at it in our last lesson.  And the reason I want to revisit this Passage is because it also may help us to determine the behavior that goes into acts of righteousness that bring glory to God.


1 Corinthians 3:11-15   (NIV)


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.


I hope you have noticed the link with Matthew 6.  They both speak of rewards.  They both indicate that the follower of Christ can display acts of righteousness in two ways -- those that are done correctly and those that aren’t.  In Matthew 6, the behavior of the Christian are called “acts of righteousness.”  In 1 Corinthians 3, they are referred to as “works”  -- or in other passages they are called  “good works.”


Look at verse 12 once again.  He speaks of different materials used to build upon the One Foundation, Jesus Christ - Gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay or straw.




Verses 13 speaks of a time of testing for all that has been built upon the Foundation -- a time when a person’s works will be shown for what they are really made of.  Six figures or pictures are used by Paul to represent our works, or acts of righteousness.


The fire of God will test every Christians works.  If they are like gold, silver and precious stones, they will actually thrive in the fires, and are made more pure by it.  They will abide the fire and the person will receive a reward for his works.  If they are like wood, hay and straw, they will be burned up, and the person will suffer loss of reward, yet he or she will be saved from loss of their soul.


The test of our motivation is that our service pleases God, regardless of whether it pleases anyone else.  In fact, if you live to please God, you may not always please people.  There is nothing wrong with pleasing people, as long as pleasing them comes as a result of pleasing God.  And Paul said that service that passes the test will receive a reward.


Preparing for the Judgment Seat


Now, let’s return to preparing for the Judgment Seat of Christ.


It doesn’t take students very long to realize that one of the most important days in school is test day.  When there is a test, the whole mood and atmosphere of the class changes.  Some teachers gave out the test questions in advance, and it became very quiet when they gave the class the questions to study.  Knowing the questions ahead of time was great.


The Bible tells us that the great test day for our life is coming.  But, like a kind and gracious teacher, God has given us the “test questions”  for the judgment seat of Christ beforehand.  It is our job to study these test questions so we can be prepared and hear a “WELL DONE” on the final exam.


I want to give a list of areas that God is going to examine at the judgment.  He has given these in His Word.  I believe the Bible indicates at least 12 areas that can help us understand what will be examined by Christ.  I will read Scriptures applicable to each area, and in the verses we read, there will be some mention of either judgment or reward.


Examining ourselves in these areas will help us ensure that our works and deeds will be composed of gold, silver and precious stones, not wood, hay or straw.


1.      How we treat other believers


Matt 10:41-42 NKJV


41     He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 

42     And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward." 


Our reward will be determined, in part, by how we treat other believers -- even in the giving of a cup of water.


Hebrews 6:10 NKJV


10     For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.


God will not forget how you treated your brother or sister in the Lord.  Let’s act so we will not lose our reward.


2.      How we exercise authority over others


James 3:1 NKJV


1       My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.


Hebrews 13:17 NKJV


17     Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.


                  Those who occupy any level of leadership must give an account.


3.      How we employ our God-given talents, gifts and abilities


1 Peter 4:10  NKJV


10     As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.


God is looking for good stewards of the gifts, talents and abilities.  He will examine our use of them.  Are we using them to minister to and encourage others?


4.      How we use our money


1 Timothy 6:17-19  NKJV


17     Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

18     Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,

19     storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.


With our financial resources, we are to abound in good works and give to those in need.  We are to live in a manner that communicates that God is our source, not our wealth.


5.      How well we accept mistreatment and injustice


Matthew 5:11-12  NKJV

11     Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 

12     Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven…


Jesus never taught that our lives would not have difficulties – even persecutions for our faith in Him.  But He does tell us how to act and react to these times in our life.


2 Corinthians 4:17   NKJV

17     For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,


Romans 8:18   NKJV

18     For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.


The suffering for Christ we may experience here does not compare to the glory of God that will be found and revealed in us.


1 Peter 4:13 NKJV


13     But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.


The joy each of us will experience in heaven will be far greater than the difficulties we have here.


6.      How we spend our time


1 Peter 1:17   NKJV

17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;


7.      How we run that particular race which God has chosen for us


1 Corinthians 9:24   NKJV


24     Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 


Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV


13     Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

14     I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


Each of us are running in the Christian race.  We are to run with the intent of persevering to the end, so that we may win the prize.


