21st July 2013

Understanding Our Heavenly Reward 

“…as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV UK) 

How do you explain things that are beyond human comprehension, things that we have never even imagined? Well, God does it the way we would for a child—he uses illustrations. 

That’s why Jesus so often described the kingdom of God with parables. We shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking these stories are an exact description—they are illustrations to help us understand some aspect of what is otherwise beyond our comprehension. 

For example, Peter once reminded Jesus that the disciples had given up much to follow him. So Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30). 

What Jesus was giving them is comfort and encouragement. But we would misunderstand it if we were to take these words in a literal manner. Jesus didn’t mean that we would be blessed literally with 100 mothers or 100 new farms. What he meant is that the things we give up for the gospel aren’t in vain and that we stand to gain more than we gave up. 

In several parables, Jesus indicated that the eternal reward would be like rulership. Once again, this should not be interpreted as a position of power and prestige. Rather, it refers to receiving a greater opportunity to serve and to help others. That really is—or at least should be the greatest reward for a position of leadership. 

These analogies are given to help us understand, and we should be careful not to miss the real point by interpreting them in ways Jesus didn’t intend. Jesus used them because we don’t have the ability, or even the vocabulary, fully to understand, let alone describe, an existence that we have never experienced. But Jesus wants us to know that our spiritual blessing will be far better than any physical things that we can have in this life. 

All physical things, no matter how beautiful, enjoyable or valuable, are in comparison like weak shadows of heavenly rewards. Whatever we value the most in this physical world cannot compare with God’s rewards in heaven. As Paul said, we “see through a glass darkly” as we “declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began” (1 Corinthians 2:7). 

Prayer
Gracious Father, so often we take things you mean literally as figurative, and things you mean figuratively as literal. Help us to learn to see the difference as we walk this Christian life and to use what you tell us to grow to maturity. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen
 

Study by Joseph Tkach

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joeandtammyAbout the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

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