REWARDS TO COME
In a study of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation, one must first look at the purpose of the book. The Lord revealed these truths to John, and now to us, in order that He might make a last plea with people to accept Him and His message. People have turned a deaf ear to the Lord all through the ages.
The Book of Revelation reveals truths to alert all who will hear them. It is written to all ages, but in this final age, we are benefiting the most, for it is a revelation mainly for the last day church.
There are rewards for the righteous to anticipate. There are also terrible punishments for the wicked to dread. Jesus reveals both and desires the saints to know both the rewards and punishments well enough to be witnesses in these last days. This first examines the rewards we can now foresee because of the unveiling of truth given in Revelation.
Many Old Testament passages refer to the second coming of Christ, but few refer to the rapture of the church. To a certain extent, it was kept a secret. In the New Testament, it was openly revealed. With the revelation of the doctrine in the New Testament, we can better understand the Old Testament types that referred to the rapture.
For instance, Eve was created and presented to Adam, as the church is being made to be presented to Christ as His bride.
Joseph was rejected by his brothers, yet he saved them later, as the world rejected Jesus Christ, yet the church will be saved from the tribulation by Him.
Isaac watched eagerly for his bride, Rebekah, to be brought to him.
Enoch was raptured before the great destruction of the deluge.
Lot and his family were delivered from Sodom and Gomorrah, just before the fire and brimstone destroyed those cities.
We should all now be aware, in this age, that Jesus will soon come for the church. In His glorified state, He will come in the clouds to take His own.
I Thessalonians 4:15-18
"...WE THAT ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN UNTO THE COMING OF THE LORD, SHALL NOT PREVENT THEM WHICH ARE ASLEEP. FOR THE LORD HIMSELF SHALL DESCEND FROM HEAVEN WITH A SHOUT, WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL, AND WITH THE TRUMP OF GOD; AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST; THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS, TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR; AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD. WHEREFORE, COMFORT ONE ANOTHER WITH THESE WORDS."
I John 3:2
‘WHEN WE SEE HIM, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM."
After the rapture, on the way to the throne room of God, the saints will be judged. All saints are to appear before Christ at the judgment seat.
II Corinthians 5:10
"FOR WE MUST ALL APPEAR BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST, THAT EVERYONE OF US MAY RECEIVE THE THINGS DONE IN THE BODY, ACCORDING TO THAT HE HATH DONE, WHETHER IT BE GOOD OR BAD."
"FOR WE SHALL ALL STAND BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST...SO THEN EVERYONE OF US SHALL GIVE ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF TO GOD."
I Corinthians 3:11-15
"NOW IF ANY MAN BUILD UPON THIS FOUNDATION, GOLD, SILVER, AND PRECIOUS STONES, WOOD, HAY, STUBBLE,...EVERY MAN'S WORK SHALL BE MADE MANIFEST...IT SHALL BE REVEALED BY FIRE...IF ANY MAN'S WORK ABIDE, HE HATH BUILT...HE SHALL RECEIVE REWARD...IF ANY MAN'S WORK SHALL BE BURNED, HE SHALL SUFFER LOSS, BUT HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED, SO AS BY FIRE."
"...EVERY IDLE WORD...THEY SHALL GIVE ACCOUNT."
"...WHATSOEVER GOOD THING ANY MAN DOETH, THE SAME SHALL HE RECEIVE OF THE LORD."
"...WHATSOEVER A MAN SOWETH, THAT SHALL HE ALSO REAP."
Where is this judgment? It is not at the "throne of glory"(Matthew 25:31). Nor is it at the "Great White Throne" (Rev. 20:11). It is located at the "judgment seat," which is the translation of "bema." The word "bema" is a word that referred to a judges's seat at the Greek races. At the "bema" we will receive reward for having finished the race. Our judge, Jesus, awaits us at the finish line.
