Degrees of Reward and Punishment

Within the last week the topic of varying levels of eternal reward and eternal punishment has come up a few times in our different Bible study groups, so I want to take the time to address the issue this way.

Let me start by reminding us that God is perfect, holy, just and sovereign. We need to be reminded of this when we want to question His methods. Suffice to say, we do not exactly know how God goes about accomplishing this perfect justice, but we believe He does. It will be meticulous, thorough, and perfect.

Let me begin by addressing those who are not a follower of Christ. Without exclusively embracing the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for you and your sins, you will forever be separated from the presence of God (2 Thess. 1:8-9).

To those who are a follower of Christ, let me say this; you are doing yourself a great disservice if you believe that merely getting your foot in the door of Heaven is enough. Let me say it this way; whatever you do with the short number of years you live on earth will determine for you what happens in eternity. When we do well in life, we honor our Savior. It should not be all about getting into Heaven, but it is about glorifying and serving God and growing in relationship with Him.

So, now back to the issue of degrees of reward and punishment. Again, we do not know exactly how God goes about accomplishing this, but Scripture makes it clear that people are judged in personal ways by God. To coin a phrase of Pastor Erwin Lutzer, “People are judged on the basis of what they did with what they knew.”  This does not mean that doing good saves us, but that our actions in life make a difference in our eternal home. “People are judged on the basis of what they did with what they knew.”

Allow me to provide you with some Scripture to consider:

  • Romans 2:12-16; the Gentiles who do not have the law as the Jews do, will be judged without the law, and based upon their conscience.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10; each Christian will give an account for what he/she has done, good or evil. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ, but He will assess faithfulness or a lack thereof (see also Romans 14:10-12 and 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
  • Luke 12:47-48; speaks of varying levels of punishment in Hell (see also Revelation 20:12-13, and Luke 10 also addresses levels of punishment).
  • Matthew 16:27; speaks of varying levels of Heavenly reward based upon one’s deeds.
  • Matthew 25:14-29; the parable of the talents illustrates how rewards are given based upon what each of us do with what we are given.
  • Luke 14:12-14; God will reward (“repay”) us after we are resurrected for good deeds we have done here.
  • Luke 6:22-23, 35; there is reward for suffering for Christ.

Pastor Mike Fast

“between Sundays”