The Rewards After the Rapture (Part 1)

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Revelation 22:10-12

10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

One of the most grueling of all bicycle races is the Tour De France. It was described in National Geographic magazine as “an annual madness.” The race covers about 2,000 miles, including some of France’s most difficult, mountainous terrain. Eating and drinking is done on the run. And cyclists must face the extremes of heat and cold. To train for the event, former professional rider, Gilbert Lassalle, rode his bicycle 22,000 miles each year.

What kind of prize makes people endure so much hardship and pain? Ten thousand dollars? One hundred thousand dollars? Only in recent years have cash prizes been awarded regularly. Most winners receive just a special winner’s jersey. What then motivates the contestants? Lassalle sums it up like this: “Why, to sweep through the Arc de Triumph on the last day! To be able to say you finished the Tour de France!”

Today, we are going to talk about the rewards that believers receive. The Bible often describes our walk with Christ in terms of a race. In Hebrews 12 we are encouraged to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us.” Paul says in First Corinthians, ” Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.”

Yes, there are prizes or rewards for those who live a faithful Christian life. In Revelation, Jesus promises us that He is coming quickly and that He is bringing rewards with Him to give to each of us according to our works. Let’s look at the nature of these rewards so that we can have an idea of what we have to look forward to after we meet our Lord in the air.

1. The place and time of the rewards. Jesus Christ said, “behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me…” We have covered the topic of the Rapture extensively over the past few weeks, and we can recognize the terminology of Jesus’ statement. When He speaks of coming “quickly,” He is speaking of the Rapture. Therefore, the time of rewards, or what we can call the rewards ceremony, will take place immediately after the Rapture.

Just as Jesus Christ tells us to always be ready for the Rapture, we should also be ready for the Rewards. In other words, we should be looking forward to the time when Christ will come bringing His rewards. Of course, everything we do should be motivated by our love for Jesus Christ. However, the expectation of rewards should also help motivate us to serve Christ faithfully and with the right heart, spirit, and attitude. So, we see here that the time of the rewards is right after the Rapture.

Now, where will this rewards ceremony take place? In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul is speaking to believers, and he tells us that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” This verse implies that there is a place where this “judgment” will occur. That place is Heaven. We will be pulled out of the world and up to Heaven where we will all face Jesus Christ.

The word “judgment” used in this verse carries a negative connotation — it speaks of penalty. However, that is not what the rewards ceremony is about. The Greek word which has been translated in our English Bibles as “judgment” is actually the word “bema,” and it simply means a raised platform made for the seating of a king or dignitary or other authority. The word is used throughout the book of Acts when speaking of the government rulers whom Christians had to testify before about their faith.

In fact, in the city of Corinth, the city which Paul was writing to, there was an Olympic stadium. And in the middle of that stadium there was a raised platform called a “bema.” After the competition, the winner would be led up to that raised platform amidst the cheers of the crowd that had gathered and he would be given his prize. So, the “judgment” seat of Christ is nothing that we should be afraid of. It is a time to look forward to — especially if you have been a faithful servant of Him.

2. The Rewarder. Who will be handing out the rewards at the Bema seat? Well, Jesus tells us plainly that “my reward is with me to give to every man.” Jesus Christ Himself will be handing out the rewards.

If you’ve ever watched the Academy Awards on television, you’ll remember that there’s an announcer who stands up at the microphone on stage, opens an envelope, and calls out the name of the actor or actress who has been chosen to receive an award. Now, imagine that scene amplified thousands and thousands of times over. Imagine millions and millions of believers gathered together in the auditorium of Heaven. And, imagine Jesus Christ Himself standing on that stage, opening an envelope, and calling your name.

Jesus will be in charge of handing out the rewards when we get to Heaven. In John 5:22, Jesus said, “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” Jesus Christ personally taught His disciples everything they needed to carry on the ministry after He left. Jesus loved us enough to personally die on the cross for our sins so that we would not have to suffer. He personally dwells inside each of our hearts. He will personally return to Earth to call us up to Heaven. And, now we see that He will personally hand our rewards to us. Isn’t that an amazing thought?

Dr. John MacArthur said, “God is always very personal in dealing with believers, and in the case of the judgment seat of Christ, we will be face to face with Him. He is going to be the dispenser of the gifts that show the faithfulness exhibited in our life. He is a constant companion. He is our bridegroom. He is our rewarder. ”

We have looked at the time and place of the rewards — they will be given out in Heaven immediately after the Rapture. And, we have looked at the Rewarder who will be Jesus Christ Himself.

3. The people who will be rewarded. Who will be gathered at the Bema seat? Paul writes that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” He was writing to believers when he made that statement and he means all believers of all ages. Just as Christ raises living believers and dead believers in the Rapture, all of those believers — those who were alive on Earth and those who had been dead for centuries — will be raised for their Rewards.

The Bema judgment, or the rewards ceremony, is not a time for unbelievers or for the world. There are separate judgments for those groups of people. This is not a time for the unsaved to present their good works and expect to have them weighed against their bad works. This is a time exclusively for those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Does that mean that everything we as followers of Christ, as the church, has done will be rewarded? No, because you and I have done some bad things even after we got saved. There are even some good things that we have done that we did not do with the right attitude and spirit. Jesus looks on our hearts, and He can tell the difference between a service offered to Him with the right motives and a service offered to Him with selfish motives.

Lord willing, we are going to talk more about that particular issue in our next message. But, there is one thing you can take to heart right now, and that is that everybody at the Bema judgment is going to be saved. It is a can’t-lose proposition. You don’t have to worry about getting to the Bema judgment and then being locked out of Heaven. First Corinthians 3:15 tells us that all of our works will be judged by fire, and “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved.”

Only the church, only the saved, only the redeemed will take part in this judgment. Why is it important for us to learn about the rewards that Jesus Christ said He is bringing with Him to give to us? Well, if you were undergoing any other kind of judgment, you would want to be prepared. If you were taking an exam, you would take time to study the material before you took the test. If you were going to court, you would hire a lawyer to help you defend yourself and make sure you have all of your papers in order before you went to stand before the judge. If you were taking part in a competition, you would study the rules, and do what you could to impress the judges. We should do no less as we look toward the moment when we stand before the Judge of the Universe.

Thank God, we serve a Savior who has not only told us that we are in a race, but that we are in a race worth running, and we all ought to be striving to win because, in this race, every believer can be a winner.

Now, if you are with us today, and you are not ready for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, if you are not certain that if Jesus returned today you would be among those whom He took with Him to Heaven, allow me to share with you how you can trust Jesus Christ for salvation today so that you can be ready for His return.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and I want to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

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