A Weekly Meditation of Pastor Chang
<Witnesses of Life after Death> (67)
Last Sunday, I shared with you an important concept, that in heaven there are only two kinds of people: “those who are only saved” and “those who are saved with glory and honor.” The first kinds of people are those who just accepted Christ to be their Lord and Savior and soon died, or those who did not really do anything particularly good to truly contribute to the Kingdom of God. They are saved by only believing in Christ.
I think that in heaven the first kind of people may be the majority. But there are some who are the second kind of people – also saved, but with glory and honor. They are the people who receive rewards. They are the faithful people. They are the people St. Paul describes when he says “build on this foundation of Christ using gold, silver, and costly stones.” (Cf. 1 Cor. 3:11, 12) What does it mean?
First of all, these kind of people receive rewards as honor and glory in addition to the salvation which is the foundation provided by Christ. They have received grace upon grace and glory upon glory. According to the description in Matthew 25:1-46, they all have held to three merits and characteristics: Be ready always, be faithful always, and be compassionate always.
First, according to the first parable of Christ, the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25: 1-13), they are the wise ones who are always ready to receive and face the Lord’s coming at any time.
Secondly, in the second parable of Christ, the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), the first two servants who had 5 talents and 2 talents both worked faithfully and utilized their gifts completely. Eventually they received the same rewards.
Thirdly, the last parable of Christ, the parable of the final judgment (Mat. 25: 31- 46), those who receive rewards are the people with love and compassion. Christ describes them to be “the sheep.”
In other words, there will be three basic principles of judgment before the judgment seat of Christ: “be ready always,” “be faithful always” and “be compassionate always.”
Therefore, when St. Paul says, “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones,” (1 Cor. 3:12) what does it mean?
I agree with Rev. Tom LaHaye in his book entitled “Life in the Afterlife”, where he indicates that there are three basic “works” which will be blessed: witnessing for Christ, worshipping the living God, and doing charity work with compassion. These three works are actually the manifestation and expression of a person’s heart that has deep relationship with Christ because anyone who has the character of Christ will automatically do such kind of works.
However, someone who does “such good works” outwardly is not necessarily one who is “using gold, silver, or costly stones” in God’s sight. Many good testimonies, good worship, and good charity work can be disguising superficial, hypocritical and treacherous hearts. Those who have sincere, genuine and faithful hearts will have behavior and work that truly reflects their hearts. God will be the Judge. The outward good works will greatly increase the internal faith of the genuine heart. But the superficial works gain nothing.
One more statement I should make: for anyone does great charitable work but is not a true believer of Christ, whatever he or she does, even if it is a great contribution to the church, still has only built with “wood, hay or straw” from the heavenly perspective.
Why? Obviously he or she does not have the foundation of salvation. No one can depend on doing “good work” to be saved. His or her works or deeds may gain some rewards from the world, but there is no eternal value.