Salvation, Rewards, Heirship–Part 2
Ephesians Lesson #035
July 14, 2019
“Father, we are so grateful for our salvation, for all that You have given us and provided for us. Salvation is a rebirth. It is regeneration. We are made alive in Christ. It is the beginning of a new life, a new life that has a destiny, a destiny to rule and reign with our Lord Jesus Christ, a destiny that is unique and distinct for Church Age believers, a destiny that is identified in Scripture as an inheritance. Often, this teaching of Scripture is not clearly understood, but it is designed to motivate us to live for the Lord Jesus Christ, to serve Him, and to live today in light of eternity.
“Father, as we continue our study inheritance and rewards and heirship, we pray that You would open our eyes to this so that we might be challenged to live differently today so that we may glorify You greater for all eternity. We pray this in His name, amen.”
Open your Bibles this morning with me to Matthew 5. We will get there, but I want to begin with a little review.
We’re in Ephesians 1:14, studying about salvation and rewards and heirship. We have come to the last verse in the opening section, the opening blessing statement of the Apostle Paul, where he talked about how we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in relation to the work of the Father, then the Son, then, in Ephesians 1:13–14, the work of God the Holy Spirit. He said that the Holy Spirit “is the guarantee of our inheritance until”—that word focuses on something future. We have a guarantee now of something we will realize in the future, and that is—“the redemption of the purchased possession …” We have been bought with a price. We are not our own. We are to serve the Lord—“to the praise of His glory.”
Slides 4 and 5
Inheritance is the word KLERONOMIA, indicating a possession or property, an idea that runs all the way through this blessing from Ephesians 1:3–14, that we have been redeemed to be God’s possession. The mark of that possession is the sealing by the Holy Spirit which identifies us as owned by God, owned by the Lord Jesus Christ. That inheritance is guaranteed to us, so it is secure. In this verse, that inheritance is not dependent on anything that we do but on God.
As we continue our study of inheritance, I want you to think about these two emphases in inheritance passages:
1. That which God secures for us
2. That which is conditioned on our behavior
These are related to two different aspects or categories of our inheritance.
Here, we have the emphasis on what God has given us in that inheritance. This is an echo of 1 Peter 1:3–4, again a blessing statement by Peter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ …” The focus, the grammatical subject, as well as the focal point of these two verses is what God has provided for us. He “… who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again”—That’s regeneration, which is by faith alone in Christ alone. He—“has begotten us again to a living hope.” Hope always focuses us on the future. Hope is the Greek word ELPIS, which indicates a confident expectation. It is not the sort of wishful optimism that we might express.
We may be watching the weather as we did this last week. Some of us may have been hoping that we would get some rain from this storm that would water our yards and our gardens. Others of us were hoping that we wouldn’t get any winds or flooding or destruction. It was wishful optimism. We had no idea what would happen.
In the Bible, hope is not wishful optimism. It is a confident certainty. We know it because of the certainty of faith. We have been born again “to a living hope”—not a dead hope—“a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to …” That is the end game, the purpose of our salvation.
So often people think, “I’m glad to be saved because I’ll end up in Heaven and not down in the Lake of Fire.” There is a lot more to it than that. We are not just saved so we can spend eternity with God in Heaven. We are saved for a purpose that impacts us not only here and now in our life on this earth but will impact us in eternity. God has a plan and purpose for us in the Millennial Kingdom and on into the eternal state as members of the body of Christ, the Church, and in terms of serving in ruling and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have a guaranteed inheritance, which cannot be lost. It is incorruptible and undefiled, and it does not fade away, and it is reserved in Heaven for us. 1 Peter 1:4. This is the same kind of guaranteed inheritance in Ephesians 1:14. Yet we have passages such as Colossians 3:24 that talk about the reward of the inheritance. A reward is different from a gift. A reward is earned. A gift is free. They are not to be confused. Salvation, our eternal life, is given to us freely when we trust in Christ as Savior.
We will discover that the passages that talk about the reward of the inheritance are designed to motivate us to live for Him today and not just sit back and be satisfied with the fact that we will spend eternity in Heaven. We are to serve Him because God has a plan and a purpose for us. We need to grow and mature spiritually, so that we can fully realize that plan and purpose in our lives today. We were saved for a purpose, and that is to serve Him in this life. In order to serve Him, we have to understand what that means. We have to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have to mature in Him. Only then do we truly become usable and serviceable for the Lord Jesus Christ.
