Sabbath School Lesson for March 18-24, 2023

Overview of Lesson 12, Rewards of Faithfulness

Memory Text: ” ‘His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will  make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” ‘ ” Matthew 25:21 NKJV

This week we will explore these topics:

  • Sunday: What is our reward for faithfulness?
  • Monday: How do we have everlasting life?
  • Tuesday: What will the New Jerusalem be like?
  • Wednesday: What can we learn from the parable of the talents?
  • Thursday: How do we fight the good fight of faith?

One verse that may confuse some people is Revelation 22:12, where Jesus says, “Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” There is a reward being prepared for us when the Lord returns, as promised many times in the Bible (John 14:1-3).

Most of us can agree that our works will not earn this reward, but evidently works do play a part in our receiving it. Our last lesson this quarter will help us understand what part our faithful stewardship has in our final, heavenly reward.

Christ’s followers are encouraged to show the world a moderate lifestyle, marked by self-discipline, contentment, and generosity–all hallmarks of good stewardship. These are merely the outgrowth of our relationship with the Master. All of these attributes are developed the longer we know God. They are gifts that come from Him alone.

But the greatest gift is yet to come. An earth made new, without the pain and suffering so prevalent on our sinful planet. This is the reward we long for most of all.

Sunday: Reward for Faithfulness

Hebrews 11:6 says that God is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”. It seems our reward comes as a result of our seeking and coming to know Christ. Jesus is, after all, the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He provides us with faith we need now to endure the trials on this earth, and in the end, He will reward our faith by welcoming us into the earth made new.

Jesus’ death on the cross makes our reward possible. If it were something we could earn, He would have had no need to die for us. Jesus wants us to know that there is a reward. In the Beatitudes, He said of those who are persecuted that they will have a reward in heaven (Matthew 5:12). What a comfort to know that our faithfulness will be rewarded by the One who loves us enough to die for us.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Revelation 22:12 and Hebrews 11:6

  • What part do works play in our heavenly reward?

Isaiah 40:10 and 62:11

  • What other rewards might there be, besides the ones that Jesus brings at His Coming?

Matthew 5:11, 12

  • Why is it important to know that there is a reward in heaven, when things often go so badly here on earth?

Monday: Everlasting Life

It seems that most of us don’t consider the full value of eternal life, until death is right there, staring at us–either our own death, or someone we care deeply about. But we shouldn’t  wait till then to value the reward of everlasting life that Jesus has promised. He paid a heavy price so we could have it, and life with Him should be our greatest desire, simply because it IS with Him.

What a great reward indeed. We can have a pain-free, sin-free existence that goes on forever, simply by choosing to believe Jesus, trusting His righteousness to save us, and obeying Him with every ounce of love we can muster. It should be an easy decision, since the only alternative is eternal death.

Christ’s death on the cross is our greatest assurance of His promise of everlasting life. He would not have gone to such lengths to attain our reward, if it were not guaranteed that we would have it. And besides, if this life only is all we have to look forward to, the rewards of serving Him would be greatly reduced.

This is one time when no middle ground will do. The choices given us lead only to life or death. Our decision to follow God, wherever He leads, calls for a moment by moment choice of either eternal life with Him, or eternal death away from Him.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Romans 6:23 and John 3:16

  • What leads to eternal death?
  • What leads to eternal life?
  • Why are these choices so difficult to make for some people, and how can we make them easier?

John 14:1-3

  • Why are these words comforting to so many people?

Tuesday: The New Jerusalem

Revelation 21 is perhaps the most beautiful chapter in the Bible, because it describes the most beautiful place in the universe…New Jerusalem. This final home for God’s children appeals to us for many reasons:

  1. Just as Jesus “dwelt with us” when He lived here on earth for awhile as a human (John 1:14), we will dwell with Him when He comes to take us to this heavenly home He is preparing for us (Revelation 21:3). We will enjoy a closeness to Him greater than anything we have ever been able to experience on earth.
  2. God is taking care of all the preparations. He’s not only preparing a home for us in heaven (John 14:2, 3), He’s also preparing us to dwell in this home (Revelation 21:2). In other words, He’s taking care of all the packing and unpacking for this heavenly move. How can we not love Him for that?!
  3. We are told there will be no tears there (Revelation 21:4). This means that sadness of any kind for any reason will not be felt any more. This might be the greatest news of all, and the reason we long to be in that glorious city.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Revelation 21:1-4 and 22:4

  • How will this closeness to God be different than it is now?
  • How is God preparing you, and the church (His bride), for life in New Jerusalem?
  • What is most appealing to you about the holy city? Why do we long to be there?

