In order to complete our overview of these two “themes”, we have to look at the end. Revelation 20:11-15 says:
I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them.
I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Notice, there are “books” that are opened and then A book is opened…there are two different purposes.
The books record EVERYONE’S works. Everything has to be equaled out first. This means EVERYONE is going to get all the value they deserve and pay for everything they owe. We saw the definition of “reward” was “to recompense both good and bad”.
It would take “books” to list EVERY person AND EVERY good or bad thing they have done. These good and bad things people have done are known as “works” throughout the Bible.
The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works.
Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.
Notice there is A book that lists who is saved and who is not. This book only lists names AND only the names of people making it to heaven. It would only take a book to list these names.
It appears this book focuses on salvation. Notice, works don’t save us but they are important. This is because they are two separate issues.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says:
for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast.
One of the areas of confusion occurs with the difference between a “gift” and a “reward”. Some people use these words interchangeably. They are not the same word. We saw that a reward is the EFFECT of an act.
A gift is the CAUSE. A gift is first given, with NO prior cause, in order to get an effect. However, the effect can be either good or bad.
If I gave you a car and you never used it, the result would be NO BENEFIT to you. However, if you chose to use it, you would receive a benefit. Whether you use it or not, it doesn’t affect me at all…it affects you. Your use or non-use of the gift doesn’t make me bad. Finally, if you choose to use it, you can’t take credit for the car…only your decision to use the car.
Likewise, salvation is a gift. We saw what grace and faith were. God first divinely influences our hearts. This is the gift. God has given us the gift of grace and we choose whether we are going to use it, that is, whether we are going to let it reflect in our actions.
When it does, we get no credit for the influence, but we determine whether we are good or bad (righteousness) by our decision. We are showing by our actions whether we are a good steward over what God has first given us.
In order to determine whether the influence is of God or our flesh, we need faith. We need to test the influence according to knowledge and experience.
It appears there are two messages that run throughout the Bible: Salvation and Reward. Salvation depends on righteousness that comes from God. Reward depends on justice.
All of the Old Testament rests on these two messages. Everything Jesus said either concerned salvation or reward. The Bible ends with everyone getting judged twice.
It seems that people 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. Before we give examples of each of these and the implications, we will look more closely at the difference in the two messages.