It is being prepared for us now in heaven (John 14:1-3). It is a special place in the presence of God. There we will no longer be in a spiritual warfare with sin and the devil. We will be in the likeness of Jesus (1 John 3:1-3).
We belong to the Father as His heirs. He has loved us, redeemed us, adopted us and made us heirs by His grace. It is something He has done entirely for us of His own free sovereign will. But we also have God as our inheritance. The Psalmist said He is “my portion forever.” The LORD God is our inheritance.
Moreover, we are “co-heirs with Christ” (v. 17). Whatever He inherits is ours also. Whatever we inherit we inherit right along with Him. It is not something we merit; it is strictly God’s gift to His chosen children.
“Christ’s inheritance is the glory of God, which means the vision of participation in, and enjoyment of God Himself.” Jesus said to the Father, “I have brought to you glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. And now Father, glorify Me in your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began” (John 17:4-5). The apostle Paul wrote, “if indeed [absolute certainty, “For sure” in the Greek] we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17).
We have the down payment of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:14), as a pledge of what is actually to come later. He is the pledge of something greater. Since the Holy Spirit is the earnest of God, the full inheritance must be God Himself (Psalm 73:25, 26; Lam. 3:24).
In His prayer for His disciples the night before His death, Jesus prayed: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:22-24).
“God is the portion of His people, and in Him, who is ‘the possessor of heaven and earth,’ they are heirs of all things. . . . God is all-sufficient, and this is an all-sufficient inheritance. God is eternal and unchangeable, and therefore it is an eternal inheritance—an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that fadeth not away. . . . It is God Himself, then, who is the inheritance of His children. . . . He communicates Himself to them by His grace, His light, His holiness, His life.”
To be heirs and co-heirs with Jesus Christ requires that we share in His sufferings (Jn. 15:20; Col. 1:24; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Pet. 4:12). We will share in the glory of Christ in heaven after we have suffered with Him here on the earth (2 Tim. 2:12; 1 Pet. 4:13; 5:10). The servant is not above his Master.
The Spirit of adoption is at work in the life of the believer. He has given us liberty and we willingly follow Him. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:16-18).
All who recognize their sinful condition and believe in Christ's atoning sacrifice and resurrection may accept the gift of eternal life by trusting in the One who died for them. This free gift has no strings, or requirements that afterward need to be met. Salvation is complete once the sinner has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour.
# Ephesians 2:8
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Many other familiar verses could have been used to substantiate the point that there are no works involved in securing salvation today, but these in particular were given because of the next verse. Verse 10 continues with the way in which Christians are to continue after they are saved. We are to walk in good works.
# Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Our salvation and good works bring to Christians an inheritance and rewards which will not be fully realized until after the rapture when we are taken to heaven. The purpose of this paper is to see what the Bible says about our inheritance and rewards so as to encourage Christians to "be not weary in well doing."
The fact of a Christian's judgment to review his service for rewards in undisputed.
# II Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Many exact specifics, however, are not given. That being the case, much of this paper will be speculation and opinion. Hopefully, enough scripture will be presented to give the reader the information needed to come to his own conclusions.
Now part of our inheritance comes automatically with our salvation.
# Galatians 3:29
And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
# Galatians 4:7
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
As children of God, having been born into his family, we have been given the earnest of the glory that will be ours.
# Ephesians 1:13
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Legally, the "earnest" is a promise or assurance of something to come. For a Christian this earnest is the Holy Spirit himself.
# II Corinthians 1:22
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
He indwells the Christian's body as a guarantee of at least two things.
# Ephesians 1:11
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Part of every Christian's automatic inheritance was assured as soon as he trusted Christ as his Saviour. His personal salvation brought with it a promise.
# Romans 8:29
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Each Christian will receive, as part of his inheritance, a glorified body conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. This body is a "package deal" which came with the gift of salvation, and God will give it to every one of his children in the body of Christ. It is not earned or deserved but bestowed freely to those who have trusted Christ as personal Saviour.
# I Corinthians 15:51
Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Our glorified bodies will be like that of Christ's. We will be able to travel through space faster than the speed of light and appear from out of nowhere in closed rooms, without even an Hollywood "Star Trek transporter effect."