There, before the Lord Jesus, we will appear to receive rewards for winning the race. Our works as Christians will be judged. The question will be-"What have you done for Me?" That is hard for some Christians to realize. Many overlook their obligation to work. They live as though they have no care. However, we are told that we are "created unto good works." (Eph. 2:10) Just as a fruit tree is expected to bear its distinctive fruit--we too are expected to bear the fruit that proves the kind of tree we are. Yet, some are content to just receive blessings. We must, not just receive, but also do the works the Lord has commanded us to do.
‘BE YE DOERS OF THE WORD, AND NOT HEARERS ONLY, DECEIVING YOUR OWN SELVES."
For what shall we be judged? There are three main areas in which we will be judged.
1. Our conduct toward other believers will be scrutinized.
There is often bickering, competition, and bad feelings toward others in churches. Even in churches you may find jealousy, grudges, and a lack of love. Christ wants us to be known by our love. He desires to see--love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc. within the church.
2. Our labor in the name of the Lord will be tested.
How much have you labored for the Lord Jesus? How many souls have you helped lead to the Lord? How much exhorting, encouraging, have you done? Since we have been saved "unto good works"--what "good works" are on your list? God will reward us for our labor for Him.
3. Our motives will be examined.
What were your motives for each "good work?" Were you seeking acclaim? Were you trying to "look better than...?" Were you only doing it because you were forced to do it? Was it only for momentary gain? The wrong motive makes the good deed worthless. Our motive should be LOVE!!!!
There are many rewards promised to us in the Bible.
1. COMPANIONSHIP WITH CHRIST
"IF I GO AWAY AND PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU, I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU UNTO MYSELF THAT WHERE I AM, THERE YE MAY BE ALSO."
2. EXTREME JOY
"WELL DONE THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT, THOU HAST BEEN FAITHFUL OVER A FEW THINGS, I WILL MAKE THEE RULER OVER MANY THINGS, ENTER THOU INTO THE JOY OF THE LORD..."
"BLESSED ARE THOSE SERVANTS WHOM THE LORD, WHEN HE COMETH, SHALL FIND WATCHING, VERILY, I SAY UNTO YOU, HE SHALL GIRD HIMSELF AND MAKE THEM TO SIT DOWN TO MEAT AND WILL COME FORTH AND SERVE THEM..."
"FOR OUR CONVERSATION IS IN HEAVEN, FROM WHENCE ALSO WE LOOK FOR THE SAVIOR, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHO SHALL CHANGE OUR VILE BODY, THAT IT MAY BE FASHIONED LIKE UNTO HIS GLORIOUS BODY..."
I John 3:2
"BELOVED, NOW ARE WE THE SONS OF GOD, AND IT DOTH NOT YET APPEAR WHAT WE SHALL BE, BUT WE KNOW THAT WHEN HE SHALL APPEAR, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM..."
5. BRILLIANT GLORY
"AND MANY OF THEM THAT SLEEP IN THE DUST OF THE EARTH SHALL AWAKE, SOME TO EVERLASTING LIFE, SOME TO SHAME AND EVERLASTING CONTEMPT. AND THEY THAT BE WISE, SHALL SHINE AS THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE FIRMAMENT, AND THEY THAT TURN MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS AS THE STARS FOREVER AND EVER..."
"AND HE SAID UNTO HIM, 'WELL DONE, THOU GOOD SERVANT, BECAUSE THOU, HAST BEEN FAITHFUL IN VERY LITTLE, HAVE THOU AUTHORITY OVER 10 CITIES...'"
"BLESSED AND HOLY IS HE THAT HATH PART IN THE FIRST RESURRECTION; ON SUCH THE SECOND DEATH HATH NO POWER, BUT THEY SHALL BE PRIESTS OF GOD AND CHRIST AND SHALL REIGN WITH HIM A THOUSAND YEARS."
CROWN OF LIFE
"BLESSED IS THE MAN THAT ENDURETH TEMPTATION FOR WHEN HE IS TRIED, HE SHALL RECEIVE THE CROWN OF LIFE, WHICH THE LORD HATH PROMISED TO THEM THAT LOVE HIM..."
CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
II Timothy 4:8
"HENCEFORTH, THERE IS LAID UP FOR ME A CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH THE LORD, THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE, SHALL GIVE ME AT THAT DAY, AND NOT TO ME ONLY, BUT UNTO ALL THEM THAT LOVE HIS APPEARING."
CROWN OF GLORY
I Peter 5:1-4
"WHEN THE CHIEF SHEPHERD SHALL APPEAR, YE SHALL RECEIVE A CROWN OF GLORY THAT FADETH NOT AWAY."
I Cor. 9:24-25
"...SO RUN, THAT YOU MAY OBTAIN, AND EVERY MAN THAT STRIVES FOR THE MASTERY IS TEMPERATE IN ALL THINGS. NOW THEY DO IT TO OBTAIN A CORRUPTIBLE CROWN, BUT WE AN INCORRUPTIBLE."
As Christians, what should we do to be ready for this judgment time? The reason many Christians fear this "judgment seat" is that they have not prepared for it. It is like going to a school final exam, without having attended the classes and studied for the test. The Bible is clear that we do have some duties and obligations. If we want to attend this "bema" judgment without fear we had better know what we are to be doing, and to be doing these things. In the parable of the talents, the one who hid his talent, is the one who needed to fear facing his master.
First, we should put away hindrances. There are some things in the lives of Christians that make it harder for us to serve our Lord.
"WHEREFORE, SEEING WE ALSO ARE COMPASSED ABOUT WITH SO GREAT A CLOUD OF WITNESSES, LET US LAY ASIDE EVERY WEIGHT AND THE SIN THAT SO EASILY BESETS US, AND LET US RUN WITH PATIENCE THE RACE THAT IS SET BEFORE US."
Secondly, we need to press on toward the mark, or goal, that the Lord Jesus has given us.
"BRETHREN, I COUNT NOT MYSELF TO HAVE APPREHENDED; BUT THIS ONE THING I DO, FORGETTING THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE BEHIND AND REACHING FORTH TO THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE BEFORE, I PRESS TOWARD THE MARK FOR THE PRIZE OF THE HIGH CALLING OF GOD IN JESUS CHRIST."
Finally, we are to do the works that show Christ's love. It is these works that the Lord left us here to do.
I Cor. 3:12-16
"IF ANY MAN BUILD...EVERY MAN'S WORK SHALL BE MADE MANIFEST..."
These works of love, include the exhorting and encouraging of our Christian family, witnessing to the unsaved, studying the Word of God-so we know how best to do those things, and finding the ministry that the Lord has given each of us.
These events of the judgment seat will occur after the rapture on our way to the throne room of heaven where we will rejoice around the throne of God as John saw in his vision in Revelation chapters 4 and 5. There, as we enjoy the fact that we are now in heaven, we will begin to enjoy the joys of that place we call HEAVEN.
Heaven is not a far away place (timewise). Angels come and go back continually. We will be transported there and be standing before God in short order. Jesus ascended there and returned the same day.
We need to consider heaven. Some may have loved ones who have gone on before us. Some may be about to leave this troubled world to go there. Some have confusions and troubles, and need the comfort of knowing that such a place really does exist. Jesus comforted His disciples by talking about heaven, when they were confused by His talking about His crucifixion. Those who are unsaved need to hear that God has a wonderful place prepared for those who lay aside the sin and guilt of life to accept His invitation. Everyone should be anxious to know about heaven, for it is there that we will see and worship God Himself.
Too often, heaven is pushed to the background. There were many old-time songs about heaven. There are many scriptures on heaven. Yet many neglect to preach or teach about this place. Some fear mentioning heaven, because it reminds them that there is also a hell. There is a need to think more of heaven, because we need the comfort, and those who are lost need the warning of the joys they will miss if they do not accept the forgiveness of Jesus.
