Is salvation a gift or a reward?


Sir, before we can go further ahead of other arguments and views, we have to settle first on the question: IS SALVATION A GIFT OR A REWARD. In my view, it cannot be both. Because the way I see it in the scriptures, there is a "synonymity" of GIFT and GRACE. And Grace is simply defined as UNMERITED FAVOR. Meaning, we are given this GIFT that we do not actually have in iota of right deserving it. This is purely GIFT because NOBODY can have it no matter how he performs. And it must be given BY SOMEBODY WHO HAS IT. And sad to say, no amount of human effort or accomplishment can ever "BUY" it.

The epistles are addressed to people WHO HAVE ACCEPTED THIS GIFT. That explains why in most of his epistles, Paul addressed the recipients as SAINTS, CHURCH, BELIEVERS, SANCTIFIED, JUSTIFIED, CHILDREN OF GOD. Are these people perfect? NO. Look at Ephesians, Galatians, etc. These books tell us the admonitions of Paul to his readers to live a life of Holiness and Obedience. This is so simply because even if these people ACCEPTED THE GIFT by putting their Faith in Jesus, nowhere in the scriptures that they are described as PERFECT, SINLESS PEOPLE.

Pardon me, but let me give a simplistic Illustration again:

This Christmas, you as a loving Father will certainly
give your children gifts. You will agree with me that you will give this gift to them not because they are perfect children, but simply because you love them. Will you take this gift back one day if they will not perform well as you expected? Certainly Not, because this is a GIFT not a REWARD.


Okay. Let me see if I got you right.

1 Cor 9:27 Okay. I think your reply can be summarized by the following: “Again, if you take this “crowns” and “rewards” as salvation, then it renders salvation or eternal life as a REWARD no longer as a GIFT.”

I will have my answer tomorrow- I left my Navarre Romans and Galatians bible, I couldn’t check on the passages, but offhand I have a few questions:

1. Your statement is based on two crucial assumptions:
First, a “gift” cannot be rejected.
Second, salvation follows a strict either-or situation: either it’s a gift, in which case it cannot be a reward; or it’s a reward, in which case it cannot be a gift.



Sorry Sir, this is not an assumption. Romans 6:23 is very clear. Salvation/Eternal Life is a GIFT not a REWARD. For clarity, REWARD IS NOT A GIFT AND GIFT IS NOT A REWARD.


The question is: How valid are these two assumptions?

First, on whether a gift may not be rejected:

Luke 10:16 – “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."

John 12:48 “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day”

Mt 10:33; Lk 12:9; Tit 1:16; Acts 7:39; Rom 2:8; Acts 13:46; 1 Tim 1:19; Lk 17:25; 1 Pet 2:4


All the verses above talk about 2 groups of people. Those who will REJECT Jesus Christ whom the Bible refers to generally as UNBELIEVERS. To them are the warnings of God that they will be REJECTED because they REJECTED Jesus Christ as God's Gift. To them is eternal condemnation. To them is denied eternal life. To them is HOPELESSNESS.

On the other hand, there is another group of people who BY FAITH BELIEVE AND RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST as God's GIFT. To them God gave the RIGHT TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD. [John 1:12]. They are the Believers, Saints, Church, God's People, Justified, Sanctified, Redeemed, Citizens of Heaven, God's elect, etc.


With regard to rewards, may I post my answer tomorrow? I left my notes in the office so I cannot give you the passages. But the point is this: Salvation is a reward. I know this will make you laugh, cause you to see “works” which for you are all one and the same i.e., the works in the whole system of debt (the Romans 4:4 type).

However, there IS another type of works – I didn’t say that, Paul did-- and that is the type that justifies ( Rom 2:4-13 type – also see Rom 14:10-12; 1 Cor 3:12-17; 2
Cor 5:10). And this latter type is the type of works I’m speaking of.


Please do not confuse the 2 judgments [Judgment Seat of Christ, 2 Cor 5:10, and White Throne Judgment, Revelation 20:11]

(Catholic reply at the end of this long Protestant answer.)

White Throne Judgment is where God finally destined those who rejected Christ as their Messiah to their final destiny - eternal condemnation in Hell and those who believe, accepted Jesus Christ to their Final Destiny - Eternal Bliss in Heaven.

