If God saved us by His grace (i.e., unmerited favor), then why would He make us earn eternal rewards for serving Him?
(This article is part of our series on eternal rewards.)
The Bible makes clear that God gives rewards, both in an earthly sense and in an eternal sense, but it's equally important to understand that our salvation is never called a "reward" in Scripture. Our salvation is only by faith alone in Christ alone and never by our works:
Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Nonetheless, having saved us God then calls us to perform good works (Ephesians 2:10). It is for such works that we will be rewarded. In fact, God encourages us to work for such rewards or “treasures:"
Matthew 6:19-21 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Therefore, not only is it biblical for Christians to do good works with an eye toward heavenly rewards, it is God’s will for us to do so.
To get up to speed on this important area of Biblical truth, please read the following series of articles:
1. Are eternal rewards biblical?