Sermon #1070 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: Will There Be Degrees Of Reward In Heaven?
Text: Revelation 21:4
Reading: Matthew 20:1-16
Subject: Heavenly rewards
Date: Tuesday Evening - February 2, 1993
Tonight, I want to address a subject I have touched upon many times. I spent some time dealing with it in my message Sunday morning. Tonight, I want to deal with the question head on - Will There Be Degrees Of Reward In Heaven? This is a question around which there has been much controversy throughout the history of the church. Many men whose doctrine has been thoroughly biblical in other areas have been in grave error concerning rewards. I know that I will not settle the controversy surrounding this question. However, as your pastor, it is my responsibility to teach you those things which become sound doctrine and build you up in the faith of Christ, so that you will not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness!” My purpose in preaching this message is not to answer the arguments of those who oppose our doctrine. I am not here to debate doctrine. I leave that to others. My purpose in preaching this message is threefold…
1. I want to glorify and honor our great God.
2. I want to build you up in the faith of Christ.
3. I want to show sinners the way of salvation by grace alone.
Salvation, in its’ entirety, is the work of God’s free grace. That is the foundation upon which we build all our doctrine. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. No part of salvation can be, in any measure, attributed to the will, worth, or works of man (2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 11:6). If it is possible to separate heavenly rewards from salvation, then you might talk about degrees of reward; but if heaven and the glorious inheritance of the saints in heaven is only the consummation of salvation, then to talk of degrees of reward in heaven is to teach salvation by works!
NOTE: Salvation involves all that is required to bring a sinner from the ruins of the fall into the glory of heaven.
1. What is the doctrine of those who teach degrees of reward in heaven?
2. What are the inevitable implications of this doctrine?
3. Why are we so dogmatically opposed to this doctrine?
4. There is one text of Scripture which both destroys the doctrine of degrees of reward and assures every believer of an everlasting fulness of joy in glory.
I. WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF THOSE WHO TEACH DEGREES OF REWARD IN HEAVEN?
I realize that some men who teach this doctrine may have some slightly different opinions than others; but basically this is their doctrine. Lest I be accused of putting words in their mouths, let me quote directly from one of the leading proponents of this doctrine. These are the words of Merrill F. Unger.
“Rewards are offered by God to a believer on the basis of faithful service rendered after salvation. It is clear from Scripture that God offers to the lost salvation and for the faithful service of the saved, rewards. Often in theological thinking salvation and rewards are confused. However, these two terms must be carefully distinguished. Salvation is a free gift (John 4:10; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9), while rewards are earned by works (Matt. 10:42; Lk. 19:17; 1 Cor. 9:24-25; 2 Tim. 4:7-8). Rewards will be dispensed at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10). The doctrine of rewards is inseparably connected with God’s grace. A soul being saved on the basis of divine grace, there is no room for the building up of merit on the part of the believer. Yet, God recognizes an obligation on his part to reward his saved ones for their service to Him. Nothing can be done to merit salvation, but what the believer has achieved for God’s glory God recognizes in His great faithfulness with rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
This is what those men teach who teach degrees of reward in heaven. (5 things.).
A. Salvation is limited to the initial experience of conversion. You cannot separate one part of salvation from another (Rom. 8:28-30).
· Not according to Paul (2 Cor. 2:10; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rom. 13:11).
· Not according to Peter (1 Pet. 2:4).
· Not according to our Lord (Matt. 10:22).
B. It is possible for a person to be saved and not be a faithful servant of Christ. See Luke 14:25-33!
C. Men, by their service to God put God under obligation to reward them!
Is it possible for a sinful man or woman to do anything to merit God’s favor, to earn God’s blessing? Can a mere man oblige the Almighty?
D. There will be two judgment days, one for believers and another for unbelievers.
These people must make the Bible fit their doctrine. So they teach…
· Two second comings - One secret/one open.
· Two resurrections - One secret/one open.
· Two judgments - One for believers - The Judgment Seat of Christ/ One for unbelievers - The Great White Throne.
E. Believers will yet have to suffer for their sins!
Illustration: Dusty’s statement at Lookout - “You will
eternity weeping in heaven over every sin you
commit on this earth.”
God declares that he will never charge his people with sin (Rom. 4:8; 8:32-34).
II. WHAT ARE THE INEVITABLE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS DOCTRINE?
If the doctrine of degrees of reward in heaven is accepted then it must be acknowledged that…
A. Heaven’s glory is not the reward of grace, but the payment of a debt.
B. Heaven is not a place of unmingled joy, but of mingled joy and grief.
C. God does withhold some good things from them that walk uprightly, and some evil shall fall upon the just (Psa. 84:11; Prov. 12:21).
D. The blood of Christ and the righteousness of Christ will not alone be sufficient for our acceptance with God. Some part of God’s favor, some of the blessings of God must be earned by us!
