We received this question from Erin:
Q: “Hello, I am a born again Christian believer and I know that the Lord Jesus promised to give everlasting and eternally secure life to all who believe in Him alone for it. I would like you to please describe and discuss the difference between eternal salvation and rewards, the position of the believer, and, the daily fellowship or condition of that person. Thank you. Erin”
A: Hello Brother Erin,
My name is James Moody. I would like to thank you for sending your question to us here at RUSaved.org. I am working diligently to answer all of your questions, but I have decided to answer your different questions individually. In this email, I want to discuss with you the difference between Salvation (Eternal Security) versus Rewards. I hope that I am able to help you understand these Bible doctrines.
First off, I would like to say that for all doctrine, and to understand how all doctrine applies, we must first go to the book of Second Timothy, chapter 2 and verse 15, which says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We can see from this verse that we are commanded by God to study His word and divide it accordingly. Also, the Bible says in Second Corinthians, chapter 13 and verse 1 that, “[…] In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” By these verses we can see that not only should we study the Bible, but that before we take any doctrine as Biblical, we must have or should at least have two witnesses, two Scripture verses, to testify to a fact.
Now, I will do my best to show you the Scripture for this discussion of Salvation vs. Rewards. So what is this all about? Some people do not know the difference between Scriptural Salvation and Rewards. This often is due to the Holy Spirit not having revealed it to them through Scripture yet. The Holy Spirit is the one who reveals to us the secrets held within Scripture (“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” I Corinthians 2:7-13). Now we shall look at the two points of this question to see how the Lord describes them in Scripture.
Salvation is a free gift, it is not earned by the righteousness of mankind, but is given from the Lord Himself freely to everyone (“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9; “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” – Titus 3:5; “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” – Acts 17:30; “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” – 2nd Peter 3:9 (Emphasis Added); “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” – Acts 16:31; “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:9&13). There is salvation from eternal damnation through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through Him only can we go to the heavenly Father, to JEHOVAH God, and live eternally (“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:15; “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [Jesus Christ – v.10] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12; “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – John 14:6; “That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” – Psalms 83:18; “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” – John 10:28; “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” – John 14:2-3). Through all of this Scripture, you should now be able to plainly see that Salvation is not a reward, but a gift (“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23). This gift was paid for by the Blood of Jesus Christ (“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” – Ephesians 2:13). Through salvation we have obtained an inheritance (“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:” – Ephesians 1:11; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” – I Peter 1:3-5). This is not a reward, as a reward is earned, but is purely an inheritance that we obtain once we have been born into the family of God through His Holy Spirit (“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” – Romans 8:15-17; “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. […]Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:3, 5-6;).
Rewards that are mentioned in Scripture are for saved, born again Christians. If you haven’t been saved from the wrath to come through the Blood of Jesus Christ, then the rewards in Scripture do not apply to you. These rewards are given to Christians for their service to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ while in this world. Let’s look at the Scripture dealing with the rewards and the Judgment Seat of Christ. “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.” I Corinthians 3:10-15 So, what in the world is this Scripture talking about? It’s talking about the works that we do after the fact that we are saved. These works have nothing to do with keeping our salvation, because Christ already promised us eternal life, life which is everlasting and cannot be taken away, and has everything to do with the rewards that will be obtain at the Judgment Seat of Christ (“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; “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.” – II Corinthians 5:10 (On a side note, the Judgment Seat of Christ is for saved people to be judged, thus the “all” in the previous verse are all Christians – God the Father will judge everyone else at the Great White Throne Judgment found in Revelation 20:11-15); “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” – Romans 14:10)
Now that we have what this is established, what are the rewards that we can receive, and how do we obtain them? Let’s look at those verses again: “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.” – I Corinthians 3:12-13
1. Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones
These are rewards that we get for serving the Lord with a pure mind, heart, and conscience, serving Him to serve Him, and not for alternative motives (“Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;” – Ephesians 6:6; “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” – Jeremiah 17:10; “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6; “[The Lord] Who will render to every man according to his deeds:” – Romans 2:6; “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” – I Corinthians 3:8 ; “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” – I Corinthians 9:25; “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” – II Timothy 2:5; “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21). The gold, silver, and precious stones, once tried by the fire, produce crowns. The different types of crowns a believer can obtain are as follows:
A. A Crown of Righteousness
This crown is given to those that love the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ (“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 also that love his appearing.” – II Timothy 4:8).
B. A Crown of Life – The Martyr’s Crown
This crown is given to those believers who endure trials and temptations that try to turn them back from the faith, but they keep their testimony in the face of extreme adversities, even unto death for Christ. This crown is also called the Martyr’s Crown (“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.” – James 1:12; “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” – Revelation 2:10).
C. A Crown of Rejoicing – The Soul-Winner’s Crown
This crown is given to those that win souls. The souls that they win, as is stated in the following Scripture, are the soul-winner’s crown (“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” – I Thessalonians 2:19-20; “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” – Proverbs 11:30).
D. An Incorruptible Crown
This crown is given to those that run their race, that live their Christian life as unto the Lord and not unto men (“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” – I Corinthians 9:24-27; “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” – Hebrews 12:1).
E. A Crown of Glory
This crown is for elders in the Church, men that tend to the flock, that feed His sheep and are examples to other Christians as how to live in Christ. This is for Pastors specifically and may also include Deacons, Sunday School Teachers, Laymen and Laywomen working for Christ, and other people serving Christ by being an example to other Christians (“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” – I Peter 5:1-4).
2. Wood, Hay, and Stubble
These rewards are not good rewards. If you piled up a stack of gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and stubble, what would catch fire? What would be consumed by that fire? The wood, hay, stubble, and all of the impurities would be consumed. What would be left? The gold, silver, and precious stones would be left in a purified form. The wood, hay, and stubble represent all of the works that we did for the flesh or for our own selfish pleasure or for recognition of our works (“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12; “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” – Galatians 6:7; “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. […] And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” – Colossians 3:17&23; “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” – Matthew 23:5-12 (I suggest reading all of Matthew 23, keeping in mind to apply it practically to yourself and not literally – it is literally to the Jews of Christ’s time, but practically can be applied to uppity, snobbish, arrogant Christians under God’s grace at this time); “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” – II Timothy 3:2-5;).
Whatever you do, do it to the Lord; HE will discern the reason you are doing it. Keep your mind, heart, and motives right and the Lord will bless you for it and He will reward you for it [“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12 (May also be seen as a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, The Word (John 1:1), who will discern why you do what you do); “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6].
My friend, I hope that through this study of God’s word (2nd Timothy 2:15) that you can see and understand that all mankind must be saved through Jesus (“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [Jesus Christ – v.10 ] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12); and that once a person believes on Jesus, they have not only eternal life given to them, they also have eternal security given to them (“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” – John 10:28; “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise[…]” – 2nd Peter 3:9). And also that eternal security is a gift from God to all who believe. If it were not a gift, but a reward, it could be taken away, but as a gift is cannot be taken away. I hope that it is also clear through Scripture how the Lord will reward us for our labours, good for good and bad for bad; incorruptible rewards for correct service and corruptible rewards for incorrect service (“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” – Galatians 6:7; “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21). I sincerely hope that this time I have taken to show what God’s word says on these subjects has helped you. We here at RUSaved.org will be praying for you; may God be with you and show you the truth that is found in His word (“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – John 17:17).
Soon to follow will be Scriptural answers for your other questions. May the Lord bless you in your search for Him and His wisdom(“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:7; “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10).