If the kind of theology you follow does not emphasise, teach, or recognise Christians’ eternal reward as separate and distinct from the justification of the Christian (because of his faith alone in Christ alone), then just know that you are following wrong system of theology.
Christian reward will be given to those Christians who are faithful in this present time. But unfaithful Christians will lose rewards that would have been theirs if they had lived the spiritual life.
To teach that a Christian will surely be faithful in his walk with God would mean that there is no such thing as “loss of reward” – this is how bad a theology can be, especially, when it never distinguishes salvation as distinct from the Christian way of life (which is based on obedience to the doctrines of the church).
This is because such a theology never accepts certain doctrines taught in the bible.
Ignorance or rejection of one doctrine affects the believer, and the result is that, it always leads to, or causes the affected believer to reject other related doctrines too. For instance, If you fail to see a faithful child (because he is obedient to his parents) as distinct from being a child (because the person is born to those parents), you are forced to conclude that the disobedient child is not a child, or that he is a fake child, or non-existent child.
The Bible clearly teaches about possible loss of reward and gain of reward. Those two things or doctrines (loss of reward and gain of rewards) are all new testament doctrines that are built on other two new testament doctrines, that is, faithfulness and unfaithful.
Concerning the reality of a possible unfaithfulness in the believer’s walk with God, the Apostle Paul himself wrote:
1 Corinthians 9:27
“but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified”
Wait a minute, Paul! Disqualified? The context thinking believer who respects biblical hermeneutics immediately recognises that there is a possible disqualification if the apostle failed to discipline his body. Here, we see a possible failure and a possible disqualification.
Besides that, what disqualification was he talking about? If God would cause all Christians to persevere as some teach, why would the apostle still discipline his body to avoid a disqualification?
To understand what the disqualification in the text is about, straight away, you must look at the context – just read few verses that come before the “disqualification” verse.
Starting from 1 Corinthians 9:24, we read:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win”
So, there are some words here that are related or connected to each other – “run” “price” and “win”.
Verse 25 says, “everyone who competes exercises self control in all things.
Another related word is “compete”.
So far we have related words such as – “run” “price” and “win”, and compete.
Verse 26 says, “I run in such a way as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air”….. So, we have the word “run” being repeated again, and then we have another sport term, “box”.
So, what do have now? We have “run” “price” “win”, and now “box” all being a sport and competition related words.
THE APOSTLE’S CONCLUSION
Since he used illustration (ancient roman competition), which his audience was familiar with (teaching from the known to the unknown) to teach a spiritual truth, he now came back to his subject, the truth of the spiritual race, or warfare, and drew his application and conclusion from the analogy or illustration and said,
“but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified”…..The preacher man’s work will be judged just as the one who hears his teachings.
But disqualified from what? From being an athlete? No! Disqualified from being a boxer? No! Rather, disqualified from gaining the price. God never cuts off the disobedient believer from the spiritual race or boxing; there is always an opportunity for him/her to join the competition with the aim of winning.
The Christian race never ends until the believer dies – it is always an ongoing process, we better seek its knowledge and join it.
The bottom line is that, we should not confuse a race, which is analogous to the spiritual life to being a participant, which is analogous to being a believer or being saved…..Being an athlete is distinct from athletic competition. Being a loser in an athletic or boxing competition does not disqualify the person from being an athlete or boxer. Does it?
A failure in the spiritual life is a loss – that is, a certain maturity that could have been gained or reached is lost, but that does not in any way teach that a failure or the disobedient child only proved that he wasn’t a child of God to begin with, or has lost the irreversible eternal gift of salvation. We must Kill any false theology before it destroys or kills us (false spirituality). Shalom!