RICHES OR REWARDS?
RESPECT OR REPROACH?
RESPECT OR REPROACH?
Heb.11: 24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
These historical and spiritual verses were given to us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But why? And what application can we make from what they say and teach? I want to first address the phrase “refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter”. This of course refers to Moses who was born to Amram and Jochebed who were both Jews living in Egyptian slavery. And we all recall that the Pharaoh had ordered that all the male children of the Jews should be drowned in the river and all the females could be kept alive. And Jochebed mad a little raft and pushed her male child into the river and the daughter of Pharaoh took the baby and he was raised in Pharaoh’s palace. But Moses was aware of his ethnicity and through God’s providence Moses left the palace and Pharaoh’s daughter and served under Jethro who was the father of the woman Moses had married.
Now reflect on what has happened. Moses had everything this world could offer in the palace of Pharaoh and yet he chose to live as a Jew among the Jewish slaves. That is some sacrifice. But notice how the Holy Spirit Himself gives us some insight as to this story’s application. In fact, the word says that Moses “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater that the treasures in Egypt”. Moses did not know Christ, and Christ had not yet even come. So why did the Spirit use His name in this situation?
Oh what a glory! Oh what a soaring truth! The grace of God shares with us through the Spirit that Christ can be seen throughout the entire Old Testament. While some feel satisfied with dragging the Law of Moses into the New Covenant they have missed the sacred mysteries of Christ still being revealed to we who are followers of Christ. This is the time you must capture your mind and escape the mere narrative of the life of Moses. These are the holy revelations which lay dormant within the lives and events in the Old Testament until the Spirit feel on Pentecost and He led the church into many hallowed truths not even dreamed of before Jesus.
These three verse capture the process called redemption for sinners who believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. When we as a lost and blind sinner become aware of Who Jesus is and what He has done as well as our need of Him, we cannot just compartmentalize redemption as one of many parts of our lives. Faith in Jesus is not just some religious overture that can guarantee a trip to heaven but can be kept at arm’s length so as not to inconvenience the lives we have come to love. Moses left all and we are called in like manner.
We live in a money centered culture as well as a money centered Christian expression. But here we find the Spirit says that the riches of this world can never compare with being reproached for following Christ. Think about first how that demolishes the so called prosperity message. This doesn’t say that Moses left the earthly riches of Pharaoh to enjoy the earthly riches that God will provide. No, to be reproached for following Jesus will always be greater than enjoying the temporal riches this world has to offer.
And just why is that? It is found in the phrase “for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” Or as the New American Standard translates it, “he was looking to the reward”. Who is looking for the reward today? Most believers just embrace heaven as the reward and with that they are satisfied and content and hopeful. But there are two very important issues that deal with this word reward.
Yes, it is true that eternal life with Jesus is in fact the reward of every true believer. But this object lesson is teaching something much deeper than a faith which secures heaven and then turns around to finish the life it had begun. Redemption is by faith alone through the grace of God, but there is a sacred and unbreakable bond between gospel faith and gospel deeds. Let me repeat.
There is an unbreakable and sacred bond between gospel faith and gospel deeds.
At the outset we must come to terms with we mean when we say “the gospel”. It is simply the death and resurrection of the Messiah, the Incarnate Christ. And upon that truth, that sacrifice, is the door to eternal life and it is the foundation of the true church. But it must be made clear that eternal life through that gospel is a matter of faith and faith alone. There is a fire wall between faith and works which must never be breached. But even with that conviction it must be noted that the New Testament outlines and exhorts us to live a life of service, of works, which identify us as believers as well as reveal the love of God to the world.
Even though our good works play no part in true redemption, they still are so pronounced in Scripture that even James comes very close to hurdling that fire wall and dragging works into faith. So let us explore that sacred bond between gospel faith and gospel works. You will notice that both phrases use the word gospel. To have faith without the gospel is hollow, just as good works without the gospel is also spiritually hollow.
Jam.2: 14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
But here we have a very revealing truth that is very often overlooked. We laud our justification by faith theology and we tout the reformation and Luther’s awakening to the verse “The just shall live by faith.” And we magnify the word “faith” and almost ignore the word “live”. And with that kind of perspective we allow ourselves the luxury of wonderful statements of faith to define who we are and what we believe. And yet the Spirit tells us that statements of faith are hollow without observable, living statements of good works. Now let’s unpack this concept of “good works”.
The “orthodox” church has sometimes defined a believer’s works in terms of what he does not do anymore. He does not lie, or cheat, or steal, or curse, or get drunk, or do drugs, or practice immorality, and many other things that are clearly sin. But on the other end of the good works scale are things that are clearly laid out in Scripture as well. But they receive very little publicity in comparison with the things we are not supposed to do. And our focus on sinful acts of commission is so strong that it overwhelms the sinful acts of omission.
