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Sorrow in Heaven - Justification vs. Sanctification

Posted: Wed Dec 08, 2004 9:44 am
by Felgar
This discussion makes little sense if one does not first accept that one could be justified by grace through Faith, but yet not have amassed much (if any) heavenly reward.

I have heard references to scriptures that at first glance might seem to indicate that someone is being sent to Hell, when in reality they indicate that what might really be hapening is those who are not sanctified are being repremanded and not given heavenly reward. They are not going to Hell, but at the same time will not receive the same reward as a righteous follower of Jesus.

In those passages, these people realize that even though they have believed, they wasted their life that could have been spent in the service of the Lord. They are weeping not only for themselves, but also for the many who could have been saved but weren't because they were not proper ambassadors for they Faith. I'm hoping someone here can actually refer to the relevant passages in this context, to help make them more clear under this interpretation. (I don't even know where they are, but have just been explained the concept before in the past)

Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:44 am
by RGeeB
Matthew 22:1-14
Matthew 24:45-51
Matthew 25:1-30
Luke 13:22-30
Matthew 8:5-13

(This may soon lead into 0JAJ :? )

Posted: Thu Dec 09, 2004 8:58 am
by Felgar
Thanks RGeeB - exactly what I was looking for.

Well those passages can only mean that these people are going to Hell unless you first accept them in context of OJAJ.

Interesting that not a single passage refers to being thrown into fire. Only darkness; which I would liken to distance from God, or lack of reward.

I'm curious your opinion (or anyone else's here) ... The parrable of the sower... Would you liken the sprouting of the seed to the sprouting of one's Faith? If so, the sprouting of the seed would represent justification - because that person has heard the good news and accepted it. The conclusion from that interpretation would be that the one choked by thorns and the other who withers in the shallow soil would be those who receive no heavenly reward - those referenced in the above passages. Yet, along those exact same lines, we have the vine and branches, where the withered branches are in fact thrown into the fire.

John 15:5-6
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

Does that passage not contradict in some way, our interpretation of the verses that you posted?

Posted: Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:39 pm
by Jac3510
Heya, Felgar.

First, let me say that I agree with your general doctrine here. There will some who will have greater rewards in heaven than others. (see 2 Corinthians 5:10) But, the question does come up regarding sorrow in Heaven, because we are told in the Bible that there will be none (Revelation 7:16-17).

With that in mind, let's look at the texts RBG provided us with.

Concerning Matthew 22:1-14: this is the parable of the wedding banquet. We have to be careful here to recognize who Jesus is talking about. Obviously, the king is God Himself, and the son represents Jesus. The wedding banquet represents the day of redemption, the bride (though not mentioned in the parable) would be His Church (Revelation 21:2). Who are the ones first invited that rejected the invitation? These would be the Jews. Some may come, of course, and the offer is good to all, but they have chosen to reject it. Notice that in verse six, they killed the messengers who proclaimed the invitation. This we can easily see represents the murder of the prophets, and the judgment of the king on the people represents the exile.

Now, who, then, are the others invited? These would be the Gentiles. The offer is good to all, and all can come. Let's note a few things about this invitation:

1) It is free: the Gospel is free to all. It merely needs to be accepted, not earned.
2) Both good and bad will be gathered together. Our own righteousness does nothing to help or hurt our invitation, nor does our unrighteousness.
3) Wedding clothes were required at the banquet. However, these were poor people, so they could not afford it. In the same way, righteousness is required in Heaven, but we are poor before God, and cannot afford this garment. It was the custom of that day to provide wedding clothes to those the person who was invited but could not supply his own. In the sam way, the "garment of righteousness" is supplied by the King in heaven.
4) Some will enter the banquet hall, but will not accept the gift of righteousness. This is a grave offense. We were invited freely, brought freely, and clothed freely, but to reject the final of these is to show distain for the Lord of the House.

My conclusion on this is that the man under judgement does NOT represent the fallen Christian. He corresponds to the one who will say, "Lord, Lord."

On a side note, verse fourteen is critical to this interpretation. It reads, "For many are invited, but few are chosen.” This is the concluding statement of the parable. Is this, though, in reference to the man in verses 11-13? I don't think so, given the fact that this was told to help the Jews realize that they were about to miss out on the promise. Remember, this is in Matthew's gospel, which was written to convince the Jew, not encourage the Christian! It seems better to me (and a few commentaries I have here ;)) that this verse is in reference to the "big idea" of the parable. That is, many are called--indeed, all are called, first the Jew then the Gentile. But, few are chosen (not in the Calvinistic sense, for we see the first invitees rejected the offer themselves). If "few are chosen" is a refence to non-believers, then it follows that the man in verse 11-13 was a non-believer, not a backslidden Christian.

In other words, verse fourteen provides the Big Idea (read, context) from which we interpret the rest of the parable rather than the other way around, which would render the offender a backslidden Christian.

