< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Myths and Truths About Heaven and Hell

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Myths and Truths About Heaven and Hell

Part 2

If we accept that someday, sooner or later, we are going to face death, we should still be making preparations while we are living, even though we are saved by grace and not works. Our lives will be judged when we get to heaven.

J. Oswald Sanders says that it is very probable that many who are now so blasé about the thought of Heaven will be filled with regret that they didn’t spend more time thinking about it and making better preparation for it. The quality of our life and service here has a very real bearing on our reward there. On judgment day, the motive of our work is what counts. On that day God will test everything by His standard of truth and if it meets with His approval a reward will be given. The reward is not salvation, for salvation is of grace totally apart from works. But this reward is for faithful service, because of salvation.

All true believers who stand before the judgment seat will qualify for Heaven, but not all will receive the same reward. The rewards promised in Heaven are sometimes represented by the symbol of a crown. In Greek culture a crown might either be an ornamental headdress worn by a king or queen or a wreath worn as a symbol of victory.

So there are 2 judgments: The Book of Life, which lists all the saved people and the rewards for believers based on our lives.

Billy Graham wrote in Hope for the Troubled Heart: Finding God in the Midst of Pain “There is a time coming when all Christians will stand before God and give an account of the way they used the gifts God has given them. It will be a time of truth for all believers. There are different crowns that are available and these are given according to the quality of work we have done on earth.

For those who have endured trials and suffering with patience, there is a special crown of life. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life.”

For those who believe the only rewards worth desiring are measured by what money can buy, there will be surprises in Heaven to see who will receive some of the special crowns.

We are told to “Be very careful then how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16) If we knew this was our last day on earth, what opportunities would we use? Call a friend who was hurting? Say I’m sorry to someone we’ve slighted? Encourage a young person who was struggling with a school or job? Tell our husband or wife, parents or children, how much we love them? Most important, would we tell someone about Jesus Christ and how they could have eternal life through Him? How would we spend those final twenty-four hours?”

1 Corinthians 3: 11-15 “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

Those verses make it clear that there can be a saved soul, but a lost life because of unfaithfulness in the stewardship of life.

What will be taken into account in the assessment?

1. Our testimony to Christ – Philippians 2:16
2. Our suffering for Christ – 1 Peter 4:13
3. Our faithfulness to Christ – Luke 12:42-43/Revelation 2:10
4. Our service for Christ – 1 Corinthians 3:8/Hebrews 6:10
5. Our generosity to Christ – 2 Corinthians 9:6/1 Timothy 6: 17-19
6. Our use of time for Christ – Ephesians 5:15-16/Colossians 4:5
7. Our exercise of spiritual gifts – Matthew 25:14-28/1 Peter 4:10
8. Our self-discipline for Christ – 1 Corinthians 9:24 -25
9. Our winning of souls for Christ - 1 Thessalonians 2:19

So now we’re past the two judgments. Tomorrow we’ll look at the myths about Heaven.

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