Q&A: Rewards at Final Judgment

Rewards at Final Judgment

What blessings will God's people receive after final judgment?

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Answer

When we talk about final judgment and the blessings that believers will receive, I think we have a real hole in our theology. There's a lot that's missing there. Most people think, well, heaven, I'll live eternally and it will be wonderful and blissful and that everyone will pretty much be equal. But when we look at the teachings of Jesus and in the letters in the New Testament, one of the things that we find is that there's going to be different levels of blessing for different people based on how they lived their life after coming to faith in Christ. How we live our life doesn't gain us salvation, but once you're saved, how you live your life will determine what your blessing is in heaven, if you will. You know, James makes the point that those who teach will be judged more strictly. Well, what does that mean? Well, it means that their reward will be judged on a harder standard because a teacher is expected to live by a higher standard, and so if they don't live by that standard, the reward, you know, won't be as great as it may be for somebody who wasn't a teacher but did their best, you know, following Christ.

The picture I think of, oftentimes, is salvation is what gets you in the stadium. Some people are going to have front-row seats. They're going to be right up there up front. You know, James and John asked Jesus, "Can we be on your right- and left-hand side?" And he said, "Well, that's yet to be determined." So, clearly there's some blessing right up next to Jesus. There'll be some other folks, probably a whole lot of preachers and teachers, like myself, who will be way up in the cheap seats and just be happy to be in the stadium, to be in heaven. But it will be determined based on what we've done with what God has given us. One of the images Scripture gives us is that we each receive a crown. I think some crowns are going to be bigger than others because of how people lived. But even in that, the crown is something we just turn right around and give back to Jesus as an honor to him. But I think the one blessing that most speaks to me is that, as a follower of Christ, when you get there, to hear the words of Jesus and be embraced by him when he says, "Well done, good and faithful servant," there'll be nothing greater than being in his presence in that way.

Answer by Dr. Dan Lacich

Dr. Dan Lacich serves on the pastoral team of Northland, A Church Distributed, in Orlando FL