The times that are being talked about in this chapter are about the Great Tribulation that was mentioned in the end of Chapter Eleven of the book of Daniel. God continues to reveal to Daniel what the end times will look like but also what God wants His children to do. Like a good Father God wants to not only spend eternity with His creation but He also wants to reward them for the things they have done.
In business they say, “What gets rewarded gets done” because people tend to want to know what the company wants them to do and what their bosses deem important. God reveals to Daniel what He thinks is important and what He wants people to focus on as well as what He will reward for those who carry out His will. God will judge every word, deed and secret of Christians and Non-Christians. The difference between the Christians and the Non-Christians is that the Christians will not have any negative things brought up about them because those who trusted in Christ have all their sins forgiven and forgotten. (Psalm 103:12)
There are two lies that some Christians believe. The first lie is that they will have their sins displayed on a screen when they give an account to God and the other lie is because of grace they will not have to give an account to God because we will all walk into Heaven equally. Today will we see with today’s verse that there are different rewards for followers of Christ and although our sins are forgiven we will still be held accountable for how we lived out lives.
Daniel 12:3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above;[a] and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Rewarded for telling others about Christ
“Those who are wise … and turn many to righteousness”
To be Wise or to have wisdom is a reference to teachers who would pass on their knowledge to others. Those who are wise make others wise by telling them about Jesus Christ. Every person who calls themselves a Christian is told by Jesus Himself to pass the knowledge of who Jesus is and how He wants us to follow Him. Every Christian should be able to explain to others how they can have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross.
Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
There are many beliefs that are confusing people about God and we have the responsibility to make them wise to the truth. We have to prepare ourselves to help people see the lies they believe just like a teacher would correct a student. When people believe that all religions are the same we need to be able to tell them that is not true and that Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6) and why. When people believe there is no God we need to be able to show them that the creation of the world shows that we are designed and that means there is a designer who created the entire universe. (Romans 1)
2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ
Our society has taught us that you are not supposed to talk about politics or religion and that the separation of church and state means that the church does not interfere with the state’s business. (Another topic but that is not what separation of church and state means) We are told to keep your religion in your churches or synagogues but those things should not be discussed in public. As Christians we are commanded to talk about Christ and the book of Daniel tells us that we will be rewarded for talking about these things with others.
1 Peter 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Notice the passage says to make a defense which is the same word where we get the word apologetics from (apologia) which means to make a formal defense as if in a courtroom. We are to make our case for why Christ was God in the flesh who came to earth to pay for the sins we committed.
Those who we talk about Jesus with and who come to Christ are a crown of rejoicing according to 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 and we will receive this crown when we get to Heaven.
What would you say to someone who asked you what is the difference between Christianity and all the other religions?
What would you say to someone who says that all roads lead to God?
Would you be able to tell someone why they need to accept Jesus Christ as the way to God instead of all the other religions?
God wants us to tell others about Him and He will reward us for it because the only way someone can be in a right relationship with God (righteous) is to accept the free gift of Jesus Christ who makes them righteous or in a right standing with God. It is debt terminology and we have a debt that we cannot pay but Jesus paid it for us. You can accept the free gift of salvation and allow Christ to pay your debt, or you can try and earn it yourself in which you will not be able to do by your own works. (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
Rewarded for a life well lived. (Deeds)
“Shall shine like the brightness of the sky above”
Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Christians are totally forgiven of all the sins they have committed and will commit but that does not mean that we will not stand before God for our lives. We are called to be light shiners in a world full of darkness and our deeds should point people toward Jesus which is the light of the world.
2 Corinthians 5:10 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 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.
Christians will stand before God individually to give an account for their lives and receive what is due them. Evil in this passage means worthless things we did but not the sins that we committed. Good means your actions and sacrifices you made for God’s glory and not your own. The judgement seat for Christians is not like a court room but more like a podium at the Olympics where we will be rewarded for the good that was done. Each person in the Olympics gets a medal and his rewarded for their accomplishment and so our loving Father will reward us in the same way.
“…and heaven will not be the same for everyone. The way we live here will have eternal, unchangeable, and profound consequences.” (Your Eternal Reward, Erwin Lutzer, Pg 19)
Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s workmanship created to do good works. We were created to do things to Glorify God and not ourselves. Our Goal in life should be to please God (Romans 12:1-2; 14:18; Ephesians 5:10; Colossians 1:10) Why? Because He is the one who is worthy of praise(Revelation 5:12).
“There is a popular notion that we will appear before God to determine whether we will go to heaven or hell. But there is no such judgment mentioned in the Bible. Whether we go to heaven or hell is determined already in this life. At death, those who know Christ as Savior go directly to heaven where the judgment seat of Christ will take place…” (Your Eternal Rewards, Erwin Lutzer, Pg 20)
The notion of judging with a good angel on one shoulder and a bad angel on another who keep track of all of your deeds is based on other religions but not Christianity. Christianity is purely what Christ did for us on the Cross by dying for our sins. All other religions are about you being judged by your works and Christianity is about being judged by the works Jesus Christ did for us. We get accepted by God because we have accepted the free gift of salvation that God offered us through Jesus Christ. For Christians all the things they do in Christ after they have given their lives to Him will be rewarded.
1 Corinthians 3:12-13 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.
Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The foundation is Jesus Christ which means that no other foundation, like your personal good works, will hold up to the wrath of God. Jesus took God’s wrath (the storm) and all that we do for Him stands because of Jesus Christ. We will see our lives tested one day by God Himself and only the things we did for Christ will last and the rest will be burned up.
