The Bible teaches that Christians do not receive special rewards for faithfulness which are to be bestowed at the end of time.
Some verses which seem to contradict this statement are listed below, together with a brief explanation of their correct meaning.
1. I Peter 5:4 seems to imply that believers get crowns of glory. However, from Isaiah 28:5, we learn that our crown is God Himself.
2. II Corinthians 4:17 seems to hold the promise of special glory for those who suffer. However, from I Thessalonians 2:14, we see that our glory is Jesus Christ Himself. The Bible also teaches that all believers suffer. It is their common lot (II Tim. 3:12). No special reward can be expected for those who endure it.
3. Luke 14:14 seems to imply that a recompense is due to believers. However, that verse also states that the recompense is the resurrection of the just, which is the reward of all believers, rather than the recompense of an especially faithful few.
4. Luke 19:12-27 seems to imply a position in heaven according to works on earth. However, there is no significance to the fact that one man received five and another ten. After all, why didn't the man with five pounds also get some of the money from the man with one pound (verse 24)? Therefore, the issue is not the five or ten.
5. John 4:36 seems to imply a wage for effort. However, the wage is eternal life given to all believers.
Here are some verses that support and clarify the statement that Christians do not receive special rewards for faithfulness which are to be bestowed at the end of time.
1. Colossians 3:24 teaches that a believer's reward is an inheritance. There is a work in salvation for which a reward follows, but the work is all God's. The reward is secured by God and given in grace, willed, as a free inheritance to all of God's own. God's reward is their inheritance.
2. Romans 8:17,32 and Hebrews 1:2 teach two important facts. One is that all believers get the same inheritance. Another is that Christ is heir of all things and believers are joint heirs with Christ. Based upon these, we can conclude that there is nothing more that God can give one person than another. Essentially, there is nothing left which God can give as a reward.
3. Matthew 20:15 teaches that what God's people receive is God's prerogative. As the giver, God is sovereign, and what a believer obtains is not related to anything which he does.
4. Luke 17:10 teaches that all of a believer's work is nothing special. It is just their duty (Rom. 12:3).
5. Romans 4:1,4 teaches that grace and earned rewards are mutually exclusive. What God has in store for His people is not what they can earn by their own efforts. Their works before their salvation merit death (Rom. 6:23). Their works after salvation are done for love alone (Rom. 6:17).
6. Luke 18:28-30 tells us that the disciples wondered about rewards too. Jesus answered, "On this earth you will get blessings when you live obediently to God, but in Heaven the reward is always the same, eternal life."
7. Corinthians 9:17,18 teaches that a believer's expectation is only to bring the Gospel freely.
8. Genesis 15:1, Psalm 90:1, Isaiah 28:5 teach that the real reward is God Himself.
At the root of it all, our view of rewards reflects our view of God and of ourselves. We must recognize that God is all powerful, perfect, who does everything for us without any contributory works by us. We must also recognize that we are weak, sinful creatures who are blessed to have anything, even a scrap from God (Matt. 14:27,28). Therefore, we must live a life of humble gratitude and love to God our Savior without even a thought of rewards. More than that, any idea of rewards and works brings us back to salvation in which our efforts count for something and the cross is not totally sufficient. This is not the salvation of the Bible.
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