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Topic: Reward (09/27/04)
TITLE: Distinguishing Blessing From Reward
By Doug Laird
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God, in His grace, gives what theologians call “common” grace blessings to all mankind, regardless of his spiritual status. They include a physical body & all that is necessary to sustain it for as long as need be in order to fulfill the purpose(s) for which each individual was created.
Common grace includes the pre-salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Man, in his fallen nature that is passed down from generation to generation since the Fall of Man (1Cor.15: 22), is incapable of understanding God or the things of God (1Cor.2: 14). It is the pre-salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit provided to Man through “common” grace that makes the saving Gospel understandable and affords Man the opportunity to believe.
It is “common” grace that places in the heart of every human being the knowledge that there is a God, but simply acknowledging that God exists does not result in salvation as “even the demons believe that—and shudder.” (James 2:19).
Common grace provides Man with a free will in which every person inevitably will use to either accept God & the things of God or to accept the counterfeit alternatives of Satan.
Common grace is symbolized as the shining of the natural sun on all men (Matt.5: 45).
Then there is what theologians call “grace blessings”. Grace blessings are given to members of the human who use the free will that God has given them and respond to the pre-salvation call of God the Holy Spirit to believe in the Person (who He is) and the Works (what He did on the cross) of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When a person “believes” in the Person & the Works of the Lord Jesus Christ, he has met ALL of the requirements for salvation and is born again. Salvation is the first grace blessing that the born again believer receives and can never lose. As of the moment of conversion, the believer’s body becomes the dwelling place of God (1Cor.6: 19) & receives many other grace blessings.
Following salvation, the believer then has an ongoing opportunity to submit to the authority, leadership, and filling (control) of God the Holy Spirit in order to bring maximum glory to God in the post-salvation spiritual life.
Part of this post-salvation spiritual life calls for each and every believer to identify and execute the spiritual gift that was selected by God (1Cor.12: 11) at the moment of conversion. Along with this gift, God gives the ability, means, and opportunities to carry it out as part of the grace blessings that all born again believers receive.
God also gives (or takes away) everything needed to accomplish His goals in the believer’s life.
God provides each and every believer with the complete armor of God that will be necessary to endure and be victorious in the all of the spiritual warfare that lies ahead (Eph.6: 11-17).
Rewards are from God as well, but are received as a result of what God can do through us, not for what we can do for God. (John 15:5/Isa.64: 6).
The Bible (John 15:5/ Matthew 6:5) clearly teaches that unless the deeds done while in the body are accomplished with the right motivation and under the filling of the God the Holy Spirit, our good deeds are no more than “filthy rags” (Isa.64: 6 NIV) and “wood, hay or straw” (1Cor.3: 12 NIV) that will be “burned up” (1Cor.3: 15 NIV) at the judgment of the believers.
The “filling (control) of the indwelling Holy Spirit” requirement is something that ONLY born again believers can fulfill (1Cor.6: 19). All humans can produce “good” deeds, but those accomplished via human power carry NO eternal value (Matt.7: 22/23).
Those deeds that were done under the power of the Holy Spirit are symbolized as the “gold, silver, and costly stones” (1 Cor. 3:12 NIV) that endures the judgment and result in the believer receiving reward(s) (1Cor.3: 14).
Like our spiritual life, rewards are not something that begins when our earthly life comes to an end, but began the moment of our salvation & continue for all of Eternity (Mark 10:30).
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (R) Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All Rights reserved.