Should We Care About Heavenly Rewards?

Gary Combs ·
May 5, 2024 · heaven · 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 · Notes


A lot of Christians get nervous about this topic of heavenly rewards. They are confused about the importance of living a life of faithful obedience to God in this life. They mistakenly claim, “My good works mean nothing to God.” It’s true that we are saved by grace apart from works. We can’t earn salvation. We can’t work and earn eternal life and heaven. We can only receive the free gift of salvation by faith. That’s true.

But in the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he told them to take care to live faithfully for Christ for it would determine their heavenly reward. We can take care to live faithfully for Christ knowing that it determines our heavenly reward.


All right. Good morning, church. Good to see all of you here this morning. Look at all these young adults down in the front row. I heard it's like the one year anniversary of the "YAMS."

Is that right? The Young Adult Ministry. Is that right? Is that right, Randy? Okay, well, it's good.

It's. Wow. I feel like I dressed appropriately for this group today, you know? What do y'all think? Right?

You could preach, though. You're looking good, bro. Yeah. Hey, we're continuing our series through talking about heaven. And we're in part four of our series on heaven this morning.

And we're going to be asking this question today. Should we care about heavenly rewards? That's our topic today as we think about this part four of our heaven series. But before I dig in, a couple of things to celebrate. In addition to the YAMS celebrating  their one year anniversary of this new ministry, we love having our young adults together this morning.

Last weekend we had the women's retreat. And so the Eastgate women went on retreat. Over sixty women went. But the thing that we want to celebrate is that four women gave their life to Jesus last weekend. And so we always celebrate that.

Right? The Bible says there will be rejoicing in heaven when one repents and comes to Jesus. There was a big party in heaven last weekend as the women celebrated. And next, I want to explain why I have these Nike high tops on, right?

Last week we conducted our four-night prayer rally, our church, our citywide prayer rally, and we concluded here on Wednesday night at East Gate. Now, we had four nights. We began at Daniel's Chapel on Sunday night. We went to Christ Temple of Praise on Monday night. On Tuesday night, we were at Bible Missionary Baptist.

And then we were supposed to be at the Whirligig stage. But because of the threat of rain and all the sound equipment, we would have had exposed to the weather. We made a last-minute decision to be here at Eastgate. And we had like 300 and some people here. Now this room only seats 214.

And so we put extra chairs down front and we ended up packing 240 some people into this room. I mean, it was packed. And so I'm thankful we had the Gathering Place because we had another almost 100 people in the room next door. And I heard they were just as loud as we were. They were over there with the video screens and really worshiping.

And so I was thankful for that. I'm glad we have that room. And the reason we have multiple services is because we need the space. But over the past, over those four nights, we probably had around 600 people in attendance from various churches. Now, we had eight pastors who sponsored this event, and they're part of a group that we're calling "Christ Together for Wilson."

We're not putting our own name on this as a church. We're recognizing that we're all members of the Church of Jesus. And so these eight pastors that you see pictured now behind me, these are eight brothers that I meet with monthly to pray together. And we love each other, and we're praying for revival in our city, and we're praying that we would make it hard to go to hell in Wilson county. What we're praying for is that we would make sure that every man, woman, and child have repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the gospel.

And we're calling this "gospel saturation." We want to saturate our city with the gospel. And we know it's going to take more than just our church. It's going to take all the churches that believe in the gospel working together to share the gospel in Wilson county. So this is our desire.

Now, on the last night on this stage, Pastor Sherman, he came up to me afterwards. He said, I got a gift for you. And I'm like, what? You know, you got me a gift? What are you talking about?

And backstory on this is that every time I would see Sherman, he would have a different kind of different colored tennis shoes on, and they would always match his clothes. I'm like, how many pairs of tennis shoes do you have? I said, you're so much younger than me, prettier than me and cooler than me, I'll never be able to keep up with you. Pastor Sherman, I've been kidding around, like, for years about this as we've been praying together. And so he shows up, and he's got this bag that says Nike on the outside with these tennis shoes, right?

So he says, I believe you can do this. You can wear these. And so, as I was leaving that Wednesday afternoon, you guys, whom I love, are all like, if you don't wear these on Sunday and they're kind of stiff because. And I was almost late getting here this morning because I had to lace these boogers up. I mean, you know, they're a little bit stiff.

I'm probably going to have blisters. I should have broken them in first. But anyway, he surprised me with these Nikes. He said, you can be cool, too, my elder brother. Well, anyway, thank you.

