Most people ignore the issue of rewards in heaven, thinking being good gets them there in the first place. Some also think that heaven is a static place where everyone is the same. To both assumptions – Not so.
Salvation deals with your sins on this side of the grave and yes, you are rewarded by going to heaven. But when you get there your level of obedience is the basis for your future rewards. We have a picture in the Bible of angels going up and down ladders keeping records on very single person. What is this?
It’s a list of the obedience level. Billy Graham was asked what is the one question God will ask you when you get to heaven?
His answer:”Did you obey my son?” You can immediately see how this poses a problem. If you were saved at age 50 your level of understanding and accountability to God and to His Son are more limited than the person saved as a teenager. The teenager also might be limited by a screamingly bad home life; the middle aged man might be aided by a generous income or a superior training in some area. We are also products of our generation, our nation and our parents. All these factors we cannot use as excuses – in fact heaven will be re-markedly free of excuses, but they are factors affecting how much we know or could know, and how much we were able to do.
I wonder about Christians in Syria, under terrible persecution, their children snatched and murdered, with no one to help and no place to go. And if they have a chance to leave, will they be persecuted at the nation where they are refugees?
I have many Chinese contacts; they have very little to help them grow in grace of God where they live. They are surrounded by people who claim to be atheists and who live their beliefs. Their world is more hostile than mine. I am free to write this post; they are not.
All these factors simply tell me this; we’d be foolish to try to guess what happens to them after they face their Maker. The older I get the less I am interested in making judgments about people as individuals. I do feel free to make judgments about how God is working in the world.
John in Revelation 20 said this:
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
This is perhaps the best scripture describing life after death for every single person who ever lived. Notice that they had legs; it’s nice to know I will have a spiritual body that resembles the one I am in now.
The word “works” in this passage refers to trusting in God. And yes, it is real work. You are faced with a decision – Do you marry this person? God seems to say no. Your heart says yes. What do you do? Now you can see how much work it is to say no; it costs you everything you wanted. Only time will tell if you made the right decision.
Notice that the books are opened. They have heretofore been closed. God doesn’t want me judging before the time. (I Corinthians 4:5)
The Bible advises us to look to our own things. 2 John 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. There are no rewards for being a busybody.
If you have not been obeying God so far – not a problem. You can start today.