A lot of Christians live for the promises that they feel they heard from God through the church. While not fully looking at the Bible to see what Jesus actually said, they rely on the word of God as they think they remember it. Therefore many believe that God has promised that if they do good things, God will reward them with heaven. It is sort of like holding God at his word. I do good deeds, give money to the church, etc., and God will give me my just reward. Furthermore, people think that God promised human justice in the world. In other words, bad guys will be punished for their evil deeds and innocent people will not suffer or die. These people find it hard to accept that children can get cancer. If they do then some feel betrayed by God.
So what did God promise? Well, actually a lot.
In reality most of the above mentioned concepts are not in the Bible and Jesus did not promise these things. He did not promise that there would be justice in this world. He talks about justice in the next world in heaven. If all our deeds would receive rewards, then salvation would be like a bank account. You put in and get it back with interest.
First of all God promises his followers persecution and the need to carry the cross if they become followers of his.
But many want rewards here on earth! Jesus does promise that there is a reward in keeping the commandments. There is a peace and joy from being in the presence of God. In Mt.19.29, he talks about receiving “many times as much” in this life. Keeping God’s word does produce a reward in this life.
Let us remember that what God gives is his “grace”. We do not earn grace or the blessings that God gives us. We do not even deserve it. We cannot and should not put God into debt with us. God rewards us only because he is good and he loves us. This is not pay but rather a gift. It is not a reward, it is a grace. God gives us more than we deserve.
When it comes to describing Christians you can say there are several types of Christians. There are those who do the will of God because they are afraid of damnation or hell. But this is the behaviour of a slave. Slaves do things out of fear. This is not the relationship God wants with us.
Then there are those who appear to be hired by God. They work for God and expect pay, if not here then in heaven. This type of Christian likes to bargain with God. He makes deals. He tells God “I will do this if you do that for me.” I’ll give the church money but you make my mother well.
Then there are Christians who love God and their fellow men without thinking of hell or heaven, simply because they love God.
This is the behaviour you would expect from a parent, especially a mother. A mother loves her child not out of fear but love. She expects no pay or reward from the child. Her love is totally selfless. This is the love which best reflects the nature of God and his love for us. He even went to the cross out of love for us.
This type of Christian receives his reward. Remember in Mt.25, 31-46. Jesus describes the entry into paradise of the faithful. We remember these famous words of Christ. I was hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison, etc. and you served me.
The world has its own system for rewards, i.e. money, recognition, honour, prestige. With God, it is different.