Thank you, Sherman. Thank you. Back to the sermon on heaven, right? And maybe what I'm talking about is a little bit like what heaven will be like in the way we'll love each other. And that was a mark of his affection for me.

And it meant. It actually made me tearful that he loved me enough to do that. And so I'm thankful for it. Now, here's where we've been. Week one, we asked the question, why focus on heaven?

Why focus on heaven? We look from the book of Colossians, and the Bible says that we're to set our minds and our hearts on things above, not on earthly things. That we're to seek things above, not to seek earthly things. And we said, well, the Bible commands us to focus on heaven. Week two, we asked the question, what's heaven like?

What's it like in heaven? And we answered the question from the scripture, and we found that here's what heaven's like. We'll be with Christ. We will be fully conscious, we will be actively engaged, and we will be eagerly waiting for our redemption bodies and for the new heavens and the new earth. And that's what it will be like in heaven.

Then last week, we asked the question, will we know one another in heaven? And the answer was in the affirmative. Yes, we will know ourselves. We will have our memories and our personality, although it will be a redeemed version of ourselves. And we will know one another.

And we, of course, will know the Lord Jesus. And that was last week. Now, since then, I keep getting questions on heaven, and I'm trying to field as many as I can and look to the scripture. I'm not trying to give you my opinion. I'm doing my best to show you in the scripture what the Bible says about heaven.

Now, last week I had some people ask me, will there be animals in heaven? This is the question a little girl mentioned to me. She said, well, in the book of Revelation, I heard that Jesus is coming back on a white horse. And so he must have gotten that horse in heaven if he's going to come on that white horse. And if there are horses in heaven, surely there will be dogs.

And, you know, there's a certain logic to what she was saying. You know, she's got a point there. Now, there might be horses and dogs. I don't know about cats. Not sure about cats.

I got an Amen on that at the first service, you know. But seriously, I'm not sure if there will be animals in the present heaven, the present heaven being the heaven, the unseen heaven right now, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, where the heavenly hosts are present and where the saints who have gone before us are present now, awaiting their redemption and their resurrection bodies in the new heavens and new earth. I'm not sure if there are animals there, but I am certain of this. As we read the book of Isaiah and we read other places in the scripture that there will be animals in the new heavens and the new earth. Okay.

But that's not the purpose of the message today. And I do enjoy the questions you're asking me. This is the question today that we will attempt to answer from God's word. Should we care about heavenly rewards? Should we care about heavenly rewards?

Now, a lot of Christians get nervous about this, and they're confused about the importance of living a faithful life for Christ. They're confused about the importance and about heavenly rewards. They mistakenly claim, my good works mean nothing to God. Right. God doesn't care about that.

You know, salvation is free. Why should I care about rewards in heaven? And they're right in part. It is true that salvation is by grace, which means it's a free gift. It's by faith.

Jesus did all the work. There's no work left for us to do. As Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) 8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast."

That's true, but you can't stop reading there because verse ten says, Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

So you can't just stop at verse nine. Yes, salvation. Salvation is free, but reward in heaven is based on being faithful to do what God created you to do. So let's look at the scripture and see what the Bible says about heavenly rewards and whether we should care about them. In the apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, he told them to take care to live faithfully for Christ in view of receiving heavenly rewards.

And I believe that we are to take care and how we live for Jesus because of the heavenly reward that awaits us. As we look at the text, I think we'll see three reasons why we should care about heavenly rewards. So let's dig in. We're in first Corinthians, chapter three.

We'll begin at verse ten. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (ESV) 10 "According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."
This is God's word. Amen. We're looking for three reasons why we should care about heavenly rewards. Here's the first:

1. Because our earthly works will be revealed by Christ.

In the passage we read today, there are three "If, Then" statements and it's from these three "If, Then" statements that we get our three reasons.  The first "If, Then" statement is found in verse 12 and 13, 12 "Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done."

That's where we get our first reason why we should care is because Jesus will test our works, as it were, with fire. It'll be a fiery test that he will test our works, and he will reveal whether or not they were made of gold, silver, and precious stones, which is a category. If you put fire to them, it purifies them and they actually are revealed for their genuine nature. Whereas if you apply fire to wood, hay and straw, it burns up, right? So he's talking about how we live for Jesus.

