Dr. John Hoole – November 27, 2016




I want to start today’s lesson with a brief review of the setting for the Sermon on the Mount.  This sermon of Christ takes place overlooking the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee.  Christ spent at least 75% of His ministry in the Galilee region.  The rolling hill forms a natural amphitheater.  Today, the hill is call the Mount of Beatitudes.”


The first two verses of the fifth chapter of Matthew states:


         Matthew 5:1-2 NKJV


1       And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.

2       Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:


         Verse 3 is the beginning of the sermon.


In those first two verses, only the disciples are mentioned.  But at the end of the sermon, we find many people around him, where we are told:


Matthew 7:28-29 NKJV


28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching,

29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.


We have completed our study of Matthew 5, and now we embark on discovering what chapter 6 has for us.  Christ has some great nuggets of truth to share with us in this chapter.


Last week we, as we began chapter 6, we learned what Jesus had to say about “hypocrites.”  Jesus addresses the subject of false piety, and warns his followers not to fall into that trap.  And He uses three illustrations to drive home his point.  He warns us not to do our acts of righteousness just to be seen and praised by other people.


Listen to the Words of Jesus in Matthew 6.


Matthew 6:2, 5, 16 NKJV


2       Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.


5       And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.


16     Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.


As we mentioned in our last lesson, Christ addresses the same group of people in each of these three acts of righteousness.  He uses the hypocrite to show us how not to act as we do our good deeds.


The sad truth about religion is that false piety works.  It can easily, subtly, and gradually become a means to personal gain.  It can make us appear spiritual.  And acts of righteousness can place one securely on a pedestal.


It is not wrong to try to do our very best when we do an act of righteousness.  In fact, we should always do the very best we can, as doing it unto the Lord [Col. 3:23-25].  Neither is it wrong to receive praise for the good deeds you have done.  We should complement people that have ministered unto us, to encourage them.  But if our motive is to do our good deeds so we receive praise from other people, then we already have our reward.


And 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.


But not only is the hypocrite mentioned in all three illustrations by Jesus.  There is another thing that is common to each.  CAN YOU SEE WHAT IT IS?  All three speak of rewards.  And to drive home his point about hypocrisy, He directs our attention to the issue of rewards.


At this point, I want to ask several questions with regard to “rewards.”




                   Absolutely yes!




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.


Isaiah 40:10 NKJV


10     Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.


Isaiah 62:11 NKJV


11     Indeed the Lord has proclaimed To the end of the world: "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.'"


Matthew 16:27 NKJV


27     For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.



The timing of the verses we have just read concerning the certainty of rewards speak of them being with Him when he comes to earth.




Do we receive any rewards from Him before that time?  We will address this question in a few minutes.  But here is another question.




In other word, will some believers get different rewards?  Here are a few passages that seem to indicate varying degrees of rewards.


Ruth 2:12 NKJV


12     The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge."


                   To speak of a “full reward” seem to indicate that it is possible to get less than a full reward.


Job 34:11 NKJV


11     For He repays man according to his work, And makes man to find a reward according to his way.


1 Corinthians 9:17 NIV


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


1 Corinthians 3:8 NIV


8       The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.


I should mention at this time there are some theologians I respect who hold the position all believers will receive the same reward in heaven.  They use the parable of the laborers in the vineyard mentioned in Matthew 20:1-16.


This parable speaks of laborers who started their day of work at different time, but when the master paid them for their labor, every worker received the same wages.  Some worked all day, while others just a few hours, but both received the same amount.


But I think the evidence is greater for believing there are varying degrees of rewards.  1 Corinthians 3, which speaks of the coming Judgment Seat of Christ, indicates that when our deeds are tried by fire, some will receive a reward, while another has all his labor burned up, and received nothing as a reward.




Psalms 35:12 NKJV


12     They reward me evil for good, To the sorrow of my soul.


This verse speaks not of rewards from God but from evil people.  But it does indicate rewards can be evil.


