Difference in Rewards and Salvation

Is there a difference between rewards and salvation?

These following verses were the first verses that made me realize that there was a difference between reward and salvation, and that salvation will never be judged.

I Cor. 3:10-15: (v.1-9 should be read for context). 10) According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13) Every 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. 14) If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15) If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

We see here that the foundation of our building is Jesus Christ. It is our acceptance of his gift of salvation that makes him our foundation – the foundation of our building. It is up to each of us to build with the things we see of value – gold, silver, etc. When judgment (fire) comes, our work will be tried, and what is left on our foundation (salvation) will determine what our reward will be. If there isn’t anything left on the foundation to give us a reward, we will suffer loss (realize that we didn’t build much on the foundation and got no reward), but we will be saved.

Now here are some thoughts on the progression from justification, into reconciliation, through sanctification, and into glorification.


1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary:  Justify – in theology.
To pardon, clear from guilt; to absolve or acquit from guilt and merited punishment, and to accept as righteous on account of the merits of the Savior, or by the application of Christ’s atonement to the offender. – St. Paul

Strong’s Concordance #1344 (not quoted in full): dikaioo
To render (i.e. show or regard as) just or innocent.

This is the first step and the foundation of our entire relationship with the Lord. When we accept the gift of Christ’s blood it renders us innocent, and it a finished work. He doesn’t have to die again and again in order for us to be justified. As with any gift, we can refuse it, abuse it, or throw it away. We can even throw a gift in the closet and ignore it. However, once received this gift is ours and no one can take it away from us, and it doesn’t become ours and not ours again and again based on the day-to-day failures of our lives.

The only action on our part in justification is accepting the gift. All the rest of the action is God’s.

Salvation is not judged to see if we are worthy of anything, or the level of our works. It is not something we deserve now, or ever will.


1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary:  (The literal sense is to call back into union.)

1. To conciliate anew; to call back into union and friendship the affections which have been alienated; to restore to friendship or favor after estrangement; as, to reconcile men or parties that have been at variance.

“We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Cor.v, Eph. Ii, Col. I

Strong’s Concordance #2643 and # 2644 (not quoted in full) #2643 – katallage.
Exchange (fig. Adjustment), i.e. Restoration to (the divine) favor – atonement.

1. This word denotes an adjustment of a difference, reconciliation, restoration to favour, especially the restoration of the favour of God to sinners that repent and put their trust in the expiatory/propitiatory death of Christ. Man changes and is reconciled. God does not change.

2. It is translated (2a) “atonement” in Rom 5:11, signifying that sinners are made “at one” with God; and in the NT so much more is given the believer in Christ. (2b)”reconciliation” 2 Cor 5:18,19 etc.

3. Man receives Christ as his Saviour, he is reconciled has received the reconciliation, and is “at one” with God. Reconciliation stresses the process, atonement stresses the end result of the process…………namely, the restitution of a lost sinner.

Strong’s Concordance #2644 – Katallasso properly denotes:

1. to change, exchange; hence, of persons, to change from enmity to friendship, to reconcile.

2. With regard to the relationship between God and man, (2a) reconciliation is what God accomplishes, (2a1) exercising His grace towards sinful man, (2a2) on the ground of the death of Christ in propitiatory sacrifice under the judgment due to sin (2 Cor. 5:18-20). (2b) By reason of this (2b1) men in their sinful condition and alienation from God (2b2) are invited to be reconciled to Him: that is to say, to change their attitude, and accept the provision God has made, (2b3) whereby their sins can be remitted and they themselves be justified in His sight in Christ. (2c)What we do receive is the result, namely, reconciliation.

3. The removal of God’s wrath does not contravene His immutability. (3a) He always acts according to His unchanging righteousness and lovingkindness, and (3b) it is because He changes not that His relative attitude does change towards those who change.

4. Not once is God said to be reconciled. (4a) The enmity is alone on our part. (4b) It was we who needed to be reconciled to God, not God to us, and, etc.

5. The hostility is not on the part of God, but of man.

(Strong’s Concordance #604 and #1259 are also “reconcile”, but do not further our understanding of the word, beyond the fact that #604 makes clear that it means when TWO people are at enmity, they must both “give in”[(Matt. 5:24]. Whereas, #2744 indicates that MAN is at failure and God is not, therefore man must reconcile with God, but not God with man.)


1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary:  Sanctify – in theology:

1. In a general sense, to cleanse, purify or make holy.

2. To separate, set apart or appoint to a holy, sacred or religious use. (Gen. ii)

3. To purify; to prepare for divine service and for partaking of holy things. (Exodus xix)

4. To separate, ordain and appoint to the work of redemption and the government of the church. (John x)

5. To cleanse from corruption; to purify from sin; to make holy by detaching the affections from the world and its defilements, and exalting them to a supreme love to God. (John xvii, Eph v)

Strong’s Concordance: (not quoted in full): hagiazo
#37 – to make holy (i.e. (cer.) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate.

1. Makes holy and signifies to set apart for God, to sanctify, to make a person or thing the opposite of koinos (#2839 – common).

Sanctification is an ongoing work after justification and reconciliation are completed. It is the works that scripture speaks of, making us holy, and gains us our reward. Upon our foundation, every person puts a different level of effort (quality of material) into separating ourselves, detaching ourselves from “the affections from the world and its defilements”, and preparing ourselves for the Lord’s work – work for now and in the kingdom to come.


1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary:  Glorify – in theology:

1. To praise; to magnify and honor in worship; to ascribe honor to, in thought or words. Ps. Lxxxvi.9.

2. To make glorious; to exalt to glory, or to celestial happiness. “Whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Rom. Viii

Strong’s Concordance #1740 – Endoxazo
Endoxazo signifies, in the passive voice, “to be glorified”, I.e. to exhibit one’s glory; it is said

1. of God, regarding His saints in the future (2 Thes 1:10), and,

2. of the name of the Lord Jesus as “glorified” in them in the present (v.12).

Strong’s Concordance #4888 and #1392 are also “glorify”, but does not apply to God’s people, but more to glorifying God and Jesus.

Now what I learn from this is that salvation is a finished work. Reconciliation, sanctification, and glorification are ongoing works in our lifetime on this earth, and this is where the need for continued forgiveness and possible loss lies and not in our salvation.

By Edy Anderson (Chavez) Reese, 2012