The Choice is Yours
There are many pleasures to enjoy on earth. They are enjoyed through our senses of: touch, hearing, sight, taste and smell. Some examples are great food, the view at the top of a mountain, sexual love, music, the list goes on. These pleasures are all gifts from God to be used in the way he created them. When we we pursue these human pleasures in the wrong way, we open ourselves up to earthly woes and heavenly wrath.
Lets get one thing straight as we consider rewards in heaven. Heaven is not a reward for being a good person. Heaven is a free gift to those who are humble enough to admit to God that they are sinful and not good in his sight. It is a free gift to all who repent of sin, turn from sin and put their trust in Jesus and his death as payment for their sin.
The Bible says, "For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Wages are earned - when it says the wages of sin is death (hell), it means you deserve it!
A Gift is not earned - when it says the gift of God is eternal life (heaven), it means it is not deserved!
No person, not matter how good, will get to heaven by their good works. The Bible is clear on this...
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9) [words underlined by this site to emphasis them].
While Christians (those who repent and trust Christ) are not saved by their good works, they will however be rewarded in heaven for the good they do in this life in their service to Jesus Christ. The Bible says you are saved (from God's wrath against your sin) by the grace of God and not your own goodness. Lets read those verses again...
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The good works we do WILL NOT get us to heaven but if our good works are done in the loving service of the one who saved us, then we will be rewarded in heaven for the good done in Jesus name. To say this a different way, heaven is not a reward for good works but in heaven we will be rewarded for the good works we do in this life IN JESUS NAME. This is what the Bible says just one verse after the previous quote. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). If our works are done "in Christ Jesus, they will not get us into heaven, but they will be rewarded in heaven.
Bible verses which speak of rewards in heaven
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things DONE IN THE BODY, according to what He has done, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10). Here we read that everyone will be judged, all Christians, for what they do in this life - "in the body". Christians will escape the judgement that condemns to hell because they are saved by grace and through faith in Jesus. However, they will still be judged by what they do in this life and this will affect their rewards or not, in heaven. Your good works won't save you but if you are saved, you will still be judged. You will be judged by Jesus your Lord and Saviour whose blood paid for your salvation. He has a right to judge you and he will.
"... and each one will receive His own reward ACCORDING TO HIS OWN LABOR." (1 Corinthians 3:8) You will be rewarded according to what you do in your service to Christ. Do little and you will be rewarded little. Do much and you will be rewarded much.
"... I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you ACCORDING TO YOUR WORKS." (Revelation 2:23) "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone ACCORDING TO HIS WORK." (Revelation 22:12) Jesus is coming and he is expecting that his people will have been working and doing good in his name so that he might reward them. Heaven is not their reward but they will be rewarded for what they do in this life that shows they have appreciated the free gift of heaven. Consider also these words,
So Jesus answered them and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brother or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or land, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a HUNDREDFOLD now in this time ... and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:29-30) This verse puts things into perspective. We are yet to enter "the age to come" and in that age, everything will be put right and the worker for righteousness will at last receive their reward. There will be blessings in this life as promised but there will be untold blessings in the next. Eternal life is the gift of God to the repentant and once in heaven, the repentant will be rewarded for what they do in this life.
Finally, consider these words from a man of God who suffered greatly for being a Christian. This is what he has to say about all that suffering as he puts it into an eternal perspective. This from a man who was stoned and beaten and later, martyred for his faith in Christ.
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18