III. WHY MUST WE BE SO DOGMATICALLY OPPOSED TO THIS DOCTRINE?
A. It is without foundation in the Word of God!
· Not one passage referred to in support of this doctrine even hints that some saints will have more and some have less in heaven.
· Not one of the crowns mentioned in the Bible are said to be given only to certain believers. (See Revelation 4:10).
B. It is totally contrary to the plain statements of Holy Scripture.
· Matt. 20:1-16; (v. 12).
· Eph. 1:3
· Rom. 8:17
· John 17:5, 22
· Eph. 5:25-27
· Jude 24
· 1 John 3:2
· Rom. 8:29
Can there be degrees of holiness, degrees of perfection, degrees of faultlessness, degrees of glorification?
C. It makes service to Christ a legal, mercenary thing.
· It promotes pride.
· Threatens punishment.
· Inspires by reward.
D. It robs Christ of the glory of his grace and makes room for human flesh to boast before God.
If I have done something that puts God almighty in obligation to reward me, then I have a right to boast in his presence. If I do something which I merit a higher standing than you in glory, why shouldn’t I boast about it?
E. The doctrine of degrees in glory has the obnoxious odor of works about it; and there is no room for works in the kingdom of grace.
· You cannot worship God on an altar of hewn stone (Ex. 20:25).
· There is no room for your baggage of works in the strait and narrow way.
IV. There is one text of Scripture which both destroys the doctrine of degrees of reward and assures every believer of an everlasting fulness of joy in glory.
The passage I am talking about is Revelation 21:4.
A. This text implies that there is much weeping in the way to heaven, and there is.
Faith in Christ brings deliverance from all curse and condemnation, but not from pain and sorrow.
1. There are many things which believers suffer in this world along with other men. Because the world is a world of sin, it is a world of sorrow.
· Physical pain and sickness.
· Domestic troubles.
· Financial losses.
2. There are many things that bring tears to our eyes which the world knows nothing about.
· Inward sin
· Rash speech
· Injured pride
· Coldness of heart
· Lack of resignation
3. There are even some precious tears which we shed here that will be dried on the other side of Jordan.
· Tears of repentance
· Tears of sympathy
· Tears of concern
· Tears of longing for Christ’s presence
B. Even now, our heavenly Father does much to dry our tears.
The believer’s life is not a morbid, sorrow-filled existence. Not at all! But we do have our sorrows. Yet, even in the midst of sorrow our Lord gives us great comfort (Isa. 43:1-6).
1. He gives us a measure of resignation to his will.
2. He teaches us to trust his providence.
3. He reminds us of his gracious purpose.
4. He causes us to remember his promises.
5. He blesses us with the sense of his presence.
6. He floods our hearts with the knowledge of his love (Eph. 3:19).
7. He reminds us of the cause of our pain (Heb. 12:5-12).
8. He causes our hearts to be fixed upon better things (Col. 3:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:15-18).
C. Yet, in heaven’s glory our God will wipe all tears from our eyes.
Impossible as it is for us to imagine, there is a time coming when we shall weep no more, when we shall have no cause to weep! Heaven is a place of sure, eternal, everincreasing bliss; and the cause of that bliss is our God!
Heaven is a place of joy without sorrow, laughter without weeping, pleasantness without pain! In heaven there are no regrets, no remorseful tears, no second thoughts, no lost causes, no sorrows of any kind!
1. If God did not wipe away all tears from our eyes, there would be much weeping in heaven.
· Over past sins!
· Over unconverted ones, forever lost!
· Over wasted opportunities!
· Over our unkindness and lack of love to our brethren here!
· Over the terrible price of our redemption!
2. But God will wipe away all tears from our eyes.
· “There shall be no more death!”
· “Neither sorrow!”
· “Nor crying!”
· “Neither shall there be any more pain!”
· “For the former things are passed away!”
Our great God shall, in heaven’s glory, remove us from all sin, remove all sin from us, and remove us from all the consequences of sin. He will remove us from every cause of grief. He will bring us at last into the perfection of complete salvation and every desire of our hearts will be completely gratified.
A. We will be like Christ.
B. Be will be with Christ.
C. We will see Christ.
D. We will love Christ perfectly.
E. We will serve Christ unceasingly.
F. We will worship Christ without sin.
G. We will rest in Christ completely.
H. We will enjoy Christ fully.
I. We will have Christ entirely.
Will you be among the blessed company of the redeemed? Will you be with Christ in glory?
1. You will only enter into glory if you are worthy of heaven.
2. You can only be made worthy by the merits of Christ.
3. If you are worthy of everlasting glory, you shall have all, without degrees, perfectly.
4. Trust Christ and all the glory of Christ in heaven is yours!