A lot of people stay in their spiritual diapers. As you and I both know, if you have a family, if you have children, and most of us were children, when you stayed around in diapers as an infant, you didn’t really provide a lot for the family. As you grew and matured, and you went through those adolescent years, you contributed a lot by taking care of things around the house and fulfilling various chores. The more you matured, the more useful you were in your service to the family. That is the idea in these passages.
Colossians 3:24, “… because you know that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance”—and then the command—“serve the Lord.” Serving the Lord cannot be a condition for salvation, for we have passages like Ephesians 2:8–9, Titus 3:5, and a number of other passages that talk about the fact that salvation is a free gift. As Galatians 2:16 says, “We are justified by faith and not by the works of the law.” No commands are related to salvation other than “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31
We have a lot of other commands in Scripture that are not related to getting saved, which is that Phase 1 of salvation where we are saved from the penalty of sin, so that we will spend eternity in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to serve Him. That is why I had you open your Bibles to Matthew 5 where we have a much-misunderstood passage of the Sermon on the Mount. It is often distorted and used by people. Whether they are liberal Christians or liberal non-Christians, they rip verses out of context in order to justify everything from social justice to guilt manipulation to emphasizing works or morality as a basis for salvation.
The fact is that this section, as we studied not long ago in Matthew, is addressed to those who are already saved, already justified. Jesus addressed His disciples, not the disciples in a broad sense but the intimate circle of His twelve disciples. Matthew 5:1 says He was seated, which is the position that a rabbi would take in order to teach the congregation. That’s even true today. Sometimes, I think I would like to sit down. That would be so much easier. He sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them.
Notice a couple things here. I’m not going to get into a full exposition of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew because we’ve already done that, but I want you to notice a few things. He started off, Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”—which is an idiom for humility—“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Was Jesus saying you must have humility to get into Heaven? Is that a condition? Are these other things that He says in these verses expressing conditions to get into Heaven, or was He talking about something different, a greater experience and enjoyment of the future?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit”—that is, those who have genuine humility—“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We will see that this phraseology is related to enjoyment and ownership in the Kingdom. It is not talking about getting into Heaven when we die. It is talking about that quality that we will experience as we serve the Lord in the future Kingdom.
Notice Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek”—another term related to humility—“for they shall inherit the earth.” Inherit, as we have seen in the last few weeks, means possession, that the meek will inherit or possess the land literally. He was talking to Jews. It had not shifted to the Church Age yet. He was talking about their future in the Kingdom, the Messianic Kingdom. He never changed its meaning. He was not talking about the way in which it is usually interpreted with liberal Christianity, that everybody has to become a little soft doormat that everybody runs over, and somehow, he will eventually be in control. He was talking about the meek.
Remember, Moses was the meekest man in the Old Testament, and he was a man who was extremely strong, dynamic. He led three million Jews through the wilderness, through the southern desert in the Negev for forty years. He certainly was extremely strong and dynamic.
The concept of meekness means someone who is oriented to the authority of God and stays under His authority. Jesus humbled Himself by being obedient to the point of the Cross. Philippians 2:8. Meekness is related to authority orientation. It is related to submission to God and following God. Jesus was talking about that here. We could paraphrase it, “Blessed are those who are submitted to the authority of God, for they shall inherit the earth.” This is talking about something beyond simple justification salvation.
As you read through these Beatitudes, it is clear that He was talking about something beyond simply getting to Heaven. For the disciples that He was addressing, that eternal destiny of Heaven was already secure. He was talking to them about something that goes beyond that.
In Matthew 5 and 6, Jesus drew a contrast between that which is spiritually profitable for the believer in Christ, for the person who is born again in terms of his future destiny, and the superficial works-oriented behavior of the Pharisees. In Matthew 5:10, we begin to see a contrast that will be worked out here, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Here again, we have the repetition of the phrase we saw in Matthew 5:3, “… theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Somebody might say, “I thought I had the kingdom of Heaven because I trusted in Christ as Savior.” You are going to be in Heaven, but you may not enjoy all of the privileges and blessings that will be in the future Kingdom. That belongs to those who mature and who exhibit different qualities that we see in Matthew 5–7.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake …” That relates to the passage we looked at last time in Romans 8, which talked about the fact that there is a joint heirship in Christ for those who suffer with Him. They “… are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you,” when they make fun of you, when they cut you out of certain things.
