Here are my teaching notes tonight for fellowship coming off another wonderful 24 hours of prayer. The future rewards are such an awesome truth in the Word of God. Enjoy!
God promises rewards at the judgment seat of Christ for our faithful service to Him as Christians. This is a constant theme in Scripture and is a vital part of our future hope in Christ. How awesome will any reward be that comes from the hand of God! These rewards are eternal and will never fade away. They will be on display for all eternity. The promise of future rewards was a major motivation of the Apostle Paul’s relentless service in the gospel.
14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
A W Tozer writes that…
Our motives in the Christian life should be both right and genuine. God is the Faithful One. We are to love Him and serve Him because He is God—not because of the gracious things He does for us or for the rewards He promises us!
However, it should be said that God does not expect us to forget or ignore the gracious future promises He has made to us. It is a glorious truth that if we believe God and honor His Word, if we walk by faith in love and obedience, there will be eternal rewards for each of us in that great coming day. The rewards will differ. Wisdom and knowledge and love reside in Him who is our God. He will make the right judgments for His people.
I for one will not be surprised if some of God’s faithful people serving Him today should rise as high and shine as brightly as the heroes of faith listed in the book of Hebrews.
I say that in all truthfulness because I do not think that all of the heroes of faith are dead and gone!
THIS IS ONE OF THE GREAT RULES OF FAITH THAT GOD IS A REWARDER.
Hebrews 11:6 (NASB): 6And 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.
Ruth 2:12: 12 The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”
Don’t you want to receive a full reward at the judgment seat of Christ?
II John 8 (NIV): 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.
Revelation 22:12,13 (NKJV): 12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
What an awesome verse!!! Jesus Christ is coming back and his reward is with him to give to us according to our work for Him. What motivation this should give us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love and serve others.
Matthew 16:27 (NIV): 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
Matthew 19:29 (NIV): 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
The reward will be so much higher and greater than the work that was done. God is a rewarder and he will abundantly reward us for our faithful service of love.
Matthew 25:14-27 (NIV): 14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
What are you doing with the abilities, talents, gifts and word of God that God has given you while Jesus Christ is in heaven and before he comes back? Are you sitting on them are putting them in use for your Lord?
I Corinthians 4:1-5 Amplified
1SO THEN, let us [apostles] be looked upon as ministering servants of Christ and stewards (trustees) of the mysteries (the secret purposes) of God.
2Moreover, it is [essentially] required of stewards that a man should be found faithful [proving himself worthy of trust].
3But [as for me personally] it matters very little to me that I should be put on trial by you [on this point], and that you or any other human tribunal should investigate and question and cross-question me. I do not even put myself on trial and judge myself.
4I am not conscious of anything against myself, and I feel blameless; but I am not vindicated and acquitted before God on that account. It is the Lord [Himself] Who examines and judges me.
5So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts. Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God.
Hebrews 6:10, 11 (ESV): 10For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end.
Philippians 2:14-16: 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
God works in us so that we can do His good pleasure upon the earth and shine as lights in this crooked world and rejoice in the day of Christ. All labor outside God’s working and calling on your life is in vain and ultimately serves no eternal purpose.
A BEMA SEAT
Beloved let me offer a “Biblical grid” through which you can (should) filter every thought, word and deed in your life for the rest of your life in light of your future personal appointed appearance at the Bema Seat of Christ…
Whether, then, you eat or drink
or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.
I Corinthians 3:5-9 (NIV)
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Most of the things we worry so much about won’t matter in 3 weeks, let alone 3 months or 3 years. We focus on the trivial and forget to pursue the eternal. But 10,000 times 10,000 years from now, you’ll still be glad you invested your life for Jesus Christ….
John Wesley rightly said that…
The real value of a thing is the price it will bring in eternity.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV): 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Store up (Store up (thesaurizo) is the same verb used in Mt 6:19 and is in the present imperative which is a command from our Master make the habit of our lives to store up eternal treasure in heaven!
Note carefully that the question is not whether we will store up wealth. Everyone will. That’s a given. The vital question is where we will do our “banking”, on earth or in heaven?
In context, the treasures refer to whatever it is you most value.
