Thursday 16 June 2022

The Rules of Good Stewardship - True Riches - Part Three

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Part 3  

Purpose of Your Sanctification, (1 Thess 4:3)

“What You Need to Know About the Purpose of Your Sanctification”

You must know who you are in Christ. Didn't you know that you are His image-bearer, created in His image (Genesis 1:26)? Once you accept Jesus as your Lord, you receive eternal life. But then what? You are aware of the purposes of your calling.  You are part of His destiny.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren,” Romans 8:28-29

Called according to His purpose

"Are you not described as being called into the light that shines in the darkness?" (1 Peter 2:9)? 

“Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer, the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going,” John 12:35 

Therefore, it is not a secret. You should know where you are going from knowing where you come from. We need to know who we are to motivate us and the purpose of our fellowship; where can we find the courage and the determination to face the everyday life challenges of this world? After all, didn’t God instruct us to be holy as He is Holy? (Lev 19:2). 

"He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written,“Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Pet 1:15-16 

Immediately after Jesus’ teaching to His disciples on the parable of the lost son mentioned in (Luke 15:11), He went on teaching the parable of the unjust steward. I believe the order Jesus used to link the two parables was significant. At the end of the parable of the lost son, the older brother is angry toward his younger brother, who returns after spending his inheritance on usury. What upset him most was that he found his father delighted and thankful for his brother’s return by preparing a great and magnificent feast to celebrate. Is that the end of Jesus' teaching? Not exactly; we learned that the younger son would not be reinstated at the same level of stewardship to his father's domain as his older brother.

“And he (the father) said to him (the older son), ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found,” Luke 15:31-32.

 “All that I have is yours,” meaning that the older son owns his father’s entire domain. His younger brother would receive none of his father's inheritance. 

Many Christians assume God rewards His children equally since He loves us equally. This is different! Yes, God is a God of justice and love. God is NOT a socialist or a communist. There is no partiality with Him (Eph. 6:9). For example, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat, but should work in quietness and eat their own bread” (2 Thess 3:10, 12).

Soon after our resurrection (1 Thess 4:16), we (the believers in Christ's resurrection) will all be judged for the choices made throughout our Christian life, the good works made for our Lord, and the works that we assumed were God’s will.  We’re all going to be judged for rewards or disapproval—all accordingly (Acts 10:42, 2 Tim 4:1).

“and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away,” 1 Pet 5:4

If you are part of the resurrection of the saints, of those who had heard the testimony of the gospel and believed it – those who sleep or are alive at His return (1 Thess 4:14, 5:10), you will take part of the Bema seat of judgement, (Rom 14:10, 2 Cor 5:9-10). Standing before our Lord, the books will be opened for each individual, and Jesus will review our life of service for Him. Reassure yourself that this will not be a review of our sinful behaviours. Our sins have been forgiven, forgotten, and remembered no more (Heb. 8:12). However, our disobedience hindered our stewardship and reward.

This judgment is not to be compared with the end-time judgment when all unbelievers will be standing at our Lord's throne (Rev 7:9). All their sins will be reviewed - all their sinful conduct. Understandably, they will not be judged because they’ve sinned but rather because of their unbelief. They will view the list of sins accumulated throughout their life only to realize that all their sins could have been forgiven if only they had believed and accepted Jesus as their redeemer and Lord, who took away the sins of the whole world, theirs including, (1 John 2:2). Sad. 

Rewards - Five Crowns

“If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor,”John 12:26 

We will be honoured with rewards. Five crowns identify these rewards in total:

  1. Everlasting Crown (Victory) (1 Cor 9:24-27) - overcoming man's sinful nature through our Lord Jesus
  2. Crown of the Soul Winner (Phil 4:1 and 1 Thess 2:19-20) - reaching out - sharing the gospel (Matt 28:19)
  3. Crown of Righteousness (2 Tim 4:8) - longing for Jesus’ return
  4. Crown of Life (James 1:12, Rev 2:10) - enduring through trials - even to death
  5. Crown of Glory (1 Pet 5:4) - ministering to God’s people

These crowns are awarded to the saints at the Bema Seat of judgment, which immediately followed the return of our Redeemer for the saints, known as an event called the rapture. I know some of you will stop reading here, condemning and accusing me of heresies for believing in the rapture, discrediting me from the rest of the content. Let me be clear: "Expecting the return of our Lord Jesus before, during or at the end of Jacob’s trouble, known as the great tribulation, is not a cause of losing our salvation.” We are saved by believing in our Lord and His resurrection (Rom 10:9). We are not saved by believing in a certain time of His return. Yes, we must be watchful for his return, but that doesn’t save us. Even the Luciferians do the same.

Here is the description of one of these crowns given by God’s righteous judgment:

The crown of righteousness

“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,” 2 Tim 4:8.

This special crown of righteousness that Paul is describing is for those who are anticipating Jesus’ return. They are the ones who depend completely on acts of mercy and grace and understand that they will never measure up. Their desire is for the day when they would no longer sin (Jn 12:25) and desire for the day when Jesus will return to take us out of this sinful world and our sinful bodies. The crown of righteousness is for those disgusted with their sinful nature and world. Jesus has overcome the world (Jn 16:33). As for us, our overcoming happens with Christ through faith (1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Peter 1:4).

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5 

This group of believers is watchful for the signs of His return. They pray diligently for His soon return, “Let Thy Kingdom Come,” deliver us from evil (the lies and the deceptions). If you are not looking forward to the day that you will no longer sin and don't desire His kingdom to come, this crown will not be your reward. Additionally, you will be surprised at Jesus' appearance if you are not watchful for His return. 

“But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief." 1 Thess 5:4.

Part 4 -  Salvation by Works vs. Works for Rewards