01 November, 2007

Will There Be Degrees of Reward and Punishment in Eternity?

Dear John:
Will there be degrees of rewards and punishments in eternity?

Dear Lanny:
The answer to your question is found in Luke 12:47-48, the conclusion of Christ's parable of unfaithful steward.

"And that servant, who knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more."

Here we see the Lord stating that those who knew God's will and did it not will be more severely punished than those who sin in ignorance. Beyond this we have no information.  It does however agree with our common sense and human experience.  Our whole societal concept of law and punishment says that there are mitigating factors in dealing with lawbreakers. Those who are young are punished less severely than those who are adults. First offenders receive lighter punishment than repeat offenders. There are petty crimes and felonies. Felonies are divided into categories. The more harm done, they bigger the theft, the more the victims, if a weapon was used all call for greater punishment.

Here in America we have Bibles on every hand, churches on every corner, preaching is available by radio, television, newspapers, tracts, Internet, etc. A man who refuses to believe has no excuse to offer.  A man in the heart of Africa might never see a Bible, hear a sermon or meet a missionary. Both men sin, both will be lost because of their sin. But he who knew his lord's will and did it not will be judged more severely than the fellow who lived in darkness and ignorance of God's will.

As to heaven, no such verse in found.  All who are saved in eternity will have a reward of such wondrous magnitude that it cannot be diminished.  If you are living in the presence of the Father and the Son, what could lessen or be greater than  that joy. I have heard some say, “Some will have a greater capacity for that joy than others. For example, those who had worked a lifetime recruiting the lost or who by study and application had come to know God's will more fully than others.”  But such is not convincing to me, since all the saved will have the same great reward, a place in the Father's house.


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