DIVERSITY OF DESTINIES (EXCERPT OF IT IS TIME FOR A REFORMATION OF CHRISTIAN THINKING)
From: It Is Time for a Reformation of Christian Thinking
Copyright © 1991 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Christians do not pay enough attention to the different destinies available to those whom God saves from destruction. For each person who escapes the Lake of Fire there exists a wide array of roles and opportunities for service. These range in authority and glory from being seated in the throne of Christ to being “saved; yet so as by fire.”
Christian teaching and preaching leave people with the impression that only two choices of destiny, to be saved or lost, are available to mankind, and that all the saved are given much the same reward. However, it is not true that the destinies of all the saved are so similar there is not much point in examining the issue. The differences in destiny among the saved are indeed important. The rewards the Scriptures hold out to us are desirable. They will be our possessions for eternity. The fear of punishment and the hope of glory provide us with the strongest of motivations to serve the Lord with all our mind and strength.
DIVERSITY OF DESTINIES
Christian teaching and preaching leave people with the impression that only two choices of destiny are available to mankind. An individual will be seated on the throne of Christ as one of God’s kings and priests or else he or she will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.
There is at least one aspect of the plan of redemption that indeed is an either-or situation. It has to do with the destiny of the individual after the judgment that takes place at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Revelation 20:11-15). At this judgment, either the person is brought forward to enjoy eternal life in the new heaven and earth reign of Christ or else he or she is cast into the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
When considering those who are brought forward to enjoy eternal life in the new world we see, in the Scriptures, that there will be saved people on the new earth who are not part of the Throne of Christ. The members of the Throne, of the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb, are one set of saved persons who will occupy the new earth. But in addition there will be nations of saved people dwelling on the new earth, over whom the Lamb’s Wife will rule.
And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. (Revelation 21:24)
The “it” of the above verse is the Wife of the Lamb. The “nations of them which are saved” are just that—the saved peoples of the earth. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament reveal to us that the saints of God will rule over the nations of saved people.
For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12)
There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
As soon as we enter a discussion of our topic it becomes clear that salvation is not only a case of being saved or being lost. Instead of two we have three possible destinies: being a member of the ruling priesthood—the Wife of the Lamb; being a member of the nations of saved people on the new earth; or being a member of the family of Satan and his angels.
The primary meaning of the term saved is “delivered from the Lake of Fire, from spiritual death, and brought forward to eternal life.” To be saved in a fuller sense is to be brought from the image of Satan and union with Satan all the way to the image of God and union with God.
In current usage we employ the word save to mean rescue, as in saving a person from drowning. We have no idea what kind of person he will become or what type of life he will lead after being saved from drowning. All we know is, he did not die. He was brought from death to life.
Every individual who is not, at the end, cast into the Lake of Fire, will be brought forward to the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this sense, salvation is an either-or arrangement. Either we are assigned to the Lake of Fire or else we are permitted to live eternally in the Presence and blessing of God.
The problem in Christian thinking is that we do not pay enough attention to the different destinies available to those whom God saves from destruction. For those who escape the Lake of Fire there exists a wide array of roles and opportunities for service. These range in authority and glory from being seated in the throne of Christ to being “saved; yet so as by fire” (I Corinthians 3:15). There are greatest and least in the Kingdom.
We must keep two facts in mind:
- The eternal destiny of people, with the exception of the members of the royal priesthood, will not be decided until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
- The Scriptures in several passages speak of a variety of rewards and punishments.
The Scriptures say little about what happens to us when we die. The emphasis is on what will take place in the Day of Christ. A brief glance through the Epistles will demonstrate this fact.
deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5)
It is not true that if we are saved we therefore will inherit the fullness of the Glory of God’s kings and priests. It is not true that the destinies of all the saved are so similar there is not much point in examining the issue.
The doctrine that the destinies of the saved are similar has had at least two damaging effects on the believers:
- The scriptural motive for running the victorious race, which is the gaining of the rewards of rulership and opportunities for eternal service, has been greatly weakened.
- It confuses the simple, direct interpretation of passages of the Scriptures.