And notice this word foundation. It's in here four times. Paul's saying, I'm a skilled master builder, and I have built on this foundation. And what is the foundation? Well, let's look and see what Paul says.

Verse eleven, 11 "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

So the foundation for a believer is salvation through Jesus Christ. There is no other name by which we may be saved, right? And so this, this foundation of the house, which is our life that's being built, is being built on this free gift that we could not earn.

We couldn't earn it. All we could do is receive it as a gift. This salvation in Jesus is the foundation. Now, what you build on it matters. What kind of building materials?

Paul's using a metaphor here, right? What kind of building materials will you build on? Your salvation. So your salvation is the foundation, but are you living for Jesus? And Paul says it depends on what you used to build.

Now, I remember when I was growing up, I used to hear this story about the three little pigs. You ever hear the story about three little pigs built their house of straw? You ever hear about that? And the wolf came and blew it down. Paul's not, I don't think he had the three little pigs in view here, but he is talking about there are various building materials you can build your life upon and the foundation.

You can be a believer, but you can still waste your life. You can still use earthly, temporary things that will burn up, and you will look back on your life, and you'll be like, I wasted my life. I believed in Jesus. I knew him as my Lord and Savior. Heaven is eternal.

Life is mine. But I wasted so much time in hay and wood and straw that will not survive the revelation of Jesus when we appear before him and give an account for our life. Now, let's talk about that for a second. I believe there are two thrones spoken of in the Bible. Two thrones.

The first is the Bema seat, or the judgment seat of Jesus. If you look at this, the judgment seat, or Bema seat of Christ is for the commendation. Commendation of believers. A Bema seat in ancient Rome or in ancient Greece was where maybe a governor of the city would be sitting up on the dais, and he would be watching the athletes participate in a race, and someone would come in first, and they would come up on the dais in front of the Bema seat, which was a seat of reward, a seat of commendation. And he would place a crown upon the athlete's head for coming in first.

And it would be this leafy crown, kind of a half circlet like that. And he would bow down before the governor, who was seated on the Bema seat. This was not a place of punishment. This was a place of commendation. Are you with me?

That's what we're talking about. If you look at 2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV) "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil."

How many people must appear? All. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil."

The word, "evil," could also be translated worthless. Was your life filled with faith? Then you'll hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant," from the master, who's seated on the Bema seat. Was your life. You received Jesus, but you really didn't align your life to follow him in the way you ordered up your life, you wasted your life.

Then you've got worthless things that will not survive the accounting. They will be considered worthless. Now, there's a second throne in the scripture that we see mentioned. That is not for believers, but it's for unbelievers. Believers will not appear in my reading of the scripture, believers will not appear before this throne, and it's the great white throne.

And the great white throne is for the condemnation of unbelievers. And they're condemned already because they have not believed in God's son, Jesus Christ. They're already under the wrath of God, and so their name has not been written in the book of life. We read this in Revelation 20:11-15 (ESV) "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life… And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

This is a place of condemnation. They were awaiting trial, and they already knew what they were facing. This is a time of weeping and trembling. This is a time of judgment. This is the great white throne judgment.

I do not see in the scriptures that believers will appear here. Books will be open. What are these books showing how they lived their life. And then one most important book will be open, and it's the Lamb's Book of Life. And if your name is not written in the book of life, that you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you will appear before the Great White Throne Judgment.

But if your name is in the book of life, you've laid the foundation that you're standing on, the promises of Jesus Christ, the free gift of salvation. Then your name is already written there. Your name is already written there. We used to sing a song when I was growing up. My name is in the book of life.

Oh, bless the name of Jesus. "I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know my name is written there." My little brother, when he was four years old, he loved that song because it repeated, "I know,"  so much. He knew those words well. I know my name is written there.

And here's what Paul says in verse ten. He says, "Take care." It's in the imperative voice. In the Greek, it means, this is a command. Take care what you put on top of that foundation of salvation.

You believe in Jesus. Good. You have eternal life. You have heaven, but will you have heavenly reward? All will be revealed based on what you put on there.

Each man's work. You see, they use fire to show the purity of a thing. If you want to know if gold is pure, it must be heated in the fire. And then what impurities are there? Rise to the top and they slough those off.

And what remains is purest gold. Gold, silver and precious stones are not harmed by, but they are revealed pure by fire. But wood and hay and straw are burned up. Notice these words as we continue reading in verses twelve and 13, "each one's work."