Revelation 21:8

  • What kind of people will not be in the New Jerusalem?
  • Why do you think it is better for them, and for us, that they be cast in a lake of fire to die eternally?
  • Why is this punishment called the “second death”?

Wednesday: The Settling of Accounts

As Jesus came close to the end of His ministry and was leaving the temple, He predicted that their beloved structure would one day be destroyed, leaving nothing but rubble. The disciples were so disturbed by His words that they asked Him what the signs would be when this would happen. Surely, to them, it would mean the end of the world.

Jesus then gave them ample signs of both the conditions when Jerusalem would be destroyed, and when it would be close to His return at the very end of earth’s history. The signs to be found in the world are described in Matthew 24. But then, chapter 25 gets closer to home, as it reveals what the condition of the church will be at the end.

This chapter contains three parables about the preparation of God’s people in those last days. The parable of the virgins focused on their spiritual condition, how much oil they had in their lamps. But the next parable about the talents contained information about what the church will be doing in those critical, final days.

The good stewards would be making the most of the talents God provided for them, and others would waste their Master’s resources and do nothing to grow God’s church and spread the gospel. So much depended on them to make the most of their talents, whether they be gifts of preaching or teaching, or money spent on enabling others to perform those important tasks.

The point was that someday God, the  land owner and lord (landlord) in this story, would return and see how they were using his provisions. This settling of accounts will happen at the Second Coming. Part of our preparation now includes using our talents, time, and money to prepare others for the event.

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Matthew 25:14-19

  • Symbolically, who are the characters Jesus intended? Who is the landlord? Who are the servants?
  • What are some of the “talents” God has given the church and its members individually?

Matthew 25:20-23

  • What did it mean for him to say to the first two servants, “enter into the joy of your lord”?

Thursday: Eyes on the Prize

Moses, and many others before and after him, have “chosen to suffer affliction with the children of God” (Hebrews 11:25). This affliction comes in real suffering at times. Because of his faith, Paul experienced beatings, stoning, imprisonment, the terror of shipwreck,  and the discomfort of hunger and cold (2 Corinthians 11:24-33). How does one endure such tremendous affliction?

Paul explained what sustained him during those hardships in his letter to the Romans. He simply remembered that he was an heir of God, a joint heir with Christ. Our sufferings now are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us after death (Romans 8:16-18). In other words, he kept his eyes on the prize (Philippians 3:13, 14). And that is how he fought “the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).

We are invited to receive our reward by remembering…

  • that prosperity is having what you need when you need it
  • to be thankful for what we have and trust God for everything we need
  • that there is a crown of righteousness laid up for us at His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8)

Bible Verses for Thought and Discussion:

Romans 8:16-18

  • How does remembering we are a child of God help us be more faithful?

1 Timothy 6:6-12

  • What does it mean to “fight the good fight of faith”? Why is having faith a struggle at times?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Understanding how to manage our life on a day-to-day basis is so important to our spiritual and emotional growth. For most of us, it includes being more generous, saving more for unexpected emergencies, and striving to avoid debt whenever possible. These and other very practical management strategies we’ve been studying lead to our being more content and thankful to God, which means loving and trusting Him more each day–the goal of all our stewardship efforts.

It’s never been more important to show the world a Christian lifestyle that is marked by moderation and discipline, coupled with contentment and generosity. The faith that is required to manifest this kind of lifestyle will be the outgrowth of faith that will be rewarded at the Master’s soon return. We long to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your lord.”

Next Week: Jesus Wins–Satan Loses

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