Let me describe the Christian faith for you:

Christ died to pay for all sin. Sin can no longer keep anyone from God. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ and given eternal life. According to Romans 8:38-39, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. We cannot fall out of salvation and we cannot lose our place in eternity. We are secure.

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Here’s my question: If we are secure, if God has saved us and will not let us go, and if our sin is already paid for; why should I even try to be good? In my life I have cheated, I have lied, I have stolen and I have hated. If we remember, Christ said that hatred was like murder! I have lusted and I have been prideful, but God forgave all that and promises to forgive it again when I fall. Surely I am the worst of all sinners! Surely God has had great mercy on me and shown great grace toward me.

I guess we could we could answer the above question by saying that the only proper response to God’s grace and mercy is submission and obedience, but I think we will find that even our submission and obedience isn’t enough to thank God for the life that He gives. Why should we strive to be holy and righteous before God when God has shown more grace and more mercy than we could ever repay? Why strive for goodness if we can never be separated from a good God?

When they had finished distributing the land into its territories, the Israelites gave Joshua son of Nun an inheritance among them. By the Lord’s command, they gave him the city Timnath- serah in the hill country of Ephraim, which he requested. He rebuilt the city and lived in it.

These were the portions that Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the families distributed to the Israelite tribes by lot at Shiloh in the Lord’s presence at the entrance to the tent of meeting. So they finished dividing up the land.[1]

Here we see this story where God raises up Joshua to lead the nation of Israel into the land of Canaan to take it and distribute it among the tribes of Israel. Joshua was faithful and endured even in old age to be sure the land was distributed, and the Israelites were mostly faithful to follow him as God commanded. In this section of this historical account, the land is distributed and Joshua receives his inheritance along with the tribes of Israel. This is amazing to me. The Israelites were to praise God because of what God had done.

In Exodus 20 the Ten Commandments are given because God first brought the people out of slavery in Egypt. When Israel was finally faithful, God rewarded the entire nation! In the same way, God is already worthy of our obedience and submission. He saved us from our sinfulness and He has given us eternal life. When we are faithful in this life, there are true rewards above and beyond salvation that await us! Eternal life is more than we deserve because we deserve death, but God is so good that when we live obedient lives He gives above and beyond!

Consider the end of John’s Revelation:

Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness; let the filthy go on being made filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; and let the holy go on being made holy.”

“Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.[2]

This has imminent meaning for our lives as we try to honor Christ on this earth. After being saved and becoming a believer in Christ, we have two choices. One, we choose to live the rest of our lives for ourselves and, like the first generation of Israelites, God will leave us in the wilderness: we will have been saved but will gain only eternal life. Two, we choose to live in obedience and submission to God and we gain eternal life and then some: whatever rewards God chooses to give.

As Paul addresses the Corinthian church, he states that each one’s work will be tested. If his work survives he will receive a reward, but if his work does not survive he will not receive a reward. Our works will be tested by God’s standard. That means by our motivation and our striving to honor God in our work. Not how much we accomplish or how many people we lead to Jesus.

“If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15 HCSB).

 

In the same passage, Paul says that all of our work is built onto the foundation of Christ. This means that the work he is referring to is not material, but is essential. Our material work may not follow us, but the essence of our work, if it passes God’s test, will gain us rewards that God Himself gives!

So, I’ll ask again: What is the point of striving to do good in this world? First of all, we strive to obey and submit to God because of what He has already done. He has saved us. Second, that obedience and submission will lead to great eternal rewards. I don’t know what they will be, but God owns the universe. Anything He gives will be more than I could possibly dream.

So, imagine you are so busy that you don’t have time to study for your next test. You are tempted to cheat and you know that if you don’t pass this test you will have to repeat the class next year and not graduate on time. God will reward us for doing good and not cheating, even if you have to repeat a class on this earth. Somebody steps to you and starts talking about yo mama! God will reward us for doing good and loving that person rather than hating them or hitting them even if we have to suffer a little. At work, you have to step on others to make it to the top and be successful. God will reward us for doing good and building others up even if it means we have to make less money on this earth. At home when your parents get onto you or, for parents, when your children act a fool. God will reward us for doing good and not acting in anger, but instead trying to understand others; even if it means we don’t get our way on this earth.

God is so good that He saves us. We obey Him. His goodness goes beyond anything we could possibly imagine.

 

[1] Joshua 19:49-51 (HCSB)

[2] Revelation 22:11-13 (HCSB)

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