THE REWARD OF THE INHERITANCE
Perhaps it is a commonplace to say that salvation is by grace. Eternal life is a gift, the gift of God. "By grace are ye saved through faith", not by any works of righteousness which you can do. "He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved." God so loved the world that He gave His Son, and to those who receive this precious Saviour the right is accorded to become sons of God. We gladly worship and adore the Author of this great and eternal salvation from the penalty and the power of sin.
In his Epistle to the Colossians, Paul writes, "Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward" (3: 24), and placing our emphasis upon the word "reward", we proceed to ask what Paul means by this. Is it possible that this man, the foremost exponent of the freeness of God's salvation, who was himself an outstanding example of the operation of sovereign grace, is here suggesting that eternal salvation comes to a man as a reward for his service rendered? No, by no means. He knew full well and unalterably that he had begun in grace, and there can be no falling away from that glorious position. Grace must lay the foundation, and one day crown all with the top-stone. He would be turning back again to weak and beggarly elements if he weakened in any way, and yet he speaks of "an inheritance from the Lord as a reward."
Did he mean that after all, even with all that he has said and has done, there is some sense in which eternal life can be merited and salvation earned? Again we emphatically repeat - no, not at all. He does indeed write of the inheritance as being a reward for service rendered, but it is perfectly plain that he was addressing those who already possessed eternal life, and he regards them as being already risen with Christ (verse 1).
reward of the inheritance
therefore is not a permit to enter into Heaven at last; it is not a bestowal of
the right and authority to become a citizen of the New Jerusalem. These
are already indisputably assured to all
who accept Christ, and place their confidence alone upon the finished work of
the Lord Jesus upon
Elsewhere in His Epistles Paul deals with this truth in a somewhat different fashion. To the Corinthians he writes that there are some "whose work shall be shown for what it is. If what he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss" (1 Cor. 3: 14, 15). It is not the believer's standing, which is at risk, but that which he has built upon the foundation.
again at Paul's words we find that they constitute clear instructions on the
matter of this [future] inheritance, as and how its value may be
enhanced to the believer. Because the inheritance
into which he will one day enter and enjoy, is a reward, therefore let him
strive diligently to make it ever an increasing magnificent place and
condition. What a powerful incentive this should be to all who are
already saved by grace through faith in Christ, and who presently enjoy His
salvation! What a joy it will be to have something to lay
at His feet in that transcendent hour! How poor will those be who have
earned little for this glorious day! Of course, even to get into the
These being the facts then, Christian friend, why do you bend all your energies to get to yourself rewards here and now and give such scant attention to the future inheritance? Can it be that you are really more concerned about what men think about you in this present evil day, and more interested in your appearance before them, than you are about how you will look before the Lord at His Judgment Seat? How strange is the earnest devotion which so many Christians give to the pursuit of the material things of today, in comparison to the slight attention given to securing for themselves a suitable reward hereafter! An unsaved man foolishly rejects the offer of mercy and that to his everlasting loss; and meanwhile his saved neighbour unwisely neglects the REWARD in Glory which might be his and gives his best efforts to get hold of what he can enjoy but for a brief time.
How then can a Christian lay up treasure and receive this inheritance? Paul gives the Holy Spirit's formula in verse 23. His instructions are plain and complete: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Here is the secret made plain. You are eternally saved - praise God for that. Now as to reward - live only for Jesus. See Him as your Master, the One for whom you are working. Hence do everything, the big things and the small matters, as unto Him and not as to men. From morning till night walk as if His eyes were upon you. Let nothing enter into your life which you know He would not altogether approve. Thus you will be serving the Lord Christ who loves you dearly, and who laid down his life to redeem you. And serving Him, assuredly He will pay you and pay you well. The thought of the reward of the inheritance should constrain you and be an impetus for the best work you can do. In a word, consecrate your all to Him, yield yourself to God, live only for Him, serve Christ and not men.
This is the high ideal. It is our reasonable service. Give it unrestrainedly, and the day is coming when you will rejoice that you did not hold back. Refuse the appeal, do not respond and you will be saved, and have nothing to show for your life. Why seek an easeful estate now and miss this rich inheritance which might be yours by serving the Lord on the mission field or in some ministry of love which would cost you something for His sake? Why spend so much of your powers for present passing things which breed vanity and emptiness, when the highest service beckons you, and meanwhile will fit you for an infinitely larger enjoyment of God in the age to come. Serve the Lord and you will never regret it. How sweet it will be to be greeted by our blessed Lord, with the words "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world". There is no anticipation so glorious as this.
No believer will be brought before the judgment before Christ, to determine whether or not he is justified by faith: all believers have already received that, by the grace of God. Therefore, he is no longer an enemy, but a servant. He most certainly is eternally saved. But our Lord and His Apostles teach that all servants will give an account to Him regarding their behaviour since they first believed, and will be rewarded or punished, according as their deeds deserve, (Romans chapters 2; 14:10-13; 2 Corinthians 5: 10 - to take no more passages). This is the doctrine of several of our Lord's parables; such as the Unmerciful Servant, the Steward, the Talents, and the Pounds. What means that - "Its like a man going away: He leaves his house in charge of his servants, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back - whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'" (Mark 14: 34-37). And is it not true to say that the majority of Christ's servants are asleep? dreaming that the world is getting better, and is about to be converted by the preaching of the Gospel of God's grace? Will they 'receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward'?