There are two methods by which God, the Father, assists his children to be motivated to loyal and faithful service. I call them the “carrot” and the “stick”. In psychology this would be called positive and negative reinforcement. Personally, I believe that positive reinforcement in most cases is much more effective than negative reinforcement.
The Carrot and the Stick!
1) The Reward – The Carrot!
My example is from the life of my son. My son may not be characteristic of all children, but he is a good example of positive reinforcement. During the rearing of my son, I never had to use physical discipline. I am not against physical discipline when it is appropriate and administered properly. There was only one time I spanked my son and after I did it I found out that I was wrong. My son had received a spanking at school and I had told him that if he ever got a spanking in school he would also get one at home. When he told me that he had received a spanking in school, I hastily took off my belt and told him to bend over my knee. He did but was trying to explain which I ignored. After I had spanked him, he explained why he was spanked at school. I do not now remember his explanation, but I believed his explanation. He was not at fault so I felt very bad and I apologized to him. He said, “O that is alright Dad, I have needed a spanking anyway for a long time.” I was one of his baseball coaches for about 5 years. We went to almost every baseball card show in the Chicago area. He collected baseball cards. I was indeed very close to him. I am still close to him. He became a Christian at the age of seven and has served the Lord since that time. He is now married to an excellent Christian wife and they have five wonderful children.
God likewise wants to use positive reinforcement with us. He holds out wonderful rewards both in this life and the life to come to his children who are faithful and obedient to Him.
One day I had two Jehovah Witnesses come to my door. I engaged them regarding eternal salvation in Jesus Christ. The leader was a gracious black man. Since I understood almost all Jehovah Witness teaching, I engaged him on the areas which are weakness for Jehovah Witnesses. I asked him if he knew he had “eternal life”. If I remember correctly he respond that no one could know that. Then I took him to 1 John 5:13 and explained to him that the Apostle John had written 1 John in order that believers could know that they had eternal life. I pointed out to him that “know” was in the present tense and meant “know now”. He started a typical response, “If I knew that I had eternal life now and could not loss it, I would be able to go out and sin as much as I wanted.”
Then I asked him, if he had children. He stated that he had two children. To which I asked him if he allowed his children to run up and down the block and cause all types of trouble of his block. He responded “No way!” To this I asked him a question, “Do you think that you are a better father than God the Father?” To this he responded that he was indeed not a better father than God. I then explained to him God, the Father’s, two methods of assisting His children in being faithful and obedient children of God – the carrot and the stick. He was surprised and went away with something to think about. My mistake was not to take his name and phone number. I was indeed a serious person about the matter of salvation and I should have tried to follow up.
Most Christians do not understand the teaching of God’s Word about God as Father and the assistance he gives us in living the faithful and special life. The reward and chastening concept is taught in both the O.T. and the N.T. A true Christian cannot lose his salvation, but he can indeed lose his reward. Many of the passages in the New Testament which believers think teach loss of salvation are actually teaching about loss of reward. After years of studying Holy Scripture God has guided me to specific persons who have unlocked these difficult passages of Scripture for me. The five problem passages of the book of Hebrews have been the most difficult of all the passages of Scripture. That is why I recommend the article in the Hebrews Challenge to readers. This is a unique set of biblical interpretations of the book of Hebrews.
What are these rewards? In the next life the rewards will be varied. One reward is that we will be give authority to serve with Jesus Christ. I first learned about this concept of “rewards” through the ministry of Dr. M.R. Dehaan founder of RBC Ministries. There is a bibliography of those who hold to this view of “No loss of salvation, but loss of rewards”. I believe that this is the best contribution of our website. You should read every article of this subject on our website www.bibleresourceman.com
Any Christian that believers he can loss his eternal salvation will generally be weak in evangelism because if he is not sure about his own salvation why would he want to offer it to others. Also, he will present salvation as a faith plus works type salvation which is synergistic and seriously non-biblical.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
Matt 10:39-42 (KJV)
41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. Mark 9:41 (KJV)
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
1 Cor 3:11-15 (KJV)
8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 2 John 1:8 (KJV)
One of my friends asked me what are good works. I responded the Bible gives a long list of them. Good works can only be perform by a true Christian. Also, God will evaluate our motives for our good works. However, I do not set around worrying about whether I have good motives, I just go ahead and do them and presume that God can best discern my motive even when I cannot.
I hope I have adequately explained the biblical concept of “rewards”.
2) The Stick – God’s Child Training
The next biblical concept of God, the Father’s, assistance for Christians to lead faithful and godly lives is “The Stick”. This the matter of God’s chastening. Actually the word “chastening” means “child training”. The biblical concept of child training is clearly taught in Hebrews 12:5-11. The word “corrected” in verse 9 also comes from the same root word as all the words for chastening.
5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Heb 12:5-11 (KJV)
In 1 Corinthians 11:30-32 it states that Christians who seriously sin are chastened of the Lord. Some Christians suffer weakness, sickness, and death because of their disobedience to the Lord.
If a Christian cannot be reclaimed by the Lord unto an obedient life God may actual take him to Heaven with premature death. This is called the “sin unto death”. There appear to be several of these incidences in Scripture.
30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 1 Cor 11:30-32 (KJV)
God, the Father, if you are a Christian will allow you to live just anyway. He is your Father and He will correct you for your own good.
My hope and pray is that as a Christian you will chose to live an obedient and faithful Christian life.
Rev. Thomas Clark – Phil. 3:14