The next verse does speak of divine reward to those who transgress and disobey.


Hebrews 2:2-3 NKJV


2       For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,

3       how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,


In Hosea, chapter 4, God brings a charge against Israel and their leaders through Hosea.  And His charge includes the priests, who had not fulfilled their duty or had disobeyed God.


Hosea 4:9 NKJV


9       And it shall be: like people, like priest. So I will punish them for their ways, And reward them for their deeds.


Isaiah 3:11 NKJV


11     Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, For the reward of his hands shall be given him.


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 we read:


46     For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?


                   We didn’t discuss the subject of rewards when we studied this Passage.


But we did take a brief look at “rewards” in an earlier study in The Sermon On The Mount.




         It came up in our discussion of the 8th Beatitude -- 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 (KJV)


10     Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11     Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

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


Jesus says there are definite rewards for the believer who suffers persecution in 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.  All acts of righteousness, whether true or false, is rewarded.


The 8th Beatitude tells 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 the kingdom – he was talking about enjoying the kingdom.


When you are able to exercise self-control in the midst of persecution and pray for your persecutors and do good to them, then you have entered into the secrets of the throne and the riches of His glory.  The same is true exercise ourselves in acts of righteousness.  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.” (Matthew 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 had respect unto the recompense of reward.”  (Hebrews 11:26).  Abraham walked by faith as he looked for that city God had promised him.


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.”


It is easy for the comfortable saint to despise promised rewards, but let him go into the fires, and he might change his mind.


The point Jesus is making in the 3 illustrations 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.  “You will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (verse 1).  Jesus very pointedly instructs us that is the limit of their reward.


If you and I get involved in acts of righteousness hoping to receive praise from those around us i.e., a theatrical righteousness done for show, 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 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 - worked for the praise of others?  Can you - or I - really expect any kind of reward from God?  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 one small coin.  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.


In Matthew 6, Jesus instructs us that if we conduct our “acts of righteousness” to be seen by people, we will not receive the reward we could have received from Him, if only we would have done them in a way that would have brought him glory.




Not at all!!


Keep in mind that this sermon is a statement by Jesus on how He want his followers to live.  Christians can and, if not careful, will do acts of righteousness for their own glory.  This does not mean they are unsaved.  It does, however, mean they have lost their reward from the Father in heaven.


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.  And the reason I have chosen this Passage is because it also may help us to determine the behavior that goes into acts of righteousness that bring glory to God.


In this Passage, we have several factions within the church at Corinth who were bickering over who to follow.  Some were saying, “I am a follower of Paul,” and others, “we are followers of Apollos.  And Paul sets them straight, telling them that it is only God who causes the church to grow.


1 Corinthians 3:5-15  (NIV)


5       What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe-- as the Lord has assigned to each his task.

6       I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.

7       So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

8       The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.

9       For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

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.


Notice several things about this passage.


1.      Twice the subject of rewards is raised.     


•  vs. 8               Every person is rewarded according to their own acts.


•  vs. 14            If a person’s acts of righteousness survive the test by fire, they will receive a reward from God.


2.      The Passage is addressing only Christians.


•  vs. 1               Paul notes that he is writing to “brethren” - a term denoting believers.


•  vs. 11            He speaks of only one Foundation - Jesus Christ.  This is reference to the church, which is being built.


•  vs. 12            The Christian can use a variety of materials to build upon the one foundation.


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 – t hose 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.”




Imagine staring into the face of Christ.  Just the two of you, one-on-one.  Your entire life is present before you.  In a flash you see what He sees.  No hiding, no opportunity to put a better spin on what you did.  No attorney to represent you.  The look in His eyes says it all.


Like it or not, that is precisely where you and I shall someday be.


2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV


10     For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.


Salvation is guaranteed to those who accept Christ by faith – rewards are not.  Entering heaven is one thing; having a possession there is quite another.  One is the result of faith; the other, the reward for faith plus obedience.