Jim Denison on Are There Rewards When You Get to Heaven?

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Millennia after our culture has disappeared, eternity will only have begun. Jesus promised the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). What was “paradise” like for that convicted felon? What will it be like for you and me? Why does it all matter today?

A dear elderly saint was near death and gave her pastor a strange request: “When my casket is opened at the funeral, and all my friends come by for a last look, I want them to see me ready to be buried with a table fork in my right hand.”

She explained to her puzzled pastor, “I want you to tell the congregation, you know what it means when they clear the dishes from a big meal and someone says, ‘Keep your fork.’ You know that something good is coming—maybe a piece of apple pie or chocolate cake. ‘Keep your fork’ means something good is coming. Pastor, I want to be buried with a dessert fork in my hand. It will be my way of saying, ‘The best is yet to come.’”

And so it was. Everyone who saw her body in the casket saw her final witness. For her, death and judgment were not a disaster, but dessert.

How can that be true for you and me, when we stand before God in judgment one day?

Living for heaven is in your best interest on earth and in glory, in time and in eternity. The Bible has much to say about our judgment and rewards in heaven. We’ll look briefly at the subject, and relate it to our lives today.

Will your building last?

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul paints the picture of life as a house we build. His discussion makes four facts clear.

First, your “house” is the gift of God (v. 10).

Paul’s abilities and opportunities to be an “expert builder” were given to him by God. His relationship with Jesus Christ is God’s grace gift to him. All we have and are comes by his grace.

The doctrine of judgment does not teach a works righteousness. We cannot earn God’s love or favor. Judgment means that we are to be faithful stewards of the grace gifts and opportunities of God and are accountable for them. But no one deserves the rewards given at the judgment—they come by his grace.

Second, your house must be founded on Jesus (v. 11).

He is the unchanging, stable rock upon which to build your life. Not just your religion, or your Sunday mornings, but every priority, commitment, and ambition. Your life must be bolted to him.

Third, you are responsible for what you build (v. 12).

The foundation is determined. What we build on it is not. Some of us use “gold, silver, costly stones” such as marble and granite. We give God our best. We invest in that which is permanent and eternal. We put souls before success, family before finances, God before gold. When the “fire” of judgment comes, gold, silver, and marble stand the test. You’ve seen ancient marble ruins standing for thousands of years, ready to stand for thousands more. So with some of us.

On the other hand, some of us build our lives out of “wood, hay, or straw.” We give God what is cheap, convenient, or easy. He gets the leftovers. And when we are judged, our disobedience will be obvious to all.

Fourth, God will judge our lives (vs. 13-15).

One day the judgment will come–the “Day” (v. 13). Those who lived for God will be rewarded, as we’ll see in a moment (v. 14). Those of us who lived for ourselves, for this fallen world, for that which is temporary and inferior, will “suffer loss” (v. 15a). God cannot reward disobedience.

If we have made Jesus our Savior, we will be saved. Our eternal salvation is not in question. But our eternal rewards are, and if our house has been built out of wood, hay, or straw, we will “be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (v. 15b). How do people run out of a burning house? With nothing.

You’ve perhaps heard about the crooked building contractor who built a house for a wealthy friend, cutting corners wherever he could, inferior products and workmanship throughout. When the house was finished, the wealthy friend gave the man the keys and said, “It’s yours.”

There’s a story about a business tycoon who made a fortune in money and fame but gave little of himself or his wealth to God. When he died, Peter showed him to his home in heaven: a small shack. He protested loudly, and Peter shrugged his shoulders and explained, “I did the best I could with what you sent me.”

You and I are responsible for what we do with the lives God has given us by his grace. They are to be founded on Jesus as Lord, built of our best commitment to him. One day the Building Inspector will visit our house. And his judgment will be eternal.

These are the facts of God’s word. Now let’s ask some questions.

Will you be judged?

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison