Jesus has two messages. The first is salvation. The ultimate way to achieve this is to love God. The second message is reward. The ultimate way to achieve this is to love your neighbor. Notice, both of these messages are made perfect in “love”. In the future, we will look at love and how it relates to justice.
In the past weeks, we have seen how justice is involved in our interactions with other people…that is, with our “neighbor”. For now, let’s just say that the ultimate way to get reward is to love our neighbor and eventually let justice pay us back.
Today’s issue concerns the effects of not realizing there are two separate and distinct messages being presented by Jesus. It seems that people either ignore one of these messages, try to make them the same message, or use the ladder of abstraction to make one or both messages more abstract.
The most obvious and damaging example of this is “legalism”. Basically, legalism is the belief that we are saved by works. Legalism tries to take the reward portion of Jesus’ message and apply it to salvation.
The reward message says justice will equal out our works. If we have good works, then we will get a value. If we have bad works, we will have to pay a value. This is REWARD…to recompense either good or bad.
However, if someone were to make salvation a reward instead of a gift, they would be able to link the reward scriptures to salvation. Once this is done, all of the reward scriptures will be talking about our works resulting in the “reward” of salvation.
Making the two messages into one is VERY simplistic. This technique is favored by the fundamentalists and traditionalists. This technique allows them to put requirements on people to do specific works AND declare whether people are “saved” or not based solely on the outward actions. This is the same as The Law!
Why don’t these people realize they are doing the SAME THING as the Pharisees? In fact, every time these people call others “Pharisees” (or teach about the Pharisees) while making the same mistake, they are proving they are hypocrites…and justice will require a value to equal it all out.
Some people just ignore the reward scriptures. They want so bad to believe we don’t have to do ANYTHING that they ignore the scriptures that clearly speak of doing good works. If they do reference these scriptures, they either say there are translation errors or cultural differences between then and now.
They don’t want to believe that people will have different amounts of reward because they’ve seen the abuse of this belief. Yet, the Bible explains why those instances were abuses and it uses justice to prove it.
If someone does a good work for the sole purpose of getting a value today, they have gotten their reward! Basically, when you do a good work it results in a value that is owed to you through justice. This value can have an upper limit. It can also be lessened. Everything you do that benefits you (as it relates to the good work) results in less value on your part.
Here’s what we got so far:
Justice says everything will eventually equal out EXACTLY. When you do a good work, the value you are owed is equal to the value you gave minus the value you received. We have the option of having that value here or keeping it in Heaven for eternity.
Next week we will look at the triggers that release this value as it relates to both the salvation and reward messages.
Tomorrow, we will tie up the loose ends of this week’s topic by looking at a parable that covers BOTH the salvation and reward messages.