What a man loves, that is his God. For he carries it in his heart, he goes about with it night and day, he sleeps and wakes with it; be it what it may
|2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (NASB: Lockman)|
|Amplified: For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].
MLB (Berkley): for we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may receive as his due what he practiced while in the body, whether good or bad.
Montgomery: For we must all be made manifest, in our true characters, before the Judgment-seat of Christ; so that each one may receive according to that which he has done in his body, whether good or evil.
NJB: For at the judgment seat of Christ we are all to be seen for what we are, so that each of us may receive what he has deserved in the body, matched to whatever he has done, good or bad.
Phillips: For every one of us will have to stand without pretence before Christ our judge, and we shall be rewarded for what we did when we lived in our bodies, whether it was good or bad.
TLB: For we must all stand before Christ to be judged and have our lives laid bare—before him. Each of us will receive whatever he deserves for the good or bad things he has done in his earthly body
Weymouth: For we must all of us appear before Christ’s judgment-seat in our true characters, in order that each may then receive an award for his actions in this life, in accordance with what he has done, whether it be good or whether it be worthless.
Wuest: for it is necessary in the nature of the case for all of us to be openly shown as to our true character before the judgment seat of Christ, in order that each one may receive the things which were practiced through the agency of our body, whether they were good or bad. The glorious rewards for Christian service and good works will be given at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Every born again son or daughter of God will give an account of their character, their conduct, their words, their actions and their motives of heart, in the service of Christ. Our lives will be openly revealed and made completely visible as to full and true reality of our character. Jesus Christ will uncover the motives and passions of our heart, as he will not simply look at what we did, but will examine the motivations of our heart as to why we did it. The Judgment Seat of Christ should not be confused with the Great White Throne Judgment of the Book of Revelation, as they are two different judgments. No one before the Judgment Seat of Christ will be cast into the Lake of Fire and receive the sentence of the second death mentioned in Revelation 20. The Judgment Seat of Christ has nothing to do with obtaining salvation, as we are saved by grace because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and not by works. Jesus Christ paid the price for our salvation, and we have eternal life as a gift of God’s grace. The Christian believers will already be in heaven with their glorious new bodies after the Rapture when they stand before Christ’s Judgment Seat. This judgment is to determine our eternal rewards and our position of responsibility in His kingdom. God will examine the fruitfulness of our lives and the total pattern of our conduct while Christians upon the earth. God will bring to the light the plans, purposes, and motives of our heart and give amazing rewards for those works of goodness that pass His test. The Judgment Seat of Christ will issue forth the final verdict as to our eternal rewards and destiny in His kingdom. Will we be decorated with rewards and victor crowns and given great responsibility before God and His Son Jesus Christ in the future kingdom, or will we barely get into the door and that only by the grace of God? What will be our destiny before the Judgment Seat of Christ? Our lives are the testing ground for eternity, as each day we are either making or marring a destiny, winning or losing a reward, and securing or losing a crown. Will our motives, our heart, our plans, our purposes, and our works withstand the test of fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ? We need to set our heart on eternity as Christians and adjust our motives and heart accordingly. It is never too late to begin to accumulate and earn future rewards in the service of our Lord. God has equipped us with everything we need to walk in obedience
to His Word and serve Him. God is ready to help us in anyway He can to secure these wonderful future rewards. God earnestly desires us to be abundantly awarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ and has given us the power, strength, courage, and love to accomplish His plans for our lives. God’s purpose and plan for our lives will not only result in a bumper crop of spiritual fruit, but also a decorated awards ceremony for our faithfulness to Him.
The words “judgment seat” are the translation of the Greek word bema, which means “a raised place or platform reached by steps.” It literally means the step forward made by a foot. In ancient Greek culture, it referred to both a seat of judgment and a platform where athletes were awarded for their performance in the games. It was also used of a platform where the Roman magistrate or Emperor would address a public assembly, conduct official business, make speeches to the people, and administer justice. A judge or jury would also pronounce their verdict from the bema, or raised platform, in both Greek and Roman culture. The city of Corinth had a bema on its main street, where the authorities rewarded citizens and rendered justice.