This morning I was reading about a young woman who could’ve easily qualified for the national soccer team, but three years ago, the national soccer team was going to wear rainbow jerseys in order to celebrate the LGBTQ Movement. Because she is a believer, she said that she would not participate on the team because she could not wear that jersey. As a result, she has been shunned, ridiculed, and made fun of by the LGBTQ community and many others. Allegedly by reputation, she is the best at what she does, the position she plays in soccer, but she was willing to give all that up to do that which was right according to Scripture.
We will be reviled and persecuted in many different ways if we stand up for the Scripture. You may stand up for the Scripture dealing with certain policies that your employer emphasizes. You may say, “I just can’t do that in good conscience as a believer in Jesus Christ.” You may lose your job. You may have to give up certain benefits. You may have to give up certain careers because of the pressure coming from the social justice side of the political spectrum that puts a target on anybody who is an evangelical believer who is trying to consistently live out the Scripture in every area of his life, which means in the public square.
In Matthew 5:11–12, Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven …” Notice the emphasis is now on inheritance and reward. It is not talking about the free gift of salvation but that which is given in addition to salvation on the basis of obedient behavior on the part of the believer. Matthew 5:12, “… for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Skip down to Matthew 5:44. In this section, we’re going to see more of the contrast between the behavior of the Pharisees and the behavior that characterizes a growing, maturing disciple of Jesus. “But I say to you, love your enemies.” This is sort of a summary. He had said a lot since we looked at Matthew 5:10–12, and He was going back and summarizing that.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” The attitude of the believer under any kind of rejection or any kind of ridicule for his faith in Christ is simply to let Jesus deal with the rejection. We are to treat people in kindness and goodness, not to have mental attitude sins of resentment or anger or any sort of retaliation or revenge, but simply to put it in the Lord’s hands, casting every care upon Him because He cares for us. 1 Peter 5:7
A purpose for this is in Matthew 5:45, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” That’s not talking about getting into Heaven in salvation because that would be works. That would be saying that we are saved, justified, by the works of the Law. It is simply saying that this is in addition. It is a result of spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. As a result of that, other honors and rewards will be given us, and here, this is being identified as a “son of your Father in heaven.” This is a special category of reward.
Matthew 5:4, “for He”—that is, God the Father—“makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?” It’s really easy to love people who like us. It is really easy to love people who are popular, people who have good personalities, people who are doing things that benefit us, or who give us nice compliments, or get along with us in many different ways. It’s hard to love people who are bitter and angry toward us, who resent us, who always pick on us or try to manufacture things that we have done in order to persecute us simply because they know that we believe the Bible.
Let me tell you, I have experienced this in my life as a pastor. Because people in the congregation knew that I believed some things that they violently disagreed with, they did everything in their power to manufacture slander against me in order to get me out of the pulpit and fire me from that church. It was a bitter experience that I had as a young pastor, but one that I value very much in the way that it shaped me spiritually to learn this lesson. We have to learn to love those who hate us, and this is very, very difficult.
In Matthew 5:46, Jesus said, “… if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” The tax collectors were the lowest segment in society. Everybody, all the Jews, hated them because they viewed them as traitors who had sold out to the Romans. They were collecting taxes for the Romans. The more they collected above the amount they were to pay the Romans just feathered their own nests. Many of them got wealthy, like Levi who became known as Matthew. He would have become quite wealthy by using the taxing system to create his own wealth. Very few loved them, so He was making the point that even tax collectors love those who love them.
Matthew 5:47, “And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?” In other words, if you only greet those who agree with you, if you only stay in your little Christian clique and don’t get out where you’re dealing with people who are unbelievers who reject what you believe and despise you because you are Christian, then that’s not too difficult. You just stay in your own little Christian clique, and you know only Christians who agree with you.
Matthew 5:47–48, “And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect”—it means mature, not flawless—“you shall be perfect”—you shall be mature—“even as your Father in heaven is complete.” Perhaps this idea, when it relates to the Father, has to do with His sufficiency for us, that we shall be mature, that is, relying on the sufficiency of God because He is the One who is sufficient for us in every situation.
In Matthew 6:1, there is a chapter break in your Bibles, but it’s not there in the original, so it flows consistently. “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” The Pharisees lived out their religious practice in the eyes of those around them, the eyes in society, so they could show everybody how spiritual they were. Then, they would be talked about and praised by others. For them, that was important in terms of their spirituality.
