“Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ”
The doctrine of degrees of reward for God’s elect in heaven is as foreign to the Bible as the papists’ doctrine of purgatory. It exists without a shred of evidence in Holy Scripture. I have no idea who concocted this doctrine. Whoever he was, he was totally ignorant of the gospel of the grace of God.
Degrees of Punishment? -- Yes.
Without question, the Scriptures teach that there will be degrees of punishment for the wicked (Matt. 11:20-24). Those who are given greater light and despise it shall have greater condemnation in hell than those who sinned against less light. Those who go to hell shoving God out of their way, as it were, by despising the gospel, will suffer greater wrath than those who go to hell rejecting only the light of creation. There shall be degrees of punishment, because there are degrees of wickedness and guilt.
Degrees of Reward? – No!
Not only do the Scriptures not teach the doctrine of rewards in heaven, the doctrine is contrary to and contradicts everything taught in the Bible about grace, and the believer’s acceptance with God in Christ. How can there be degrees of joint-heirship with Christ? To be a “joint-heir” is to be a co-possessor of the inheritance.
The doctrine of degrees of reward among the saints makes the inheritance of eternal glory a matter of works. Those who teach it try to say “grace;” but it still comes out “works.” They tell us, “We are saved by grace; but after we are saved, we must earn our crowns and positions in heaven by our own faithfulness and obedience to the will of God.” In other words, they would have us believe that God gets us started toward heaven by grace, through the merits of Christ’s blood and righteousness; but we earn the ultimate glory and blessedness of heaven by our own merits! The Lord our God does not give grace and then make us earn glory. It is written, “The Lord will give grace and glory!”
The doctrine of degrees of reward in heaven denies the completeness of Christ’s atonement for sin. The Lord Jesus did not make atonement for some of his people’s sins, but for all of their sins: past, present, and future. There is not one iota of difference between this and the Roman doctrine of purgatory. It teaches that the believer must suffer for his sins (failures, lack of faithfulness, etc.) forever in heaven. What utter nonsense!
The doctrine of degrees of reward in heaven denies the gospel doctrine of imputed righteousness. The Holy Spirit tells us that all who trust Christ are presently and forever worthy of the inheritance of God’s saints (Col. 1:12). We are worthy of that inheritance which is the very glory of Christ our Mediator (John 17:22), because his righteousness is our righteousness before God. Just as Christ was made to be sin for us and was justly rewarded for our sin with wrath, condemnation, and death, all who are made the righteousness of God in him shall be justly rewarded with eternal life, in all its fulness, possessing the very glory of heaven! Our sins were not partially imputed to Christ; and his righteousness is not partially imputed to us (Jer. 23:6; 33:16; 50:20).
Grace Baptist Church of Danville - Grace For Today Radio Message #735
2734 Old Stanford Road - Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor -Telephone 606-236-8235 - Email firstname.lastname@example.org