When the bema was used as a platform to give rewards for athletes in the various Greek games, the judges would observe and evaluate the actions of the athletes in the contests. If any athlete broke a rule, one or more judges would point to him and cry out “disqualified!” This contestant would miss the prize regardless of how he placed in the competition. The victor’s wreath would be lost because he was disqualified for not following the rules of the games. Also, once the particular event in the game was completed, the athletes stood before the bema to hear the judges’ announcement of the results and to receive any prize they won because of their performance in the games. This was an awesome awards ceremony from the bema, giving great honor and recognition to those contestants who distinguished themselves in the competition.
The Judgment Seat of Christ will be an awards ceremony that will take your breath away. Nothing on Earth can ever match it. I remember watching in awe many Olympic games and the amazing opening and closing ceremonies, along with the emotion of the medal ceremonies. Although these events are truly awe-inspiring, nothing will compare to the magnificent honor and privilege of receiving eternal rewards at the bema, personally given to us by Jesus Christ himself. Do you think a life of Christian service, a life of trusting and loving God with your whole heart and walking in obedience is worth the sacrifice and commitment? How about when Jesus Christ smiles at you, hugs you, and announces from the bema the wonderful everlasting rewards you earned because of your commitment to Christ. I can’t express in words just how tremendous, glorious, and awesome this event will be for the faithful in Christ Jesus.
According to I Corinthians 3, every born-again Christian believer is an expert builder, which from the Greek means “architect, skilled craftsman, and master worker.” By our works, we are constructing a building on the foundation of Jesus Christ. This building is the sum total of the quality and character of our deeds, words, and actions throughout our Christian life. We can build good works on this foundation by using the good materials of gold, silver, and precious stones, or we can build selfish works using materials of wood, hay, and straw. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, the quality of our workmanship will be tested and we will be rewarded according to how the building passes the inspection. A wise master builder does not throw together the building haphazardly, but contemplates every detail, and works tirelessly to bring about the best, quality product.
God is our co-worker, our fellow-laborer, and our building partner, and He will help us build a beautiful structure of good works that is unmatched in quality if we only let Him. God has magnificent architectural plans and drawings for your beautiful house and is so excited to help you build it. God has all the right contacts, knows all the right people, and knows all the proper building techniques to construct the best home that perfectly suits your life. Whose architectural blueprints are we going to follow? God’s or the world’s? Our new creation in Christ’s plans or our sin nature’s plans? Isn’t God the best suited to help us build a quality Christian life that glorifies Him in word and action? God is the ultimate wise master builder, and without His help our building will not pass the inspection.
Every Christians building will go through a complete and thorough testing process at the bema. The word “test” in I Corinthians 3 in the Greek means “ to put to the test for the purpose of approving.” It is a critical examination of something to determine its genuineness. The word was used in secular Greek literature to describe the action of the examining board putting its stamp of approval on those individuals who passed the examination for the degree of Doctor of Medicine. It was also used of a candidate who passed the test as fit for public office. This Greek word describes a process of approval, not condemnation or punishment. You either passed or failed, as the testing was not done to determine how much good or evil was in the product or person being tested. The testing was done to determine whether the thing tested passed the examination according to specifications. It was also used in classic Greek to describe the testing of precious metals, usually by fire, to determine if they were truly authentic and measured up to their stated worth. The word also implies that the testing was done with the expectation and hope that the person or thing being tested would pass the test with flying colors.
God fervently desires that our building will pass the inspection at the bema and we receive abundant rewards. God has given us the gift of holy spirit, the revelation of His written Word, and a restored relationship with Him. He fully expects us to utilize these tools to construct our house of life. He will guide us, counsel us, comfort us, and strengthen us in this journey of building a quality, good, holy life for the service of our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole quality of our life and character will be tested at the Judgment Seat of Christ to see if God puts His stamp of approval on it and finds it worthy of a reward, or rejects it as unfit for any type of recompense.
Both I and II Corinthians state that if our works pass the test, we will be recompensed, or receive a reward. The word “reward” in the Greek means “wages or pay.” It is pay that is due for labor or service performed. This will not be minimum wage or a paltry pay for our labor. Who will even be able to measure the greatness of this reward that will be mingled with praise and love? Who can value the depth and vastness of these wages? By the grace and love of our wonderful God, these rewards will be a million times greater than the work that was performed, and they will last forever. These magnificent rewards will reflect the essence of God’s goodness. When we make His goodness our lifestyle and practice good day after day, God will reward us at the bema with good rewards that for eternity will radiate the brilliance of His goodness.
