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Sun, Feb 01, 2015

65 - Rewards [b]

Matthew 10:40-11:1 by Robert Dean
When you became an adult and were leaving home, did your parents give you admonitions and warnings? Listen to this lesson to learn about nine warnings Jesus gave His disciples. See how He emphasized that their allegiance must always be first to God, rather than to their family. Understand that God requires a radical revision of how we use our time and that we have to be willing to give up what we desperately want for God’s plan, if required. See that we need to keep in mind the Judgment Seat of Christ so we can make decisions and live our lives in the light of eternity.
Series:Matthew (2013)
Duration:58 mins 42 secs

Rewards
Matthew 10:40–11:1
Matthew Lesson #065
February 1, 2015
www.deanbibleministries.org

In Matthew 8 and 9 we have the Lord performing a number of miracles demonstrating that He was the promised Messiah; He had the credentials. Again, He delegates that to His disciples in Matthew 10, sending them out across Israel with the message to the Jews that the Messiah had come and that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. And He warns them of what to expect. As disciples they should have realistic expectations of the response that they would encounter. On the one hand there would be some who would welcome them, some that give them hospitality, and some that would respond positively to the message. But on the other hand He warned them that there would be many who would react against their message. He warned them that they should anticipate rejection, opposition, hostility and persecution.

And that is not only true of them; it is true of us. When this comes we should not react in kind but should demonstrate God’s love to those who are hostile to us. Matthew 10:16 NASB “… so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” He said that the disciples should expect opposition from the government, from religious, leaders, from friends and from family, those who are closest to us.

In Matthew 10:17, 18 and 21, 22 He warns them that even those who are closest to us in our family will be the ones who will reject us and will possibly be the ones who will treat us the worst, and even those who will turn us in to be arrested, persecuted and executed. He warns that in the midst of opposition, the disciples are to rely upon God’s grace and God’s Word to give them strength and courage to face the adversity. That is the only way we can do it; we can’t do it in our own strength. The only thing that will give us courage in face of opposition and in the face of rejection and hostility is to trust in the Lord. When we do that we can overcome any and all opposition.

He said that the disciples should expect to be treated in the same way that He was treated. We are no better than our master. If He was called evil, branded the devil’s disciple, and arrested, tortured, beaten and executed, then we should anticipate the same. It doesn’t mean it is going to happen. We who live in the United States have had such a tremendous heritage where persecution of Bible believing Christians has not been a reality, but it is becoming more overt and it will be more overt over the course of the next twenty or thirty years. We have to learn how to stand firm and how to anticipate that and prepare for it. The only way to do that is spiritually: to fortify our souls with the Word of God.

He warned that the person wanting to be a disciple not to be afraid. How easy it is to succumb to fear when we are faced with the loss of possessions, the loss of security, the loss of our homes, the loss of everything that we hold dear. But the solution to that is the last verse that I touched on last time: the person who loses his life will find it. If we have already given up our desires, our ambitions, our hopes and dreams, and put them in the Lord’s hands, then when those details of life are threatened it doesn’t matter because we know that our hope is in the Lord and ultimately all things will be made right. So the disciples are warned against fear: that they can face any circumstances without fear because their hope is fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ and the ultimate revelation of truth at the future judgments of God. 

The disciple is warned to fear God. When God’s presence in future judgments is real to us, it transforms the decisions, the priorities, and the activities of today. The fear of God should shape us. This is what Jesus is emphasizing in Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” This is not about the lake of fire; it is a warning about the reality of divine discipline for disciples who fail in their allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are always met with grace and forgiveness, but if we continue in sin and rebellion, God can lower the boom and really make life miserable because we failed to follow Him.

We are reminded of God’s constant care and attention to detail. If the very hairs of our head are numbered, He is aware of every detail and every opposition, persecution, and every aspect of rejection; and He has made provision for that, and that is there to strengthen us and to cause us to be more focused upon Him and to live our life in a way that is more dependent upon Him.