“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)
“Shall be called least in the kingdom.” “Shall be called great in the kingdom.”
The differences in the destinies of people as they pass from this earth may prove to be much greater than the differences in their characters and the roles they played on the earth.
It appears there is an assumption underlying the popular Christian doctrine of salvation. It is that physical death will change what we are, bringing us from the spiritual condition we are in at present to a state of glory and blessedness. As a natural consequence we shall receive, when the Lord comes, a body like that of the glorified Jesus.
It is taught that if we “accept Jesus” we will be made like Him when we die, and go to live for eternity in a land where there is no more opportunity for sin against God. The sin question is settled by physical death. Deliverance from the bondage of sin comes through physical death. The “last enemy,” physical death, has become our redeemer.
Yet there is no evidence in the Scriptures that any spiritual improvement will take place in us as a consequence of, or at the time of, our physical death. The position of the Scripture is that every individual will be rewarded in the Day of Judgment according to his behavior on the earth. The Scriptures are almost silent concerning the period of time between our physical death and the appearing of Christ in the clouds.
The assumption is that what we are in personality we are. There is no basis in Scripture for believing physical death will change what we are. When we awake in the Day of Judgment we will be unchanged in personality. In fact, what we have become during our lifetime on the earth will be revealed in that day.
The testimony of Christians who have been given insight into the spirit realm, into life after death, is that we experience no change when we die other than the relief of being shed of our earth-bound body.
Sin is a purely spiritual phenomenon. It is not at all physical. The flesh and blood of people have God-ordained appetites and affections. Left alone, man would still be in Paradise.
The war is in the spirit realm. God and His Christ, along with the elect angels, are righteous in personality and behavior. But there is an army of wicked, rebellious spirits and demons. These filthy spirits inflame and distort the natural appetites and affections of the flesh.
We can understand from this that physical death accomplishes nothing in the way of improving our righteousness. While we may go to an environment in the spirit realm that is above the area where the wicked express themselves, we ourselves are not transformed by this change of location.
Bringing a wicked spirit into Paradise will not transform the inward nature of the wicked. We do not go to Paradise to experience transformation. It takes place here as we walk with Christ.
Sundar Singh, a noted Christian visionary, testified that we go to the area of the spirit realm for which we are suited. Other Christian writers who have had visions of life after death confirm that we are placed according to our spiritual development, that the spiritual world is not divided only into the deepest Hell and the highest Heaven but into gradations of Heaven and gradations of Hell.
Given that the Scriptures do not speak to the contrary, given such grouping of people by spiritual development and calling takes place to a certain extent while we still are alive on the earth, and given such placement is reasonable and compassionate, it is our point of view that all persons—Christian by belief or not—will, when they die, pass into a realm suited to their spiritual development, there to await the Day of Judgment.
This is not to say that some are not lost to God by the time of physical death, or that the wicked will not go immediately into the flames of Hell, there to await the white-throne judgment. It appears evident from the Scriptures that such is the case. Our point is that there are others—a great “sea” of people—who will not be placed in the Presence of God and the Lamb at physical death, or cast into the burning flames, but will find themselves with people of similar development.
It is the writer’s point of view that the occasion of physical death does not result in the grouping of people into two uniform companies; rather, it results in the careful defining of each individual’s progress, or lack of it, in godly character. Let us hope that such is the case.
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, (Hebrews 9:27)
There is salvation in the name and in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we hear the Gospel of Christ we must receive Christ, be baptized in water, and serve Him with all our heart. If we do not receive Christ when He is presented to us we come under the condemnation of God. We must receive Christ when He is presented to us. God will not accept our refusal of His Son.
If we are a true saint, Christ is dwelling in us. The angels will take note of this when we pass into the spirit realm. However, even this wonderful provision does not automatically place us in the same rank in the Kingdom as the Apostle Paul. We will be placed where we fit, where we belong, where we have prepared ourselves to dwell, at the level of Divine Fire we can bear. Not all will sit on the right hand of Christ when He appears in glory. But some will!
