Q. I just read ‘Best Of Both Worlds? Not!’ and came across this:
‘And when they stand before the Bema Seat judgment (1 Cor 3:10-15) with their salvation intact but absent any rewards, this will become most obvious to them as they experience eternal consequences for a few years of rebellious behavior.’
What do you mean by eternal consequences? As in restrictions placed on us in eternity? The more rebellious we were on Earth, the more consequences (like what?) we have in eternity?
I held the view that all the Church would be equal in eternity, with no class structure. How do you see it?
A. In 1 Cor 3:10-15 Paul wrote about the works of believers being judged. He used the analogy of subjecting them to the fire to see if they’d survive. Those of gold, silver or precious stones will withstand the heat, but those of wood, hay,and stubble will be consumed. It’s a test of the value, if you will, of the things we do with our life after becoming believers. In chapter 4 verse 5 he said that the basis for establishing the value of these works is the motive of our hearts when doing them. He made it clear that the judgment wouldn’t affect our salvation, but would determine the rewards we’d receive.
In other letters he called these rewards crowns. There are five of them listed in Scripture, the Everlasting Crown (Victory) in 1 Cor 9:25, Crown of the Soul Winner in Phil 4:1 & 1 Thes 2:19, Crown of Righteousness in 2 Tim 4:8 , Crown of Life in Jas 1:12 & Rev 2:10, and the Crown of Glory in 1 Peter 5:4. Here’s a link to a more detailed study on Crowns.
In 1 Cor. 9:24-27, using an Olympic analogy, he wrote that no athlete is satisfied to just qualify for the race. They all want to run in such a way as to win the victor’s crown. In the same way, no believer should be satisfied with just being saved. We should all want to live our lives in such a way as to win crowns too.
Jesus also hinted at some kind of reward system. In Matt.6:19-21 He advised us not to work to accumulate treasure on Earth, but to store up treasure in Heaven. The idea is that things we do here may have value for us when we get there. It’s another take on the judgment of 1 Cor. 3:10-15. In the Parable of the 10 Minas (Luke 18:11-27) He tells of giving His servants rewards commensurate with their effort on His behalf.
Some believers by their ongoing sinfulness fail to produce any fruit in their lives. Others take their salvation for granted and never do anything to express their gratitude for being saved. I took the position in my answer that they’ll probably fail to qualify for these rewards. There are several theories on just what our rewards will be, and in my limited understanding, none is conclusive. But if we all achieve exactly equal status in Heaven, then why these teachings?
One final note. Doing good works just to earn recognition for ourselves disqualifies us for any further reward.(Matt. 6:1) Our motive has to be purely that of expressing our gratitude to the Lord for what He’s done for us.