The Bible speaks of another unearned part of our inheritance.
# John 14:2
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
The glorified Christian in his new and wonderful immortal body will live in a glorious new home. And that new home will be located in a glorious and wonderful city, New Jerusalem.
# Galatians 4:26
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
# Revelation 21:2
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
In this city each Christian will have his own mansion, not room, as the new "b"ible perversions claim.
Our new bodies and new homes are part of the inheritance that came with our salvation. These two things are given by God's grace just for being his child. Considering that Christ has saved from hell those who has received him, and that they will at the very least have a glorified body and new home, is it any wonder that Christians should serve him from love and gratitude for the undeserved blessings given to them? Verse after verse shows that a Christian is expected to do good works.
Good Works are Expected
# II Corinthians 5:9
Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
# I Timothy 6:18
That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
# II Timothy 3:17
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
# Titus 2:7
In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
# Titus 2:14
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
# Titus 3:8
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
But even with our labor to do good works all the praise and honor and glory reflect back to Christ. Our relationship with God is so similar to that of an earthly father and son.. When a young boy wants to buy his father a birthday present he might look for chores to do in his father's house. He works cleaning the garage or raking the lawn and his father pays him for his labor. The boy then turns around and using his father's own money buys a gift and gives it to his father.
All our rewards which we receive for good works we do for Christ are because of Christ. He enables us to do his will by his own power. He works in us so that we might earn rewards.
# I Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
In the verse above Paul says "I labored" but it really wasn't me. He recognizes that if anything good comes from his work, that it is because of Christ and not because of him.
# Colossians 1:29
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
# Philippians 2:13
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Christ can work in a Christian as long as that Christian yields himself to Christ's control. The more the Christian is yielded the more Christ can do with him for the glory of God. This yielding, however, is accounted quite high in God's sight. For even though it is God himself which does the work in the Christian and accomplishes the desired results from the work, it is the Christian who is rewarded for his obedience to God's will.
# I Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
# Philippians 2:16
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
Labor for the Lord Jesus Christ is neither vain nor empty for the laborer or for the Lord. The laborer shall receive his reward and the Lord will accomplish his desired purpose.
# Ephesians 6:8
Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
These next verses state the law of spiritual harvest.
# Galatians 6:7
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
The negative side will be dealt with later, but for now we will look at the positive side. The Christian, who labors for the Lord by yielding his body and will, sows spiritual seeds which will reap "life everlasting." That does not mean for himself, as he is already saved and has eternal life. It means "life everlasting" for other people. Christ came to save sinners, and everything that we do for him and through him points people to the cross. Verse nine promises that there will be a harvest. Just like a farmer does not pick his corn the day after he planted it, we will not reap until later, but the reaping has been guaranteed. We just need to keep planting.
Verse 10 shows that the context is definitely good works, so for the good works done through Christ we will receive a reward.
The context of this next verse concerns the attitude toward a good pastor but the principle is the same for anyone involved in the Lord's work.
# I Timothy 5:18
For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
The Christian himself has no value as a worker unless he is yielded to Christ. But God counts this yielding and the resulting good works as worthy of reward.
The Five Crowns
There may be a possibility that the gold, silver, and gems which are purified in the fire at the Judgment Seat will be used to make the crowns that a Christian can earn. Typically there are five mentioned and we will look at the specifics of them all.
The Incorruptible Crown is chronologically the first crown mentioned. This is the crown given for running a good Christian race, and it is compared to that of an earthly race.
# I Corinthians 9:24
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
In an earthly race there is only one winner, but the Christian races only against himself, and each may earn a crown.
# I Corinthians 9:25
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Here then is the means with which to run a winning race: temperance. For an earthly runner moderation and self restraint is necessary if he wants to win. Things like smoking, or overeating, or drug abuse, or oversleeping, or any kind of immoderate behavior would severely hinder his chances of running well. The same is true for Christian service.
# I Corinthians 9:26
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
Paul states emphatically that temperance is the key and that without it he might as well just beat the air because he wouldn't be going anywhere.
# I Corinthians 9:27
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Paul said "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing." Every Christian must strive to keep his body of flesh in subjection to the Holy Spirit which dwells inside him. Doing so will result in a winning race and reward.
