26-Life in the Kingdom of God - Citizen Reward & Punishment
By Colleen Donahue
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At the end of history there will be a judgment day and the Bible tells us that it will begin with the household of God! While believers, (or Kingdom of God citizens) are saved by faith in what Jesus has done, they will be judged by their own works and then rewarded accordingly in proportion to their faithfulness in service. While we may not lose our salvation, it is a sobering thought that our works (or lack of them) on earth are being logged in Heaven.
1. What causes kingdom citizens to experience a new birth into a living hope?
1 Peter 1:3
So Peter recaps for us that our new birth into God's family comes because of God's mercy and the fact that since Jesus rose from the dead, we too rose with Him. This allows us to live today with great expectation. But Peter goes on to tell us what is being kept in Heaven for us.
1 Peter 1:4
And while our inheritance is being kept in Heaven for us, who is protecting us on earth until the day that we shall receive our inheritance?
1 Peter 1:5
2. In the kingdom of the world, the reward for doing well may be a promotion, more money, or maybe early retirement. But in the Kingdom of God what does Jesus say will be our reward for being faithful with what we have been given?
Luke 19:17-19, 26
So if you are looking for the reward of sitting on the beach and doing nothing, you will not find that in the Kingdom of God. Work was originally created by God to develop his universe in partnership with Himself. Work is to be rewarding and fulfilling for us and so God will give us more to do -- not less! Our work is part of the meaning and purpose that God has for every life.
3. Jesus knew that many if not all believers in His family would face persecution while we lived here in the kingdom of the world. And that's why he gave words through Peter about how we are to live. In these verses what five things does Peter admonish us to do?
1 Peter 5:6-9
And then if we do these things what will be our reward?
1 Peter 5:10
Remember, we do not have to be strong in ourselves.
4. Peter spoke a great deal about the sufferings believers would face because he was "in the trenches" of those early days of the faith. He did not sugar-coat what we would face but he also keeps reminding us what God has in store for us. In each of these sets of verses Peter gives us instruction while we suffer in the world and then reminds us of God. List in two columns what WE are to do and then what GOD will do.
-1 Peter 1:6-9
-1 Peter 1:13-19
-1 Peter 3:8-9
-1 Peter 3:10-12
-1 Peter 3:13-18
-1 Peter 4:12-14
While we live in this world and especially if we are suffering for our faith, what two things does Peter sum up that we should do?
1 Peter 4:19
5. Jesus spoke only words of encouragement for those in the church at Philadelphia. He knew that they had little strength and yet they had obeyed God's word and hadn't denied Him. What warning did Jesus give them?
What is promised to all of us who persevere in our trials?
It was the same crown that Paul was eagerly awaiting at the end of his life.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
In Revelation 3:11 Jesus is warning us that it's easy enough to become negligent and unfaithful in our duties so that we will then forfeit the glory that would have been ours had we stayed the course to the end. Our crown is the symbol of ruling and reigning with Christ and that will be our place in eternity if we remain faithful. After the warning, Jesus then has promises for all believers who are overcomers. What are they?
We have looked at this verse in a previous study but as a reminder, the idea is that overcomers will be as a support (pillar) in God's kingdom and a permanent part of his spiritual temple. The trials of life will be over and we will begin a new life with God in rest and peace. The fact that Jesus will write on us God's name is a clear indication that we belong to Him and therefore He to us.
6. It's possible for Kingdom of God citizens to do good deeds with wrong motives and if continued in, will bring death. In these verses Jesus tells us what to do if this be the case. Make a list of what is needed.
7. To the Church at Pergamum and Thyatira, Jesus recognizes all the good that they were doing. But then comes the ominous words, "Nevertheless, I have this against you..." What did He have against each of these churches?
Revelation 2:12-17 / 2: 18-20
There were some in that church who tolerated and therefore sanctioned false teachings that led to sexual immorality and partaking of food offered to the idols -- which were backed by Satan. Jesus had strong words for these believers.
8. Kingdom of God citizens must always be on guard regarding complacency. It's possible to become complacent and compromising so that we become indistinguishable from the world. We think we are rich while in fact we are wretched. These are some of the saddest words that Jesus ever spoke and it was to the Church at Laodicea.
The good news for these believers is that Jesus always gives us the opportunity to turn around.
And then comes this famous verse that is often quoted in regards to unbelievers. But in fact Jesus was knocking at the door of believers who had become indifferent to Him.
May each of us take these warnings to heart in this age of self-centeredness and comfort.
9. I'd like to end this study by going back to look at the story that Jesus told in :
In the rewards section of this study we pointed out that good and faithful work results in more work and responsibility. That's because work is God's tool for developing His kingdom. But now I'd like you to see something else. We see a landowner (king) giving ten servants an equal amount of money to invest. He leaves them free to determine how to invest it but he obviously expects a return on his investment. When the landowner returns for a time of accountability, we find that his servants (symbolizing believers) fall into one of three categories.
The first group are those who took what they were given and used all their ingenuity and energy to give the best return possible. They will be rewarded far beyond what they were given. Even better, notice the hearty approbation of the king.
The second group of believers are ones who have done well enough but could have done more. Notice that they too receive a reward of rulership over fewer cities but Jesus omits that they were good and faithful servants.
The third group of believers are those who were given the same opportunities but they didn't do anything with them. This group knows nothing about the grace of the gospel. They have refrained from doing evil (i.e. losing the money) but they haven't done anything good with it. What does the king call servants in this group?
And then after the tongue lashing, what does the king do?
Doing nothing with the talents, money, time, or opportunities given to us, is not an option in the Kingdom of God. If we can't do good on our own, we can give it to someone who can make good use of it. But we are always to do something with what God gives us.
The punishment to this group of believers is not hell but deprivation. He ends up with nothing because even the little he has is taken away from him.
Determine today to give the Lord the largest return on investment. Use everything to the best of your ability to advance the Kingdom of God. "He that has ears to hear let him hear."