Friday, September 13, 2013

Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice

In my previous post, Doing What is Right, I showed from Scripture that the righteous do what is right, and the recompense given at the eternal judgment is based on each person's own deeds.

Today I would like to expand on that theme from Jesus' own teaching:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds." (Mat 16:24-27)

In this passage, the Lord said He is going to come back in His Father's glory with His angels, and He will pay back every person based on his deeds.  The word for "deeds" here in the Greek is "praxis", which means here a "practice, act, deed, or work" (Strongs).  According to Thayer, it may mean "1) a doing, a mode of acting, a deal, a transaction, such as the doings of the apostles, or in a bad sense, wicked deed, crime, wicked doings (our practices, i.e. trickery).  It may also mean 2) a thing to be done, business."

According to Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, the word "praxis" as it is used in this passage in Mat 16:27 means, "acting, activity, or function."  As the NIV Bible translation puts it, "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done."

This word "praxis" was also used by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans.  He wrote, "So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds (praxis) of the body, you will live." (Rom 8:12-13).  Paul said that if you are putting to death the "praxis" or "deeds of the flesh," you will live. 

This explains why Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." (Mt 16:24)  The only way to put to death the praxis, or deeds, of the flesh is to deny yourself daily, take up your cross and follow Jesus.  You've got to lose your life for Jesus, in order to find it.

If you do so, then your praxis will be His praxis.  Your practice will be what He practices. You will do the deeds that Jesus did, and even greater deeds.

Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father." (Joh 14:12)

God will reward each person according to what he has done.  Anyone who says that is not true shows that he does not know what the Bible says.

King David said, "Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done." (Ps 62:12)

King Solomon said, "Will He not repay everyone according to what they have done?" (Pr 24:12b, NIV)

Jesus said, "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." (Rev 22:12).  The Greek word for "what he has done" in this verse is "ergon", meaning "toil, deed, labor, work." (Strongs).

Paul said, "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." (2Co 5:10).  The word for "done" here in this verse is "prasso," meaning to “practice”, that is, "perform repeatedly or habitually." (Strongs)

The Scripture is clear that if you practice evil, you will be recompensed for it at the judgment.  Jesus said you would lose your life. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it..."  (Mt 16:25).  Paul said, "for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die..." (Rom 8:13a).  Don't forfeit your own soul for the brief and passing pleasures of this world!  As I've said before, when you are judged before God, if your deeds were evil, you will be punished eternally.

However, if your deeds were righteous, you will inherit eternal life.  The only ones who will inherit eternal life are those who repent from evil practices, and through faith in Christ practice righteousness.  They live according to the pattern of God's and do His will. You must walk by the Spirit to do so.  This is the way to enter the eternal kingdom.  This is how you are fit for heaven.  If you are righteous, you must continue to practice righteousness. Heaven is the home of only those who practice righteousness.

Please take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to shine the floodlight of illumination on your heart.  Ask Him to show you if there is anything hidden in your life that must go.  Are you habitually committing evil deeds?  Are you doing certain other things unworthy of God?  Are you actions unpraiseworthy?  Or are you doing deeds consistent with repentance? Are you acting in a manner consistent with the gospel?  If you are a believer, but the Lord shows you a few things in your life that you need to give up yet, then you go and give them up, and follow Jesus.  Make His practice your practice.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. The Good Samaritan by Dan Burr of Dan Burr Illustration copyright 2013 used by permission.
Author's note: The message I've just taught in this article has been beautifully expressed in a couple of poems my young daughters have written, called Perfect for the King and Reward of the Overcomer.  I encourage you to take a moment to read those.  And if you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links on the Home page, such as Doing What is Right, Faith Works!,   Righteous Deeds and White Robes, and Practicing Your Righteousness. Remember to   Some other related articles are:

Law of Love in the New Testament

The Law Established Through Faith
Costly Grace
Is Obedience Optional? The Cost of Discipleship Obedience by the Spirit
 The Law Fulfilled in Us The New Covenant Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?

You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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