8.      How effectively we control our old nature


1 Corinthians 9:25-27   (NKJV)


25     And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 

26     Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.

27     But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.


We must continually crucify – put down – that old nature.  This is a continual struggle.  Paul said he had to die to the old nature every day.


9.  How faithfully we shared the Gospel


1 Thessalonians 2:19-20   (NKJV)


19     For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

20     For you are our glory and joy.


There’s a song we used to sing when I was a child, called Brining In The Sheaves.  Do you remember the words?  Its words went like this.


Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,

Sowing in the noon-tide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest and the time of reaping,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.


Go, thee, ever weeping, sowing for the Master,

Tho’ the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;

When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.


God desires each of us to be active in spreading the good news.  A crown of joy is awaiting those who bring others into the kingdom.


Proverbs 11:30   (NKJV)


30     The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.


Listen to what Paul had to say about sharing the gospel with a willing heart.


1 Cor 9:16-17 NKJV


16     Yet, when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.  Woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel.

17     If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.


Eliza E. Hewitt (1851-1920) wrote the words to another hymn we used to sing.


         Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?


I am thinking today of that beautiful land

I shall reach when the sun goeth down;

When through wonderful grace by my Savior I stand,

Will there be any stars in my crown?


In the strength of the Lord let me labor and pray,

Let me watch as a winner of souls,

That bright stars may be mine in the glorious day,

When His praise like the sea billow rolls.



Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown

When at evening the sun goeth down?

When I wake with the blessed in the mansions of rest,

Will there be any stars in my crown.


10.    How we react to temptation


Revelation 2:10   (NKJV)


….The devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 


                   Here is yet another crown.  It is given to those who endure much testing and remain faithful.


11.    How much the doctrine of the Rapture means to us


2 Timothy 4:8   (NKJV)


8       Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.


                   Here is another crown that God will dispense to those who long for and look for His coming.


12.    How faithful we are to the Word of God and the flock of God


This one effects primarily those who preach and teach the Word of God.


1 Peter 5:2-4   (NIV)


2       Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;

3       not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

4       And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.


Although this seems to limit its words to the Pastor or teacher, I’m not sure that it should be limited to a Sunday School setting like ours, or the sanctuary where we hear the pastor preach.  This could be teaching your children God’s Word.  It could be counseling a believer through difficult times.


We have just examined a dozen ways that God will assess our deeds.  These will determine whether yours or mine are works of “gold, silver, and precious stones,” or “wood, hay, or straw.”


I am looking for Christ to return, for the Bible says that when He does, He will have His rewards with Him (Revelation 22:12).


1 Corinthians 4:5 NKJV


5       Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.


This verse tells us that every person receives praise from God at this judgment.


                   •  Not condemnation

                   •  Not punishment

                   •  Only Praise


There is no need for this to be a time of shame.  In the end, according to 1 Corinthians 4:5, we will all receive only praise.  When God judges, He is completely for us.  He will not be negative and try to shame us. He will embrace us and welcome us home. We may feel regret that we didn’t do more.


Now, what have we learned thus far?


•        We have learned that Christian should do what Jesus calls in Matthew “acts of righteousness” or what Paul calls “good works” or just “works.”\


•        We have also learned, in both Matthew 6 and 1 Corinthians 3, that these acts of righteousness can be conducted in two manners so that they glorify God, or are done to receive the praise ourselves.


•        Additionally, because the Christian has the ability to do these acts either way.


•        1 Corinthians 3 categorizes them as “gold, silver, and precious stone” or as “wood, hay and straw.”


•        These works, or acts, will be judged by Jesus Christ.


•        Each act will be tested to reveal the quality of that act.  Paul calls it a test by fire.


Both Matthew and 1 Corinthians tell us that the Christian will suffer loss of reward for those acts done with improper motives.


Every believer’s judgment is 3-fold.


1.      At Calvary I was judged as a SINNER, with Jesus taking my place and bearing my punishment.


2.      Today I am judged as a SON, being chastened by my loving Heavenly Father.


3.      At the Judgment seat of Christ I will be judged as a SERVANT, giving full account to my Master for my Christian service.