This message was preached by Colin D cruz at Word of Grace Church Pune, on the 30th of March 2014 . You can listen/download to the audio by clicking here.
As Christ followers we have been saved from hell and our sin. So now what? Is there some thing more to this Christian life?
Is there an expectation of me? Am I supposed to do anything? Isn't this all about grace ?
In India, we joke about the IST as Indian Stretchable Time. But there are many Indians who are disciplined and punctual. And in a recent business meeting I attended, there was an ‘on time draw’ where the people who were on time were rewarded. And I got the reward!
It feels good to be rewarded, doesn’t it?
Today, we look at a passage in Scripture which promises us rewards in this manner.
This is a part of the Sermon on the Mount, which was addressed to the disciples. It lays foundation for what is expected of us as followers of Jesus.
Firstly, remember that this is Jesus speaking and He is assuming something. He is assuming that His disciples will do ‘acts/ works of righteousness’.
Q. Now, why bring in works when we are saved by faith?
The Christian faith is this- we are all sinners. We can’t take it away. So, Jesus died on the cross and paid for our sins and rose from the death. If we believe this in our heart and confess it with our tongue we are saved. Many Christians stop here. Its true that salvation is by faith and grace alone. But the faith that saves is never alone. There will be changes that prove this salvation.
Justification is a legal term declaring that you are not guilty. You are accepted by God and Jesus’ righteousness is ours. 2 Corinthians 5:21- God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So, now the old self has been put to death and we are a new creation. With this new nature we put away sin and do acts of righteousness. We live as Christ followers. This is sanctification.
When we come to Jesus, we get citizenship in heaven. We see our sinful nature and wonder, “I’m righteous?” Yes!
Sanctification is when we become the righteous by practically working out our salvation. It’s a gradual process- slowly yet surely to become more and more like Jesus.
Sanctification has to do with character, knowledge, faith and acts. This is reflected in Romans 12:1-2- “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Jesus says, if you do these acts of righteousness in the right way, you will be rewarded. He talks about 3 basic areas of discipleship.
1. Giving: there is a connection between your wallet and the heart. Your heart is determined by your giving. So please make it a practice that you are regularly giving into your local church. This is now your local church, not the one back in your home town.
Secondly, don’t announce your giving for the praise of men. If we do not give with good motives, we can lose our reward. So examine your motives. You will be rewarded for your acts of righteousness even if no one knows about them.
2. Prayer: firstly, it’s not ‘if you pray’ but ‘when you pray’. Prayer is an important part of our Christian life. Sometimes, people make big showy prayers. Jesus says, go somewhere away from people and talk to your Father. He even goes on to model to us how to pray.
So let’s look to our reward, not from men, but from our Father in heaven.
3. Fasting: when you fast – it’s not “if” but “when”. You are expected to fast. It needs to be a part of our lifestyle. So, when you fast, don’t look miserable and draw attention. Look cheerful and don’t draw attention to yourself.
The Father wants to reward us. Why? As you pray, give faithfully and fast, you do acts of righteousness that will be rewarded by God. It’s not for praise and reward from men but from God. So let’s give generously, let’s pray fervently and lets fast and not let food be our idol.
You don’t have to do a long fast. A day long fast is do-able. Imagine if the whole church did all these three things! How often should we fast? Not once a year on Good Friday but it should be a regular thing. It’s not a hunger strike but you also pray when you fast.
Let’s take up the offer Jesus is giving us i.e When you do it and do it in the right way, the Father will reward us.
Q. What are these rewards?
They can take many forms. One of the main things is the Father’s commendation to hear him saying “well done”!
I want to end with this verse - Revelation 22:12 says, ““Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Friends let’s do something because Jesus is coming with a reward.
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