# Romans 6:16
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
# Romans 12:1
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
"Castaway" in I Corinthians 9:27 does not mean that a Christian can lose his salvation but that he loses his usefulness for the Lord's work (and thus the subsequent rewards.)
The Crown of Rejoicing, which is mentioned in I Thessalonians, seems to be given to soul winners.
# I Thessalonians 2:19
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
# Philippines 4:1
Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
In these verses Paul seems to be writing to his own children in the Lord. They have a particularly close relationship with Paul that other Christians do not have. A crown for soul winning fits very well with the verses already mentioned about gem stones representing people. It makes sense that the gems that were purified in the fire would be "set" into a crown. As beautiful as a handful of loose stones would be, they would be much more so if they were displayed that way.
The Crown of Righteousness is the next crown.
# II Timothy 4:8
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Since salvation is not based on works or subsequent conduct there are undoubtedly more saved people around than are realized. Most denominations like Methodists, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Church of Christ, Catholic, Pentecostal, and others have at least some saved members (some more than others) regardless of what their "stated" doctrine of salvation is. But very few denominations preach or teach about the Lord's return. Some Baptists and a few charismatic groups are the only ones which proclaim this doctrine, and even then, many of them don't get it "right," but would have the Lord return at the wrong time.
And for those Christians who are aware of the Lord's imminent return many would like to see him "wait a little longer, dear Jesus." Personal considerations like the salvation of loved ones, or the desire to marry, have children, or make more money blind some Christians to their one and only guarantee of continued bliss and happiness. There is no problem a Christian has that the rapture won't cure. As relatively easy as the Crown of Righteousness will be to earn I do not believe that a very high percentage of Christians are really waiting for the Lord's return and would truly love to see it happen right now. But that is the qualification for earning the crown.
The last two crowns are mentioned in the Tribulation epistles. Certainly ALL scripture is for our learning and admonition, and certainly many doctrinal things overlap dispensations, so it is perfectly possible and acceptable that these crowns may be earned in the Church Age. The way to earn them may be slightly different between the dispensations.
The Crown of Life is the first.
# James 1:12
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
# Revelation 2:10
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
There is no doubt as to the Tribulation context of both there verses. The temptation here would be to deny the Lord, as those saints during the time of Jacob's trouble will be persecuted and executed for their faith. The phrase "endure till the end" has double meaning. One need to either endure to the end of the Tribulation itself or until the end of one's life during the Tribulation. That endurance of the temptation to deny Christ would not only guaranteed eternal life but also a Crown of Life as a reward.
Now historically many Church Age Christians were imprisoned and martyred for their faith and still remained steadfast, and I am sure that there are those even today to whom this happens, so certainly it is entirely possible that some Christians will earn this crown. The difference being, that a Christian who denied the Lord during the Church Age would not lose his salvation as a Tribulation saint would. This kind of "enduring of temptation" during the Church Age is more than just saying "no" to a hot fudge sundae or lustful kiss. It would probably be a steadfastness under extreme torture or unto death.
The Crown of Glory, the last crown, , is also found in a Tribulation epistle.
# I Peter 5:4
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
This crown has several interesting elements and could easily and properly apply to the Church Age. It is sometimes called the Elders Crown because it is frequently assigned to be earned only by the elders or pastors of local churches, although some would allow it to be earned by anyone who is responsible for a "flock," as a Sunday school teacher or rescue mission worker. I would like to look at the surrounding verses in order to suggest something entirely different than what is commonly taught.
# I Peter 5:1
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
Now there is no question as to whom Peter is addressing in these first few verses. He is an elder exhorting other elders to feed their respective flocks. And not just to feed them but to do it in the right way. They are to take the oversight or watchful care of their people. They are not to do it by constraint which is the threat or use of force to dictate the actions or thoughts of others. They are to do it willingly and not because of money, and with a ready mind that is prepared and available for service. And lastly they are not to domineer or "lord over" their flock but rather be examples to them. If these commands are followed then they will earn their crown.
# I Peter 5:4
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Now comes a verse which begins with a very interesting transitional word. The last part of the previous verse reads "Ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" while the very first word of the next verse is "likewise."
