When a person trusts Jesus Christ as personal Savior, a potential is established for blessing from God. Salvation is based on the grace of God, apart from any human merit, as is the Christian Way of Life. (Titus 2:11-12) Therefore, the potential for blessing is based on the grace of God. A blessing is a benefit bestowed upon the believer by God.
Why does God bless or bestow benefits on believers? Since blessings were given to us in eternity past and based on the grace of God (Ephesians 1:3), it is impossible for the believer to earn or deserve the blessings of God. In others words, God does not bless you because of your works, even if they are legitimate divine production (i.e. witnessing, giving, praying, etc.). God blesses you on the basis of His righteousness resident in your soul (Matthew 6:33, II Corinthians 5:21). This allows God to be just and in keeping with His grace policy (even if you are not living your spiritual life). You cannot coerce God into blessing you by what you do or do not do. However, it is your choice to access or appropriate these blessings. The way to access divine blessing is to increase your capacity to receive blessing by learning and applying Bible doctrine under the control of God the Holy Spirit. And remember that the production of divine good is itself a divine blessing.
Increasing capacity in your life is a grace function. Under your right pastor-teacher, you study and apply Bible doctrine, which produces growth and increases capacity. Remember that God is not going to give you more than you can handle. Therefore, divine blessing comes as a result of compliance with God’s system of blessing. Is your volition involved? Absolutely! You are the one who must choose to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, you must choose to study and apply the accurate teaching of God’s Word to your life, and you must choose to allow God the Holy Spirit to control your life. Accordingly, God is waiting to send blessings to each of us. (Isaiah 30:18)
In order to understand the concept of increased capacity, we need to briefly review the Royal Priesthood and the Royal Ambassadorship of the believer. Remember our illustration? Your spiritual life is represented by a vertical line (which is your relationship with God), as a Royal Priest. A horizontal line represents your Christian life (which is your relationship with other people), as a Royal Ambassador. Together we call this the Christian Way of Life.
As a Royal Priest, we represent ourselves before God, which is always a private matter. When we sin and remove ourselves from fellowship with God, we are able to go directly to the throne of God in prayer and utilize I John 1:9, which restores fellowship. The more time you spend studying and applying accurate Bible teaching under the control of the Holy Spirit, the faster your capacity will increase. This translates into spiritual advance and eventually leads to spiritual maturity (our goal as believers). The only way that we are going to increase our capacity to receive God’s blessings is to develop our relationship with God.
As a Royal Ambassador, we represent the Lord Jesus Christ to the world. (II Corinthians 5:17) This, of course, involves interaction with others. This representation is a spiritual service and DOES NOT contribute to your spiritual growth or your capacity for blessing as a believer. It is a result of your growth. It is a blessing in itself and a means for you to be a blessing to others.
Now, let’s review the grace provisions of God for the Church Age believer.
Eternal rewards for the believer are in many ways similar to the blessings of this life, but there are some differences. Our working definition for reward is “something given in return for something done”.
Eternal rewards are represented in the Bible by crowns (actually wreaths, “Stephanos”, in the Greek). The addition to this is the reward of rulership over cities in eternity. Let me list them for you:
As you will see, eternal rewards are themselves blessings and they are based on the grace of God. God in His grace gives the believer the tools he needs in order to attain these rewards. However, these rewards are given as a result of compliance with the terms of an agreement between the believer and God (something given as a result of something done).
The writers of Scripture were very familiar with the Roman system of rewards for both the military and for athletic competition. These are primarily the illustrations used throughout the New Testament to represent our eternal rewards as believers. For example, the crowns of the King James English are actually wreaths. Some wreaths were worn on the head like a crown. Some were battle medals or medals for winners in athletic competition worn on the uniform. Both were for accomplishments at the maximum level. Both carried with them immense honor and wealth. Some were given land, some were made rulers over cities or estates, some received cash, but all were exempt from paying income taxes for life. So, I believe it is easy to see why the writers used these wreaths to represent our eternal rewards.
Let’s take a look at each reward:
“And everyone that strives for the mastery (to win) is temperate (self-disciplined) in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible (perishable) crown; but we an incorruptible (imperishable).” (I Corinthians 9:25)