Read for This Week’s Study: Heb. 11:6, Isa. 62:11, Rom. 6:23, John 14:1–3, Revelation 21, Matt. 25:20–23, Rom. 8:16–18.
Question – “What rewards may the faithful rightfully look forward to?
Our final lesson for this quarter invites thought and discussion on the matter of the rewards of faithfulness. The foundational text is from Matthew 25:21 — “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” This comes from the parable commonly known as the parable of the talents, a reflection on the careful and diligent use of talents told by Jesus.
It is true that in various places, the Bible talks about rewards that will come to the faithful. These rewards are not really earned as much as they are given. They are not part of some merit-based system by way of which the righteous improve their standing with God or within the reality of ultimate things. They come sometimes as a simple consequence of doing right while at other times they come from the graciousness of God.
There are several rewards that come readily to mind. Some are experienced in this life and some will not be experienced until the end of all things comes and the kingdom of God gets fully established.
- The gift of salvation. This is experienced in the here and now, and it brings a sense of peace and joy and hope and purpose and the shedding of guilt and aimlessness.
- The gift of transformation that will take place at the coming of Jesus a second time (I Cor. 15). This transformation will be marvelous almost beyond imagining because it will result in the restoration of the human body to a perfect state. Whatever infirmities we have suffered from will be gone. Better still will be the shedding of the tendency we all have to be attracted to and by sin. The human bent toward sin and away from God will disappear.
- The granting of conditional immortality, restoring never-ending life that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned.
- Gaining entrance into a kingdom where all the former things will have passed away: sin, sorrow, death, illness, injustice, and the list could go on.
- The settling of accounts for both righteousness and evil. In fact, evil itself will be destroyed never to be seen again. And all the injustices we have experienced will be requited.
- Restoration to the presence of God. One of the most touching texts in the Bible is the one in Genesis that speaks of God coming down in the cool of the evening to commune with Adam and Eve. That presence was lost, but it will be restored at the end of things.
- The restoration of relationships with those whom we have loved who have died. This will be due to the great resurrection that is spoken of, where we who are translated at the end will not precede those who have died, for they will be brought back to life and together we will go up to heaven.
It seems almost trite to say that a few minutes of reflection on the list above will bring to mind the fact that our wildest imaginings cannot do justice to the magnificence of what lies ahead for the righteous.
Perhaps the best way to conclude these discussions is by reminding ourselves of three or four well-known and encouraging passages of scripture:
- Hebrews 12:1, 2
- Phil. 3:13, 14
- Rev. 21:1-5
- 2 Tim. 4:6-8