We are warned not to put family, friends, and loved ones ahead of our devotion to the Lord. That is a principle that many of us affirm in a somewhat abstract way. As a pastor of over thirty-five years of pastoral ministry, what I have seen is that parents don’t understand this. Parents get so involved with the activities of their children that they don’t come to Bible class. They don’t focus on it. But if they don’t bring their children to Bible class two or three times a week they will never make the Word of God a priority in their lives, because they are teaching them that it really isn’t. And they are a failure as a disciple. You have to love the Lord. Your allegiance needs to be to the Lord more than to your children. Most parents never understand that. They are so concerned about developing their kids for today.

I have seen so many people who over the years sacrificed, taught their kids that they needed to be in church. But that is not a guarantee that their kids will not succumb to the temptations and the pressures of the world around them. You have to exercise wisdom. There is nothing wrong with getting your kids involved in whatever activities they should be involved in. But just like in our own lives there are many good and wonderful things that we can invest our time in, but if it takes away from the one thing that really matters—our personal spiritual growth, our understanding of the Word of God, our preparation for the judgment seat of Christ—then we fail. Because when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, He is not going to put up with excuses like, “I was too busy”. If your priorities, your decisions and activities are not transformed by the priorities and the focus upon the Word of God, then you can’t be a disciple and you won’t grow to spiritual maturity. We have to learn to truly put our devotion to the Lord and to His Word ahead of everything else or, as Jesus said, we just can’t be a disciple.

If we want to do more than give lip service to our Christianity, if we really want to grow to spiritual maturity, if we truly want to fulfill God’s plan for our lives, then it is going to cost something. Salvation is free, but discipleship is costly. The Lord emphasized that. We are guaranteed eternity in heaven because salvation is free, but spiritual growth is at a cost. We have to make decisions (sometimes difficult decisions) but the Lord Jesus Christ demands unswerving loyalty. Nothing supersedes obedience. Nothing else gets in the way: not our education, not our career, not our entertainment, not our family, not our social life, not our personal comfort, not our parents; nothing gets in the way. He requires a radical revision of our priorities and of our time management, a radical revision of our focus and attention. And if we submit to Him in those things, then instead of losing that which we think is the vital source of life, we actually discover real life. That is the focal point of the last verse that we studied last time. We have to be willing to give up that which we desperately want in order to serve Him. And many times He doesn’t take that away from us, He enhances it. Sometimes He takes it away from us because there is something better that He has for us. Sometimes He lets us achieve those same hopes and dreams but He makes it of greater value and significance. At other times He enhances that with additional things. The issue is, are we really willing to trust the Lord Jesus Christ with our life, and to live on His terms rather than our own terms?

Matthew 10:39 NASB says, “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

Matthew 10:40 NASB “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

What is interesting as we look at this verse is the use of several key words. Several are repeated. The obvious word that we see in English is “receives”.  This is repeated several times, but they are not all the same word. Most of them are the Greek word DECHOMAI. But there is a synonym that is used in verse 41 twice, the Greek word LAMBANO. Why is it that God the Holy Spirit sought to make this distinction? The reason is that although they are synonyms and in ninety per cent of the time they can be used interchangeably, there is a slight difference. DECHOMAI has to do also with being receptive of someone or showing hospitality to someone, whereas the word LAMBANO has the idea of receiving something in hand, to make something one’s own. This is the distinction that we see here because He talks about a couple of different examples related to those who are going out in ministry. The first example relates to someone who is receiving these disciples. The second example in Matthew 10:41 is receiving a prophet. And there is a third example at the end of that verse: a righteous man. Then He uses a fourth example of providing for a child.