# I Peter 5:5
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
The dictionary defines likewise as " In the same way, similarly, as well, also." It further says that likewise generally implies "the additional element or consideration is equal in weight to that which precedes it." So what might those English definitions mean? They may mean that those on both sides of the "likewise" may be able to earn the Crown of Glory.
Indeed the main thrust of the entire passage seems to be humility. The shepherd is not to "lord" his position over those in his flock and his sheep are to submit to his rightful authority. But look at the admonition in the second part of the verse. "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."
Now this is an interesting thought but there are also other verses that seem to support this possibility. I will present them and let you decide for yourself if there is an validity to this idea.
# Proverbs 4:9
She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
In the context "she" is wisdom, and there is no doubt that wisdom and humility go hand in hand when serving the Lord.
# Proverbs 5:33
The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.
# Proverbs 16:31
The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.
Now, I realize that these first two examples both say "a" crown of glory and not "the" Crown of Glory, and that there is no doubt as to wisdom and righteousness of humility.
# Proverbs 22:4
By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
# Proverbs 29:23
A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
The question still to be determined is if it is possible that humility itself can earn the reward of the Crown of Glory. There are more verses.
# Isaiah 62:3
Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
This is a reference to the restoration of Israel and Jerusalem.
# Isaiah 62:4
Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
Israel and Jerusalem, who have been and will be greatly humbled by the Lord, will themselves become humble when they realize their sin and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour and Messiah. This will be a crown of glory to the Lord himself, similar to this next verse.
# Jeremiah 13:18
Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory.
There is one more chapter that seems to have significance to this subject. I have left all five verses in tact so that you may see the context.
# Isaiah 28:1
Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!
2 Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.
3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:
4 And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.
5 In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people,
Notice how the "crown of pride" (pride obviously being the opposite of humility) is juxtaposed to the "crown of glory."
It is obvious from the many admonitions in that Bible the God hates pride and honors humility. Indeed Lucifer's sin was that of pride and envy, and pride is a sin the plagues everyone and is so very difficult to overcome. Being that it is such a basic and fundamental sin, and one with which we all constantly battle, I see no contradiction that victory over this sin might earn anyone a crown. Look at the very next verse in the passage.
# I Peter 5:6
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
# Job 36:7
He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted.
Kings wear crowns. It certainly seems possible that the Crown of Glory may be earned by any Christian for genuine humility.
There is another aspect of our inheritance as born again, blood washed, Church Age Christians. Christ talks about "reigning" with him in several verses in the Bible.
# II Timothy 2:12
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
This denial is not a denial of salvation, as those reading this should already know that a Church Age Christian is eternally secure no matter what he does. In the context this is Christ saying that some Christians have forfeited a "reign" with him because they denied him. It is a loss because of their actions. This will be discussed in detail later in the paper.
In context these next two verses are referring to the Tribulation saints who will also reign with Christ but I left them in to clarify the next verse.
# Revelation 5:10
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
# Revelation 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
All those who have a part in the first resurrection are eligible to reign with Christ. The first resurrection, of course, has three parts which include those saints who ascended with Christ, the Church Age saints who died and will be raptured, and the Tribulation saints. (See this author's paper "The Resurrections" for more detail.) All these saints can earn a reign during the Millennium.
# Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
This last verse, however, is a reference to New Jerusalem and the Church Age saints and it says that we will reign "for ever and ever."
# Revelation 22:5
And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
It is difficult to even speculate what that might mean for it is too far above me to even imagine.
But possibly this verse may hold a clue. To me this indicates that what the Lord would have liked to accomplish through Adam and Eve will finally be realized because of Christ. The Lord's people will populate the universe.
# Isaiah 9:7
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Now that, of course, is speculation, but suffice to say that all saints from the first resurrection are eligible to reign in some manner, for some length of time, with the some exceptions.
Now I would like to return to the first verse with which we began.
# II Timothy 2:12
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
If seems that some Church Age Christians will not reign with Christ. I feel that because of the works involved in the salvation of those in the other two parts of the first resurrection, that they all will reign in some capacity, but because there are no works involved with Church Age salvation there is another requirement for earning a reign. It is mentioned in the verse : suffering.
