No eternal rewards for you. Nobody wants to hear that. Unfortunately, that is exactly what I keep hearing from preachers.
I heard one preacher say, “God will give you eternal rewards for whatever work you do in this church, but whatever work you do in your job, in your business, in the marketplace will count for zero eternal rewards.”
He did not say that by mistake. He meant it. I heard the same preacher repeat it on several occasions.
I heard another preacher say, “Whatever work you do for this church is for the kingdom of God, but whatever work you do outside the church is for your own kingdom. When it comes to getting eternal rewards, only the people who have helped here in the church will be getting rewards. There won’t be any rewards for what you’ve done outside of the church.”
Where do they get this stuff? Besides the fact there is no scripture supporting this teaching, I think it stinks to high heavens, literally.
So according to this teaching, if a believer is led by God, even specifically instructed by God, even commanded by God, to do something outside the church, he should tell God, “No thanks, my pastor told me you consider that to be a worthless waste of time so I can’t do that. But hey, let me know if you need any help in the church.”
Of course that sounds silly, but these preachers have the answer for that. They mock any believers who claim to be led by the spirit. They claim that is only an excuse to avoid working for the church. Who needs that spirit led stuff when you can just be led by the pastor?
Is the kingdom of God limited to the domain of your local church? Is God only working through the ministry of pastors and preachers? Wasn’t there something in the Bible about all believers getting filled with the Holy Spirit?
Proverbs 3:6 says if we acknowledge the Lord in all of our ways, he will direct our paths. Does he only lead us in some areas of our lives and not in other areas? Does he only direct our paths to go to church or only while we are in the church or only while we are working for the church? Or does he direct our paths in every area of our lives?
Romans 8:14 says “For as many are led by the spirit of God, these are the children of God.” So the children of God can be anyone who is led by the spirit of God. This sounds as wide open as it gets, available to anyone. So if anyone can be led by the spirit, then that means there are people in all walks of life who can be led and are being led by his spirit.
The Bible does not say only pastors and preachers can be led by the spirit. It does not say only people who attend church regularly can be led by the spirit. It does not say only people who work within the local church can be led by the spirit. Anyone who is willing can be led by the spirit to do all sorts of things, anywhere, any time. And anyone who follows the leading of the Holy Spirit will get rewarded for it.
There are moms at home doing the laundry who are being led by the spirit. There are kids playing outside with their friends who are being led. There are business men negotiating business deals who are being led. There are truck drivers, airline pilots, teachers, baby sitters, musicians, construction workers, and just about anything else you can imagine. All of these people in all of these situations can all be led by the spirit of God, not in church, not near a church, not involved with a church, just right where they are, right where they live. God is there with them. If they are listening to him, obeying him, yielding to him, inviting him and acknowledging him, then they can be led by his spirit in every area of their lives, in their families, in their jobs, in their daily chores, in the shopping malls, in their sleep, in their prayer times, even in their fun times.
The same spirit of God who leads one man to start a church, leads another man to love his wife, to spend time with his kids, to start a business, to give honor to a friend, to make a purchase or to hold off on making a purchase, and on and on. The same spirit of God is leading, guiding and instructing a great variety of people to do a great variety of things in a great variety of places and situations. Some are related to the local church but many are far removed from the local church.
So if the spirit of God is leading all of these people in all of these mundane situations of life, is God leading them to do things that are worthless and count for zero? If you follow this logic, it makes no sense.
Imagine if God tells one believer to work in the local church and the believer obeys, spending much of his life working in the church. God tells another believer to work in a business and the believer obeys, spending much of his life working in the business. Both believers were led by the same spirit and both obeyed the leading to the best of their abilities. On the judgement day, the believer who obeyed God to work in the church is rewarded with awesome eternal rewards while the believer who worked in the business is told his time was wasted, his work had no value and qualifies for no rewards. So even though God led the believer into the business career, God did that knowing all along it was a worthless effort, a waste of time, worthy of zero rewards. God led the believer to a place of humiliation, a barren wasteland. That makes no sense at all!