What He is saying is the one who shows hospitality, the one who shows support for someone who is representing the Lord Jesus Christ, whether it is a disciple, a prophet—He doesn’t use the term, pastor or evangelist here because it is not in the church age yet—during Israel’s dispensation (but there is application into the church age)—is the same as if they had received the Lord Jesus Christ into their house and shown Him hospitality. So if you receive the disciple, you are receiving Jesus—in hospitality; this isn’t talking about salvation. And he who receives the Lord in hospitality receives also the Father. So that by just showing hospitality to a disciple you are by transfer showing hospitality to God.

In the second example, Matthew 10:41 NASB “He who receives a prophet in {the} name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” So if you are accepting a prophet who is representing a prophet—in this case it would be the Lord Jesus Christ because He was a prophet, priest and king—then you will receive a prophet’s reward. The same thing is said of a righteous man.

What this means in practicality is that if you are receiving or participating in the ministry of a pastor, evangelist or missionary, or someone else who is serving the Lord, then you share in that reward. But what are some of the ways that you show hospitality or reception of someone who is serving the Lord? You show that by regular prayer for that person. You can show it by financial aid and providing for them. You can show it by corresponding with them.   

Then He shifts the focus to giving.  Matthew 10:42 NASB “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” There it is a reference to children, showing compassion. Whoever provides for their needs; showing a compassion not based on spiritual condition but in just showing what we would call today charity, providing for those who don’t have. “In the name of a disciple”. It doesn’t say, “My name”. It is understood that the disciple is a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. So when we give to support someone who is not necessarily involved in ministry it is an act of genuine compassion towards those around us in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as an act of grace orientation and graciousness towards those in need. The Lord says, he shall not lose his reward.

The Greek word for reward is MISTHOS. It means to pay, to give someone payment, wages, and it can refer to reward. What do those things have in common? They are worked for; they are earned; they are deserved. It is where you do something in order to receive a reward. So this can’t be talking about salvation. Salvation is a free gift. Rewards are based on spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, and obedience to the Lord.

It is interesting to see how MISTHOS has been used in Scripture, specifically how it has been used by Matthew. The uses of MISTHOS are clumped together here at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. Going back to Matthew chapter five and the Sermon on the Mount where several times the word reward was used. That tells us something very important. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus wasn’t talking about how to get into heaven, He was challenging His disciples what they should do to fulfill their discipleship, to fulfill the mission that God has given to them.    

Matthew 5:12 NASB “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” The context is similar to the context of Matthew 10; Cf. Matthew 5:11—that is not how we get into heaven, it is how we serve the Lord, and that we will be reviled and persecuted. If you stand firm and continue to endure and persevere in the midst of rejection, hostility and opposition, taking your stand for the truth of the gospel no matter what comes—not in a belligerent way but in a way that reflects the grace of God as you are walking by the Spirit—then the result will be reward in heaven.

Matthew 5:46 NASB “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” This is going to be picked up by Peter in 1 Peter. Everybody suffers for doing wrong things. We should suffer as believers for doing things that are right, and then we receive reward. Rewards and inheritance are a major theme in 1 Peter. The implication here is that of you love those who hate you, despise you, spitefully use you, persecute you and revile you, then you will receive reward in heaven.

He next uses the concept of reward in Matthew 6 several times. He talks about those who are trying to gain approbation in public by doing their charitable deeds or praying before others, and He uses the concept of reward there saying that if you are doing this to get recognition from others, then certainly you have that reward. There are things that we can do in the spiritual life where we may be doing the right thing but we are doing it the wrong way, and there is no eternal reward. This is what Jesus illustrates in Matthew 6:2, 5, and 16.

Rewards are something that is emphasized throughout the New Testament because it is something distinct from salvation or justification, which is a free gift. At the end of the New Testament, one of the last things that Jesus reminds us of is Revelation 22:12 NASB “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward {is} with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” He is talking to believers; they already have salvation. If salvation is not by works, then this has to be talking about something other than justification, which is by faith alone.

2 John 1:8 NASB “Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.” That is the same thing that Paul talks about in other places, i.e. examine yourselves, be careful to watch your thinking, to watch your life, to pay attention to the course of your life and the decisions that you make, so that we do not lose the things that we worked for. That is not talking about salvation; it is talking about the potential of losing rewards.

