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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Is the Difference between Salvation and Rewards?

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Don Stewart
The Bible makes the distinction between salvation, which is a free gift from God, and rewards which the believer earns after trusting Christ.

Salvation Is Not Earned

It is abundantly clear from Scripture that our salvation cannot be earned. It is God's gift to us when we trust Christ as our Savior.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).


Once we trust Christ as Savior we can receive eternal rewards. The believer receives these rewards at the judgment seat of Christ. The Apostle Paul explained it in this manner.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Therefore the judgment seat of Christ is the place where the rewards will be handed out. Believers will not be judged for their sin, they will be rewarded for their service.


Salvation is a free gift from God, received when a person receives Christ as Savior. It cannot be earned by any amount of good works. Rewards are what the believer receives after he has trusted Christ as Savior. The believer's judgment will be that of receiving rewards for faithfulness in service to Christ.

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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.