This one is gonna be fun. Ready?
Everybody that accepts Jesus as their Lord and personal Savior is guaranteed a spot in heaven. But, what if…what if depending on how you lived, you had more “rewards” in heaven?
There are a few Bible verses that somewhat indicate this, so I’m not completely making something up. However, before I mention those verses, I’m going to share with you my personal thoughts about this question.
We all know that the way salvation works can be…annoying to many. As Christians, we live for God. Well, we’re supposed to. Anyway, sometimes it can be infuriating when we see non-Christians apparently thriving more than us, children of the most high God.
It can also seem unfair that people can be unsaved all of their lives, then get saved at the last minute, and then get into heaven, when you spent 50 years getting beaten by the same person for being a Christian. Youch!
To me, I look at God as a God of justice. I think He honors those who have served Him. High honors. I think not everybody will hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. That’s what I believe.
Think about it. If you accept Jesus in your life, then spend the rest of it not following Him, does it make sense for God to still tell you good job? You didn’t do what you were supposed to do, so this would be undeserved praise. As merciful as God is, I think He’s also a fair God.
Jesus talked about how people worked in a field. Many people worked at many different times. Some people were there from the start. Some people showed up at the last minute. Everybody got equal pay. The people there all day were wondering why late people got paid the same amount as them. It didn’t matter. Everybody received the same wage. Reward.
You could look at it this way too. Subscription packages. There’s always a basic package, right? Quite a few of these basic packages are free. But then, for a price, you can upgrade and get more stuff. Everybody can access the service, but some people can get more. I’ll explain the obvious hole soon.
Good. Now consider this other parable from Jesus.
He talks about three servants who were given talents. Each servant was supposed to make something happen with these talents. Two of the servants did, and the master said, well done, good and faithful servant. the third servant dropped the ball and did not receive those words.
As Christians, we are servants. But, depending on how we live, we will hear those words. That’s my point. Looking at those two passages tell me that everybody will get to heaven, but only some will be highly honored.
Back to the subscription example. We pay for these rewards…in a way, by doing our job. By serving God. It’s tricky because we honestly are not right enough to earn anything from God. We could never put God in debt to us. But, as it’s said, what you do does determine how God greets you.
Anyway, we pay for these extra features with our service to God. What’s interesting, and I’ll share this a little later, we have custom made packages. Each rewards package is made according to what we do with our lives.
Jesus mentioned that anybody that served the Father would be honored. Maybe I’m twisting words around, but He didn’t say people who believe in Him will be honored. Just those that serve Him. Only way to truly serve Him is to believe in Him. So, perhaps that doesn’t matter.
So now what? Is there a reward system in heaven or what?
Jesus mentions a couple of times that you will be rewarded based on what you’ve done.
Matthew 16:27 (and apparently repeated in Revelation 22:12), He says that He will come in His Father’s glory and reward each person according to what he’s done. So, like I said earlier, perhaps this is the custom package. Some people get the pool. Others get the home theatre. Cool.
We also have the Beatitudes. Here, Jesus says certain people are blessed. Matthew 5:10-12.
1 Corinthians says similar things where each person will receive their own reward.
So, again, it would appear that everybody will get something for what they’ve done…and so it would be okay to say, on some level, not everybody will get the same rewards. Also, not everybody will be equal. “According to what you’ve done”…so if you didn’t do anything, would you get anything?
I said God was a God of justice. Fairness. That verse would seem to back me up.
At the same time, that parable about the workers in the field would indicate that everybody has a place in heaven if they accept Jesus. It doesn’t matter if you were saved all your life, or on your deathbed.
Consider this quote:
Finally, degrees of reward in eternity involve both enlarged responsibilities as well as enhanced spiritual capacities. An experience I had several years ago aptly underscores this biblical reality. I received an invitation to play Cypress Point, arguably the most spectacular golf course on planet Earth. While the invitation to play Cypress Point was free, I have seldom worked harder to prepare for anything in my life. For months I beat my body into submission. I lifted weights, worked on stretching exercises, and pounded thousands of golf balls, all the while dreaming of the day I would physically experience walking the fairways of Cypress Point. Without my strenuous preparation I would have still experienced the same cliff–side vistas and breathtaking views. I would still have been able to smell the fragrance of the Monterey Cypresses and feel the refreshing sting of the salt air upon my face. All the hard work, however, added immeasurably to the experience.
That is how heaven will be. As a master musician can appreciate Mozart more than can an average music lover, so too my strenuous training allowed me to more fully appreciate the architectural nuances of Cypress Point. As phenomenal as Cypress Point is, it pales by comparison to what Paradise will be. I spent one day at a golf haven; I will spend an eternity in God’s heaven. It stands to reason, therefore, that I would put a whole lot more effort into preparing for an eternity in heaven with God than I did for playing eighteen holes of golf. That is precisely the point Paul is driving at in one of his letters to the Corinthians. Pressing the analogy of athletics he writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24–25). Thus, says Paul, “I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (vv. 26–27).
Here, I can agree with that in a way. In the physical, it makes sense. If you train yourself, you can handle greater things. It’s likely that God’s calling on people will lead them to receive even greater rewards. People like Moses, Isaiah, and Paul might be in a higher place.
So yeah, I guess that’s about it.
Funny thing is, we need to make sure we don’t look at heaven as a place to get rich. Watch your heart. I rarely think about rewards and such. For now, I’m good. The promise of riches in heaven don’t push me to continue following God. At the same time, He obviously wants us to know about rewards.
People can question if these rewards are physical or spiritual. Do we experience these in heaven or earth? All we know is that there are rewards. Honestly, I think it goes both ways. That verse in Revelation though makes me think a heavenly reward system is likely. I mean, that book is about the end of days.
Anyway, I was curious and wanted to see what it was all about. Yet, this is something that will be debated for a long time. Like I said, we all get into heaven, but after that, it’s all up for grabs.
It gives you motivation, in a sense, like Paul said. Run a race to win. Live life to win your reward in heaven. Watch the heart, but go for gold.
In the end, I think it really won’t matter. I see us in a state of no envy or jealousy. I see us as thankful people, content with what we have. So, it’s probably going to be the farthest thing from our minds who has what.
Either way, I can’t wait to see what’s in store!