Christian Rewards

 January 30, 2003

Title: Christian Rewards

Text: “He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor…If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward” (1 Cor. 3:8, 14).

Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 3:8-15


Sierra and I are glad to be here with you.  We missed last week because of the weather.  The roads were terrible and a lot of people didn’t get to leave the house.  I hope you are all feeling well today and are ready to sing some songs and to listen to the devotion that we have prepared for today.  Today, we are going to be studying the subject of Christian rewards.  It’s something that we can all look forward to.  I don’t know if you are aware that the Bible says that every child of God is going to receive a reward.  If you have your Bibles and want to follow along, you can turn to 1 Corinthians 3:8-15.  What will be our scripture reading.  At the end of our service we will have a time for prayer so if you have any prayer requests, let us know at that time so that we can bring them before the Lord.  Before we sing, I want to read our text for today to give you a little glimpse of what the Bible says about rewards.

“He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor…If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward” (1 Cor. 3:8, 14).


1. One Day-#127
2. Amazing Grace-#165
3. Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine
4. Standing on the Promisses-#335

Prayer for Lesson:

Let’s begin our Bible lesson by reading our scriptures: 1 Corinthians 3:8-15.

8 He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it.
11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—
13 each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. (Let me read this verse again, because we are talking about rewards today.)
15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

There is a lot of scripture about rewards, which I want to share with you, so I am going to let the Bible speak for itself today.  

And besides, who should we listen too more than God, and He does speak to us from His book.
Living the Christian life is a blessing not only now but also in the future. 

And one reason for that is because every child of God can look forward to a reward. 

I have to admit that the idea of rewards is something that I don’t think much about, and any service I do for God is done because I love Him, not because I want a reward.

And our salvation is not tied to anything that we do for God.

There is a great difference between the doctrine of salvation for the lost and the doctrine of rewards for the saved. 

Salvation is by grace, not by works, but rewards are according to the works of the believer. 

Salvation is a gift; rewards are earned.

We are saved by grace, not by works, otherwise we could boast and say that we did it.

The passage in First Corinthians, which we just read, reveals several truths about rewards:

First, every believer will be rewarded according to his or her own labor.

Verse 8 says, “He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor.”

Here rewards are called wages-something you receive because you have worked. 

The verse says that planting and watering are equally important. 

You may plant the word of God by witnessing, and never see a result.

But the Word of God will always have an effect-the Bible says it never returns void.

Years later someone may give that person the gospel and they will believe-you had an important part.

Second, we are laborers together with God, not for salvation but for his service. 

That’s what we read in verse 9, “For we are God’s fellow workers...”

God builds His church through us. 

He uses our mouths, our lives and our giving to present the gospel.

Third, in verse 11 we are told that we are to build on Christ as our foundation; “For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Anything we do for the kingdom of God must be done for Christ’s sake, and then it will last.

Forth, we have a choice of two kinds of building materials: gold, silver and costly stones are one type and wood, hay and straw is the other type. 

The first type represents eternal materials, the second represents worldly materials. 

Building with eternal materials results in rewards. 

Building with worldly materials results in loss at the judgment seat of Christ.

Let me illustrate this with a story.

A minister sat at the bedside of a dying friend. 

As the friend talked of going home, tears filled his eyes. 

Knowing the man was young in the Lord, the minister thought he was afraid to die and so he tried to speak words of encouragement to him. 

But the friend said, “I’m not afraid; I’m just ashamed to die.” 

Christ was his Savior, but he had to meet Him empty-handed. 

His life was like “wood, hay, and straw.”

He had lived a life that was without any good works, he had not witnessed for Christ, he didn’t support his church, and he rarely prayed.

He was ashamed, But it doesn’t have to be that way, because Christians can live and die crowned with victory. 

Sometimes the Bible calls the Christian’s reward a prize, but several times it is called a crown. 

Five crowns are mentioned in the New Testament. 

That’s our Bible study for today-we are going to see what those crowns are. 

The first crown that I want to describe is the crown of life.

The crown of life is the subject of James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.”

The crown of life is sometimes called “the lover’s crown.” 

We find strength to overcome temptation and endure trials through the love of God. 

This crown is for those who love Him.

How do you know if you love Him?

Jesus told us how; He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

If you really love Him, you are obeying Him.