We all cringe at the thought of suffering but the Bible does not describe all suffering as physical torture and torment. The verses listed here are in Bible order and given us examples.
# Romans 8:17
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
This "glorified together" is not a reference to our automatic glorified bodies which all are given as part of their birth right, which is obvious since Christ already has his glorified body. This "glorified together" has to do with the "glory" of reigning. Christ is glorified as a ruler and so will those who rule and reign with him.
# I Timothy 1:17
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This next verse mentions suffering Church Age persecution.
# I Corinthians 4:12
And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
Considering that this is Paul who is writing it may be that he is referring to some of the real physical persecution he suffered.
# II Thessalonians 1:4
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
In the above verses Paul mentions the suffering of persecutions and tribulations that the Thessalonians have suffered. But his next verse mentions a different kind of suffering.
# I Timothy 4:10
For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
Reproach is most often verbal abuse and not the extreme physical torment of torture or depravation. Reproach is just as real, however, and can be very devastating.
# Luke 1:25
Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
# Luke 6:22
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
Reproach can bring, shame, disgrace, blame, and rebuke. Elisabeth was shamed and disgraced at her initial barrenness. And Christians today and during the Tribulation will be blamed and rebuked for the faith in Christ and thought of and spoken of as evil. The suffering caused by reproach would be largely internal, but genuine suffering none the less.
Of course a Christian today who keeps his mouth closed, who never witnesses, who never
speaks out against sin and wickedness will not suffer reproach.
# II Timothy 3:12
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
So here is the telling verse. A godly Christian, one who practices his Christianity, will suffer persecution and thus will be eligible to reign with Christ. But it also seems from one of the Church Age parables in the gospels that those reigns will differ from individual to individual.
The parable in Luke 19 is a kingdom of God parable and since Church Age Christians enter the kingdom of God when they are saved I believe that it is appropriate to apply this parable to us. Of course, all those who are part of the first resurrection are in the kingdom of God so this parable does not apply to us alone. Their reigns will also obviously differ one from another. The Lord told this parable to a crowd outside Jericho.
# Luke 19:11
And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
Every Christian today is in the kingdom of God.
# Romans 14:17
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Suffering for the kingdom of God was mentioned just a page ago in I Thessalonians 1:5. That verse makes it even more clear.
# Luke 19:12
He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
"A certain nobleman" is Christ, of course, while the "far country" is the world and the "kingdom" in the context is the kingdom of God, which is a spiritual kingdom of spiritual beings.
# Luke 19:13
And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
Ten in the number of the Gentiles and as we know that the Bride and Body of Christ will be primarily Gentile. We are also the Lord's servants, as well as his adopted children.
# Romans 6:22
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Also note those servants are delivered "pounds" which is said to be money in the parable. The "pound sterling" is the basic monetary unit of the United Kingdom making this parable have an even more Gentile appearance.
# Luke 19:14
But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
Now this verse mentions "citizens" not servants. These citizens represent lost people, which will be shown again later. Also note the word "reign." This parable is about who is going to reign and what they will reign over.
# Luke 19:15
And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
Christ "having received the kingdom" would be reference to the final part of the resurrection of the just being complete. At that point all the members of his spiritual kingdom of God would be with him in heaven. The rest of the verse is obviously the judgment to determine who will reign over what.
# Luke 19:16
Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
This servant has earned a 1000% profit on the Lord's pound. Now we are not going to be judged on how much money we have when we reach the Judgment Seat, so that pound must represent something else. The word "pound" is only found six times in the Bible besides the times in this parable. Four times it is a weight for silver or gold (I Kings 10:17; Ezra 2:69; Nehemiah 7:71,72) and twice it is a weight of ointment in spices (John 12:3; 19:39).
We have already speculated on the earning and meaning of silver and gold at the Judgment Seat. The spices mentioned - spikenard, myrrh and aloes - are all spices for embalming and burial and indeed those two verses concern Christ's death. It is interesting to note that the flowers of the spikenard plant are red-purple. It may well be that the spices represent the suffering a godly Christian will endure. But whatever the correct interpretation this particular servant did very well with what the Lord had given him.