We see this reality today. Some Christians seek God continually so they may dwell in His Presence. Others are not nearly as zealous when it comes to seeking the Presence of the Lord. They are quite content to dwell on the fringes of God’s grace, being concerned only that their routines are not upset. They are not at peace in a more fervent assembling of saints.
It is evident that Christians who have little desire to spend time in God’s Presence while they are living in this world will not, merely because they have professed faith in the atonement, be thrust into the center of the Divine Fire when they die physically. They would be dismayed at the thought of having to live in such an atmosphere here and God certainly will not torment them with His Presence in Paradise.
Our present relationship to God and Christ will continue after we die. What we are, we are, and what we are will determine our placement after we die. This is the author’s point of view as well as the testimony of Christian visionaries.
In the Day of Christ, what we are will be made manifest. Then we shall be rewarded according to what we have practiced in our body. If we have been learning our spiritual lessons and growing in Christ we then shall continue to learn and grow. If we have neglected or refused the Divine redemption there remains for us a fearful looking for of Divine wrath. There is an abundance of scriptural support for this.
‘Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. (Matthew 25:28,29)
What a difference it would make in the lives of Christians if they understood that physical death will not change what they are but rather will reveal what they are!
Let us consider the doctrine of “stripes”:
“And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
“But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:47,48)
One man is not judged by another man’s gifts. Each individual is held accountable for the light he or she has been given. Since no person can come to Christ unless the Father draws him, it becomes clear that it is God who decides how much light each person will be given. Therefore we ought not to be harsh in our judgment of people.
Let us notice, first of all, that Luke 12:47,48 is referring to the servants of the Lord. Verse 46 contrasts the Lord’s servants with the “unbelievers.”
“the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:46)
It is our point of view that “stripes” do not indicate the Lake of Fire. Stripes imply chastisement, punishment, not ultimate destruction. There may be many forms of punishment in the spirit realm. Assignment to the Lake of Fire is the supreme penalty. The Scriptures teach that the torment of the Lake of Fire goes on forever. The doctrine of “many” and “few” lashes signifies differences in number or duration, with the few terminating before the many; and possibly differences also in intensity.
The doctrine of “stripes” suggests correction, not banishment from God as in the case of the Lake of Fire.
If we are correct in assuming that the “many” and “few” lashes are not referring to the ultimate separation and torment of the Lake of Fire, to what are they referring? What will it mean to the careless—and yet saved—individual to be beaten with lashes in the Presence of his Lord?
The spirit realm may be thought of in terms of the natural realm for the two realms are more similar than dissimilar. We can study the manner in which the Lord punishes us in the natural realm in order to gain understanding of how He may punish us in the spirit realm.
The disobedient Christian may suffer sickness (or the sickness of a loved one), an accident of some kind, mental anguish from the loss of the Lord’s Presence, loss of strength in prayer, the loss of the joy of reading the holy Scriptures, or a whole array of assorted troubles, pains, and difficulties. The way of the transgressor is hard. The rebellious dwell in a dry land. Adam and Eve were driven from the garden of Eden and forced to live by hard work in a hostile environment.
We are suggesting that the counterparts of these afflictions and tribulations exist in the spirit realm. They do not cease necessarily when we die. What passage of Scripture states when we die we no longer can be disciplined?
Our peace is in obedience to Christ, not in dying and passing into the spirit realm. Who knows what passing into the spirit realm holds for any one of us? The only guarantees we have are those found in the Scriptures. The remainder of our ideas are conjecture.
A backslider can testify to the years of agonizing effort he has endured, or is enduring, in the attempt to regain the Presence and joy of Christ in his or her life. To behold a backslider crying to God for mercy is a sobering experience.
To those who may protest that the Scriptures indicate the backslider is forgiven instantly and there is no need for him to suffer agony, let us answer by saying that the salvation that comes from the Lord is more tangible than this. It is something we can feel. Our salvation is more than belief in the text of the Scriptures.
To those who truly have known the Lord, His rebuke and the removal of His Presence are an agony. They know when they have lost their joy and when it has been restored. They may have to walk faithfully by the Scriptures in dryness of soul for many years before their assurance is returned to them.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by your generous Spirit. (Psalms 51:12)
Fundamentalism is strong when it reminds us that the Scriptures are holy and eternally unchanging. Fundamentalism is weak when it teaches us to substitute a profession of belief in the text for a living experience with God.
