Gift and Reward, What ?

This topic is well-known to Christians and expected to be well-understood. Yet, many sorely missed to see where the difference and similarity as they relate to salvation. 

To begin with, in a Biblical parlance, a gift is given by someone to another who does not deserve it, nor is it based on something good done by anyone, but given nevertheless. On the other hand, a reward is given by someone to another who did something good to deserve it. Notice that in both giving gift or reward, someone did something to or for another whether deserved or not. 

Paul, explained this principle in Rom. 5:10,

“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” 

Because of sin, we were God’s enemies, “driven from the garden of Eden” , so to speak, and not deserving of a gift. Yet, the Father gifted us with his Son, as in John 3:16, 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.(NIV)

And not only giving his Son, out of the Father’s love, as an undeserved gift to us for reconciliation with the Father. But even more importantly as promised from the foundation of the world to resurrected Jesus, another undeserved gift to us, which is the Holy Spirit of power, for our salvation.  And these free gifts to all of us, undeserved who sinned, were planned even before anyone sinned, i.e., before the foundation of the world, before the creation of man. 

Reconciliation and justification came about because of what Jesus did, i.e., his death. But, this was reckoned not because Jesus followed thereby substituting his death for mankind; not by his “works” or obedience. Rather, as Paul explained in Rom 3:22-23:

 “by the righteousness of faith (even of Jesus), so no man (even Jesus) can boast. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.

Notice, “righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all them that believe“, meaning that while these gifts are for all, still one has to “believe“(had to do something), for these to be “activated” on any specific person. Much like a “link for temporary password” given freely to a person by a website app, it has to be activated or authenticated for I.D. security; it is specific and secure, but we need to do something. To believe on something material that is heard or seen by our physical senses is one thing. But, spiritual things are discerned only by “spiritual ears and eyes” empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit (I Cor 2:14). Meaning, to believe is something we ourselves do, but we could not have “heard or seenspiritual things without the spirit-power given to us; therefore, the power tool is also a gift

Eph. 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, (even of Jesus’) so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Similarly, the Holy Spirit was given not because of Jesus’ works but on Jesus’ trust and belief (based on faith) in the Father that what he promised for mankind (which is the Holy Spirit) He would give. And this receipt of the Holy Spirit occurred after Jesus had been resurrected to receive it for mankind. 


Summary:

In both gift and reward, we did something:

1. We sinned (did something), yet were given free gifts of his Son, out of the Father’s love (John 3:16) for reconciliation and the Holy Spirit of power towards our salvation. These gifts were due to belief leading to trust based on “faith of Jesus“(not his works) that the Father will fulfill his promises to “the seed”(Jesus). This belief and trust is faith-based, evidence-based and substantive.

2. We believed (did something) and were given this free gift of Holy Spirit. No “good works” yet from us, except belief. Nevertheless, even this ability and power tool to believe spiritual things also come as a gift of the Holy Spirit of power, given by the Father to resurrected Jesus to us-ward, as promised and founded on Jesus’ trust and belief which is faith-based(evidence-based/substantive), not works.

3. We obeyed (did something) the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, to ‘bear fruits” worthy of God’s reward, which is “glory, honor, immortality, eternal life“, being Sons and Daughters of the God-Kingdom, the family of God.

4. As man-Jesus’ reward of having a “glorious spirit-composed body” was based on following God’s will (his works), so is our reward to have “spiritual-composed” bodies based on following (our works) the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

5. Gift is given out of love, unmerited and initiated by belief leading to trust that is faith-based, not work-related, nor work-based. It comes from  faith of Jesus leading to belief/trust of Jesus and similarly our belief and trust that are faith-based(evidence-based, substantive(Heb.11:1). Whereas, reward is given based on following and therefore”works-based“. 

Original post: 4/10/2017

Revised post: 5/3/17
 

LOVE, John 3:16 Unraveled

John 3:16 unraveled

Many Christians know this foundational verse and have memorized this for sometime.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life“.(NIV)
It is good to compartmentalize each phrase that comprises this verse to fully understand what makes this a foundational teaching. However, many differ in understanding. So, this commentary may help in the furtherance of truth.


For God.
It is common knowledge that this refers to Father-God. What may not be appreciated is that, in the New Testament, whenever the English word “God” is used, it is translated from the Greek word “Theos” which is a generic word for “God”. By and large, in the NT, when the word God is used, it refers to God the Father, not the Son Jesus. Especially in this verse, since the Son was mentioned, the reference is without doubt. In the Old Testament, the word translated to English from Hebrew is generally El Shaddai, YHVH(Creator), Elohim, Elyon, El , the one who incarnated to man-Jesus. The Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9,13) refers to the Father. 