# Luke 19:17
And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
Notice the quantity is "very little" but the quality was "faithful." We all having differing talents and resources to use for the Lord. Those are things that HE gave to us. But what we DO with those things, our faithfulness, is what counts at the Judgment Seat. So this servant is given authority over ten cities.
# Luke 19:18
And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
This servant was not quite as faithful as the first but he still is rewarded for what he did do. We are all running a race against ourselves, not other Christians. The Lord does not expect the same works from an intelligent, rich Christian as he does from a "slow," poor Christian. But the poor Christian may come out far ahead at the Judgment Seat because of his faithfulness. Remember the widow's two mites were said to be more than anyone else had given. It is not the quantity of the work but the faithfulness with which it was carried out.
# Luke 19:20
And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
This servant was not faithful at all. The reasons could be many.
# Luke 19:21
For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
Like every sinner, even saved ones, he makes an excuse and in doing so actually accuses the Lord of doing wrong. He says he feared the Lord but the Bible says that is a lie. He didn't fear the Lord or he would have tried to do right.
# Psalm 36:1
The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.
# Proverbs 1:29
For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
This servant lied. He did not fear the Lord which was evidenced by his unfaithfulness.
# Psalm 128:1
Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.
Not only did he lie but he tried to blame the Lord. His accusation is foolish and desperate but the Lord just uses his own words to dig his hole a little deeper.
# Luke 19:22
And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
The accusation against the Lord is untrue and he uses the man's own words to reveal his unfaithful heart.
# Luke 19:23
Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
The Lord asks the servant "If you were so scared of me, believing that I took and reaped where I wanted, then why didn't you do all you could to appease me?" There is no reasonable answer, of course, and the servant could not reply.
# Luke 19:24
And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
This servant comes away from this judgment with nothing but his salvation. There may very well be many, many saved people who will fare this way. This, and another passage which will be discussed later, shows that it is perfectly possible for a person to be saved and not "look" saved or "live" saved. Many have been taught that salvation must be accompanied by good works or the person did not really get saved. This is an erroneous belief which is shown by this parable.
This last verse refers back to the citizens of verse 14.
# Luke 19:27
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
These are the Lord's enemies, those who are lost. The Lord's return at the Second Advent will accomplish this slaying in a most bloody way.
It has already been shown that some Christian rewards will differ between individuals, but now we will show that some Christians will have earned no rewards at all and some will lose what they have earned.
Our problem is that we have two natures: and old fleshly one and a new spiritual, born again, one. These will not be discussed in entirety, but only as it relates to the topic. See what Paul wrote to Timothy about the makeup of the body of Christ.
# II Timothy 2:19
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
The first verse lets us know positively that Paul is speaking of Christians, implying that the Lord knows his children even if we can't recognize them, and exhorting all Christians to quit their sinning. This next verse compares Christians to vessels in household. The "great house" being the body of Christ.
# II Timothy 2:20
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
A vessel is just a container, something which is hollow so that it may hold something else. Vessels would include milk cartons, drinking glasses, flower vases, pencil cups, and many more things which the reader is perfectly capable of thinking of himself. The many, many vessels which represent Christians represent the entire body of Christ, and to us some of these vessels seem less honorable than others. For instance, a garbage can or toilet, which we all have and which are both most necessary, do not seem as honorable as grandma's antique silver teapot or even the new baby's milk bottles. But within the body God recognizes the absolute necessity and usefulness of those vessels that we think less honorable.
# I Corinthians 12:22
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
So then those vessels of "wood and earth" are important to the Lord and important to the body even if we don't realize it. The "operative" words in the above verses are " seem to be more feeble" and " we think to be less honorable." These vessels are thoroughly honorable to God and should be recognized so by us as well. A sanctified trash basket is better than an unsanctified lead crystal vase.
# 1 Thessalonians 4:3
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
Now this comparison was given because back in the II Timothy 2:20 the verse said that there were some dishonorable vessels, and it implied that could be true even of vessels of gold. Grandma's teapot may be the place the marijuana is stashed. It is interesting to note that a few of the synonyms for "dishonor" are " disgrace, shame, blasphemy, irreverence, and profaneness." A Christian is capable of all these things. Paul warned people about these kind of Christians. He says to follow him, and those who walk as he does.