That means it's not going to be the church at large gathered for standing before the Bema seat. But it's one individual at a time. It won't be your parents. It'll be you. It'll be me.

Each one's work as an individual, your work will become manifest. Manifest means revealed, made plain for the Day, (capital D,) which points to the day of this Bema seat. Judgment for us as believers will disclose it. There's another revelation word, Manifest disclosed.

It will be uncovered, and then. He's not finished. Manifest disclose, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what sort of work each one is. Each one of us individually is done.

Now, I don't know what this looks like. The Bible is not specific. At the Bema seat. Does the Bema seat take place as each one of us arrives?

Have you ever heard these stories of these near death experiences? And people say, my whole life flash before my eyes. Have you ever heard these stories? Now, I don't know how much weight to put on these kinds of stories. I would prefer to put my weight on what the scripture says. So perhaps as you arrive in heaven, your whole life is, you have to give an account to Jesus.

Perhaps it's upon your arrival that this bema seat takes place. But most people think it happens after the rapture. That means there's going to be a long line, and I don't know if everybody's just sitting there watching. Your turn. I don't know why that bothers me more.

Like Jesus already knows everything. But I really didn't want you all to find out about it. Like, I'm more afraid of you and what you think of me than I am what Jesus thinks of me. What's wrong with me? Like, I hope it's a private consultation.

You know, the Bible says that he will wipe away every tear. What are we doing crying in heaven anyway? I think maybe it's that accountable moment. Where he goes, you know, Gary, you're faithful most of the time, but you had a hay day that day. You had a wood, hay, and straw day that day.

I mean, Lord, I remember that I went through a season where I just. I was just. I lost my passion. I wasn't, you know, I just don't know what it's going to be like, but it's all going to be revealed. I don't know if it's one on one or if all y'all be watching, and y'all gonna find out if y'all watching that, wow. How did he get that job as a pastor?

But I'm a sinner saved by grace, but I'm praying for a reward. I want a reward. And the fire will test it. Here's what Jesus said in Luke 8:17 (ESV) "For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light." There's nothing hidden.

You can tell more about a person by how they behave in secret than how they behave in public. What's your secret life look like? What do you do in your secret life that you don't want anybody to know? Jesus knows. He knows.

And there will be an accountable day that comes. We all must appear. It says, in Revelation 14:13 (ESV) And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

How you've lived or not lived, as you should, for Christ will follow you before the Bema seat. Or as Maximus in that old movie, "Gladiator," said, "What we do in life echoes in eternity."  You got that part right. Have you ever looked for an ad? You know, like, maybe you were looking for some tennis shoes, and you googled it, or maybe you were looking for a tent, or you were looking for a grill, or you were just looking for something, and you googled it, and you were looking for prices and all these different kind of things, and then the next time you got on Facebook, there was the very stuff you were looking for.

You're like, that's weird. How did that happen? You went to Instagram. There's an ad for your special Nike tennis shoes with the orange stripe down the side. How did they know?

That's because they know everything about you. They're keeping data on you. They have algorithms that count how many times you click on a thing and what you clicked on, and they sell it to advertisers and they add to the algorithm and they put the very thing you clicked on on your social media. That's how they monetize Instagram and Facebook and all the social media. So Google knows a lot about you, but Jesus knows all about you, knows what you click on, but he knows the motive behind what made you do it.

It says in 1 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV) "Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God." You see the people that you think are really living for God, sometimes God won't see it that way.

In fact, Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount says, "If  you pray in public to be seen by men, you've received your reward already." Therefore, He says, "Pray in secret, that your father in heaven may reward you." So what is He talking about? Okay, so if you're just doing your righteousness so other people think you're righteous, that's all the reward you're going to get. You won't get a reward in heaven for that.

But if you live the secret life just like you do the public life, all for Jesus, the Father notices that because He judges not just the outward but the motives of the heart. Believer, know this. You're a believer today. Praise God. Heaven is yours.

Eternal life is yours. But know this, each one of us will give an account before the Bema seat of Jesus.

Here's the second reason why we should care about heaven. First is because all things will be revealed. The second is:

2. Because our faithful works will be rewarded by Christ.

Our faithful works will be rewarded by Christ. Now, we're at verse 14, and we're looking at that second "if, then" statement. Let's read it. Verse 14. He says this, "If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward if the work that anyone has built on the foundation."