So Loved the World.
The emphasis is on love, the basis on which action was taken by the Father. It was love that led the Father to give us grace and gifted us with Jesus, his “only begotten Son“. And this gift was planned even before the foundation of the world, as in “slain from the foundation of the world“(Rev. 13:8); yes, even before the creation of man. That being the case, love was not a reaction or response of God to Adam’s (mankind’s) sin, as sin came after creation. Indeed, “love covers all” no matter how serious our sin is. As heinous as sin can be, the Father has already planned a way for reconciliation and subsequent salvation to those who “bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit” and are “overcomers“. Those who are saved are called so, because they have immortality and eternal life. Yet, there is a consequence to people who continued on sinning, viz., the “lake of fire”, aka, “Gehenna fire”.

Excerpts from reference(1) asked why God make the earth and us along with it. He doesn’t really need us, so why did he create anything? King David asked essentially the same thing:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers … what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4, see also Heb. ?).
God made us, not because he needed us: 
The God who made the world and everything in it … is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything” (Acts 17:24-25)..

Despite not needing us, God chose to create us anyway, out of his great love:
 “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). 
Yes, God loved us before he even created us. It’s impossible to get our heads around that idea, but it’s true; that’s what “everlasting” love means.”

 

He Gave His One and Only Son
Before the foundation of the world, there were no name-identities like Father, man-Jesus, much less Son-Jesus; these descriptive names were yet in the future. There were only the Ancient of Days, YHVH Creator (with other descriptive names) and angelic beings. Yet, even before man-Jesus became a Son of God, he was already prophesied to be so. 
I Pet 1:20 “God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.” (NLT). 
It takes guidance of the Holy Spirit to finally realize in these “last days” that there was an unwritten covenant between the Ancient of Days (Father) and YHVH Creator (Jesus) of the plan, based on love, to be “one” with each other and with humans in a family relationship, i.e., Father-Sons/Daughters of God. 
For this plan to happen, humans have to be created composed of flesh+breath of life/spirit of man. Being flesh-composed and “weak” (Matthew 26:40-45), the first man and all humanity would sin and needs re-creation (or remodeling,Read Jer. 18: 1-4 Isa. 29:16; Isa. 64:Isa. 45:9; Rom. 9:20). 
YHVH/Creator has to incarnate into man-Jesus, die as a Passover for mankind’s sin for reconciliation, be resurrected by the Father to receive from  him the promised Holy Spirit that when given to us, will empower us to “bear fruits of the Holy Spirit” and be “one” with him. On the “faith of Jesus“, he trusted the Ancients of Days (Father) to fulfill these promises to “the seed“(Jesus). 
As Paul wrote:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-10).


Whoever Believes in Him
One has to  have faith (evidence ) in Jesus, believe in him and trust that all promises made to him by the Father will be realized towards us, as well. And faith (evidence/substance-based) comes by hearing, as in:

Rom. 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”
We learned to have “faith” or evidence/substance (Heb 11:1) of things hoped for, through man-Jesus, as witnessed by his apostles. And this faith came to us through our “hearing“, with our physical ears only after having been opened by God to spiritual truth(I Cor. 2:14). Because of that evidence learned, we believed and trusted God. Through our belief, we then received the Holy Spirit of power to become “sons of God” as in:

John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”


Shall Not Perish but have Eternal Life

According to “our deeds” there is consequence of continual disobedience which is eternal death while obedience leads to eternal life. The reward of having our “spirit of man” ( our mind/psyche in Greek) continuously follow the will of the gifted Holy Spirit in us, not the pull of the flesh, is to have “glory, honor and immortality, eternal life” as in:
Rom. 2:6-9 ” Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;”

While these are “our” deeds, they are strictly speaking the “fruits of the Holy Spirit”. Without the “works” through the Holy Spirit, our “own deeds” will not suffice to the Father. As noted, deeds of our own, as good as they are, still are “filthy rags” to God so no one can boast. 
Isa 64:6“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”.

Glory and honor be to God for his love that brought as grace through Jesus. His faith and works became an example and precursor for us to have as well, “the way” for our salvation. 

Reference:
1. Why did God create man?Accessed 3/31/17 from http://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/advice/faithdoubt/why-did-god-create-man.html

Originally posted: 4/10/17