# Philippians 3:17
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
As a young Christian, who one follows is important, as Paul warns.
# Philippians 3:18
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Now some would say that these people are lost, but there is no question from the next verse that these are "dishonorable" Christians. The common and erroneous belief is that if a professing Christian decides to become a Jehovah's Witness, or Mormon, or if he becomes a drug addicted, adulterous, whoremonger, that he couldn't have been saved to begin with. This is not necessarily so, and more verses will soon show that truth. Some Christians actually are enemies to the cross of Christ, which is the preaching of the gospel.
# I Corinthians 1:17
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
These kinds of Christians are sinning children of God, and they may even count themselves as your enemy if you try to correct them.
# Galatians 4:16
Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
Their problem lies in their old nature which is in control of their lives, because the Devil has deceived them.
# I Thessalonians 3:5
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
# II Timothy 2:26
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Paul warns other Christians in several of his epistles not to follow or fellowship with these sinning brethren, or even think the way they do.
# Philippians 3:19
Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Since we are admonished to set our affections on heavenly things, it is obvious that we do not automatically do that.
# Colossians 3:2
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
There are several consequences for sinning Christians. Other Christians are told to avoid them.
# Romans 16:17
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
# II Thessalonians 3:13
But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
In extreme cases the congregation can pray for this.
# I Corinthians 5:5
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
The Lord may just kill a Christian, who is sinning and ruining his life and others. But the point is made that a Christian is capable of all the sin of a lost person. Our old nature is not gone until the rapture or death, and it and the Devil can control our lives if we let them.
But, on coming back to our original passage in Timothy, until that dishonorable vessel is broken (death), the Christian still may be able to purge himself from his sins and become usable in the Lord's hands.
# I Timothy 2:21
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
If he remains dishonorable, however, and does not serve the Lord he will lose some if not all of his rewards, which will be shown.
Now another passage which deals with Christian flesh and the old nature is found in Galatians.
# Galatians 5:17
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
There is absolutely NO question that Paul is discussing Christian flesh in this passage. He goes so far as to say that the flesh is sometimes so strong "that ye cannot do the things that ye would." In Romans he laments.
# Romans 7:23
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
We are in sad, sad shape when we don't yield to Christ.
Paul adds verse 18 because he is reminding those Christians who will do some of the sins on this list, or who will see others do them, that we are no longer under the law. Under the law many of these sins demanded the death penalty and sent the sinner to hell. Not so under grace, because the blood of Christ forgives and covers ALL sins.
Once more, however, many Christians would shout that a professing Christian who committed murder or became involved in witchcraft could never have really been saved to begin with. But these verses show the absolute falseness of that teaching. These are the works of CHRISTIAN flesh and Paul tells them the penalty for their sin. It is no longer death by stoning but is now a loss of inheritance.
# Galatians 5:21
...of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Now, once more, in order to prove their erroneous point some people will equate "inherit the kingdom of God" with salvation, but that is not so. In this case the inheritance is an EARNED REWARD.
# Colossians 3:24
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Paul wrote a passage in Ephesians that is similar to that one in Galatians.
# Ephesians 5:3
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
The Ephesians list is not as extensive as the one in Galatians, but fornication, whoremongering, and idolatry are pretty serious sins for a Christian, and once more he tells the sinners that they will lose their inheritance.
Once more Paul elaborates.
# I Corinthians 6:9
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Again, some Christians, believe this passage is about lost people, and object to Christians being called "unrighteous," but this whole passage is addressed to and is about Christians. This author is willing to discuss this particular chapter at length with anyone who is interested.
So now that it has been determined that Christians who are committing those sins listed above will NOT inherit the kingdom of God, what exactly does that mean? Well, the Bible does not specifically say. The details will undoubtedly be hammered out at the Judgment Seat, but these Christians will lose something, possibly their reign during the Millennium.
THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
There is no doubt that Christians will be judged for their works, but it is not in the scope of this paper to examine verses to determine the time of this judgment. Most believe it will take place in heaven, directly after the rapture, during some or all of the seven year Tribulation that will be on the earth. For this paper that is perfectly acceptable.
The purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ is not to determine an individual's salvation but rather to determine what rewards he will receive for the work he did while he was alive on the earth.
Every Church Age Christian will face this judgment.
# II Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Notice we are judged for those things done in our bodies of flesh. In those bodies there is a continual conflict between the old and new natures. It is the eternal struggle which will only end in death or at the rapture, but we are told to yield ourselves to righteousness.
# Romans 6:19
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
This yielding will earn us rewards, but unfortunately not all Christians yield to the Lord.
# Romans 8:12
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Many Christians continue to live as though they were lost. Paul exhorted all of us about this more than once.
# Galatians 5:16
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
# Galatians 5:25
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
He had to exhort us because the old man, the fleshly man, is so strong and as to be overpowering. Yielding to him leads to a defeated Christian life and loss at the Judgment Seat.
Now many Christians believe that no sins will show up at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and they quote some of the previous verses to try to prove that only works will be made known there. They forget, however, that II Corinthians 5:10 says that good and bad things done in the body will be judged. Our body is flesh, and the works of the flesh have been revealed as sinful indeed. Also, some other Christians believe that only unconfessed sins will be there, while those confessed will not be exposed. The first supposition is easy to disprove.
# I Timothy 5:24
Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
These verses refer to the Judgment Seat, and it is obvious that there are some hidden sins which Christians will have committed that will be revealed at that time. If, for instance, an individual was concealing a particular sin that was listed in those "works of the flesh" verses he would not inherit the kingdom of God. There are undoubtedly many hidden sins that will be revealed, and Paul tells us to not to try to figure things out in our own finite minds what is going on, even in our own lives.
# I Corinthians 4:3
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
Will our sins as Christians be broadcast in living color and stereo for all to see? That is another question about which there is speculation. Some Christians believe that the only "evidence" of our sins will be the size of the bonfire of our wood, hay, and stubble. They believe that we will recognize a Christian who sinned greatly or one who sinned less only this way. The reason they give is that no sin is allowed in heaven and that the broadcast of our sins would be sin.
It seems to me that this objection is negated by the fact that Jesus himself says that at the judgment of the lost that their sins will be openly revealed.
# Luke 2:35
(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
I don't know about you but the thoughts of my heart at times are wicked far beyond anything that has ever been shown on the worst movie. If the lost are going to suffer the horror of seeing their own thoughts why shouldn't we.
# Luke 12:2
For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.
3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
That covers everything, and those sins will be revealed in heaven. It also must be remembered that any sins we view will be viewed with the mind of Christ. The "presentation" of sin is not a sin in itself, otherwise Christ would have been considered a sinner when the Devil tempted him. Certainly God views the wicked sinfulness of millions of individuals each second. This awareness of sins does not change or effect his holy nature in any way. We will be like him after the rapture and thus would be able to "view" sins without them effecting us. If we are present at the judgment of the lost, and I believe we will be, viewing their sins would do us no more harm than viewing our own (and those of other Christians) at the Judgment Seat.
# I Corinthians 3:13
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
This verse says that the "work" of a Christian will be declared and revealed. The "work" which emanated from the flesh would be burned and destroyed. The other "work" would be that of the Lord.
# Philippians 2:12
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
This "work" would be revealed and purified in the fire to determine rewards. If our good works are going to be revealed which they are...
# I Timothy 5:25
Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
...then why wouldn't our sinful, fleshly works also be specifically revealed. I, personally, think that they will be.
Now there is also that objection that only those unconfessed sins will show up at the judgment. This assumption is leaped at from this verse.
# I John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
From a doctrinal standpoint we were all forgiven of all of our sins the moment that we trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, but this verse is for practical application. A Christian should confess his sins to the Lord in order to stay in close fellowship with him. A child who breaks mama's favorite lamp while playing ball in the house (after he had been told not to) needs to confess to his mother what he has done. That heartfelt confession will go a long way in his mother's forgiving him. But that confession or lack of confession does not change the condition of the lamp, or the sonship of the child. The lamp is still broken, and the child is still in the family, whether or not he ever "fesses up" to his crime.