Rich Stearns, president of World Vision United States, says Randy Alcorn's new book The Law of Rewards is just as revolutionary as his Money, Possessions and Eternity which Stearns read a few years ago.
The earlier title changed Stearns' life. "I quit my job as a corporate CEO, sold my house, and moved my wife and five children 3,000 miles to accept a call to World Vision," he says.
In The Law of Rewards (Tyndale House, 2003), Alcorn says the biggest misconception Christians have about giving is that "when we give money away to a church or ministry, or to help the needy, it's gone." He insists that giving is an "opportunity not to divest ourselves of money, but to invest it in heaven."
He makes the connection between our actions on earth and our rewards in heaven. The 135-page text is solidly planted in eight principles drawn straight from Scripture. It articulates how we can use money to honor God, what actions and attitudes God rewards, what eternal rewards are, and why it's important to be motivated by them.
The author addresses the issue of affluence in American culture. He writes, "If you have sufficient food, decent clothes, live in a home that shelters you from the weather, and own some kind of reliable transportation, you're in the top 15 percent of the world's wealthy." Furthermore, he says we will each be held accountable for our actions in this life, and that includes what we do with our money.
"While our faith determines our eternal destination," Alcorn writes, "our behavior determines our eternal rewards." He calls this the "law of rewards."
In a chapter titled "Fireproofing our Money," Alcorn says, "No earthly treasure is safe. In fact, God says this present earth will be consumed by fire. All its treasures will go up in flames." On the other hand, if we invest our money and resources in heavenly treasures rather than earthly things, the investment takes on much greater significance because it has eternal value.
What we do with our money, according to Alcorn, doesn't just reveal where our heart is. He points out that Jesus taught that it determines where our heart goes. To illustrate that principle from Scripture, Alcorn has a ready answer for anyone who says, "I want more of a heart for missions." His answer: "Put your money in missions and your heart will follow."
He takes exception to the "name-it-and-claim-it" mentality of many believers because that kind of faith usually focuses on earthly treasures, things in the here and now. He points to Jesus' words in Matthew 6:20 -- "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." The treasures we strive for must be the rewards of heaven if we are to gain real blessing from them.
One of Alcorn's eight principles addresses obedience. "Obeying God is not only right," he says. "It's smart. It will always pay off in the end." In Matthew 7:24-26, the man who followed Jesus' words and built his house on the rock is not called righteous or good or obedient; he is called wise. Conversely, the man who disobeyed and built his house on sand is not called disobedient or evil, but foolish.
Rich Stearns says, "This book will shatter the way you understand the faith/works debate. It should be required reading for every serious Christian and will change your life -- if you let it."
The author modestly shifts emphasis from his book to the Scriptural principles in it. He summarizes the heart of the book by citing the old adage that says you can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. "It's a revolutionary concept that changed my life and my family's," writes Alcorn. "If you embrace it, I guarantee it will change your life too."
—Randall Murphree, Crosswalk.com, September 20, 2003