Circle the word, "reward." If you've been building on top of your salvation in Jesus with gold, silver and precious stones, when you get to heaven and you stand before the Bema seat of Jesus, you will be rewarded. Oh, that's beautiful. This is wonderful. This is a promise.

That's the second "if, then" statement your work will be rewarded, your work of faith. Notice what it says in Revelation 22:12 (NKJV) “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."

Jesus is going to reward your faith, your faithfulness. In fact, as I read the scripture, I see at least five crowns of reward from the Lord Jesus. The first one is the crown of righteousness. The crown of righteousness. We find this when Paul is talking to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NKJV) "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."

Who gets a crown of righteousness? Those who have been faithful to the end and who have been looking for the day of His return, the day of His appearing. You want a crown of righteousness? I do. Paul says, it's one thing to start well, but you gotta finish well to get this crown.

You gotta finish well. Now I'm talking maybe more to people in my age group. Sometimes people in my age group start, they retire from their occupation, and then they retire from serving the Lord. Don't do it. Finish well.

You fought the good fight. Finish the race. Keep on. I was talking to a man during our prayer rally last week, and he came up to talk to me and he said, when we retired, I retired at 65. Me and my wife, we moved over.

I think it was Romania. He told me. I'm trying to remember. I think it was Romania. We moved to Romania, and we served there for eight years until my wife got a health problem and we had to move back.

He got kind of teary eyed about it. He moved there when he was 65, and he was, you know, he didn't even have to raise support. He already had Social Security in retirement. His support was already raised. And he went and he worked there for eight years until his wife got sick.

And he said, pray for me, pastor, this summer I'm going back. And his lower lip kind of quivered. And I said, you still love him? He goes, man, I still. I miss it.

He said, I'm going to go back for a few weeks. I can't stay long because I have to take care of my wife. But that church we planted over there, he goes, it's growing. I got to go and see who's coming to it now. They wanted to catch up.

You see, as you get older, don't let off the gas. Keep on living for Jesus. Keep on. Finish well. And so the crown of righteousness would be yours.

Here's the second one. The crown of soul winning. Or the crown of rejoicing. It's the same crown. There's rejoicing in heaven when one repents.

The scripture says, 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 (NLT) "After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy."

This is Paul talking to the believers in Thessalonica, the ones he had led to Jesus. And he says, when I get to heaven, guess what? You're my crown. You're my crown of soul winning. You're my crown of rejoicing.

You know, they say you can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead, and you can send people to heaven. And when you get there, they're your crown of rejoicing. They're your crown of soul winning. You know, the Bible says that we're like stars in the heavens as believers. And when I was growing up, we used to hear people talk about how when you win somebody to Christ, you get a crown of soul winning.

And for every person you win, you get another star. Well, I don't know. I can't find that quite in the Bible exactly. But I like it. I like it.

But there is a crown of soul winning. A crown of rejoicing, talked about in Thessalonians. Here's the third crown. The crown of life. We find this in the book of James.

James 1:12 (NKJV) "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."

What's this crown of life? It's one who endures and perseveres through temptation, and yet keeps the faith. In another place in the scripture, it speaks of  the crown of life, and it compares it to one who goes through suffering or persecution, and yet doesn't give up. See, persecution, suffering, temptation, that's like a fiery test in this life.

And so maybe you have lost something. Maybe you lost a loved one that passed away, or maybe you lost a job, or you got bad news from the doctor about your own health, and it shook your faith. It tempted you to doubt God, but to the one who remains faithful and not only doesn't stop believing, but redoubles their faith, the crown of life is yours. Here's the fourth one. The imperishable crown.

The imperishable crown. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NKJV) "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate [disciplined] in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown."

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate or disciplined in all things. Now, they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. So this is a crown that is imperishable, made of imperishable things. Remember that circlet that the Romans would give out or the Greeks would give out? It was kind of a circlet that was wrapped with leaves, and that's a perishable crown.

But this is an imperishable crown, an eternal crown. Here's the fifth one. The crown of glory. The crown of glory as a fellow elder. This is Peter writing.

He says, 1 Peter 5:1-4 (NLT) "…As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor." Now, this particular crown seems to be especially for those who are willing to be shepherds of a flock.

And so, Randy, if you're willing to shepherd the "YAMS," this crown might be something that you would receive someday if you do it not grudgingly, like, oh, man, it's Thursday night again. All these young people at my house eating groceries, you know? You know. Huh? Is that you? Yeah. You like groceries, don't you? Yeah.

