Q. I read an article with the theme “Not Everyone Will Have the Same Status in Heaven”. It said that although God loves each of us without end, some will be given positions of higher status, authority, and responsibility than others, citing Matt 5:19 and 19:30 (NLT).
It also said, “All who trust in Jesus Christ will experience eternity in His presence. In heaven, there will be no sorrow, death, crying, or pain. However, there is no guarantee that we will not experience regret.”
Do you agree with the writer of the article? The quoted verses backing the writer’s opinion? I know I asked a similar question before about a preacher’s idea about hierarchy in the church in heaven and you said it’s pure guessing. But what do these verses truly mean then?
A. First of all let’s understand that the NLT is not a literal translation of the Bible. It’s what’s called a paraphrase, which means it’s the author’s view of what the Bible should say. Matt. 5:19 doesn’t imply permanent status and even if it did it would be based on keeping the commandments, not on any good works we do. It could simply be referring to praise we receive at the Bema judgment (1 Cor. 4:5)
Matt 19:30 doesn’t even say least and greatest in the original language, as the NLT does, but first and last. The Greek words are entirely different and are meant to show that the esteem with which we’re held on Earth will not necessarily determine the way we’re viewed in heaven. It was a warning to the rich not to be arrogant and to the poor not to be envious.
So I’ll stand by my original statement. It’s all speculation. No one on Earth can tell you what the Lord intends for us, or what standards He’ll use in determining our status, if any. But there is one thing in your quote I will agree with. “The only valuable work is what we do with a pure intent to glorify the Lord.” That means that as soon as we do something with the hope of improving our standing, we’re applying impure motives and canceling out any good we might have accomplished.
As far as regret, what would be God’s point in making us regret our lives on Earth when we won’t be able to do anything about it, except feel bad? Does that sound like something He would do as He welcomes us into the Kingdom He’s been preparing for us from the foundation of the world?