If people praise them, Jesus said, that will be all the reward that they will get, just the reward of recognition from people at this time, but that’s the limit of it. They will not have reward “from your Father in heaven.” The point I want to make here is that the contrast shows that the reward that the Pharisees got from recognition among the people was a temporal reward that they got right then, and that was all there was. The reward that comes from the Father in Heaven is not a reward experienced now. That reward will be experienced in the future. That reward will be distributed for us as Church-Age believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
This contrast continues through the first part of Matthew 6. In Matthew 6:2, “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed”—that is, when you are giving, when you are helping somebody who is in need—“do not sound the trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets.” The Pharisees put on a show whenever they were helping people. Jesus said at the end, “Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” Their reward was just recognition here and now.
In contrast, in Matthew 6:3, Jesus said, “But when you do a charitable deed …” That is, when you give, no one is to know what’s going on. No one is to know how much you give, when you give, how you give, to whom you give, how you help people. That is between you and the Lord. We’re not doing it for any sort of recognition. God knows what’s going on, and God is the only One for whom that matters. God is the One who will reward us at the Judgment Seat of Christ for Church-Age believers.
“… when you do a charitable deed, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” That word openly may not be there if you have a New American Standard, NIV, ESV, or one of those translations. It’s in the King James and the New King James because it’s in the Majority Text. I believe that the textual evidence that shows that this is part of the Word of God is solid. The point is that the “openly” isn’t today, but it will be made manifest at the Judgment Seat of Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:12 and following.
In Matthew 6:5, Jesus applied this to prayer. “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.” They were looking for adoration from men. They were looking for recognition and approbation. Jesus said, “They have their reward.” It was a reward in the here and now.
He said, in contrast, in Matthew 6:6, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Again, He was talking about a future reward that will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ. All of these rewards will be based on behavior. They will not be based on faith in Christ. Faith in Christ gives us the free gift of salvation. Rewards are in addition to salvation for our spiritual growth and application of the Word.
Matthew 6:16, “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting.” They were showing off how spiritual they were. “Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” It was temporal. They were getting recognition from others, but that was all. Nothing had any eternal value.
Matthew 6:17, “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face.” The word anointing is a secular term, simply meaning to anoint oneself with oil. It’s not CHRIO, which is the word from which we get the noun CHRISTOS for Christ and anointing.
It is saying, get up in the morning, take a shower, brush your hair, brush your teeth, put on your deodorant, and go about life as if everything is fine. Don’t get up and say, “I’m fasting today. I want everyone to know it, so I’m not going to shave. I’m not going to comb my hair. I’m not going to put on any deodorant. I’m just going to put on whatever clothes are lying on the floor. I want everybody to know that I’m suffering for Jesus.”
That’s not going to count for anything, except maybe some people crossing over to the other side of the street when they see you coming. The issue is, again, a reward for what you’re doing now versus an eternal consequence to our spiritual growth.
Matthew 6:19, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” The temporal rewards can all be taken away. They have no value eternally at all. In contrast, Jesus said in Matthew 6:20, “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”—those are the rewards, the treasures in Heaven—“where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
The point is, are we living our lives for today, or are we living our lives for eternity? Do we have a focus on the fact that life is not about what we experience between now and the time we die?
It’s really nice to have creature comforts and many other things that we can avail ourselves of. It’s wonderful to get recognition for different things that we do, but that’s not the focal point for us as believers. The only recognition that should count for us is that recognition that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ when, after we die physically, He says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21, 23
The problem we face when we look at these passages is that some passages speak about inheritance as a gift, and others speak about inheritance as a reward. A gift is free, something that is given to us, something that cannot be taken away from us. It is ours at the point of reception. A reward is earned.
What happens with a shallow or superficial system of interpretation, especially from those who are inclined to look at morality and behavior as the basis for salvation, is that they go to these passages and use them to manipulate Christians, religious people, and to force, usually, a pseudo-morality upon people.
In contrast to that, Scripture emphasizes grace, that God gives us salvation. He regenerates us freely. It is not based on “works of righteousness which we have done.” Titus 3:5. It is not based on the works of the Law, Galatians 2:16. We are justified apart from the works of the Law, but God gives us a system of motivation.
