LOSING ONE'S LIFE = ETERNAL REWARDS
[Mt 10:32-33, 37-39]:
(32) "Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will confess him before My Father Who is in heaven.
(33) But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father Who is in heaven."
[Compare Lk 9:26]:
(v. 26) "If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
Charles C. Bing states, ("The Cost of Discipleship" from the Grace Evangelical Society Journal, vol 6, Spring '93, p. 43:
The idea of being ashamed of Christ or denying Christ is clarified in some contexts more than in others....Perhaps the greatest clarification comes from...Matt 10:32-33...There Jesus is giving instructions to the Twelve before sending them out to preach the Gospel (Matt 10:5ff). He warns of rejection and persecution (vv 16-25) and encourages them not to fear (vv26-31). Verses 32-33 are also followed by similar warnings about rejection (vv34-36). In vv 32-33 Jesus is both encouraging and warning in the face of the fear of persecution. He wants the disciples to know that anyone who identifies with Him will be rewarded, while anyone who shrinks from this will be denied by Christ before the Father (explained below). Matthew's context seems a close parallel to that which is signified by Mark's phrase 'in this adulterous and sinful generation' (Mark 8:38).
The consequence facing someone who is ashamed of or denies Christ is more enigmatic. Does Christ's reciprocal shame and denial of that person at His coming denote a denial of salvation? In correlating Matt 10:32-33 with 16:27, it is clear that the issue is some kind of recompense for one's works. Matthew takes care to state that at His coming, Christ 'will reward (apodOsei) each according to his works" (16:27). That Jesus makes works the basis of the recompense demands that salvation not be the issue (Eph 2:8-9). Also, the verb 'apodOsei' carries the idea of 'recompense' with no inherent sense of whether it is good or bad, so it could speak of positive reward or negative judgment. In Mark and Luke [Mk 8:38; Lk 9:26] a negative recompense is suggested: Those who were too ashamed to identify with Christ will experience Christ's shame. The effect of Christ's shame is not specified, but one could surmise that for a redeemed and now fully-enlightened believer, this would at least produce agonizing regret. In the parallel passage, Matt 10:32-33, the idea of recompense is good (v32) or bad (v33) accordingly. Christ's confession (or lack of it) in heaven would not relate to the judgment of our salvation, but to an acknowledgment (or lack of it) before the Father of the disciples' unity or fellowship with Christ which is recompensed in an unspecified but appropriate way. (However, one might compare 2 Tim 2:12, where reigning with Christ is the specific reward.)
[Mt 10:32-33, 37-39 cont]:
(v. 37) "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
(v. 38) And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
["take up his cross and follow Me"]:
Charles C. Bing states, (op. cit., p.41):
"...Because following another person is a process, a progression, and requires time, this condition cannot speak of entrance into salvation. This would promote salvation by the imitation of Christ or by adherence to His example which would be a salvation of works. It is best taken as a term that describes a continuously committed lifestyle."
(v. 39) He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.
[Losing one's life = turning the control of one's life over to the sovereign will of God. By living according to the will of God, (which is contained in His Word), one is rewarded on earth with an inner happiness and confidence that God will carry them every step of the way through life, (cp Pr 3:5-6), into heaven and on into eternity, especially in light of the confidence a faithful believer has in going to heaven and receiving indescribably wonderful rewards. One who has lost his life to the sovereignty of God has found the real purpose of his life for which he was created, (Eph 2:10). This new found purpose brings love, joy and peace to a child of God's earthly life when he is aligned with the purpose of the great Almighty God of the universe Who provides that love, joy and peace. The peace and inner happiness is based on Who God is and His indescribably wonderful promises.
[Mt 10:39 cont.]:
He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.
Charles C. Bing, (op. cit., pp. 42-43):
"...When Jesus says 'whoever loses his life for My sake,' the sense is certainly not eternal destruction, for He says this one will then 'find it,' which is something good. Conversely, it fits well that what one may lose when he tries to save his life (preserve himself from the hardships of self-denial and cross-bearing) is life in the essential qualitative sense (i.e., experiencing God's life in this life, John 17:3), not the eternal soul. The paradox Jesus used has great meaning. What He appears to be saying is this: 'Whoever desires to preserve himself from the hardships of God's will of self-denial and cross-bearing will in fact forfeit the essential quality (= true spiritual value) of the present life he is trying to preserve. On the other hand, whoever forfeits himself to God's will of self-denial and hardships will discover the greater essential quality (spiritual value) of the present life he was willing to forfeit.' This interpretation would therefore not describe eternal salvation, but a higher quality of experience with God in this life, with implications for the eschatological life[future & eternal life]..."
(v. 40 ) He who receives you [disciples of Christ] receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him [God the Father] Who sent Me.
["He who receives you [the disciples of Jesus Christ, (v.1)]... = He who accepts you as disciples of Jesus Christ and cares for you and believes in you.
"He who receives you receives Me" = He who accepts you and cares for you, accepts Me - believes in Me and cares for Me, i.e., is a believer and a disciple.
(v. 40 cont.) He who receives you [disciples of Christ] receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him [God the Father] Who sent Me.
(v. 41) He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
(v. 42) And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward.
[So rewards are a result of obedience and faithfulness to God's commands in His Word. We are to receive, i.e., care for and listen receptively to our Lord's disciples, His messengers, His prophets, (today's teachers of His Word), and all men who are righteous, i.e., who have the righteousness of Christ credited to them by faith, (all believers); and all who are in need; even to the point of stopping to help little children]