Love is so important.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart and also to love others.

Without His love in our hearts, trials can cause us to become bitter and critical and lose the crown of life.

This is also the crown that is received for being “faithful unto death.” 

It says in Revelations 2:10, “…Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” 

All believers have earned life, (The Bible says that when we are saved that we pass from death into life.) but not all believers will be rewarded with the crown of life. 

To receive it, we must love the Lord more than our lives because it says in Mark, “For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35). 

We must live for Christ and endure temptations and trials in the power of the love of God, and then we will receive the crown of life.

The second crown is the crown of rejoicing.

The crown of rejoicing is called the soul winners crown. 

The greatest work we are privileged to do for the Lord is to bring others to the knowledge of Christ as personal Savior.

But let me ask a question, “Why win souls? 

And now, I will give you four answers to that question.

First, it is wise to win the lost.

Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.” 

The world may not put much value in the saving of a soul, but God does.

When you tell someone about Jesus you are wise.

Second, it is a work against sin. 

James wrote, “let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).

Those who don’t know Christ as Savior are spiritually dead.  They can be born again, but they need to hear about Jesus.

Third, it is a cause for joy in heaven. 

Luke 15:10 says, “…there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

What a picture this is! 

Can you imagine the kind of celebration this is?

As far as I know I have never been the cause of a celebration here on earth, but one day in November 1951 I received Jesus as my Savior and the angels in heaven celebrated.

Praise God!

Forth, every soul-winner will shine as the stars for ever. 

Daniel expressed that thought when he wrote, “Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).

Allow me to ask another question, “Since we know why we must win souls, how do we go about it?” 

I can think of three ways in which we can be soul-winners.

First, we can win souls by the life that we lead. 

Others see Christ in us as we respond in the right way when we are up against difficult life situations. 

Second Corinthians 3:2 declares, “You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all.” 

And have you ever heard it said, “You are the only Bible that some people ever read?”

You can talk about Jesus all you want, but others are watching to see if your life backs up what you say.

Second, we can lead others to Christ with our mouths. 

We need to witness verbally for Christ, trusting the Holy Spirit to give us power. 

That was the mission given by Christ to His disciples, just prior to His ascension; and it is for us also. 

He said, “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Third, we can win souls through our giving. 

We should give tithes and offerings to support others who are preaching Christ and then the Bible says we will have fruit abound to our account. 

When Paul wrote to the Philippians he said “…It is not that I am eager for the gift; rather, I am eager for the profit that accrues to your account” (Phil. 4:15-17). 

Paul wanted them to know the blessings that come from supporting God’s ministers.

Because of our giving and support, preachers and missionaries can take the gospel to the lost in this country and “to the ends of the earth.”

There is much rejoicing when the lost person is saved. 

Heaven rejoices (Luke 15:10); the new believer rejoices (Acts 8:39); the sower and reaper rejoice together (John 4:36); and the whole family of God rejoices.

I hope that you will receive the soul winner’s crown.

The third crown is the crown of righteousness.

The crown of righteousness is found in 2 Timothy 4:8, “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.”

The crown of righteousness is the crown earned by believers who eagerly anticipate the second coming of Christ. 

It is sad, but today there are a lot of Christians who believe in the Second Coming, but they are not looking forward to it.

Life is too good-they have so much of what the world can give that they don’t want it to end.

But Paul was anxious for Christ to return, and in light of that Paul could say, “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7). 

In the realm of spiritual warfare, Paul won the battle. 

He could also say, “I have finished my course” (v. 7). 

In the course of the life that he traveled, there was no detour around hard places. 

There was no looking back (Luke 9:61-62). 

Instead, Paul kept his eyes on Christ (Phil. 1:6). 

Finally, he could say, “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). 

He faithfully preached all the Word of God (Acts 20:24-31).

Are you looking forward to seeing Jesus?

You could live to see Him return or you will see Him in Heaven and I hope He personally hands you the crown of righteousness.

The forth crown is the crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4).

The crown of glory is a special reward for the faithful, obedient, God-called pastor. 

Christ, The Chief Shepherd Himself gives it. 

It says in 1 Peter 5:4, “And when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”  It is eternal; it “fadeth not away.” 

Yet every believer may share in the pastor’s “crown of glory.” 

