6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
Many have attempted to use this passage to show that salvation is by works. But to accept such a notion against the whole of Scripture is to be deceived by a false ideology. Reward does not always come from merit. How many of us have heard of stories where someone gained some kind of great reward out of sheer “dumb luck”.
No this passage is not about working for salvation, but describes those who are believers and those who are non-believers. Believers, because of the grace and faith they have in Christ, will seek glory, honor and immortality. Non-believers, those who have rejected Christ, will be self-seeking and disobedient to the truth.
Do you want to have assurance of your salvation? Do you want to grow in the grace of God? Do you want to experience that sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Then “seek for glory and honor and immortality.”
John Piper has said:
Seek it. Want it. Pursue it. Crave it. Love it. Desire it more than you desire any earthly thing. That is the point. Don’t be a listless, apathetic, sluggish person when it comes to spiritual things. And if you are like that, then intensify your prayers that God would ignite your heart with the preciousness of glory and honor and immortality.
So how do we seek for glory and honor and immortality? Again I turn to John Piper:
Look to Christ and the glory of his finished work on the cross for sinners. This is what we stressed at the beginning. Justification and eternal life are not earned by our deeds. They are freely given to those who look to Christ in faith. So if we are going to obtain the glory of God and be glorified we must trust Christ. We are justified by faith (Romans 5:1) and those who are justified will be glorified (Romans 8:30). Therefore faith is the first and indispensable key to seeking the glory of God.
But don’t treat Christ or faith as less than they are. When I say “look to Christ” I mean look steadfastly to the glory of Christ as your greatest treasure. I mean what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and 3:18. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul says that the gospel of Christ is “the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” So to look to Christ for justification is to seek the glory of God in Christ. It is not something separate. This is what faith does. It receives Christ in the gospel as the glory of God. This is what faith feeds on in the gospel.