Heaven is a real, literal place. Jesus talked of heaven while Judas betrayed Him. Jesus would not comfort His disciples with a lie.
"IF I GO AWAY, I WILL PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU..."
Some have thought of heaven as a ghostly, unreal, indefinite state. Heaven is as physically real as the city and building in which you live. There are actual streets of gold, and actual rooms, and mansions. We will literally stand before the manifest presence of the real God, on a real throne. We will throw our literal crowns about the real, nail scarred feet of Jesus, our Savior.
In Revelation, 21-22, we are told of a part of heaven called "THE HOLY CITY". This is the New Jerusalem with walls of shining jasper, streets of gold, twelve gates, each made of one huge pearl. The size of that city is 1500 miles in each direction. There is no night in that city. A river runs through the city, with trees along the river. The trees bear fruit once a month. There is no curse in that place. And never will a sinner enter that city.
We will have real bodies in heaven. Jesus went to heaven in a physical body.
"BEHOLD, MY HANDS AND MY FEET, THAT IT IS I MYSELF; HANDLE ME AND SEE, FOR A SPIRIT HATH NOT FLESH AND BONES AS YE SEE ME HAVE..."
He is returning with a literal body.
"THIS SAME JESUS WILL SO COME AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO..."
Enoch went to heaven in a real, literal body. (Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5) So did the prophet Elijah. They searched for his body for 50 days but could not find it for God took it up to heaven. Many others are now in heaven in physical bodies.
"AND THE GRAVES WERE OPENED AND MANY BODIES OF THE SAINTS WHICH SLEPT, AROSE, AND CAME OUT OF THEIR GRAVES..."
So, in heaven, we will have literal bodies, for we have been promised to be like Him when He comes.
I John 3:2
"...WHEN HE SHALL APPEAR, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM..."
Our bodies in heaven will be "flesh and bone", not "flesh and blood." The life of the body will come from the "spirit" not from the "blood", as it does in this body. This is why it is called a "spiritual body."(I Cor.15:44) As with the body of Jesus, material objects were no barrier (John 20:19), food could be eaten, but was not necessary to sustain life (Luke 24:15), gravity had no control (Acts 1:9), vanishing and reappearing at will (Luke 24:31, John 20:26), not subject to death, decay, and sickness (I Cor. 15:42, 53-54), and powerful (Rev. 22:3-5).
The location of heaven is in the northern part of the universe (Psalms 75:6-7). Heaven is a planet whose shape is round as is the earth (Job 22:14, Ps.19:6). The size of the planet, heaven is unknown. However, judging from the size of the cities (Rev. 21:9-27), and from the number of inhabitants (Jer. 33:22, Heb. 12:22-23), it must be very large.
In heaven there are:
real cities (Heb. 11:10-15, 13:14, Rev.21:2,9-27)
temples (Rev. 3:12, 7:15, 11:19, 14:17, 15:5, 16:1,17, Isa.6:1)
books (Lk. 10:20, Heb.12:23, Rev. 5:1, 13:8, 20:11-15, 22:19)
musical instruments (Rev. 8:2,5:8-14, 14:1-5, 15:2-4)
food (Rev. 2:7,17, 22:1-3)
animals (II kings 2:11, 6:17, Zech. 1:8,10, 6:1-5, Rev. 19:11,14,21)
mountains (Rev. 14:1, Heb. 12:22-23, Zech. 6:1)
rivers (Rev. 22:1)
trees (Rev. 2:7, 22:1-3)
things not lawful to utter (II Cor. 12:1-4)
This place called heaven is a place we should long to go--for it is there we will begin to receive the rewards of eternity. There we will receive the glorified body that will be eternal, incorruptible and powerful. There we will see our Savior and God the Father. There we will remain while the earth is reaping the awful judgments of the tribulation. There we will rejoice with the saints around the throne, as John viewed in Revelation 4 and 5.
The promises of these rewards to come should motivate us to serve our Lord more than ever. This is why Jesus wants us to be aware of these fantastic rewards.