Grace, Works, and Rewards

Ephesians 6:8   (KJV)   8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Even in and under the age of grace, the Lord still operates in a reward system. Doing good still has its merits and blessings. All of us are still affected by this divinely ordained principle, system, or design.

Ephesians 6.8 - Grace, Works, and RewardsWhoever we are and whatever our status is in society, we live in the assurance that our God Who is gracious is also God who is fair and just. He won’t shortchange us. God compensates our life of loving faithfulness. He doesn’t have favoritism; it’s because (I personally take it as) we’re all His favorites.

We find delight in pleasing our Master, and He returns the favor in an inestimably gracious way. That’s why I understand that there’s no contradiction between grace and rewards. God values our good works, He rewards them, and His rewards are incalculably more gracious than what our works deserve. This is clear in the principle of sowing and reaping; in general, what we reap is always multiplied times more than what we sow.

This is why we so willingly, lovingly, diligently, and enthusiastically serve the Lord and others. Although His rewards aren’t our prime motivation, we believe the truth about it. They’re real; they come; we gratefully receive them, we enjoy them; and we know there’s a lot more of them. Praise God.

God’s Goodness and Severity

Romans 11:22   (KJV)   22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

God is good and severe; God is loving and just; God is Father and Lord; God is gracious and holy; God is to be loved and feared. All facets of God’s nature are true; one ought to not be sacrificed for the other; one ought to not be rejected in preference of another. All Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliffof them have to be embraced. I’ve observed so many people becoming very passionate about one of God’s natures and in doing so undermining the value of another, perhaps unawarely.

“Behold;” take a look; observe it; notice: God is both good and severe. He is loving, gentle, kind; He is also holy, stern, strict, serious. His Fatherhood is a good, balanced Fatherhood. He loves and disciplines. He doesn’t rear spoiled kingdom kids.  It’s clearly explicit: “on them which fell,” to those who live in disobedience, He is severe. That’s not birthed out of thoughtless and angry emotion or passion. That springs forth from His wisdom and patience.

On the other hand, “if thou continue in His goodness,” if we continue to live faithfully in the light of His goodness, He continues to pour out more goodness to us than we deserve. What God gives to us is always way more abundant than what our actions merit—He is gracious, that is. And it’s important that we heed these words soberly. He is more serious about it than how a lot of believers think and teach. If we fall and don’t stay down, if we don’t continue in His goodness, we “also”—which could mean it’s been true to others already—“shalt be cut off.”

Instead of being quick to interpret those words away to fit our emphasis on the doctrine of love and grace, my loving encouragement is that we please consider the severity of those words more than we probably have been willing to before. In the first place, our loving and gracious God included them in His recorded Words for loving and gracious reasons. He’s not hating on us in recording those words.

Second-Mile Obedience

Matthew 1:24   (KJV)   24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife

Joseph obeyed the angel’s command although it wasn’t a simple one.  He had to be very sensitive to spiritual matters; he had to be discerning enough to recognize that his dream was something beyond the ordinary. His decision wasn’t something small; it was life Matthew 1.24 - Second-Mile Obediencealtering, in fact, it was big-time history changing. He may not have known the importance or the extents of the consequences of His obedience, but that’s a nature of obedience: we can’t predict it’s real value.

God values our obedience more than we know it. He values it more than sacrifice. By the way, grace doesn’t discard, undermine, diminish, dismiss, or nullify the need for obedience. They’re not opposed to each other. In fact, one of grace’s most important function is empowering us to obey God in saying “no” to undgodliness. Obedience demonstrates who we are as believers; obedience is living wisely as His child.

Obedience still brings rewards and disobedience brings discipline or punishment. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to argue against those who teach that God no longer punishes us when we disobey; I’m just sharing what I believe. Every blessing we have is grace from God, but God’s Word teaches that not everyone receives God’s grace.  Only those who appropriate grace by faith benefit from it. Faith isn’t just mental; living faith is belief-obedience. Remember, during the “awarding ceremony” of believers, there will be gradations of rewards.

My encouragement is not only to obey, but to go a second mile. Joseph did. He wasn’t commanded to have sexual relations with Mary, but He didn’t until after Jesus was born. He decided on that and did that on his own.

Distinctions

Exodus 8:23   (KJV)   23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.

There are similarities and differences in the experiences of God’s people and the world. God determines which is which. The world isn’t disqualified from all of God’s blessings exodus-8-23-distinctionsand goodness; God’s people aren’t exempt from tragedies. God makes the sun shine on both; He makes it rain on both. But there is a time when in God’s wisdom, He decides to create a distinction between those who are His own, and those who fight against Him.

Those are so many things believers do that unbelievers do; there are even miracles they can imitate; demonic forces are supernatural beings capable of extra-ordinary feats. But they can only go so far; they have limitations; our God alone is omnipotent. But yes, there’s suffering in the world, and Christians aren’t exempt from suffering. In fact, there are additional sufferings unique to believers; we do get persecuted for our faith.