So you won't get a crown if you do it grudgingly and complainingly, but if you do it because you love Jesus, you don't even do it for them. You love them because Jesus gives you a love for them, but you do it for him. And it's okay. Paul's teaching. It's okay to do it for the crown because the crown is that which he has given you the ability to do anyway.

You can't do it without his help anyway. Well, you might be a small group leader. You're a community group shepherd. Look at this crown. You might be a mom or a dad of some kids, and you're shepherding those kids.

Look at this crown. Now, don't be changing diapers begrudgingly, but do it with joy and do it for the Lord. And you might see this crown. Would you say it would be more fair? Maybe you were of the thought, you know, this just doesn't seem very christian.

Gary, wanting to have reward it couldn't be more christian to desire to hear well done and to receive recognition that you actually lived for Jesus. But some of us are here today and we're used to getting participation trophies. And we were just like, could we just get to heaven? And all of us get the same trophy? Can you imagine growing up and your parents noticed at an early age that you were very gifted at swimming.

And so around seven or eight, your mom started getting up, taking you to swimming lessons at 05:00 a.m. And you were really good at it and you were better than all the other kids. And so they put you in a program so that you went in the mornings at five. And as soon as school was over, you went swimming again and you swam seven days a week. And you did this through elementary school, and you did it through middle school, and you did it through high school and you competed.

And then finally in your twenties, you made it to the Olympics, which was your lifelong dream. And when you got to the Olympics, you were successful in your race and you were expecting to get the gold medal, and you went in and hoping to see the american flag and you on the highest platform. But then you found out at the last minute the Olympic Committee had met and they decided this was just not fair. And they decided that everyone who participated would be on the same flat platform. And instead of getting gold, silver and bronze medals, we would all get a wooden medal that's got the five Olympic rings in it and everybody would be happy.

You think you'd be happy? No, that's not fair. That's the opposite of fair. Think about that and make sure this know this. The Bema seat of Jesus is more fair than any seat you've ever stood in front of.:

And he will look at your actions, your motives. He will look at what's going on on the inside of your life. And otherwise. Believer when you build on the foundation of your salvation faithfully, you will be rewarded. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Here's the final reason why we should care about heavenly rewards:

3. Because our worthless works will be removed by Christ.

Because our worthless works will be removed by Christ. Our worthless works will be removed by Christ. We're on the final "if, then" statement. We're at verse 15, "If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

Paul makes it clear he's not talking about salvation. You'll arrive in heaven, you'll have eternal life, but you'll be smoking. You'll be as one who passed through the fire and everything you lived for. If it was made of wood, hay, and stubble.

Wood, hay, and straw. You won't have any. What you'll do is you'll suffer loss. The loss of what? Of what could have been.

And perhaps that's why there's tears in heaven that Jesus has to wipe away, because you realize, why didn't I just live for him every day? Why did I waste my life?

This is why the Bible says that wisdom is to number your days and to invest each day for things above, not earthly things.

This is because standing before the Bema seat of Jesus, when he tests the building materials that you built your life with, he'll see that you're saved. You're in heaven. You wouldn't be appearing before Jesus if you weren't his. I think he's gentle at this point. I don't think it matters how gentle he is.

When I see my life flash before my eyes, before him, and I realized, wow, that whole year I was just off track and I knew better, or that whole season I just wasn't living for Jesus. And I could have, but I was. I'd lost my passion.

I'm just thinking about that, and I don't think this should cause you to have fear of condemnation, because it's not a seat of condemnation. It's a seat of commendation. The only fear would be the fear of suffering, loss of what could have been. I don't know. I think when I was studying with my son Jonathan this week, he's our church planter that planted our Rocky Mount campus, and he got to that crown for shepherds, that crown of glory.

He got kind of tearful eyed, and he was just like, dad, how many times  I've done it begrudgingly and I have  "re-upped." I said, let's take a break from our study and let's just "re-up"  together. You know?

Don't put your life on a shelf. One day you'll stand before the Bema seat of Jesus. Stay busy. Look what Paul says. He disciplined himself for the prize.

It says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT) 24 "Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."

He's not talking about salvation. He's not worried about being disqualified for salvation. What's he concerned about being disqualified for?

The prize, the reward? He wants to run well, the race. After all, isn't it Jesus who, in his Sermon on the Mount says in 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."

Jesus says, invest in heaven. Lay up treasures in heaven.

