Eternal Rewards and Punishment for Believers

For a believer in Christ, life on earth does not go unrewarded or unpunished. This is true both in this life and in the afterlife. Not only do a believer’s righteous acts (see Rev. 19: 8), here and now, bring rewards in this life, but perhaps even more and greater rewards in the afterlife and for all eternity. However, there is also punishment and loss that goes along with this. It’s termed “The Doctrine of Eternal Rewards and Punishment.” Over one hundred verses of Scripture address this postmortem reality.

WARNING: This topic point may not be a message some believers in Christ want to hear.

Theological Problem:

Rarely, if ever, is the doctrine of eternal rewards, loss, and punishments for believers taught or preached in most churches. Therefore, “there are countless ‘Christians’ who believe they have a ticket to heaven, and nothing else really matters” (Whistleblower magazine, April, 2005, 22).

So why is this biblical teaching rarely if ever taught? Here’s a short, recent, and true story from John Noe that might shed some light on this huge omission and problem.

The senior pastor’s sermon that Sunday was on the topic of “Universal Judgment.” Confidently, he assured the large congregation that “if they are believers in Jesus Christ, they have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about, concerning judgment, because Christ has taken care of it for us.”

In a follow-up conversation, I asked this pastor if he was familiar with the doctrine of eternal rewards, loss, and even punishment for believers in heaven. He said he wasn’t interested. I mentioned that many verses speak of this and I’d be happy to send them to him. He responded that there are many more verses that speak of God’s grace and love and of setting people free. He would focus on those and not the others, thank you.

No doubt, this pastor is both a victim as well as a perpetrator of a led-astray, dumbed-down, and off-target version of Christianity.

What Scripture Says:

Someday, each and every one of us—believers and unbelievers alike—will face, go into, and dwell forever in the postmortem experience. It’s the afterlife destiny of every person who has ever lived, is now living, or will live on planet Earth. Individually, everyone of us will “stand before God’s judgment seat . . . . [and] give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:10b, 12b). For believers, there and then, we “receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). Jesus further elaborated about this experience, thusly: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37). No believer is exempt not even females, despite this use of masculine language. (Whether this is happening currently every day as people die [we think so] or is a future event yet to happen will not be addressed herein.)

Twice, and on the positive side, this encouraging tidbit also has been revealed. “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:9-10; from Isa. 64:4).

Elaborations

  • Basis of your judgment
  • Rewards
  • Loss
  • How will you spend eternity
  • Closing quotes

Sources:

  1. Hell Yes / Hell No by John Noe
  2. The Perfect Ending for the World by John Noe
  3. In Light of Eternity by Randy Alcorn