TITLE: HEAVENLY REWARD
Subtitle: Rewards Can Be Earned And Lost, But Salvation--Never!!!
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In our last article "Fearing God," (www.cuttingedge.org/articles/p217.htm) we tried to point out the obvious connection between God's parental love for His children and His hand of discipline upon us when we disobey. Chastening is often meted out by our Heavenly Father because of sin, but under no circumstances will He ever withdraw salvation from one of His own.
So to amplify this priciple, I believe it will be helpful to look at what the Bible has to say about earning rewards. Our wonderful and gracious Father not only saves us and gives us eternal life, but also keeps in store for us heavenly reward(s) based upon faithful service. We find that principle taught by the apostle Paul in the following passages:
"According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  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.  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" 1 Cor. 3:10-15 (KJV).
"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" 2 Cor. 5:10 (KJV).
This principle of reward, clearly and unambiguously stated, says Jesus Christ is going to judge His own. And if He determines our individual "works"--that which we have done for His cause on earth--are gold, silver, or precious stones in character, we will receive eternal reward(s) based upon their relative merit. However, if they are deemed to be wood, hay, or stubble and are consumed by the fire of His testing, we will suffer loss. So in light of this, let me ask a question: Does verse 15 of 1 Corinthians, chapter three (above) end with the word "loss"? No, it goes on to state that "he himself" (the individual being tested and who suffers the loss of reward) will be saved--"but only as [one who has passed] through the fire" (Amplified Bible).
The possibility of loss remains a clear and present danger where believers are concerned. To allow a "pet" sin to continue unconfessed after the Holy Spirit has prompted us to repent--is to test God's patience. Only He knows where the proverbial line in the sand is drawn and if we cross it--potential reward is at stake. Then if we persist and our hearts become so hardened to His chastening that we refuse to listen, premature death may be the final remedy! Here is what the apostle John said about this particular aspect of chastening in 1 John 5:16-17:
"If any one sees his brother [believer] committing a sin that does not [lead to] death [the extinguishing of life], he will pray and God will give him life--yes, He will grant life to all those whose sin is not [one leading] to death. There is a sin [that leads] to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.  All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin which does not [involve] death--that may be repented of and forgiven" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis mine).
So any child of grace who stubbornly insists upon continuing sinful behavior runs the risk of being removed. Their salvation will not be lost, but it seems reasonable to conclude that such drastic action would result in the forfeiture of any reward that might have otherwise been granted--even though to the best of my knowledge, the Scriptures do not address that particular aspect of the subject.
Therefore, it is obvious we must maintain a healthy fear of our Heavenly Father and approach Him with much more respect and reverence than that which we render to our earthly fathers. Their chastening may have been severe at times (Heb.12:9-10), but withdrawing physical life (as opposed to the eternal life we have in Christ) is a step God may take if we stubbornly refuse to repent. So please keep this principle in mind as we move on.
As we mentioned in the previous article, there are several passages of Scripture in the New Testament which continue to be construed as teaching a believer can lose their salvation. But I submit to you that the intended application is to those who may be in danger of losing their reward, not salvation. One such passage is found in 2 Peter:
"Let me warn you, therefore, beloved, that knowing these things beforehand, you should be on your guard lest you be carried away by the error of lawless and wicked [persons and] fall from your own [present] firm condition--your own steadfastness [of mind]" 2 Peter 3:17 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplied Bible commentary).
In verses 3 and 4 of this chapter Peter warns believers about those who mock and cause unrest. Then in verse 16 he mentions things the apostle Paul had written about that are hard to understand--things the unstable and unlearned were wresting (distorting) unto their own destruction. Finally, in verse17 the warning is given to prevent believers from listening to those people and wind up falling away from their "stedfastness" (KJV) of position. Giving heed to "seducing spirits" and following their error can lead to believers turning away from the faith, as we see in the following passage in 1 Timothy:
"But the (Holy) Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines tht demons teach.  Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars, whose consciences are seared (cauterized)" 1 Timothy 4:1-2 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary).
I believe with all my heart we are living in the "latter times" of this verse and many of God's beloved children are turning from their stedfast position in the faith by following demon-filled apostates masquerading as preachers. Does this mean they will go to hell when they die? No!!!! But it does mean Satan has scored a victory where they are concerned, because God the Father is hurt by the failure of His children. Folks, the devil is a defeated enemy, but is still allowed to spite God by leading astray some of the elect for whom Christ died. The Father has provided them all the spiritual armor necessary (Ephesians 6:11-18)--but some fail to use it properly and will suffer loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10, previously cited).
