Q. I lead a small group of high school freshmen boys. We recently studied faith vs works. One provides eternal life, the other determines the way you experience heaven. Am I on track here and can you provide guidance as I now tackle their obvious follow up question of “what will the judgment be about and will people experience heaven differently based on said judgement.”
A. In 1 Cor. 3:10-15 Paul described the only judgment Christians will face. It has nothing to do with salvation but will determine which of the things we’ve done as believers are of value to the Lord. In John 15:5 we’re given a hint as to what the standards will be. Things done at the Lord’s request and in His strength will be considered fruitful and those done on our own initiative in our own strength will not. This is what is meant by the terms good and bad in 2 Cor. 5:10.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
The Bible also mentions crowns that will be awarded to believers. The specific ones mentioned are the crown of victory (1 Cor. 9:24-27) of the soul winner (1 Thes. 2:19), of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8), of life (James 1:12) and of glory (1 Peter 5:1-4). There’s a more detailed explanation here.
Some have speculated that the various rewards and crowns will determine the type of life we enjoy in eternity, but I don’t think the Bible is specific enough to treat this opinion as fact. I think we’ll all be very happy just to be there.