God has sovereign plans for His people that will be accomplished no matter what. God has sovereign plans for the wicked that will be accomplished no matter what. The godly and the wicked may share the same blessings and experiences here and there, but there’s surely a demarcation line in this. God has a different destiny for the godly, and a different destiny for the ungodly. We’re excitedly waiting for our ultimate “tomorrow” when the difference will be total and final.

The Return of the Son

Matthew 25:31   (KJV)   31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

There will come a time when peace will be a reality in a worldwide scale. More than a hand sign, more than a bumper sticker, more than a wish from many nations’ ambassadors, more than a Ms. Universe contestants’ response, it will be a reality. It won’t be peace for a matthew-25-31-the-return-of-the-sontime; it will be permanent. The Lord Jesus is coming again in majestic splendor. With Him are His holy angelic armies. This time, He won’t be laid in a manger; he will sit upon His glorious throne.

His return is a clear and established biblical truth. There may be differences in interpretation as to when and how, but there’s no question about Him coming back. When He ascended to heaven, two-white robed men—probably heavenly angelic beings—declared that He will return from heaven in the same way they saw Him go. The popular (Apostles’) Creed states: “And seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

The King of kings and the Lord of Lords is coming. Every injustice will be remedied; justice and righteousness will prevail. We will have the kind of one world government that’s perfect—led by a non-corrupt, perfect, holy, absolutely good and loving Ruler. That’s why I oppose any one world government to be supremely ruled by an imperfect individual or imperfect group—more so, by selfish, greedy, corrupt, and power-hungry tyrant/s.

As for now, we live in joyful faith and hope—in watchfulness and readiness, longingly waiting for our beloved Lord and Savior. We make sure we have enough “oil” for our lamp—always excited and ready to welcome and meet our heavenly Groom on His second advent or arrival. We’re seizing the gift of time, making the most of every opportunity He gives us, blooming where we’re planted, enjoying and making the most of the potential of our present, celebrating the memory of His first advent as we eagerly look forward to the heavenly curtains pulling back, the clouds breaking open, and our Jesus… oh…

Love and Confidence

1 John 4:17   (KJV)   17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Like a lovely plant; love can grow and love can wilt.

Love needs to be cared for and fed. Left to itself, it will die.

1-john-4-17-love-and-confidenceIt’s amazing how in some cases, love just strikes; it appears without notice. It happens without any effort on our part. That’s why we hear of love at first sight.

Puppy love often springs up instantly, so do weeds.

When love makes a commitment, there comes moments when what keeps love going is the commitment.

Our love for others grows when immersed in the love of God. The more we live in God; the more we live in love.

The more we love God, the more we love others. It just makes sense: to love God is to love those who bear His image.

To live in love for God and others is to have confidence in our salvation and boldness in the day of judgment. This means that true believers love, and true love bears fruit of righteousness.

Faith, works, love—all three are present in a real believer. Simply: faith works love, or genuine faith produces acts of love.

To love is to be like God (God-like or godly).

Song of Justice

Revelation 5:9   (KJV)   9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation

What has become almost a slogan to us and the local church I go to are these words: “There’s no life better than that of a believer.” At times others may wonder: how can that be true? Believers are objects of ridicule, rejection, attacks, torture, and even death. This is true for believers—whatever part of the world we find ourselves in. We don’t deny this; in revelation-5-9-song-of-justicefact, the more real the persecutions are, the more we see the comforting truth in that slogan. Despite all the sufferings unique to being God’s people, we still wonderfully enjoy a life of love, joy, peace, power, and freedom.

Who else enjoys that kind of reality? Where else do we find that? For many others, when they suffer, they don’t see life in a good light. But we believers still surprisingly do. Sheep among wolves and being enemies of the world where we’re operating isn’t a pretty picture seen from common eyes. We’re fully aware of that, but we know that the glory that awaits us is superbly and inestimably much greater than the sufferings we’re undergoing right now.

In the natural eyes, we look weird—even crazy. We love our enemies; we bless those who curse us; we pray for those who persecute us; we don’t rejoice in the misfortunes of those who attack us. It’s not that those of God are void of any sense of justice; we are. That’s why there’s singing in the presence of God for the worthiness of our Lord Jesus to break the seals and open the scroll. These things are associated with judgments. Why the singing? Praise God; we who unjustly suffer here on earth for being a part of His redeemed are spared from these horrendous judgments. This is the time of our much awaited vindication. In fact, this is the time when the meek, gentle-hearted martyrs will pray for vengeance—and that desire and action is welcomed.

We excitedly look forward to that day. Our precious Lord Jesus will be revealed in His awesome splendor and glory. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess—even His enemies—that our Lord is Lord. They have to; it will be very obvious. Judgments will be poured out, but not to the blood-bought saints. No, we won’t be suffering then: no more sorrow, tears, sickness, pain, death; we will be rejoicing.