You mentioned that there are varying degrees of punishment regarding non-disciples, which I think is true (Luke 12:47-48), but you then used Matthew 6:20 and Philippians 4:17 to argue in favour of degrees of reward for disciples as well. I was wondering how this is reconcilable with the "complete" salvation that Christ gives to every disciple. I always tended to think that just as "more grace" doesn't make us "more saved," so "more treasures" doesn't mean "more reward." Levels of reward also seem to me to nullify the idea of our service being only a "response" to our salvation - instead, our service begins to be a measure of our reward. It would be great to have some clarity on this issue!'
Twenty years ago, when I first wrote my paper about heaven and hell [Terminal Punishment], I advanced the idea that the experience of heaven and hell will depend on the individual's life -- his choices, opportunities, thoughts, words, deeds. In Luke 12, some are beaten with few blows, some with many. To tell the truth, I continued to resist the notion of "treasure in heaven," because I felt it might encourage wrong motives. I thought the Reformation sorted out the Catholic error, and saw no need to go back there! Eventually I changed my mind, because I came to the conviction that this is what the Bible teaches.
Yet I frankly do not see how degrees of reward, or treasure in heaven, in any way nullifies grace or salvation. Who taught "complete salvation" more than the apostle Paul? (Though there is the intriguing Colossians 1:24...) Doesn't the Bible in many passages teach we will be judged according to what we have done, not only according to what Christ has done for us? Isn't it both? Philippians 2:12 and other verses give me the idea that service is not merely a response to salvation -- though I teach it and it feels right. It is a response, but it's also an identification with Christ (Philippians 3:10-11).
So I would say, to modify the common analogy about the Judgment Day, that the "exam" is perhaps not just "Pass/Fail." Letter grades may be given as well! Yet I have never met a Christian disciple who seemed controlled by that consideration. It's there in the back of my mind, but the pressures of life, the refining fires of personal sacrifice, and the opposition of the world continually purge us from being unduly governed by our reward.
I hope I am right about all this, because, as I think you know, we who teach (which applies to all disciples to some extent) will be judged "more strictly" (James 3:1).
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