Saints’ Reward

Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
~ Acts 28:28

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
~ Job 19:25-26, Daniel 12:2

But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
~ Matthew 22:31-32, John 5:28-29

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
~ 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, Philippians 3:21, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
~ Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:12-13

Judgment and the Saints’ Reward, by John Bunyan. This is an excerpt from his work, “The Resurrection of the Dead and Eternal Judgment”.

And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
~ Acts 24:15

Now when the saints are raised, as ye have heard, they must give an account of all things, in general, that they have done while they were in the world; of all things, I say, whether they be good or bad…Now here shall all things be reckoned up, from the very first good thing that was done by Adam or Abel, to the last that will fall out to be done in the world…

First, here will be a recompense for all that have sincerely laboured in the Word and doctrine—I say, a recompense for all the souls they have saved by their word and watered by the same. Now shall Paul the planter, and Apollos the waterer, with every one of their companions, receive the reward that is according to their works (1Co 3:6–8).

Now, all the preaching, praying, watching, and labour thou hast been at, in thy endeavouring to catch men from Satan to God, shall be rewarded with spangling70 glory. Not a soul thou hast converted to the Lord Jesus, nor a soul thou hast comforted, strengthened, or helped by thy wholesome counsel, admonition, and comfortable speech, but it shall stick as a pearl in that crown “which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2Ti 4:7, 8). That is, if thou dost it willingly, delighting to lift up the name of God among men; if thou doest it with love, longing after the salvation of sinners; otherwise thou wilt have only thy labour for thy pains and no more. “For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the Gospel is committed unto me” (1Co 9:17; Phi 1:15). But, I say, if thou do it graciously, then a reward followeth: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye,” saith Paul, “in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy” (1Th 2:19, 20). Let him, therefore, that Christ hath put into His harvest, take comfort in the midst of all his sorrow and know that God acknowledgeth that “he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (Jam 5:20). Wherefore, labour to convert,
70 spangling – sparkling; glistening.

labour to water, labour to build up, and to “feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind…And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1Pe 5:2, 4).

Secondly, and as the ministers of Christ’s Gospel shall at this day be recompensed, so shall also those more private saints. [They shall] be with tender affections and love looked on and rewarded for all their work and labour of love, which they have showed to the name of Christ in ministering to His saints and suffering for His sake (Heb 6:10). “Whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free” (Eph 6:8). Ah! Little do the people of God think how largely and thoroughly God will at that day own and recompense all the good and holy acts of His people. Every bit, every drop, every rag, and every night’s harbour, though but in a wisp of straw, shall be rewarded in that day before men and angels. “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you,” saith Christ, “he shall in no wise lose his [a disciple’s] reward” (Mat 10:42). Therefore, “When thou makest a feast,” saith He, “call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luk 14:13, 14). If there be any repentance among the godly at this day, it will be because the Lord Jesus, in His person, members, and word, was no more owned, honoured, entertained, and provided for by them when they were in this world. For it will be ravishing to all to see what notice the Lord Jesus will then take of every widow’s mite. He, I say, will call to mind even all those acts of mercy and kindness that thou hast showed to Him when thou wast among men. I say, He will remember, cry up, and proclaim before angels and saints those very acts of thine that thou hast either forgotten or through bashfulness wilt not at that day count worth the owing. He will reckon them up so fast and so fully that thou wilt cry, “Lord, when did I do this? And when did I do the other? Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” And the King shall answer and say unto them, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me…I felt the nourishment of thy food and the warmth of thy fleece. I remember thy loving and holy visits when my poor members were sick, and in prison, and the like. When they were strangers, and wanderers in the world, thou tookest them in. Well done, thou good and faithful servant…Enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (cf. Mat 25:21–23, 34–47).

Thirdly, here also will be a reward for all that hardness and Christian enduring of affliction that thou hast met with for thy Lord while thou wast in the world. Here now will Christ begin from the greatest suffering, even to the least, and bestow a reward on them all: from the blood of the suffering saint to the loss of a hair. Nothing shall go unrewarded (Heb 11:36–40; 2Co 8:8–14). “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2Co 4:17). Behold by the Scriptures how God hath recorded the sufferings of His people and also how He hath promised to reward them—“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Mat 5:11, 12; Luk 6:22, 23). “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Mat 19:29).

Fourthly, there is also a reward at this day for all the more secret and more retired works of Christianity. a. There is not now one act of faith in thy soul, either upon Christ, or against the Devil and Antichrist, but it shall in this day be found out and praised, honoured, and glorified in the face of heaven (1Pe 1:7). b. There is not one groan to God in secret against thy own lusts; and for more grace, light, spirit, sanctification, and strength to go through this world like a Christian, but it shall even at the coming of Christ be rewarded openly (Mat 6:6). c. There hath not one tear dropped from thy tender eye against thy lusts, the love of this world, or for more communion with Jesus Christ, but as it is now in the bottle of God; so then it shall bring forth such plenty of reward that it shall return upon thee with abundance of increase. “Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh” (Luk 6:21). “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” (Psa 56:8). “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psa 126:5, 6)…

It remains that I now in few words show you something also of that with which they shall be rewarded.

First then, those that shall be found in the day of their resurrection…They, I say, that then shall be found the people most laborious for God while here, shall at that day enjoy the greatest portion of God or shall be possessed with most of the glory of the Godhead then. For that is the portion of saints in general (Rom 8:17; Lam 3:24). And why shall he that doth most for God in this world enjoy most of Him in that which is to come? Because by doing and acting, the heart and every faculty of the soul is enlarged and more capacitated, whereby more room is made for glory. Every vessel of glory shall at that day be full of it. But everyone will not be capable to contain a like measure. If they should have it communicated to them, [they] would not be able to stand under it. For there is “an eternal weight in the glory” that saints shall then enjoy (2Co 4:17), and every vessel must be at that day filled— that is, have its heavenly load of it.

All Christians have not the same enjoyment of God in this life, neither indeed were they able to bear it if they had it (1Co 3:2). But those Christians that are most laborious for God in this world, they have already most of Him in their souls. [This is] not only because diligence in God’s ways is the means whereby God communicates Himself; but also because thereby the senses are made more strong and able by reason of use to understand God and to discern both good and evil (Heb 5:13, 14)…Lay up for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come that you may lay hold on eternal life (1Ti 6:19), which eternal life is not the matter of our justification from sin in the sight of God. For that is done freely by grace through faith in Christ’s blood (but here the Apostle speaks of giving of alms). But it is the same that in the other place he calls “the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” And hence it is that he, in his stirring them up to be diligent in good works, doth tell them that he doth not exhort them to it because he wanted, but because he would have “fruit that might abound to their account” (Phi 4:17); as he saith also in another place, “Beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1Co 15:58). Therefore I say, the reward that the saints shall have at this Day for all the good they have done is the enjoyment of God according to their works, though they shall be freely justified and glorified without works.