I contend that the value and the rewards for what we do in this life will be based on whether or not we obeyed what the spirit of God was leading us to do, not based on what he was leading us to do. The value comes not from what we do but from why we do it and for whom we do it. There is great value in doing whatever God tells you to do, especially when you are doing it with a right attitude, seeking to please him. This remains true whether the work was done in the local church or in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean.
I contend that the kingdom of God is enormous in scope and goes way beyond the reach of the local church. In fact, the kingdom even re-defines what we normally think of as the local church. It is far bigger that what comes under the domain of a local pastor. It reaches wherever there is a believer who has received the spirit of God living on the inside of them, regardless of whether they belong to a local church or not.
I contend that a man can build an enormous church and get zero eternal rewards for it if God never led him to do it. In fact, a man can build an enormous church and still miss out on making it to heaven. He can still die lost and go to hell unless he has been born again by the spirit of God.
You can work for the church every day of your life and still get no rewards for it. In fact, you can still miss heaven and spend eternity in hell. Working for the church does not get you into heaven. In John 3:3-5, Jesus said you must be born again to enter into heaven. Even if you have been born again, you still won’t get any eternal rewards from working for the church unless you are doing it for the right reasons. If you are working for the church because your pastor made you feel guilty and ashamed, that is not the right reasons. If you are working for the church to get approval and recognition from other people, that doesn’t work either.
After being born again by the spirit of God, you must then learn to listen to him as he leads you in every area of your life. God will speak to you in your heart if you have ears to hear him. If you are truly his sheep, you can and will hear his voice leading you. As you follow his leading and do what he tells you to do, you will receive great rewards in this life and in eternity. Like a shepherd, the Lord will lead you to a place where you lack nothing. He will make you lie down in green pastures, beside still waters. He will cause his goodness and lovingkindness to follow you all the days of your life. You will be rewarded for every good thing he leads you to do, and you will live forever with the Lord in his house (Psalm 23).
Contrary to what I have heard pastors say to belittle and mock anyone who claims to be led by the spirit of God, that is the key to success in life. This can be frustrating for the pastor because people who are led by the spirit of God can no longer be controlled or manipulated by the pastor. You will no longer respond to his efforts to heap guilt and condemnation on you to get you to volunteer your time working in the church. Instead, you will begin to rely more on the inner leading of the spirit of God, regardless of what people tell you to do. If the inner witness in your heart, in your spirit, is telling you to go that way then you go. If the spirit is not leading you to go, then you don’t go.
In John 10:27, Jesus said his sheep hear his voice and they follow him. So that means if you are his sheep, you hear his voice and you follow him. You can hear his voice in many ways, but regardless of how you hear, you will recognize his voice speaking to you in your heart, bearing witness in your spirit. Sometimes you might hear the Lord speaking to you through other people, but you don’t follow because of what someone else told you but because your heard the Lord speaking it through them.
Even a young uneducated child can be led by the spirit to perform an act of kindness for a friend and receive great eternal rewards for obeying the leading of the spirit. The value of our deeds comes not from what we do or from where we do it, but the value is in aligning ourselves with God, aligning ourselves with the words of God, setting aside our own lusts, our own understanding, forsaking our own ways because we trust him more than we trust ourselves, so we do what God says to do, regardless of who sees it, regardless of who appreciates it, regardless of how small it may appear to be. We know our deeds have value for only one reason, because God cared about it enough to instruct us to do it.
John 3:19-21 provides us with a good test for our works. Do you come to the light, seeking more light to reveal your works or do you avoid the light for fear that your works will be revealed as being worthless? If you are seeking more light, seeking for your works to be revealed, seeking to know if God approves or not, that is a good sign that the works you are doing are being done in God. And if they are done in God, they have tremendous eternal value. Regardless of what kind of work it is.
This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light, for fear that his works would be reproved. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God. – John 3:19-21
God surely leads people to work in the local church and many wonderful things are being done there. However, the next time a preacher tells you your works done outside of the local church count for zero with God, don’t listen to him. All of your works done in God have great eternal value.
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