Former seminary professor and president of Dallas Theological Seminary John Walvoord, encourages us  to think about the Bema seat of Jesus. Kind of like a commencement ceremony, like a graduation. We have more graduates from high school this year in our youth group than I can remember, just like a whole bunch of them this year. And we've got several college graduates and so forth happening. And maybe you've been to, you remember your graduation ceremony.

This is what John Walvoord says, “Some students graduate with honors or high honors, and others receive rewards for distinctive achievements. However, the overwhelming emotion of all the graduates is the joy of receiving the diploma after years of sacrifice and study; every graduate receives a diploma and thus experiences joy and fulfillment. On the one hand, the seriousness of the judgment seat of Christ should be considered; on the other hand, all believers can rejoice in the marvelous grace of God that will enable them all to be in heaven even though they are imperfect in this life.”

Isn't it kind of like that? Just think about the Bema seat of Jesus kind of like being at a commencement. Some of us are just going to be like, you know, I didn't get any rewards, but I'm glad I graduated to heaven. And so you'll have this mixture.

You'll have this joy of being in heaven, eternal life, being with the saints that have gone before. You'll have all that joy. But there might be a moment of suffering and loss where you go. I wish I'd have been more faithful. This won't be about graduation to heaven.

This will be about whether or not you have a graduation cap to throw at the feet of Jesus, that you'll have a crown to throw at the feet of Jesus, that you'll have that to share with Jesus. And so I just think about that, and I think I might have skipped over that verse. Let's see if I've got it on a previous page. Can you all look back there and see? I think I did skip over it.

Can you find Revelation, chapter four for me back there?  Scroll back a couple slides. Is it popping up on the screen, people? All right. Revelation 4:10-11 (ESV) 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

And so the crowned ones, those who have received these crowns, you have to have something to throw. You have to have a graduation cap. You have to have something to throw at the feet of Jesus.

And so this is the desire to hear that "well done, good and faithful servant. " Now, remember, there are two judgment seats in the Bible. One is the Bema seat, where all believers will appear and their whole life will be revealed before Jesus. And they will give an account for those that have lived faithfully. They'll receive heavenly reward, and they'll hear Jesus say, "well done, good and faithful servant."

But for some, they will not have built on the foundation of faith according to faith. And they'll look back, and I think for a moment there'll be some tears that Jesus wipes away. And he still says, come on in. I bought you with a price I've paid for you. So there will be this mixture of joy, but a little bit of sorrow for a moment that I think will be quickly forgotten.

But yet, don't you want to receive a heavenly reward? After all, the Bible says, take care about this. Then there's that other throne. It's the Great White Throne that will be the place that unbelievers stand before the Lord after the millennial reign of Jesus, at the end, before the new heavens and the new new earth are established. And these, they'll only be looking for one thing, because they're already condemned.

They'll just be looking for the verification that their name was never written in the book of life. And for those, the scripture says they'll be cast into the lake of fire apart from God forever. Which throne will you appear before? I pray that you appear before the Bema seat of Jesus. And even so, take care that you live for him in view of heavenly reward.

Amen. Let's pray. Lord Jesus, thank you for your word. Thank you that you died for us, so that you've already laid the foundation of faith, so that we can receive that salvation freely. We can be sure that our name is written in the lamb's book of life.

Are you sure about that? Today, heaven is still accepting reservations. Have you ever prayed to receive Jesus so that your name is written there right now, wherever you're at, whether you're watching online, whether you're in the room next door or in this room listening, would you pray with me? Right where you are. Pray like this.

Dear Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner, but I believe you died on the cross for me, that you were raised from the grave and that you live today. I repent of my sins, and I turn my life over to you. I surrender to you. Come into my life. Forgive me of my sin.

I want you to be my Savior and my Lord. I pray today that my name would be written in the book of life. Others are here, and you have confidence of that. You know, you know. You know your name is written there.

But do you know that you're living faithfully for him today? Will you be able to stand before him and hear, well done, good and faithful servant, just right now say, Lord, forgive me. Forgive me for not being on fire for you, for not being passionate for you, for not aligning my life, my time, my talents, my treasure, investing in things above, laying up treasure above. Instead of being so mindful of what's on the news and what's going on in this world and being so captured by earthly things. Forgive me, Lord, and help me to take care, to set my life's course, to lay up treasure in heaven.

May it be so. In Jesus name, amen.