Another misunderstood verse is also found in 2 Peter:
"Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this you will never stumble or fall" 2 Peter 1:10 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary).
All believers are supposed to "grow in grace and knowledge of Christ" (2 Peter 3:18), so that we will strengthen and solidify our position in Him--our calling, our election--to such a degree that "seducing spirits" will not be able to mislead us through false doctrine. Mature believers who have been properly taught and know how to "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Tim.2:15) can spot a counterfeit--because they will invariably deviate from the truth of the Scriptures by adding to or taking away from them. The Word of God is our primary resource in spiritual discernment--being backed up by the reinforcement of the Holy Spirit's presence within us. And one of the most heartbreaking realities today is that some believers are giving heed to the "spirit" (notice I did not capitalize the word) rather than placing proper priority upon what God has already said. And I know some Charismatics are going to be offended by this, but I urge all who object to read the following on-line book entitled "I Speak In Tongues More Than You All":
Written by a Chrismatic to Charismatics, it is without a doubt the best on the subject I have read to date. Please read and heed, lest you "stumble and fall" by following the wrong path and wind up losing reward.
"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" Matthew 24:13 (KJV)
"Aha! See, I told you that we have to 'hold out to the end' in order to be saved." Wrong again! The 24th chapter of Matthew--from verse 4 onward--is prophetic and deals with Jews during the Tribulation Period. When the Lord spoke these Words to His Jewish disciples, the Church was still a divine mystery and would not become a reality until Pentecost--50 days after Passover--the day when He was crucified and buried. The Lord's entire earthly ministry involved the message, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." What's the point? Simply that He was Personally on earth and offering the Kingdom to Israel. Then in verse 14 (right after the statement of "endure to the end," above), the text clearly says:
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" Matthew 24:14 (KJV, emphasis mine).
That "this Gospel" refers to the "Gospel of the Kingdom" and not the "Gospel of grace" presently being preached to all the world--is proof positive the passage refers to the Tribulation Period when the Kingdom Gospel will be proclaimed, because once again the Lord's earthly Kingdom will truly be "at hand"--His Personal presence will be imminent. The 144,000 servants of God chosen out of Israel (Revelation 7:4-8) will preach the good news of the Kingdom to every nation on earth and "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people...." (vs 9), will be saved out of "great tribulation" (vs.14--the last half of the Tribulation Period).
Therefore, the statement about the salvation of those who endure to the end is referring to the remnant of the elect (both Jew and Gentile) who make it to the end of the Tribulation Period alive!
And finally the "big gun" passage which has troubled so many for centuries: Hebrews 6:4-6:
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,  And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,  If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame" Hebrews 6:4-6
Over time several views have been proposed as to whom this is referring, but one thing is stated very clearly--the ones who fall away cannot be renewed to repentance. With that being the case, what does repentance mean? Simply put, the Greek word metanoia means to "have another mind"--to stop going in the wrong direction and start going in the right direction, spiritually speaking. So the thing we need to understand is that while true repentance always accompanies salvation, it is not salvation itself.
Next, we should note the term "fall away" in verse 6 translates the Greek word parapipto--of which W. E. Vine says in his "Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words": "...signifies to fall away (from adherence to the realities and facts of the faith)..." Therefore, if this passage is in fact speaking of a genuine believer who falls away from adherence to the realities and facts of the faith, it will be due to deception by a false spirit--the work of demons and/or individuals who are apostates and masquerading as believers for the purpose of deception. The saddest part is, if the deviation progresses beyond that point at which God will still grant repentance, it becomes irreversible--the lamb will end up being devoured by the wolf, so to speak, and totally lose its effectiveness for Christ. Loss of reward for falling prey to such deception after being repeatedly warned in the Word of God to beware of "wolves in sheep's clothing," should be an understandable concept for all of us. But once salvation is truly a reality in our life, to lose it over the commission of any sin would be totally contrary to many, many verses of Scripture--the preponderance, in fact--which definitely say otherwise. All our sins, 100% of them--past, present, and future--were forgiven in Christ Jesus.
LOSS OF REWARD IS AN EVER-PRESENT DANGER FOR THE GENUINE BELIEVER--BUT PRAISE THE LORD, SALVATION IS NOT CONDITIONAL!!!!
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.
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