I enjoyed your answers to the question I posted on Facebook, and was very encouraged by them. The question was:
What is the Christian's great reward?
A better form of the question would have been:
WHO is the Christian's great reward? But that would have been too obvious, and I wanted you to ponder it for a while.
Some of you quoted Genesis 15:1 which says, "After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward." (NIV)
That verse leaves no doubt that God Himself is our reward. WE GET GOD!!!
Christ Jesus left His heavenly home to suffer the weight of God's wrath on the cross so that He could come and dwell in us now, and later take us to His home so that we can enjoy HIM for eternity. The Psalmist in chapter 27:4 says, "One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple". What is the Psalmist's reason for desiring to dwell in the house of the LORD? To soak up the beauty of Heaven? No. His longing for heaven was fueled by his hunger to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD! He wanted JESUS!
Do you CRAVE Jesus? If you know Him and are known by Him, you crave Him. He is who we gain from the gospel. The gift of the gospel is Christ. Not one gospel blessing will be savored by anyone unless the gospel's greatest treasure is the LORD Himself.
2Corinthians 4:3-4 describes the gospel in this way: "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST, who is the image of God." then verse 6 calls the gospel "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." So who do we gain from the gospel? Christ who radiates the glory of God! That's why the gospel is "good news".
The apostle Paul sums it up like this:
"I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." (Phil. 3:8).
So....if Christ is the reward of the gospel, how does that effect the way we present the gospel? It's important that we don't "add to" the gospel, making it an unbiblical plea. The new heaven and new earth that God's people will enjoy for eternity is beyond our wildest dreams. It is a place of unsurpassed beauty, designed by the One who spoke the universe into being. But, as we've seen from scripture, heaven is not our great and final reward. Jesus is our reward, and heaven is where He is seated at the right hand of God. To present the gospel as a choice between heaven and hell is not the gospel. Heaven is the by-product of knowing Christ. It is the place where we will experience the enjoyment of God. Without God's glory in the face of Christ, heaven would be dimly lit.
I hope this has given you a sense of the God-centered nature of the gospel, redemption and the Christian's great and final reward.