You can compare it to the kind of thing that happens with modern athletes. When they are hired by a team, they are given a contract that guarantees them a certain income. Afterward, they often have incentive clauses. Sometimes, this happens in business as well. They’re given incentive clauses, that if they perform at a certain level, they will get bonuses.
This is a comparison to what we have in Scripture. With salvation, we get an ironclad contract that when we die, we’re going to go to Heaven, and we will be in Heaven as members of the body of Christ. We’re going to be with the Lord Jesus Christ for all of eternity, but incentive clauses motivate us to live for Him and not for ourselves, so that when we are face-to-face with the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ, we receive rewards.
Those rewards are not to be understood as monetary type rewards or necessarily recognition, but I think they are rewards that relate to future service, future responsibilities as we rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ. As we grow to maturity in this life serving the Lord, we are developing in our souls a capacity for service. We are developing in our souls a capacity for an intimate relationship with the Lord. The only thing that we take with us when we die and we are face-to-face with the Lord is those capacities, that spiritual maturity.
Just because you are a believer doesn’t mean that when you die, you will go from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity as a result of your transition to Heaven. When you hit Heaven, you’re probably going to be as spiritually immature or spiritually mature as you were when you died. The only thing we take with us are those capacities that we develop in this life that are preparing us for that future life of serving with the Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven.
When you hear that, you may say, “Oh, My! I’m never going to make it! I’ve had so many failures.” We’re all that way because we’re sinners and we’re corrupt but remember that the God Who is in charge of rewarding us is very gracious and very loving.
Go back to the Old Testament and read the Book of Judges about the lives of Deborah and Barak in Judges 4–5, about Gideon in Judges 6, about Jephthah who sacrificed his daughter as a burnt offering to God, which means he literally, physically immolated her to God as the pagans did because he was not spiritually mature. You get to Samson, who never did anything good according to the writer of the Book of Judges.
Then, fast-forward to the latter part of Hebrews 11, and all of those men who were spiritual failures on the surface according to the Book of Judges are rewarded. They are rewarded by having their names mentioned by God as heroes of the faith because at some critical points in their lives, they trusted God. They might have blown it many, many other times, but at critical times, they trusted God. They were deliverers of God’s people from the oppression and military defeat of foreigners. That tells us that if God is so gracious that He will honor the spiritual impact of Samson, which wasn’t a whole lot, maybe it won’t be so bad for us at the Judgment Seat of Christ. God will judge us on the basis of grace. He understands that we are people of flesh, that we are people of immorality often because we are sinners.
We have to recognize the warnings in Scripture that we see in passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:9, that those who are unrighteous, those who practice certain behaviors, risk their inheritance in the Kingdom, not being in Heaven, but they risk that inheritance.
Ephesians 5:5 says the same thing—that if you’re an “immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater,” then you won’t have an inheritance “in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
The same thing in Galatians 5:19–21. “…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
This sets up the importance of the study over rewards and inheritance. Next time we will go forward with this as we talk about inheritance as a possession. We will come back eventually and deal with those difficult passages in 1 Corinthians 6, Ephesians 5, and Galatians 5.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things this morning, to be reminded that You have a plan and a purpose for us, and that isn’t simply that we go to Heaven when we die physically, but that we will be prepared for a future life of service to You, ruling and reigning with our Lord Jesus Christ in the Millennial Kingdom, the Messianic Kingdom, and on into the future in the new heavens and the new earth.
“We are, as it were, in boot camp right now in training. How well we do through this time of training and discipline will give us options for our future service with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Kingdom and in eternity.
“Father, we pray that if anyone is listening, that they would realize that service is not a condition for salvation, that there is no condition for salvation other than to simply trust in Jesus Christ. We believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and we will be saved. The Scripture doesn’t say believe and be humble, believe and be obedient, believe and repent. It never says any of these things. It simply says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that “he who has the Son has the life, but he who does not have the Son of God, does not have the life, but the wrath of God abides on Him forever.” 1 John 5:12–13
“Father, we are thankful that we have a salvation that is not dependent on anything other than who Jesus Christ is and what He did on the Cross. When we get a new life, then we are given incentives to live out that life, to grow, to mature, and that’s the challenge for each of us as believers in Christ.
“We pray for those who have never trusted in Christ, that they would come to understand clearly the gospel as a free gift and, for those of us who are saved, that we would be challenged and motivated to go forward in our spiritual lives and spiritual growth so that we can glorify You both now and in eternity. We pray these things in Christ’s name, amen.”