What standard does God use to determine our eternal reward? Is it based on our good works or our holiness?
(This article is part of our series on eternal rewards.)
While salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone, it pleases God to give us rewards based on our good works, which is anything we do in service to Christ according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
“Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19)
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” (1 Corinthians 3:8)
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
“With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:7-8)
We may also be rewarded for things that we endure for Christ's name like persecution:
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
But we must be careful that our works are done with honest and sincere hearts desiring to please Christ and obey the leading of the Spirit, not merely for show:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4).
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35)
Scripture also indicates that we might diminish our eternal reward by subsequent sin if we do not repent:
Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward (2John 8)
“And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)
More Scriptures could be given, but it’s clear from the above that we earn eternal rewards based on our works here on earth.
To get up to speed on this important area of Biblical truth, please read the following series of articles:
2. What does God base our eternal rewards on?