The Bible gives us some glimpse into the magnificent nature of these rewards by setting forth five crowns that are the ultimate and highest awards for Christian service. The Greek word for “crown” is stephanos, and Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament explains the meaning of this word:
It was the crown given to the victor in the Greek
athletic games, the runner who first crossed the
goal, the athlete who hurled the discus farthest,
the wrestler who pinned the opponent to the mat.
It was given to the servant of the State whose
work deserved to be honored. It was worn at
marriage feasts. A stephanos was therefore a
symbol of victory, of deserved honor, and of
festive gladness. The crown was woven of oak
leaves, of ivy, of parsley, of myrtle, of olive, of
violets, of roses.
Although the Bible does not tell us the exact nature of these crowns, these rewards must be simply breathtaking in their beauty and represent an eternal symbol of victory, deserved honor, and overflowing gladness. It will be a more magnificent crown than any victor’s wreath that ever graced the head of a Greek athlete. It will be more splendid then a thousand gold medals at the Olympic Games. It will be more superb than all the Nobel Peace Prizes ever given in the history of the world. Imagine what a privilege it would be to be handed a glorious crown by the Lord Jesus Christ! What an inspiring moment that would be! What an awesome recognition for a job well done. How remarkable would it be to wear a crown throughout all eternity that sends forth the brilliant message of our love and commitment to Him? Nothing can match the exceeding greatness and honor of these five crowns.
The first crown is the incorruptible or imperishable crown (I Corinthians 9:25) that is given to the Christian who has given his all in winning the spiritual race that God has marked out for each believer. It is given to the Christian who exercised self-control in everything and with great discipline gave all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength to do their best for the Lord. It is given to the Christian who excelled in their walk with God, keeping their body, mind and heart under control, directing it to the service of God and the good works He has planned for us to accomplish.
The second crown is the crown of rejoicing (I Thessalonians 2:19) that is given to those who have diligently won others to Christ. The crown represents every single person whom they have led to the Lord Jesus Christ and ministered the saving grace of His Word. It is given to those Christians who with great joy witnessed about the Lord Jesus Christ and the good news of salvation, righteousness, justification, and all the wonderful things Jesus Christ accomplished through his death and resurrection. It is given to those who stand against all the hindrance and obstructions of Satan and still hold forth the Word of Life and its wonderful message of deliverance. This crown is the glory of soul-winners.
The third crown is the crown of righteousness (II Timothy 4:8) that is given to those who long for Christ’s return and love His appearing as the exalted head of the Body of Christ and King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is given to those Christians who have fought the good fight of faith with their eyes riveted to the hope of Christ’s coming as the anchor of their soul. It is given to those Christians who have a deep yearning to see the Lord they love face to face and rejoice in his glorious presence.
The fourth crown is the crown of life (James 1:12) that is given to those Christians who endured and persevered through trials and temptations, remaining faithful to the Lord. The Christian who receives this crown has stood faithfully in their love and obedience to God, despite attempts by the devil to storm the depths of their heart and cause agitation, fear, and unbelief. The crown of life is given to those who are steadfast in their stand for the truth, regardless of the afflictions, pressures, pleasures, persecutions, and troubles that are thrown against them.
The fifth crown is the crown of glory that is given to leaders in the church who willing and eagerly shepherd God’s people, as these leaders shine forth as great examples of heart, service, lifestyle, and conduct for the Lord. It is given to those who follow the heart and example of the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, as they lovingly serve and take care of God’s precious children. The motive of these spiritual leaders is not money, fame, or pride, but love and passion to do God’s will as they carry forth their responsibilities in the ministry of the gospel.
Surely these five magnificent crowns should provide us great motivation for a lifetime of Christian service. Nothing could compare in this life to the thrill and honor of receiving the ultimate reward of a crown or crowns at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Perfect justice will be decreed from the bema, as each Christian believer will be compensated and rewarded for their works, words, and actions they accomplished for the Lord. The final verdict as to rewards will be absolutely perfect, fair, and good. Not one Christian will be cheated, overlooked, ripped off, or passed by when it comes to the proclamation of their eternal rewards.
