Degrees of Reward: Part 2 – Living for Payday

Reposted with permission from the Cripplegate. Read Part 1.

Previously I wrote a response to Dr Wellum’s video in which he expressed doubt about the existence of degrees of rewards in heaven. In addition, he stated the following: “We are not to be people who are living our lives thinking that ‘Oh I’m doing this or living the Christian life in order to gain closer position to the Lord, or you know, on the streets of gold or something or a greater mansion or a greater privilege.’ All of that is quite wrong thinking in terms of Scripture, right?”

In contrast with Wellum I would argue that the Bible does indeed teach us to strive for eternal rewards and that we are clearly encouraged to expect greater privilege and responsibility, which may also involve more interaction with (or reporting to, or consulting with) the Lord, as we rule and reign alongside him in varying spheres of responsibility and diverse capacities of service.

For a full and in-depth treatment of this astounding and motivating doctrine, see the book, The Preacher’s Payday.

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Degrees of Reward: Part 1 - A Treasury of Evidence

Reposted with permission from the Cripplegate.

On January 12 I did what all evangelicals with a twitter account do, we decide which items to sample off the A La Carte menu curated by Tim Challies. When I saw the tantalizing topic of “Degrees of Rewards” I was overjoyed. This is a subject I feel is grossly misunderstood and underappreciated by the contemporary evangelical church. Christians throughout the ages have been galvanized to action by their trust in the biblical teaching that there are degrees of reward in heaven as an incentive and an inspiration to sacrifice comfort, security, finances, and earthly esteem in exchange for a guaranteed return on investment beyond all comparison.

George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd, William Carey, John Newton, William Wilberforce, CT Studd, Jim Elliot, Hudson Taylor, George Müller, and Charles Spurgeon, to list a smattering of our pastor and missionary luminaries, openly expressed that their motives to serve God were fueled by this glorious doctrine that peppers the New Testament.

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Should We Use Reward Motivation?

Reward-based motivational methods have been around for a long time. Whether patches and bars for children who learn verses or plaques and certificates for hard-working adults, we line people up and applaud them. But some believers are uncomfortable with these traditions. Shouldn’t we serve the Lord out of love? Doesn’t the applause of men rob God of His gods_desire.jpgglory and encourage pride?

Though the reward method of motivation is not without risks, it is not a method we should reject. Here’s why.

1. God uses reward motivation all the time.

Throughout the pages of Scripture, God appeals to our desire to enjoy reward and to avoid suffering in order to motivate us to do what He desires. Jesus used this type of motivation in the Sermon on the Mount. Urging a joyful response to persecution, He said, “Great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:12. Scripture quotations are from The New King James Version, Thomas Nelson, 1982). Later, He warned His hearers not to serve merely in order to be seen because the result would be “no reward” from the Father (Matt. 6:1). But, of humble good works, He said “your Father … will Himself reward you openly” (6:4). Jesus clearly appealed to the desire for reward as a reason to do right.

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A Wholly, Holy Motivation

Extrinsic motivators are continually at work in our lives, shaping our choices and lending direction. These motivators, both those made by man and those designed by God, represent an important ingredient that adds order and structure to our lives. They serve purpose that cannot and should not be denied. Effective employers, teachers, and parents all understand how to wisely and properly use external motivation in order to move others toward established goals.
Discussions centering on the proper use of external motivators continually draw a wide range of viewpoints and opinions, for the responses these motivators draw are as diverse as the individuals represented. The same motivator that stirs one person to action has the ability to frustrate another. For example, we have all witnessed our share of energetic debates over institutional rules that generate more heat than light. These debates continually remind me of how much time we can waste seeking to find common ground when it is not possible or even necessary to be found. Apart from the mandates of God’s Word and from those whom the Lord has placed at the decision tables, is it necessary for us to find agreement with an institution’s code of student conduct before we embrace any biblical admonishment to withhold negative judgment and criticism?

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