Judgment Seat of Christ talks about judgment of the BELIEVERS of the things they did while in the Body. God expects us to labor for Him, live a life of holiness and obedience. Of course, God is just He will reward us believers according to our PERFORMANCE as members of Christ Body - the Church. - IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SALVATION. Some Christians will get CROWNS, OTHERS MORE CROWNS. And certainly there will be others who will suffer SHAME because of their lousy kind of life shown in the Body. To prove this, examine the passage you use

1 Corinthians 3:12-17 [KJV] - 12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

• v12 - If a believer does things in the name of Christ [v11] - as foundation, he can use expensive materials [gold, silver, precious stones], representing the kind of work he does. Or he can use inexpensive, destructible materials [wood, hay, stubble] representing the lousy works he does.

• v13 - However, the problem is, all works will be revealed. We cannot hide our motive of why we are doing it. God will test it by fire [this is symbolic of how gold is made pure - by fire]

• v14 - If our works survives the test because we are using expensive materials [representing our motives], we will be rewarded [with crowns, NOT SALVATION as it is already given]

• v15 - If our works do not survive or burned because we are using inexpensive destructible materials representing our ill-motive, we shall suffer loss [shame]


• V16 - Don't you know that you yourselves is the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? - This statement can not be given to the UNBELIEVER.

• V17 - Warning: As Believers, treat the Church with reverence.

Catholic reply re JUDGMENT SEAT.

Let me answer through a series of questions.

On 2 Cor 5:10 The judgment seat of Christ. Please answer true or false. If you answer “yes” to all, which you have to because they’re all statements of yours, look at the conclusion in numbers 6 and 7.

1. The judgment seat of Christ talks about the judgment of the BELIEVERS of the things they did while in the body. T/F

2. Only the BELIEVERS will be judged. The UNBELIEVERS are not among those to be judged. T/F

3. Being BELIEVERS, the judgment here has NOTHING to do with whether one will be saved or condemned. T/F

4. Being BELIEVERS, the judgment will be about the number of CROWNS each BELIEVER gets. Of course, how can it be otherwise, since even while living, BELIEVERS are already assured of heaven. T/F

5. Some BELIEVERS will have few CROWNS, others many.

6. Therefore, Paul is WRONG in 2 Cor 5:10 when he says that the BELIEVERS will receive either good or evil, according to what he has done in the body. As we have said before, BELIEVERS can only receive good, never evil. T/F

7. Or, therefore, Paul is RIGHT, believers receive good or evil, according to what each has done in the body. But of course, you will have to believe then that evil – like good- also exists in heaven. Isn't that funny? God side-by-side with evil? T/F

But really now, is salvation ALSO a reward. The answer is YES!

(Ref Ludwig Ott)

By his good works the justified man really acquires a claim to supernatural reward from God.

Note that this is not the same as what you are right now thinking: reward for actions which precede grace, BUT rewards for actions PRECEDED BY GRACE. In other words, grace – specifically antecedent grace- which is UNMERITED, PRECEDES actions in order that they may be accomplished meritoriously.

The Church teaches that for the justified, eternal life is BOTH a gift or grace promised by God AND a reward for his own good works and merits. As God’s grace is the presupposition and foundation of (supernatural) good works, by which man merits eternal life, so salutary works are, AT THE SAME TIME gifts of God AND meritorious acts of man. I’m referring here to TRUE merit, i.e., of meritum de condigno (a technical term).

Sacred Scripture says that eternal blessedness in heaven is the reward for good works performed on this earth, and rewards and merits are correlative concepts . In Mt 5:12 Jesus promises rich rewards In heaven to those who, for his sake, are scorned and persecuted. In Mt 25:34 ff, the Judge of the World decrees eternal reward for the just on the ground of their good works.

In Christ’s discourses, the reward motive frequently recurs (Mt 19:29; Mt 25:21; Luke 6:38. St. Paul, who stresses grace so much also emphasizes the meritorious nature of good works performed with grace—he teaches that the reward is in proportion to the works: “He will render to every man according to his works (Rom 2:6). “Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor (1 Cor 3:8). (See also Col 3:24; Heb 10:35; Heb 11:6.)

When Paul characterizes the eternal reward as “the crown of justice which the Lord will render (2 Tim 4:8), he thereby shows the good works of the just establish a legal claim to reward on God (see also Heb 6:10).

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