The Bible describes a range of emotions that will be present at the Judgment Seat of Christ, as we stand face to face with Jesus Christ to give an account of our Christian lives. There will be confidence for some because of their devotion and faithfulness to the Lord. There will be shame for some, as the quality of their building and works did not measure up to the test. There will be cheerful courage and assurance for some, because of their intimate closeness and fellowship with the Lord as they carried out His work. There will be disappointment for some, who know in their hearts they failed to live up to the great purposes and plans of God for their lives. There will be unspeakable joy for some, whose heart will thrill at seeing their loving Lord face to face. There will be fear for some, because they dedicated their words and deeds to the service of their selfish sin nature and turned their backs on serving the Lord. There will be loss and sorrow for some, as they received little or no rewards because their works did not reflect God’s goodness, love, and grace. There will be guilt for some, as their eyes are opened to see that their character really missed the mark of quality God expects for His children. There will be humility and praise, as every knee shall bow to Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord to the glory of God our Father. There will be amazement and awe at the magnificent nature of this event as we stand in our new bodies in the presence of Jesus Christ. There will be love for the Lord and extreme gratitude for his sacrifice for each one of us.
What a day that will be, and we can make the decision now to live our lives in such a way that we stand at the bema before the Lord in confidence, courage, love, and joy. How we live from this day forward will determine to a great extent what emotions we will have before the Judgment Seat of Christ. In that day, we will see that it was worth the sacrifice and it was worth the effort to give our all to labor for the Lord doing His good work upon the earth.
But after the final verdict for rewards is given at the bema, I Corinthians 4:5 declares that every single Christian will receive praise from God. The word “praise” in the Greek means “praise upon, applause, commendation, and worthy of praise.” Detzler, in New Testament Words in Today’s Language, says, “the basic meaning of this word is ‘applause’. It speaks of expressed approval or public recognition.” God will stand and with great love in His heart give us applause as we enter into His kingdom. Even if the only thing we ever did with our life was to get saved, God will still give us applause and praise at the bema for that one great decision to come to the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. That wonderful moment gave us everlasting life and the finished, glorious work of Jesus Christ is so big, so enormous, and so complete for us that it merits the applause of God. We are the praise of the glory of His grace, according to Ephesians, and He has bestowed upon us the greatest gift to be called and accepted as His beloved. One person who was lost and now is found by the Great Shepherd causes waves of joy to flood the depths of heaven, for this was God’s great purpose for the ages. God will give you recognition at the bema for simply making that momentous decision of accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
But don’t we want more? Don’t we want an even greater level of praise and applause because we faithfully loved God with all our heart and soul in the midst of the darkness of this world? Don’t we want the honor and recognition from our Lord for boldly standing for the truth of the gospel, regardless of the opposition from the kingdom of darkness? As a mighty warrior and superior spiritual athlete, don’t we want the thrill of eternal victory to burst forth from our heart? This makes life a mighty adventure with our Lord, as we give everything we are to bring His goodness into the hearts of men, women, and children. No sacrifice is too great and no work is too hard when it comes to serving the Lord.
Paul used the imagery of an athlete when describing the intensity of commitment and devotion of heart that a Christian should have in doing God’s work.
II Timothy 4:7 (NIV):
I have fought the good fight, I have finished
the race, I have kept the faith.
The desperate, straining, agonizing contest
marked by its beauty of technique, I like a
wrestler have fought to the finish, and at
present am resting in victory. My race, I like
a runner have finished, and at present am
resting at the goal. The Faith committed to
my care, I like a soldier have kept safely
through eternal vigilance, and have
delivered it again to my Captain.
I Corinthians 9:24-27 (Message):
You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the
athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run
All good athletes train hard. They do it for a
gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re
after one that’s gold eternally.
I don’t know about you but I’m running hard
to the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve
got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert
and in top condition.
I’m not going to get caught napping, telling
everyone else all about it and then missing out
New Living Translation:
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs,
but only one person gets the prize? So run to
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.
