Investing in an HRA 
(Heavenly Retirement Account)

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." Matt 6:19,20

Introduction

Throughout the Bible, people are encouraged both to seek and serve God with the anticipation of being rewarded for doing so.
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Heb 11:6
And throughout the Bible, we see many examples of godly men whose behavior is motivated out of a sense of reward.
Moses
"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." Heb 11:24.26

Paul
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." 2Tim 4:7,8

And though selfishness and greed are characteristics of those who will go to hell (1Cor 5:10),
Jesus instructs people not to eliminate their desire for personal gain, but to redirect it towards heavenly rewards.
When asked by a rich man what he must do to have eternal life, Jesus conversed with him for a while and the last thing he said was the following:
"Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Luke 18:22
Granted that eternal life is a free gift (Eph 2:8,9) and if one thinks he can obtain it based on his performance, he is disqualified from receiving it.
"Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Rom 4:4,5
However, if a person does believe that he has won this sort of "heavenly lottery", then there will inevitably be outworkings of that belief evident in his life; particularly with respect to where he reckons his treasure to be.
Inherent in the Christian hope is the desire for personal benefits or gain.


Judgment for Christians

Those who have put their faith in Christ, as the Bible describes, will not face a judgment that will lead to their condemnation.
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24
However, having established this foundation of salvation through faith in Christ, there is yet a judgment Christians will face with respect to receiving rewards for their Christian service.
"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." 1Cor 3:11,15
"So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." 2Cor 5:9,10

How to Invest in an HRA

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."2Cor 9:6,7

Love your enemies

"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?" Matt 5:46
By giving to them without expecting any return By responding properly to persecution And standing with Christians who face persecution

Love other Christians

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matt 10:42

Provide for the poor

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." Lk 12:33

Rich Christians should especially 
be generous and rich in good works

"Command (rich Christians) to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."1Tim 6:18,19

Make use of an interest bearing account

by providing financial support to missionaries and other full-time Christian workers.

Get yourself into a holy pyramid scheme

"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." 2Tim 2:2

Secular work can count too!

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Col 3:22,23

Avoid losing your investment

by not being a man-pleaser

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." Matt 6:1

by not getting caught up in false doctrine

"Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully." 2John 1:8

Calculating your Investment

The more you have, the more you will be held responsible for

"Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others." Mark 12:43

Your return is exponentially related to your investment

"For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." Matt 25:29 (see parable below)

Each will be held responsible for his own labor as the Lord directs him

"Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls." Rom 14:4

"The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor." 1Cor 3:8

Be careful not to take credit for other people's work

"I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor." John 4:38

When can you draw from your HRA account?

"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." Matt 16:27

"The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence youname, both small and great-- and for destroying those who destroy the earth." Rev 11:18

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." Rev 22:12


So What are the Treasures in Heaven?

The Bible is not very clear on this point. It doesn't say what the treasures are, but in places it mentions what they may be likened to, as in the parables below. And even so, it can be difficult to distinguish the rewards associated with eternal life which are universal to all believers, and special rewards given to those with distinguished service. For example, in which way are we to understand the rewards Jesus mentions in the first 3 chapters of Revelations?
 

The 7 Churches of Revelations

Church
Praise
Warning
Reward (if overcome)
Ephesus
don't tolerate evil men & cults
(like the Nicolatians)

Patiently laboring for Christ
left their first love
Eat of tree of life
Smyrna
works, tribulation, poverty
be faithful to death
Crown of life

Not hurt by second death
Pergamos
faithful under persecution
following practices of 

Balaam
Hidden manna

White stone with secret name
Thyatira
works (growing), love,

service, faith, patience
tolerate a false prophetess

follow practices of Balaam
Power over the nations

The morning star
Sardis
a few not defile their garments
works imperfect - dead
clothed in white garments

not erased from the book of life
confess his name to God
Philadelphia
Kept My word

not denied My name
Hold fast - that no one

may take your crown
Pillar in the temple of God

Write on him the name of God
Laodicea
lukewarm
Sit with Jesus on His throne

It is possible to interpret the rewards here to be universal for all true believers, if by "overcome" we understand to mean to have the quality of faith that saves as in Mr 13:13 "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.:" which is consistent with Re 2:26 "To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations--" So it may be that these rewards are inevitable for those who have the quality of faith that saves.


The Parable of the Ten Minas

(Each started with equal amounts - 
but produced different amounts)

While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.' "But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.' "He was made king, however, and returned home.

Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. "The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' "'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' "The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.' "His master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.'

"Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.' "His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?'"Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.' "'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!' "He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them-- bring them here and kill them in front of me.'" Luke 19:11-27


The Parable of the Ten Talents

(Each started with different amounts)

"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' "The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.' "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' "His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. "'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Matt 5:14-30


The Parable of the Laborers

What about those who don't live very long after becoming Christians?
(and therefore have less time to labor)

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. "About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' 7"'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. "He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'

"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'"The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." Matt 20:1-16


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
Jul 29,2015