Luke 6:23 ESV Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (emphasis mine)
Luke 6:35 ESV But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (emphasis mine)
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 ESV According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.(emphasis mine)
1 Corinthians 9:18 ESV What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. (emphasis mine)
I just gave you five verses of scripture that indicate that there will be rewards in heaven.
Many people think, as I did at one time, and as my daughter-in-law said in a recent conversation, isn’t salvation and going to heaven reward enough? Isn’t being with God, experiencing Him, His glory, and the joys of heaven where there will be no sickness, sorrow, death, sin, or evil enough? If we believe that this is all available in heaven it’s hard to understand why there need to be any rewards.
Why would there be any rewards for any thing you have done (works) when all that’s necessary for salvation is;
Romans 10:8-13 ESV But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Plus, since our faith rests in Christ’s righteousness instead of our own it seems strange that anything we do would merit reward.
Romans 3:21-26 ESV But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
As Christians, we believe that we are saved solely by the grace of God. When we say this, we mean we believe that God sets us apart for salvation based not on anything we could do on our own effort, but based on the “free gift” of salvation offered by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. What we do or have done plays no role in our salvation. We can’t earn our way into Heaven, salvation is a gift of God, so no man or woman could ever boast that they earned a place in Heaven with God.
Ephesians 2:8-9 ESVFor by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
All of this makes no sense to non-Christians, including those of other religions (if the truth be told some Christians too) who believe that salvation results from some human effort in combination with the work of God. They say that Christianity seems to ignore the behavior of believers altogether. Do we actually think all believers are acceptable to God no matter what they do or how they behave?
The beliefs of Christians are often mischaracterized. While Christians, don’t believe our works have anything to do with our going to heaven, we do understand our works have everything to do with our reward once we get there. This is clear from the Scripture.
John 9:4-5 ESV We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
The issue is not Salvation; it is reward. Heaven is a place where rewards are distributed in accordance with the nature of our lives here on earth, but you only get them in heaven and you don't get to heaven unless;
Romans 10:9-10 ESV because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
When And Why?
God will give rewards in heaven at the judgment seat of Christ, based on our faithfulness in service to Him.
2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
The rewards will show the reality of our relationship as children of God.
Galatians 4:1-7 ESV I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (emphasis mine)
The rewards will show the justice of God.
Hebrews 6:9-12 ESV Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (emphasis mine)
God will give rewards in heaven in order to fulfill the law of sowing and reaping.
Galatians 6:6-10 ESV Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (emphasis mine)
The rewards make good on God's promise that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
What Are The Heavenly Rewards?
While we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone rewards in heaven were a constant theme in Christ's teaching. He explicitly points to degrees of reward that will be given for faithful service, self–sacrifice, and suffering.
In His most famous sermon, “Sermon On the Mount”, Christ repeatedly referred to rewards and he ended the Beatitudes with;
Matthew 5:10-12 ESV "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (emphasis mine)
He followed by saying if their actions were for men's praise there would be no reward.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 ESV "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (emphasis mine)
Jesus made the same point in his parables.
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30), Jesus tells the story of a man who entrusts his property to his servants before going on a long journey. Each servant received an amount commensurate with his abilities. To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to a third he gave one. The servant who received five talents doubled his money, as did the servant who had received two. The last servant, however, showed gross negligence and buried his master’s money in the ground. When the master returned, he rewarded the faithful servants with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” The unfaithful servant not only forfeited his reward but was thrown into outer darkness, “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The rewards we gain in heaven are not like the rewards we earn here on earth. We tend to think in material terms, but these things are only representations of the true rewards we will gain in heaven. Any rewards or honor we gain in heaven will be precious to us because they carry the weight and meaning of our relationship with God, and because they remind us of what He did through us on earth.
Heavenly rewards have been identified as crowns. The Greek word translated “crown” is stephanos and means “a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally.” Used during the ancient Greek games, it referred to a wreath or garland of leaves placed on a victor’s head as a reward for winning an athletic contest. As such, this word is used figuratively in the New Testament of the rewards of heaven God promises those who are faithful.
Five of these crowns are mentioned in scripture.
1. THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
We inherit this crown through the righteousness of Christ which is what gives us a right to it, and without which it can’t be received. Because it is received and possessed in a righteous way, and not by force and deceit as earthly crowns sometimes are, it is an everlasting crown, promised to all who love the Lord and eagerly wait for His return. Through our enduring discouragements, persecutions, sufferings, or even death, we know assuredly our reward is with Christ in eternity
Philippians 3:20 (NKJV)20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, . This crown is not for those who depend upon their own sense of righteousness or of their own works. Such an attitude breeds only arrogance and pride, not a longing, a fervent desire to be with the Lord.
2. THE IMPERISHABLE CROWN
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (ESV)24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
This “imperishable crown” is often called “the victor’s crown.” It is different from the crown of righteousness; this is the crown that is given to the faithful servant who denies himself and his personal desires in order to win the race in faithful service.
All things on this earth are subject to decay and will perish.
Matthew 6:19 (NKJV)19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
This is what Paul was saying about the perishable wreath that was soon to turn brittle and fall apart. But this doesn't happen to the heavenly crown; faithful endurance wins a heavenly reward.
1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV)3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
3. THE CROWN OF LIFE
Revelation 2:10 (ESV)10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
This crown is for all believers, but is especially to those who endure sufferings, who bravely confront persecution for Jesus, even to the point of death.
In Scripture the word “life” is often used to show a relationship that is right with God. It was Jesus who said,
John 10:10 ESV The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (emphasis mine)
Just as things such as air, food, and water are vital for our physical lives, Jesus provides us what is required for our spiritual lives. He is the One who provides “living water.”
John 4:7-14 ESV A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (emphasis mine)
He is the “bread of life”
John 6:35 ESV Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
We know that our earthly lives will end. But we have the amazing promise that comes only to those who come to God through Jesus: “And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life”
1 John 2:24-25 ESV Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.
James tells us that this crown of life is for all those who love God.
James 1:12 (ESV)12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (emphasis mine)
The question then is how do we demonstrate our love for God?
1 John 5:1-3 ESV Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
As His children we must keep His commandments, obeying Him, always remaining faithful. So, as we endure the inevitable trials, pains, heartaches, and tribulations—as long as we live—may we ever move forward always and receive the crown of life that awaits us.
Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
4. THE CROWN OF REJOICING
1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NKJV)19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
The apostle Paul tells us;
Philippians 4:4 ESV Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
As Christians we have more in this life to rejoice about than anyone else. The crown of rejoicing will be our reward.
Revelation 21:1-4 ESV Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
5. THE CROWN OF GLORY
1 Peter 5:2-4 (NKJV)2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
Though Peter is addressing the elders, we must also remember that the crown will be awarded to all those who long for or love His appearing. This word “glory” refers to the very nature of God and His actions.
Rewards in heaven glorify God and provide us with joy, peace, and wonder as we consider God’s work in us and through us. The closer we were to God during this life, the more centered on Him and aware of Him, the more dependent on Him, the more desperate for His mercy, the more there will be to celebrate. We are like characters in a story who suffer doubt, loss, and fear, wondering if we will ever really have our heart’s desire. When the happy ending comes and desire is fulfilled, there comes a completion. The story would not be satisfying without that completion. Rewards in heaven are the completion of our earthly story, and those rewards will be eternally satisfying - From gotquestions.org