The assertion we possess something because the “Bible says so,” can produce a “salvation” void of the Lord’s rich Presence. The Scriptures lead us to the living Jesus. Eternal life is in Him, not in the text of the Bible.
The spiritual dryness of the returning backslider is not to be confused with the dry deserts through which the Lord brings His Bride as He perfects her love, faith, and patience. We have to learn to walk in the cloud of blessing by day and according to the directions of the fire of His written Word by night.
Isn’t it possible that our earthly experiences can teach us what we may expect in the spirit realm if we have not responded to all the light given us?
Dr. Ritchie, in his inspiring book, Return from Tomorrow (Waco, Texas: Chosen Books, 1978), tells of the fate of suicides. Though in spiritual form they are required to dwell in the presence of people whom they have harmed by the sin of taking their own lives. Their repeated cries of remorse cannot be heard by their loved ones. This may be the least part of their “hell,” their “stripes.”
In no manner do we intend to suggest that every time we become ill, or a loved one becomes ill, or it becomes difficult for us to pray or to study the Word of God, that we have been disobedient to God. On many occasions these are the normal tribulations every Christian experiences. Such testings are for our strengthening.
Afflictions teach us to pray and to stop our sinning (James 5:13; I Peter 4:1). After we have suffered sufficiently God will make us perfect, establish us, strengthen us, settle us (I Peter 5:10).
It is true also that the sinning, disobedient Christian often receives in this present life the consequences of his disobedience. The Scripture suggests that his chastening will continue in the spirit realm when he passes from this world to the next unless he repents thoroughly.
Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. (I Timothy 5:24)
There is no sin in the Kingdom of God. In the Day of Christ, men will receive the evil they have practiced (II Corinthians 5:10).
It appears that many believers die with serious problems in their behavior unresolved. What passage of Scripture states their correction will not continue after they die? The implication of Jesus’ teaching is that they will continue to be chastened—especially in the Day of Christ.
We Christians have many traditions concerning what happens to us when we die, and concerning the nature of Heaven, that are based in part on the visions of the saints. The writer does not discredit these visions but regards them as inspiring.
We always must keep in mind, however, that the bulk of our traditions concerning Heaven and what happens to us after we die, stem from the unfortunate use of the term “mansions,” in the King James translation of John 14:2—a usage that cannot be defended lexically, contextually, or by any other principle of Scripture interpretation. Our traditions concerning “dying and going to Heaven to live in a mansion” are not based solidly on the Scriptures.
The Apostle Paul speaks of some who are “saved; yet so as by fire” (I Corinthians 3:15).
Have we ever stopped to consider what it may mean to be saved, yet so as by fire? Saved by fire?
If this expression is referring to Lot being dragged out of Sodom, we are speaking here of a massive loss of inheritance. Lot, a wealthy man, entered Sodom with much livestock. He left a widower and a pauper.
The incestuous relationship of Lot’s two daughters with him produced Moab and Ammon. God said, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter the congregation of the Lord for ever” (Deuteronomy 23:3).
The Moabites and the Ammonites were a thorn in the side of the people of Israel. It was the king of Moab who hired Balaam to curse Israel and who seduced the Israelite warriors to sin.
Is this what we want, to be saved as was Lot with no inheritance, our fruit causing anger on the part of the Lord? Compare the inheritance of Lot with the inheritance of Abraham.
Many Christians use the concept of being saved by fire as proof that once having professed Jesus they never can be lost. This is because they do not understand the diversity of destinies possible in the Kingdom of God. Their assumption is that if they are “saved” their troubles are over. When the Lord comes they will be transformed into a spiritual giant, will sit in the throne with Jesus, and will govern the nations with a rod of iron.
If it is true, as we are maintaining, that being saved as by fire indicates the loss of our birthright as sons of God so that we enter blind, deaf, and naked into the spirit realm, there to await the scathing rebuke of the Lord in the Day of Judgment, then being saved as by fire is not such a blessed prospect.