So I run with purpose in every step, I am not
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
Philippians 3:13,14 (New Living Translation):
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not
achieved it, but I focus on this one thing:
Forgetting the past and looking forward to
what lies ahead,
I press on to reach the end of the race and
receive the heavenly prize for which God,
through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Ephesians 6:12 (The Message):
This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll
walk away from and forget about in a couple
of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight
to the finish against the devil and his angels.
As Christians, we are in an intense battle with our spiritual enemy, the devil and his kingdom, and God wants us to fight the good fight with the discipline, intensity, and effort of an athlete. The word “fight” in the Greek means: to contend in the Greek games for a prize with great physical exertion and intensity in an enormous struggle against an adversary; to labor fervently with persistent effort and to exert oneself as an athlete with every ounce of discipline, conviction, strength, and ability in a strenuous conflict; and to contend with adversaries with strenuous zeal. It means an all out push for victory with every ounce of physical and mental strength striving for the honor and reward of triumph. Nothing is left on the sidelines. The root of this word comes into English as the word “agony.” These Greek athletes were engaged in the intense competition of the games even to the point of physical agony. To understand some of the intensity and motivation of the Greek games, we need to know that the Greek boxer wore fur-lined gloves covered with cowhide that had lead and iron sewed into it, and the loser of a Greek wrestling match had his eyes gouged out. Do you see the intense motivation and physical struggle of these athletes to the point of agony in these games? Everything was on the line, and it demanded their full and complete effort.
Should we have any less intensity, motivation, discipline, and passion to do the good works of God than the Greek athlete had to win a prize? Should we labor any less fervently for Christ than the Greek athlete labored in the games? We should make it our aim as Christians to fight the good fight and finish the race God has called us to run with everything we have. No half-hearted, weak effort is acceptable. Fight the good fight! This is not a fight against our jobs, our spouses, our families, or opposing political views, but this is a fight for good and against evil. This is a fight for Christ and against Satan. This is a fight to stand up for God and proclaim His goodness with every ounce of our being. It is the biggest spiritual Super Bowl on the face of the planet, and it is the forces of good against the forces of evil. We are at war! This is your destiny, and God has given us everything we need to fight the good fight. God is our team captain, and He urges us to get in the spiritual arena and compete and fight for His will and purposes. We should accept nothing less than an all effort in this fight.
For too long Christianity has been too weak, too entangled, too preoccupied, too half-hearted, and too soft to fight for the truth of the gospel with an intensity of an athlete. Are we willing to lay everything we have on the line for the Lord Jesus Christ? Or is our Christianity a convenient Sunday show for an hour that does little to wake up the world to Christ or transform us into His likeness? You are in a fight, the ultimate contest, the supreme event, and you can either get into the ring and fight or stay on the sidelines of life, never adventuring to take the hand of God as your team captain and give it every fiber of your being to finish the race. It takes courage, it takes fortitude, it takes energy, it takes conviction, it takes passion, it takes commitment, and it takes tenacity to stand for Christ in this world. Are we willing to make the sacrifice to do the good works that God has prepared for us to walk in as Christians? Are you prepared to make the sacrifice to accomplish His glorious purpose for your life upon this earth? Are you prepared to push yourself to the point of physical and mental exhaustion for the cause of Christ?
When you really shed all the layers and the subterfuge, what else is there in life worth living for?
|1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your (the) toil is not in vain in the Lord. (NASB)|
|Amplified: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose].Barclay: So then, beloved brothers, show yourselves steady, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your toil does not go for nothing.
Gordon Clark paraphrase: Therefore we should mortify emotion, be steadfast, unchangeable, not erratic and scatterbrained, easily discouraged, and should multiply our good works in the knowledge that the Lord will make them profitable.
Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Now, my brothers and sisters, in the light of these sublime truths, be steadfast in doing the Lord’s work, knowing that he will reward you at his coming. NET: So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.NIV: Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
NLT: So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
Phillips: And so brothers of mine, stand firm! Let nothing move you as you busy yourselves in the Lord’s work. Be sure that nothing you do for him is ever lost or ever wasted.
FUTURE HOPE SHOULD MOTIVATE PRESENT