The Gift of Salvation and the Rewards for Good Works
There is a vast difference between the doctrine of salvation for the lost, and the doctrine of rewards for the saved. Salvation is the gift of God, not of works. Salvation is received by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rewards are according to the works of the believer. A most revealing Scripture on rewards is found in 1 Cor. 3.8-15. First, every believer will be rewarded according to his own labor. We do not labor for salvation. Second, we are laborers together with God, not for salvation but for rewards. Third, the believer is to build on the Lord Jesus Christ, the only solid foundation. Fourth, the laborer has two kinds of building material— gold, silver, and precious stones, which is to say building with eternal materials, or with hay, stubble, wood which is to say building with temporal materials. The believer who builds on Christ with eternal materials shall receive a reward. Those who build on Christ with temporal materials will receive no reward and their works will be destroyed at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the believer will suffer loss– not the loss of salvation but the loss of eternal reward. Some believers will be ashamed at the Judgment seat of Christ ashamed of their works of wood, hay, stubble.
A man on his sick bed talked with tears in his eyes of going home. He had recently given himself t0 the Lord. He wasn’t afraid to die, but he was ashamed to die having lived for self for so long and now having to meet the Lord empty handed. His life loomed before him as so much wood, stubble, straw. He was saved and his works burned up. He found the crown of life and in the end strength to overcome temptation and to endure trials. St. Paul says he even gloried in tribulations or trials for the Lord. Do we do that? We can if the love of Christ is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Without that love in our hearts, trials can lead us to become bitter and critical and lose the crown of life. The crown of life can only be ours if we are faithful unto death. The believer must love the Lord more than his own life. ‘For whoever shall save his life, shall lose it, but whoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel shall save it.’