According to Matthew 10:41, it’s a crown that we can also receive: “He who receives a prophet (This is another word for pastor.) because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” 

God will reward those who support His chosen servants through prayer and encouragement, and by giving freely of their selves and their possessions.

The pastor earns this crown by doing one of three things:

First, by feeding the church, that is, by preaching the Word of God.

It says in 1 Peter, “Shepherd God’s flock, for whom you are responsible.” (1 Peter 5:2).

Pastors feed their flock with God’s Word, by rightly dividing God’s Word and preaching all of it.

Second, by taking the spiritual oversight of the church. 

The verse which we just read says that the pastor is responsible for shepherding his flock of believers.

What does a shepherd do?

He cares and protects his flock.

Third, by being an example to the church. 

Pastors are to walk with God by faith. 

They are to be spiritual leaders. 

Peter wrote, “Do not be like a ruler over people you are responsible for, but be good examples to them” (1 Peter 5:3).

A pastor leads by example.

If you are not able to give to support a preacher or missionary, you can support them by praying for them and encouraging them, and then perhaps you will receive the crown of glory.

The fifth crown is the incorruptible crown (1 Cor 9:24-25).

This is the crown for victorious living-for living the Christian life. 

It is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, “You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. So run to win!  All those who compete in the games use self-control so they can win a crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time, but our crown will never be destroyed.” 

In the Greek games, the competitors ran for a corruptible crown.

In our modern day Olympics, the competitors run for a gold medal.

In the Christian race, we run for an incorruptible crown.

The key to victory is a disciplined life, whether in the Olympic Games or in the Christian life. 

Athletes deny themselves many things that their bodies crave. 

Likewise, Christians must subdue their bodies or else be disqualified for the prize. 

The New Testament contains guidelines for us to follow to win the crown of victory.

First, we must deny ourselves of anything that would weigh us down and hinder us. 

It says in Hebrews, “We have around us many people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back” (Heb. 12:1).

We need to resist the appeal of sin; call upon the help of the Holy Spirit and do our best not to sin. 

It’s difficult and we will fail; but when we sin we have His promise that if we will confess our sin that He will forgive us.

Second, we must keep our eyes fixed on Christ. 

God’s word tells us in Hebrews 12:2, “Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect.”

He has told us through His Word how we are to live, and He will help us to live holy lives if we just follow His directions.

So we must read our Bibles, and when we do He will speak to us from its pages.

Trust Him and do what He said.

Third, we must find our strength in the Lord. 

That’s what Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his great power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks.” (Eph. 6:10-18).

It’s the Holy Spirit that gives us the power to live the Christian life.

You and I don’t have the power within ourselves to do it. 

Even Paul had to say that he needed help.

He said he wanted to do what was right, but as hard as he tried he couldn’t.

He could only do it with God’s help.

Forth, we must place our all on the altar of the Lord. 

It says in Romans 12:1-2, “So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.  Do not change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.”

We must yield our lives to Christ daily.

We must recognize that we have a sinful nature, and through prayer seek God’s forgiveness and help.

We must realize that without God we are nothing and we can do nothing.

Let’s do everything for His honor and glory.

Fifth, we must, by faith, refuse anything that would impede spiritual progress.

We must have the type of faith that Moses had.

It says in Hebrews, “It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of the king of Egypt’s daughter.  He chose to suffer with God’s people instead of enjoying sin for a short time.  He thought it was better to suffer for the Christ than to have all the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking for God’s reward.  (Heb. 11:24-29). 

There is no way to win the incorruptible crown and be a spectator in the Christian life. 

We must enter the race and run to win!

In an old legend, an angel was talking with an aged Christian. 

Going into a great vault, he brought out a beautiful crown with shinning jewels of rare value. 

He said, “This is the crown I designed for you when you were a youth, but you refused to surrender yourself completely to the Lord; now it is gone.” 

From the vault he brought another crown. 

It was beautiful, but not nearly as beautiful as the first one. 

He said, “This is the crown I designed for your middle age, but you gave those years to sluggish discipleship; now it is gone.”

The angel brought a third crown from the vault. 

It was just a plain gold crown with no jewels in it. 

He said, “Here is the crown of your old age.  This is yours for all eternity.”

Every one of us will receive a crown according to our labor. 

What will be your reward?

Remember, every child of God will get one.

Isn’t God wonderful?

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