Colossians 3:1–2 (ESV)
3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
In our earthly life we acquire wealth by….
I want us to see something at the onset. When Jesus teaches on rewards in Scripture He never speaks in terms of Christian service but more so in Christian experience. We are not rewarded for doing but for being.
A. Endurance as a Lifestyle
Instead, He teaches rewards for faithfully enduring struggles. Endurance is the key to heavenly rewards. Are you enduring to the end?
Most churches and most Christians want to focus on some emotional event in the past that guarantees heavenly reward. Most look back at some event such as dedicating my life to Jesus, baptism, or some passionate stirring to claim heavenly reward. That’s not what Jesus points to.
Matthew 5:10–12 (ESV)
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
B. Love Your Enemies as a Lifestyle
Here is a second example of a teaching of Jesus that deals with rewards in Heaven.
Luke 6:35–36 (ESV)
35 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 is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
I think we should notice that in endurance and in loving enemies there is a cost involved. Faithfulness to Christ resulting in persecution from enemies then turning around and doing good to them is a clear indicator that your salvation is genuine. Jesus teaches our reward will be great.
C. Following Christ as a Lifestyle
Matthew 19:28–30 (ESV)
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
D. Parables Teaching on Rewards
(Luke 12:41ff; Luke 19:11ff; Matthew 20:1ff; Matthew 25:14ff)
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus tells of a Master who distributes gold to His servants because He is going away and will be gone a very long time. His servants are to engage in business so that when He returns there will be a profit. The rewards are distributed at His return.
Matthew 25:14–30 (ESV)
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
E. Rewards as Treasure Laid Up In Heaven
Jesus refers to treasure in Heaven on three occasions in the Gospels.
Matthew 6:19–21 (ESV)
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:32–34 (ESV)
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Mark 10:21–23 (ESV)
21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
This last account of the Rich Young Ruler is informative as to how it is we actually lay up treasure in Heaven. How do we have money bags that do not fade away?
Jesus has taught us that our hearts and our treasures go together. For the lost person, their treasure is on earth and so that’s where their hearts are. Here in the account before us the Rich Young Ruler clearly had his treasure and his heart fixed on earth.
How can an earthly heart with an earthly treasure be separated? Only by grace through faith can a person’s eyes be open to their reward/treasure in Heaven. Get rid of your earthly treasure (so your heart will not be attached to it any longer) and follow Me. In following Christ we manifest the fact that our treasure is now in Heaven. We can give stuff away because our hearts are no longer attached to it.
Is your treasure in Heaven?
At the moment the Rich man gave his treasure away he would have had treasure in Heaven. As it was, He did some good things but his heart was still fixed to earthly stuff.
Let’s look at one more Parable…
Luke 12:16–21 (ESV)
16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Jesus is not teaching that this man’s foolishness came from being rich. He know doubt knew about business and farming. He knew how much square footage his barns needed to be to house the grain. This man’s foolishness came from the fact that he thought his wealth was his security and that somehow even his soul would find security in his riches.
Our soul’s wealth is not connected to our earthly wealth what so ever. Our souls live for eternity, so we are foolish when we focus all our attention on earthly things and not Heavenly wealth.
We can learn so much as we consider the wealthy men in the Bible…David, Abraham and Job for example. Their wealth was not their treasure. Their earthly riches were subservient to God.
Wealth must be used to serve God, His Church and His people. As we do this, our hearts are no longer connected to earthly riches and we will have treasure in Heaven.
The Glory of Heaven by MacArthur
The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven by Wilbur Smith