Varying Degrees

April 28, 2017

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Luke 12:47, 48; I Corinthians 3:13-15

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Having done four blogs on the theme of Resurrection, I figured I was done.  But it occurred to me that one more related theme was the Varying Degrees of reward in heaven and punishment in hell after the related resurrections!  Let’s look at the two. First…

•      The Varying Degrees of rewards in heaven!  I Corinthians chapter 3 deals with what is called the Judgment Seat of Christ or the Bema Seat Judgment.  Our Scripture is I Corinthians 3:13-15.

      …each one’s work shall become manifest, for the Day will declare it, be-
      cause it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of
      what sort it is.  If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will
      receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but
      he himself will be saved; yet so as through fire.

That these verses relate only to Christians is evident from I Corinthians 3:10 and 11.  Paul writes to these Corinthian believers, “I have laid the foundation [in your lives]….For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  They had already accepted Christ as their Savior!  But how they then lived out their Christian lives determined their Varying Degrees of reward in heaven!  And their lives will be reviewed by the fiery gaze of the all-knowing Judge! (See John 5:22; Revelation 1:14).  According to I Corinthians 3:12 there are two types ofbuilding materials’ that believers can construct on that solid foundation:

      ✞     …gold, silver, precious stones….”  These materials are resistant to fire, corrosion, time, etc.  I have been a treasure hunter (using a metal detector) for almost 40 years.  I have dug many items out of the ground, including gold, silver, and precious stones.  While precious stones don’t give a signal that a metal detector will pick up, I have found a few mounted on rings and other metal jewelry.  While silver can show some corrosion from acidic soil, most of the time this precious metal will come out of the ground pretty much the way it went in, even if it was lost a hundred years or more ago!  Gold and precious stones are basically untouched by their time in ‘hiding’.

What Paul is saying is that these things represent the ‘building materials’ Christians use to construct something on the foundation of the Lord’s salvation laid down in their lives.  And these resistant materials will pass through Christ’s judgment unscathed!  What are the ‘building materials’ they represent?  Gold, silver, and precious stones represent what we do in our lives – how we live our lives for the glory of God!

      ✞     …wood, hay, straw….”  Obviously, these ‘building materials’ will not stand the test of elements, time, or fire.  They represent our Christian lives lived for our own pleasure, pursuits, and agenda!  They will not add to the glory of God, and they will not survive the fiery inspection at the Judgment Seat of Christ!

It stands to reason that those who live for the Lord will enjoy more rewards in heaven than those worldly Christians who live for themselves!  The Parable of the Long Journey in Luke 19:12 through 27 gives the same idea.  In verse 13 a nobleman gave ten of his servants a mina apiece (about 1.25 pounds.  If the mina was silver it would be worth almost $350 today. If gold – $24,276 spot price today.)  The nobleman then went on a long journey.  When he returned, he took inventory of what his servants had done with, or how they had invested his money while he was gone.

                    Luke 19:16 and 17:  “Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’  And he said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant….have authority over ten cities.’

                    Luke 19:18 and 19:  “And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’  Likewise the said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’

                    The nobleman is Jesus!  The long journey is the time between His first and second advents!  The minas represent what we have done with the gifts the Lord has entrusted to us!  The cities are the rewards we receive in heaven!

•      The Varying Degrees of punishments in hell!  For this we will examine Luke 12:47 and 48:

      And that servant, who knew his master’s will, and did not prepared him-
      self or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  But he
      who did not know, yet committed things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten
      with few.

This Scripture comes from the Parable of the Testing of Servants! (Luke 12:42 through 48).  Again, the master in this parable went away for an extended time.  The servants did not know when he would return.  Some were faithful to their master and his instructions, and some were not.  Some (apparently, from our Scripture above) did not have specific instructions of what to do or not do.

      ✞     …that servant, who knew his master’s will, and did not prepared himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”  He knew, but ignored the instructions.  He represents a non-believer who has heard about heaven, hell, and Christ’s salvation, but did not act upon this knowledge!

      ✞     …he who did not know, yet committed things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few.”  This one never really heard the specifics of the gospel (see the blog from October 18, 2013Jesus Christ Revealed – II).  But this one still will be held accountable – just not as much as the one who knew his master’s will and didn’t do it!

It stands to reason that among the unsaved, Osama Bin Laden will experience more suffering in hell than a good and moral person by society’s standards.

So, the Bible teaches that there are Varying Degrees of both rewards in heaven, and punishment in hell!  Be on the rewards side!

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