Now, concerning Matthew 24:45-51 : this COULD refer to the Christian. Specifically, it refers to teachers/pastors, as the context is Jesus' warning the disciples to be ready for His return. I am reminded of James 3:1, "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment." (NASB) As previously noted in 2 Cor. 5:10, all will be recompensed for their deeds in this life. This even more true concerning those who have been put in positions of authority.

I suppose this passage could be used to argue a loss of salvation, but, of course, the rest of our theology totally rejects that concept. Given the previously mentioned verses, it seems to me there are two possible interpretations. The first is that those who fall into judgement will have proved themselves to have never been born again in the first place, for they will be assigned a place "with the hypocrites." (Remember, "Lord, Lord!") The other possibility is that this is a strong warning of the loss of one's inheritance in the Kingdom of God (c.f. 1 Cor. 3:5). Both interpretations can be valid.

Concerning Matthew 25:1-30 : We have the parables of the virgins and the servants with the talents. Now, the first obviously refers to those who were not ready for the return of Christ. How are we ready? If not by works, then it must be by faith. In fact, the virgins who were left behind use the words, "Lord, Lord!" which is very reminiscent of Matthew 7:21-23. So, the contrast here is between people who claim righteousness (c.f. 2 Titus 3:5) and those who actually possess it. Taking this same idea across to the next parable of the servants, we see that one is given five talents, one two, and one only one. The first two are faithful, and they use what they have (2 Co. 5:10). The last, though, is not. Now, just as in the previous parable, the lost virgins did not represent Christians, neither does the wicked servant. If you note his attitude, he thinks of his master as hard and ruthless, so he does not invest his gifts but rather hides them away.

We may be tempted to view this last servant as a Christian, because he is given gifts of God. Christians are given gifts of God, and they are to serve Him, so why are these not the same? The basic reason, I believe, is that these talents do not refer to spiritual gifts, which are available only to true Christians. This refers, instead, to everything God has given. Every gift comes from God, even those that are not "spiritual gifts." (c.f. Matthew 5:25, James 1:17). James makes it clear in James 2 that it is not faith that saves, but a faith that works that saves (more literally, it is a faith through which genuine works may flow that brings salvation, for this faith is "living" because it is based on Life Himself. Grace can only flow through a living faith, and it is grace that saves.). Now, this second servant did not work, but rather hid away his treasure (c.f. Luke 12:16-21). Therefore, his faith was not genuine, and like the virgins, he will be in the camp that cries "Lord, Lord!" In fact, the next section in our passage is revealing. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats--that is, those who are saved versus those who thought they were saved. But what is the context? Remember, Jesus just finished comparing a group of people who were ready and a group who wasn't, and a group whose work was genuine and a group whose work wasn't. These are, again, sheep and goats.

Luke 13:22-30, though applicable to Christians, was designed to be a wakeup call to the Jews. "How many will be saved?" is the question. This was asked by a Jew and answered to the Jews, and note the "yourselves" in verse twenty-eight.

Matthew 8:5-12 presents us with the same scenario. Those "children of the kingdom" are the Jews. Note, again, the context. This is a Gentile who understands the faith, and Jesus has never seen this in all of Israel.

So, in all of these passages, we have only one reference to the loss of reward in heaven. The rest are references to either the rejection of salvation by the Jews or warnings to those who think they are Christians, but really are not (because they aren't ready).

I'll deal with John 14 tomorrow. There is, without question, an interesting parallel between that passage and the only one (Matthew 24:45-51) passage here that might deal with the Christian's loss of inheritance. But, before we get into that, let me just say that we shouldn't expect Jesus to comment too much on this, so we shouldn't be surprised that He doesn't. Jesus was proclaiming salvation to the Jews. He wasn't encouraging an existing church. To be sure, He offered some words of encouragement to His disciples, but that wasn't His purpose. We see that type of writing in the epistles, which is exactly where we would expect to find it. I'll bring up a good bit from them in regard to the title of the topic tomorrow.

In the mean time, I hope this helps. Sorry for the length . . . that's lots of Bible to comment on ;)

God bless

Posted: Sun Dec 12, 2004 4:49 pm
by Felgar
Jac3510 wrote:But, the question does come up regarding sorrow in Heaven, because we are told in the Bible that there will be none (Revelation 7:16-17).
Well first let me say a huge thanks Jac - I very much appreciate your insight and I also find it extremely helpful.

About the sorrow, you're right sorrow 'in heaven' is shown not to be. I guess I was refering more to the afterlife; as in maybe before the new heaven? (One issue spawns another here - from OSAS, to this, to new heaven, etc.) Anyways, like I said in my first post - I'd heard some teaching about Christians actually realizing that they could have done so much better in life than they had - the comparison was made to Schindler in the movie Schindler's list when at the end he breaks down in tears, realizing that despite all he did, he could have saved a few more. So really this thread is the exploration of that topic - and you're on the right track.

But you're right, even if that concept holds - at some point we will be free of all tears, sin, etc.