The believers of today who expect a “rapture” to take place momentarily have no conception of what it would be like to be brought into the Presence of the Lord in their sins, foolishness, and disobedience to God.
The Lord Jesus warned us clearly in the Gospels that when He returns He will hold His servants to strict account for their behavior. This is the teaching of the Scripture and it ought to be emphasized.
Those who claim we can never be lost after once having professed Christ employ I Corinthians 3:15 to support their argument. Their idea of being saved as by fire seems to be that careless, disobedient believers will inherit a two-story mansion instead of a three-story mansion.
Have they never experienced a fiery trial from the Lord?
Do they think being saved as by fire will be a pleasant experience? Do they imagine that the “stripes” administered to the Lord’s disobedient servants will be slaps on the wrist?
Have they never considered the prolonged, fiery trials the most obedient of the Lord’s servants endure, and then deduced what will be true of the careless and disobedient Christians? Do they not understand that even the righteous are saved with difficulty? (I Peter 4:18).
Many of the Lord’s elect will be punished in this world for their sins and disobedience. If they still have not repented to the Lord’s satisfaction they will continue to be punished after they die. We base this understanding on the Lord’s Words in the Gospel accounts and we know of no Scripture to the contrary.
It is our point of view also that the “stripes” the saints suffer in the present world, and perhaps in the next as well, are for their salvation. Stripes are not the same sentence as that horror of all horrors—to be cast into the Lake of Fire without hope of release.
We assuredly do not believe that all people will be saved eventually. The Scriptures clearly teach the contrary, as we understand them. Neither are we suggesting the concept of a “second chance.”
Some may study our arguments and reason they can be disobedient to Christ in this life, suffer for a season in the next, and ultimately be saved and rewarded with glory. Such do not understand that God takes the wise in their own craftiness (Job 5:13). God knows the reasonings of their hearts and will deal with them accordingly.
God may decide there is such wickedness and guile in their hearts their names should be blotted from the Book of Life—professed Christian or not! The Lord God cannot be mocked!
Our Lord Jesus is the great and terrible LORD, as well as the gentle Shepherd. If we are wise we will love Him and serve Him with all our heart.
Being saved by fire is a fearful prospect indeed. The operation may prove to be very, very prolonged and very painful.
The current Christian teaching is that only two destinies are available to people: the highest Heaven or the deepest Hell; to be a king and priest of God or to be tormented in the Lake of Fire for eternity.
It is true that we either shall be saved or lost. But in between the extremes of being one of God’s kings, or being tormented for eternity in the Lake of Fire, there are many diverse states to be considered.
One major problem with the current Christian teaching is that we add to the two-destinies doctrine the idea that once we make a formal profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ our destiny will be to ascend the highest throne of glory after we die and we never shall experience pain, or even rebuke, in the spirit realm no matter how we behave ourselves in the present world. This concept is unscriptural. It tends to remove the Divinely ordained motivation for overcoming sin, which is the rewards and punishments held before the believers.
Many passages of the Scripture point out the diversity of destinies available to the believers in Christ. They are dramatically different destinies in glory, in opportunities for service, in degrees of eternal life, in the type of body with which we will be raised, in authority, in power, in relationships with God and with people.
These are not trivial difference in which all the saved receive approximately the same reward: one receives an acre of diamonds and the other receives two acres of diamonds. “We do not care because we do not need money in Heaven”—and this sort of fleshly reasoning.
The differences in destiny among the saved are substantial. The rewards the Scriptures hold out to us are desirable. They will be our possessions for eternity.
The fear of punishment and the hope of glory provide us with the strongest of motivations to serve the Lord with all our mind and strength.
If God did not desire we be motivated in terms of punishment and rewards He would not have spoken so many times of these factors. When preachers and teachers dismiss such motives as being unworthy, or not factual, they are making themselves wiser than God. They are setting aside the Word and wisdom of God in favor of their humanistic teachings or because they have been deceived by the traditions of men.