This kind of perspective can be seen when some unbeliever does some good things or helps the poor or provides food for starving children. If that person is living a sinful lifestyle we as believers tend to discredit the good in anything he does. Now his good deeds are not redemptive to his soul to be sure, however we as believers should be shamed when unbelievers minister to the earthly needs of sinners. But because we are self righteous about what we do not do and about our statements of faith, we discount any unbeliever’s good deeds. And what we do is condemn the sin in sinners so we can subtly move past our own deficiencies concerning good works. We avoid being confronted with good deeds that we should be doing by those who do not claim to know Jesus. But gospel works must be a powerful and observable offshoot from gospel faith. We have been so careful not to allow good deeds into gospel faith that we have become complacent about allowing gospel faith to give life to good deeds. And, yes, that emanates from an obsession with written doctrines without the same obsession with living deeds.
The doctrinal gospel that lives and breathes overwhelmingly in written format is a lifeless caricature which the world cannot see and cannot hear and cannot feel. Should not the true church be the most aggressive humanitarians of all? And yet we are so frightened by the social gospel that we tread lightly on humanitarian deeds or standing in the gap for the downtrodden and those who suffer all kinds of earthly injustices. The gospel of Jesus Christ must be believed for a sinner to be saved. But many times the gospel must be seen before a sinner will believe. Well if a sinner will not read our statements of faith then how can he know what the gospel is? We must tell him through our lips and show him through our hands and heart. Gospel faith must produce gospel deeds.
And let us get down to the purest truth. When we believe the gospel, and when we believe that Jesus is Lord, then what the path to which we are called? If Jesus told us to count the cost, then what is that cost if we are to truly be His disciple? The church has so emphasized the concept of salvation through faith alone (which is absolutely true) that it has seriously neglected the cost of being a disciple. And that cost is not just in leaving a life of sinful activities, but it involves understanding how Jesus lived and living that life as well.
One of the reasons the world can live alongside of the church without having to accept or reject Jesus is because we exhibit so little gospel deeds. William Booth was the man who began the Salvation Army in 1865 which in his day combined gospel faith with gospel deeds. In these days it is known for its humanitarian deeds much more than it is for spreading the everlasting gospel itself. But William Booth was scheduled to speak at the world wide conference to those members of the salvation Army. But he was old and ill and could not come. So he sent a telegram to all those at the conference, and the telegram only said one word.
But I return to that word reward. Now you may want to remove your shoes because we have been, and we now are going further, into holy ground. This is where the shekinah glory of God becomes even brighter if that indeed is even possible. God has come to earth as one of us and He suffers and dies an excruciating death for us and in our place. And then Jesus resurrects from the dead with many infallible proofs to make an open show over wicked spirits in high places and over death itself. And then He offers the gift of eternal life through that gospel event by believing in Him with all of your heart. And with that the Word tells us that we have our reward of eternal life secure in heaven and eternally pristine.
And true believers gladly lay down their lives and pick up His. We are imperfect to be sure, but if a sinner claims to believe in Jesus and his life remains the same he has been deceived. But the Spirit empowers us to do good deeds in Jesus’ name and not in our own. Yes, we could have done some of those deeds before we were followers of Christ, but we would have done them in our own name and in our own strength and because they made our flesh feel good. But now we do them because we love Him and He has shown us what He desires of us. Everything is because of Him – the faith, the deeds, the compassion, the message, and our very lives.
But when we get to heaven we will be given rewards for those deeds done in His name and in the power of the Spirit. What? How can this thing be? It is all of Him and yet we will receive rewards? Just when we thought we had our theology about redemption by faith and the finished work of Christ all neatly in order, the love of our Blessed Savior opens another bottomless cavern which confounds all earthly wisdom. But there you stand immobilized by the sheer weight of His presence and the realization of His grace in your life. I do not know exactly how wide will be our perspective, but perhaps we will be allowed a holy and sacred and majestic perspective as to who we once were and who we are now and most importantly who He was, and is, and always will be. And standing there you are beginning to come to terms about life eternal and in His holy and magnificent presence.
And then you are given rewards. I am embarrassed to even think of it now. How can I receive any rewards? I mean we could have done so much more. We stumbled so often. We spent money sometimes on our lusts. We did not pray as we should have. We did not witness as we could have. And yet we receive rewards for deeds He Himself actually did through us? It seems like madness, does it not? So what can we do with these rewards? Shall we show them off to others? Shall we admire what we have done? Shall we be thankful that we did serve Christ? I mean what really can we do with these spiritual and eternal rewards?
There is only one thing we can do with them and on that day there will be only one thing we desire to do with them. Imagine you in your new body and amidst the voices of angelic beings expressing the holiness of God as well as the incredible echoes of songs and praises and worship lifting up like a wondrous cloud within the expanse of God’s throne room. And without hesitation or fear, but filled with a spirit of worship that only a new body could contain, you make your way to the place before His throne, and while the everlasting glory of the nail scarred Lamb radiates through your entire being, you bow before Him and lay those rewards at His beautiful feet.
You have received those rewards but they will always belong to Him alone.
Halleluiah to the Eternal Lamb of God!!!
So while we live upon this earth we will be challenged every day to choose between the riches of this world or the rewards of the reproach of Christ. Although all of us have never been perfect in ourselves, we still must never compromise the goal. There is no gray area here. Either we are in this world but not of it, or we are in it and of it. Which will it be? Which will it be? Will you embrace His reproach or the respect of the world? Will you seek the world's riches or rewards of serving Christ. Which will it be?