The Bible talks about salvation in different senses. Some people talk about the three tenses of salvation, the three stages of salvation, or the three phases of salvation. The word “saved” is a generic term; it means to be delivered from something. We have to look at the context. Sometimes it talks about being saved from the penalty of sin, which is eternal condemnation. That is justification. It happens in an instant of time when a person trusts in Jesus Christ as savior. When we trust in Christ we are immediately given His righteousness, and God looks at us on the basis of our possession of His righteousness, and declares us to be righteous. It is a judicial decision; it doesn’t change us. Judicially we are declared righteous, not because it is not true or because we are not guilty but because we are given the righteousness of Christ. And it is on the basis of His righteousness that we are declared before the bar of God’s Supreme Court to be not guilty, because of His righteousness.

In the second phase of the Christian life we are saved from the power of sin. That tyranny of the sin nature is broken by the baptism by means of God the Holy Spirit. We are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection; we are given new life in Him. We have to learn to live on the basis of that new identity in Christ and that new possession separated from the power of the sin nature. We advance; we retreat. We fail; we succeed. God meets us with grace at confession every time and completely cleanses us from sin so that we can move forward in our walk by the Holy Spirit.

Then the third way in which the word “saved” is used is, we are saved from the presence of sin. We are saved from the sin nature when we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord. We lose that sin nature, we are no longer corrupt, we are incorruptible and we are face to face with the Lord.      

We begin at salvation where we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. Instantly we have a new identity. We are members of the royal family of God and we begin a new life as spiritual babies. We are going to face numerous difficulties in life, adversities that test whether or not we are going to apply the Word of God to those situations and circumstances. They can be tests of mental focus; they can be tests related to people around us, tests related to various situations. They are different kinds of tests but they have to be fundamentally the focus of our thinking. They are a test whether or not we are going to trust the Word. This is what James talks about in James 1:2, 3 NASB “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” This means the testing of your doctrine, the testing of what you say you believe. So then the issue is our volition. Are we going to trust God or trust in our own resources?

Then we go into a pattern. If we are walking by the Spirit this is the production of divine good in our life. We experience real abundant life and it will produce evidence of the grace of God in our life. It produces steadfast endurance as we go forward and this leads to an adult spiritual life. If we choose to disobey the Lord then it produces sin; it produces human good (morality done apart from God the Holy Spirit), and the Bible says this is death—a temporal or carnal death. This leads to spiritual weakness and instability, and eventually, if we stay in this state of spiritual regression, will lead to a hardened heart and ultimately to the sin unto death.

When we die we go into phase three, and we meet the Lord in the air. This is followed by the judgment seat of Christ, which produces either rewards and inheritance or a loss of rewards and temporary shame at the judgment seat of Christ. 

The issue for us every day needs to be: what is going to happen at the judgment seat of Christ? Am I living for it? Am I living my life in light of it, and am I prepared so that I will be able to serve the Lord and glorify Him in the millennial kingdom? That is the ultimate issue. We are living today in light of eternity. 

Salvation is offered free to all mankind, but rewards are only offered to believers. Only believers can pursue rewards; it is done by walking by means of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is given to a few and rewards are given to a few. We saw this in Matthew 7 when Jesus said: Matthew 7:13, 14 NASB “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” He is not talking about salvation; He is talking about the path of discipleship. Many believers refuse to take up the challenge of discipleship. It is too difficult. “I want to live now in light of today, not in light of eternity. I want to fulfill my desires today.” It is total immaturity. So there are even fewer believers who are going to have rewards at the judgment seat of Christ. In salvation Christ does all the work and in terms of rewards it is based on the work the believer does. It is not apart from God, it is on the basis of our walk by God the Holy Spirit.