Matthew 6:19-21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] 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.
Does your life show others that you have different priorities than the rest of the world? God loves us and wants to reward His children that even something as simple as a cup of cold water will not go unnoticed. Matthew 25:37 (See Also: Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Romans 14:10-12)
Rewarded for the things done in Secret
Matthew 6:1-4 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:6 and 6:18 talk about fasting and praying that are done in secret will be rewarded. The things you do for the Lord and for His glory that no one else knows about will be rewarded in Heaven. Too many Christians will serve as long as they can be recognized by others or if they are put in positions of leadership. God calls us to be servants (Philippians 1:1) but too many people want to turn their service where they are served. I have seen in churches where people become upset because others get the credit or get put on positions in the church that they wanted. If you are serving for any other reason than to glorify God then you are not earning rewards in Heaven.
With social media many people will be forfeiting rewards in Heaven because they are getting praise from people on earth. This does not mean you should not receive praise from others or be recognized by them but you should never do something to be seen or recognized by others. We are called to encourage one another so if someone does praise you acknowledge it gracefully knowing that God wants to encourage you in what you are doing.
What are your motives for serving Jesus? To be recognized?
If someone else gets credit for doing the Lord’s work does that bother you?
(See Also: Luke 12:2; 1 Corinthians 4:3-5; Hebrews 4:13)
Rewarded for Eternity
“Like the Stars forever and ever “
Matthew 19:28-29 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world,[a] 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[b] and will inherit eternal life.
Everything we do on earth has consequences for eternity and every sacrifice we make for the kingdom will be rewarded one hundred times over by our loving Father. The phrase “And will inherit eternal life” shows that the rewards are more than just eternal life.
Matthew 25:20-21 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.[e] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
In Luke 19:11-27 it says that they are placed over cities to rule. Although we will not be able to fully grasp what God has planned He has given us a glimpse as to what we will experience for all eternity. Gods Judgement is coming (Romans 12:19) and He will set everything straight and so we do not have to worry about what some other Christian has done or what we lost here on earth for His sake.
We need to guard our lives because we can lose rewards by the sins we commit and the opportunities God gives us to serve Him.
1 Corinthians 3:14-15 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.
Some people will enter heaven because it is based on Christ for their salvation but they come with nothing because they chose to live for themselves or to do things for Christ for their own glory.(1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20)
“Every soul in heaven will equally possess eternal life and will be equally perfect, because perfection has no degree. The difference will be in opportunities and levels of service. Just at the angels serve God in ranks, so will redeemed men and women, and the degree of their heavenly service will have been determined by the devotedness of earthly service. ” (John MacArthur Commentary on Matthew 24-28, pg 104)
Trials prepare us for our Heavenly Rewards
Matthew 5:11-12 “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.
2 Corinthians 4:16-17 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[a] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18
I found it encouraging that what we are going through on earth is just preparing us for how we will rule in eternity. Yes God’s first goal for us is for us to become more like Christ (Romans 8:29) but then He is also using the things we go through in this life to prepare us for our eternal rewards.
Things to Remember
You are not to work for God as a slave works for a Master but you are to work as a child for a Loving Father. If your view of God is wrong like the two brothers in Luke 15:11-32 then your motives for serving will be wrong. My friend Brent Gambrel says, “Fall crazy in love with Jesus and the rest will take care of itself”. If your love relationship with God is not correct then your motivation to serve Him will be incorrect.
Any gift we offer to God is made acceptable through Jesus Christ because anything we can offer is filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6).
1 Peter 2:4-5 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Our lives are to be living sacrifices Holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1) but anything we do is offered through the power of Christ (John 15:5) and not by our own strength. Everything we do must be based on Faith or it will not be acceptable to God (Hebrews 11:6). The rewards we will receive are based not on amount of time we have on earth but on the opportunities we have been given. (Matthew 20:1-17)
Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.
How you will shine in heaven will be determined by how you live on earth. You cannot earn your way to heaven but God, being a loving generous father, will reward those who live their lives sacrificially for Him. Every Word, Every Deed, Every Secret and Every Trial that you did for Gods Glory will be rewarded. So what does God reward?
- Persecution/ mistreatment: Matthew 5:11-12; 6:20; 1 Peter 2:19; Hebrews 11:24-26
- Financial Generosity: Matthew 5:5; 6:4, 19-21; Philippians 4:17
- Hospitality: Matthew 10:40-41; 18:5; 25:35-36; Luke 14:12-14
- Prayer: Matthew 5:6
- Fasting: Matthew 5:17-18
- Faithfulness to your job: Colossians 3:22-24
- Humbleness: Philippians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 5:6
- Loving the un-lovely: Luke 6:27-28, 35
- Sound Theology: 2 John 1:8
- Investing in People: 1 Corinthians 3:6-8; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; Hebrews 6:10
- Endurance in the Faith: 2 Timothy 4:6-8; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:12-14; Hebrews 11
- Overcomers: Revelation 3:21
- Watching for the Lord’s return: Luke 12:37
What do you receive?
- The Crown of Rejoicing: when others come to Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
- The Crown of Glory: Elders who serve the people of God faithfully (1 Peter 5:1-4)
- The Crown of Righteousness: Those who long for Jesus appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
- The Crown of Life: Those who endure trials and persecution (James 1:12; Rev 2:10)
- The Crown of Mastery: Those who run the race successfully (1 Corinthians 9:25)