When Christ’s followers asked Him concerning their rewards for following Him, He did not rebuke them. He answered them straightforwardly:
So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)
So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” (Matthew 20:23)
It is not true that every saved person will sit on a throne judging the twelve tribes of Israel, or will sit on Christ’s right hand or His left hand in His Kingdom, or will have his name inscribed in the foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem. Such incomprehensible glory will be the destiny of specific believers.
The true members of Israel, the holy martyrs and saints, both Jewish and Gentile, will be raised in the first resurrection. They will be seated on the highest thrones of the universe and will reign with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6). It is not true that all the saved will rule with Christ to this extent. Over whom would they rule? Over one another? Over the lost? Obviously there must be nations of saved people for us to rule.
Is it reasonable that an individual who believes in Christ but who never has gained victory over sin and self-will in this world will suddenly, by virtue of the fact of having died physically (perhaps prematurely as a result of sin—I Corinthians 11:30), be elevated to one of the spiritual thrones that govern the material creation? Is this scriptural—or even sensible?
Some of the saved are as the “bruised reed” and the “smoking flax” (Isaiah 42:3). They must be plucked from the burning (Jude 1: 23).
There are some who are immature but who are related to the Wife of the Lamb (Song of Solomon 8:8). There are numerous queens, concubines, and virgins. There is one whom the Lord loves above all (Psalms 45:10; Song of Solomon 6:9).
King David had his “mighty men,” and even they were arranged in order of prowess (II Samuel, Chapter 23).
The Lord Jesus selected His three “mighty men” and brought them up to the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1).
There are thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and hundredfold Christians (Matthew 13:23).
The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation hold out marvelous rewards to “him who overcomes” and warn the sinning believers of punishment. The rewards are not given to all the members of the churches but to a few (it appears) whom Christ judges to be worthy to walk with Him in white (Revelation 3:4). The rewards to the overcomer set forth in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation have nothing to do with dying and going to Heaven, it may be observed, but with tremendous endowments of authority, life, nearness to God, and service to mankind. What must be made clear to today’s believers is that such rewards, which often are presented as the destiny of all who make a profession of faith in Christ, are promised to “him who overcomes.” No careless, disobedient believer has any hope whatever of eating of the tree of life, becoming a pillar in the temple of God, or being seated in the supreme throne of the universe.
Should we conclude, therefore, that all the other believers will be cast into the Lake of Fire, there to be tormented without hope for eternity, never again to behold the Face of their Creator? Never again to have a prayer answered? Probably not!
There is a “firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:4). The very term firstfruits implies there is more to be harvested.
Those who turn many to righteousness will shine “as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
To our fellow Christians who would protest these differences apply only to the Jews, and all the saved Gentiles will receive the same reward in Heaven, our response is: such scripturally indefensible reasoning and assuming has all but destroyed the motivation toward growth in Christ of the members of the Christian churches.
One can look through the statement of faith of today’s Christian denominations and perhaps not find one use of the term “the Kingdom of God,” or the doctrine that the Kingdom will be established on the earth when the Lord returns.
Yet the preaching of the Kingdom and of the rewards to be given to Christ’s faithful servants when the Kingdom comes is the primary message of the New Testament.
The main hope of the Christian salvation is the resurrection from the dead. When we are resurrected we shall stand before Christ. At that time we shall be rewarded according to the way we have behaved during our lifetime on the earth.
Grace will not enter at this point. The rewards we shall receive will include a “house,” a robe of righteousness that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones. In addition we shall be given authority and power in the realm of Divine Life, nearness to God, and the opportunity for eternal fruitfulness. Our rewards will be exactly in accordance with what we have done in the body.
The careless, lukewarm believer who has indulged himself during his time on earth will receive the exact consequences of his disobedience. His sudden awareness of opportunities forever lost will cause him to weep in an agony of remorse and terror.
Let us flee from the current teaching that so confounds the ability of the Christian people to make sense of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Rather, let us follow the example of the honored men and women of the Scriptures and press forward toward God with all our might. The rewards for doing so will be unimaginably great. The penalties for neglecting our salvation will prove to be more painful than our worst nightmares.
(“Diversity of Destinies”, 3990-1)