Rewards are earned through obedience to the Lord. We can’t obey the Lord if we don’t know what He wants. And we can’t know what He wants unless we know the Word of God and we have hidden it in our hearts. We have to be taking in the Word day in and day out. We are fighting an uphill battle in terms of our spiritual life and if we are not taking care of it then we will certainly go into regression. So we have to work at it but it is a work that is done through the power of God the Holy Spirit. Salvation is permanent; we can never lose it. It is a gift that is ours forever. But apparently rewards can be lost. We are warned about that. Salvation provides an equal opportunity. Every person has the ability at the instant of salvation to grow to spiritual maturity and serve the Lord Jesus Christ to the maximum. It is up to you how you are going to use that. We are all given the same assets; the issue depends on our volition, and so it depends on our use of opportunities.   

The Bible teaches that we are to be prepared for this. 2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” This is the bema seat. A bema seat was a bench where the magistrate would sit, where the judge in an athletic contest would sit. It is a general term for a raised platform.

The Bible talks about eight judgments and five resurrections. At the end of the church age there is the Rapture of the church, which brings about the first judgment, the bema seat, the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is followed by the Tribulation. At the end of the Tribulation the Lord Jesus Christ will return to the earth, and this will conclude the first resurrection. The first resurrection involves four different groups: Christ, the Rapture of the church, the two witnesses at the mid-point of the Tribulation, and then the resurrection of Old Testament saints and Tribulation martyrs. That concludes the first resurrection.

There are judgments there. The first judgment was the bema seat. The second judgment involves the judgment of the Antichrist and the false prophet. The third judgment is the surviving Gentiles, those who live through the Tribulation period—whether they are going to go to the lake of fire or whether they are going to go into the millennial kingdom. The surviving Jews, the same issue. Then we have Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints to be evaluated because they will be serving in the Millennial Kingdom—not with the Church, but they will be ministering in terms of the Jewish kingdom. Then the millennial kingdom takes place, at the end of which there is the second resurrection of all the unsaved who appear before the great white throne. That is the seventh judgment. And then the eighth judgment is when Satan and the demons are thrown into the lake of fire. Then we go into the eternal state.

Judgment is given to the Lord Jesus Christ. John 5:21, 22 NASB “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” We are judged by Jesus Christ who is a human being. He is fully God, but that is not the issue at the judgment seat of Christ. We are judged by someone who has suffered all things as we have, yet without sin. It is peer judgment. It is from this in the Anglo-Saxon tradition we received the principle of peer judgment in trial judgment by our peers in the courtroom. We are not judged by someone who is different from us but one who has been tested in all points as we are, yet without sin. John 5:27 NASB “and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is {the} Son of Man.”

1 Peter 1:17 NASB “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay {on earth;}” Where did Peter get that? From Matthew 10, where Jesus warned (vs. 28) “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NASB “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not {in} vain in the Lord.” You may not see the reward today but you will see it in eternity.

We are evaluated, 2 Corinthians 5:10 … to “be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good [AGATHOS = good of intrinsic value] or bad [PHAULOS = inferior quality; ordinary; just morality; not the result of spiritual production from God the Holy Spirit].”

As we wrap up this chapter, the emphasis is on a focus on the end game; the long game, not the short game. It is not how it is going to make us feel today or tomorrow, but it is preparation for eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ, preparation for serving Him in the millennial kingdom. We put our focus today not on the here and now but on the end game. And if we are focused on the end game, then that changes our priorities. It changes our time management, changes our focus. We are going to give up many things in this life for the sake of serving the Lord. That doesn’t mean it is hurtful. It is much as a man who falls in love with a woman will give up many things he would like to do in order to spend time with her, simply because it is better to spend time with the one he loves than to do all of the others things that he once enjoyed as a single man. That is the issue.

It is sacrifice. That doesn’t mean it is painful; it simply means that we have recognized we are living for something that has a longer purpose and a more significant purpose than the personal pleasures and personal comforts of today.  

Matthew 11:1 NASB “When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.”