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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Path to Reward

We've been looking at the Christian life and the rewards and the prize to be attained. We now look at how the Lord is helping us on this journey. The health, wealth and prosperity preachers will not be happy.

We always start with the sure foundation which is Christ. Nothing can move this foundation. It is freely given by grace through faith. But we cannot spend the rest of our lives simply resting on that foundation. Don't worry. It will forever be there. But what we build on it is up to us.

Scripture teaches us that some will "suffer" loss when what we build is tried in the fire (1 Cor 3). 

If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Scripture also teaches us that some Christians will be ashamed.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
-2 Tim 2:15
 
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
-1 John 2:28
Our ship of faith may end in "shipwreck" (1 Tim 1:19) and some teach others, but themselves will be "disqualified" (1 Cor 9:27).
So many of the warning passages we throw at unbelievers are meant for Christians. But we must take heed and be aware of how God is shaping us and building us up in the faith that we may have a "better resurrection."
The health, wealth and prosperity teachers don't want us to choose to suffer with the Lord. They don't want us to be content in poverty or in riches. They don't want is to take up the cross and identify with him in his sufferings. They are thus the enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil 3).
It is a consistent biblical principle that God allows trials into our lives to produce faith. For it is faith that drives us to stand for the Lord and suffer for his namesake.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect [mature] and complete, lacking nothing.
-James 1:2-4
Jacob and 11 of his sons suffered a famine to drive them to Joseph. Joseph suffered in prison on a false charge to move him into Pharaoh's house. When the children of Israel escaped the bondage of Egypt, the first place the Lord brought them was to the bitter waters of Marah. Upon entering the promised land, the chosen people of God were met by enemies and had to conquer many cities before they found peace.

In all these (and in many others) the way of wisdom was through testing, trial and suffering.
We look again at Hebrews 12 where we saw previously that we need to lay down the sin that so easily ensnares us and worldly desires that weigh us down; run the race and remember Christ suffered before us:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.-Heb 12:1-2

The way to glory is the way of the cross.


We are either moving towards Perfection (maturity) or Perdition (waste). He loves you. The more we get to know him, the more we trust him. The way to increase this trust and knowledge? "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." (Romans 10:17) To this we add:
[G]iving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
-2 Pet 1:5-9

You can have Your Best Life Now or Your Best Life Later.


Some Christians are truly saved, yet never learn to thoughtfully and carefully handle the Word of God and thus end up in shipwreck.

We know Satan wants to devour us with religion and slavery to sin (these two feed each other). But we must also recognize the lure of the world and the weakness of our flesh.

Know your enemies, understand your flesh and the world:
  1. The lust, greed and covetousness of the flesh
  2. The lust, greed and covetousness of the eyes
  3. Our pride and selfishness
(1 John 2:16)



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