I very much look forward to your insight on John 14 (err, John 15 I think...) . Till next time! :)

Posted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 1:42 am
by RGeeB
It is interesting to note the instinct inside of us which tells us that we will be rewarded accoridng to our deeds. Agreed that we don't earn our salvation but we still can earn rewards in Heaven! I would like to suggest that it's not what we do, but, what we don't do after we are justified. That could be the basis for our rewards?

I'm thinking of deathbed acceptance of Christ or even the thief on the cross. The passage to consider is Matthew 20:1-16

Also, is it now appropriate to consider the RC doctrine of purgatory?

Posted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 9:09 am
by Felgar
RGeeB wrote:I would like to suggest that it's not what we do, but, what we don't do after we are justified. That could be the basis for our rewards?
Mmm.... I'd say a combination of both. The Bible would show clearly that our 'works' comprise both what we do and what we don't do. For instance, we will answer for the poor that we did not feed. (although, I'd point to Matthew 25:31-46 to back that up, but maybe my context there is wrong - waiting to see what Jac has to say about that passage) OTOH, we have a clear indication of heavenly reward when we do good works (like feeding the poor). Matthew 6:1-4

Regarding the late hour, and the 11th hour salvation (Matthew 20) - I'd say that single payment refers to justification only (i.e. assurance of our place in heaven), but we need to look elsewhere for further insight on heavenly reward.

I'm not very familiar with purgatory - but from what I've heard I don't like the doctrine. I don't know enough to make an informed decision though.

Posted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 9:17 pm
by Kurieuo
Felgar wrote:... They are not going to Hell, but at the same time will not receive the same reward as a righteous follower of Jesus.
Jac3510 wrote:First, let me say that I agree with your general doctrine here. There will some who will have greater rewards in heaven than others. (see 2 Corinthians 5:10)
Just wondering about any thoughts as to what the heavenly rewards might entail?


Posted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 10:59 pm
by Anonymous
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Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 8:29 am
by Felgar
Kurieuo wrote:
Felgar wrote:... They are not going to Hell, but at the same time will not receive the same reward as a righteous follower of Jesus.
Jac3510 wrote:First, let me say that I agree with your general doctrine here. There will some who will have greater rewards in heaven than others. (see 2 Corinthians 5:10)
Just wondering about any thoughts as to what the heavenly rewards might entail?

Good question. When Jesus says "build up treasures in heaven," you gotta think that anything to 'have' would be completely irrelevant (obviously we don't need food, cars, etc.) I've always considered it more of a community status - much in the same way that the Apostles are put in place as leaders of the 12 tribes. Or maybe it has to do with experiencing the full glory of God? As in, we've seen 'the darkness' being related to loss of that reward.

Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 5:18 pm
by Kurieuo
Felgar wrote:Good question. When Jesus says "build up treasures in heaven," you gotta think that anything to 'have' would be completely irrelevant (obviously we don't need food, cars, etc.)
Exactly what I was thinking. If someone is with God then there is no need for anything else. God brings fullness and completion, so why the desire for anything else?
Felgar wrote:I've always considered it more of a community status - much in the same way that the Apostles are put in place as leaders of the 12 tribes.
I do think any reward would be community oriented, not that it will ultimately matter to us, but having others there beside us who we may have helped here on earth... I find it significant that Christ always mentions storing up treasure in heaven within the context of helping the poor.


Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 7:16 pm
by Jac3510
Hey--just a placemarker and note that I'll be getting to this hopefully tomorrow. I was going to do it tonight, but it's gotten later than I wanted and I have to be up really early.

I have too much to do, haha :D

I'll just edit this post in my reply rather than making a new one . . .

Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:36 pm
by Jac3510
A'ight . . . Felgar, my apologies on the wrong reference. It is John 15, haha :D

First, this, of course, goes back to OSAS. I'm simply assuming the position for this discussion. The verses in question, particularly, then, areJohn 15:5-6.

My mind immediately goes to 1 Corinthians 3:15: "If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (NASB) The context for this particular verse extremely important. 1 Corinthians 3:12 makes it clear that Paul is referring only to Christians, those who have "buil[t] on the foundation." In verse 11, that foundation is identified as Jesus Christ.

Now, let me ask a question: how can a Christian perform bad works? There is only ONE way, and that is act outside of the will of the Holy Spirit. If a person was under the control of the Spirit 100% of the time, they would never sin, because the Spirit will never cause a person to sin. If we sin, then, it is our own fault, because we have acted independently of Him. So we see the connection to John 15. To abide in Christ is to be filled by the Spirit. It is to be under His control, because it is through the Spirit that all is accomplished. In fact, the good works and good characteristics of a Christian are called "the fruit of the Spirit."

Therefore, the day that we stand before the throne of God, we will be judged by our works. This judgement will not determine our salvation, because we have already been justified. But, it will determine our rewards or lack-there-of. Those things that we did while not in the Spirit (can we do anything good outside of His help?) are those works of hay and stubble that will be burned away--even those things we consider "good." This is because we did them in our own name and for ourselves, rather than for and in the name of Christ (Col. 3:17). These will be burned away, and what is left is what we will be rewarded for (or with?).

Those who do not abide in Christ, then, do all things in their own power, and, eventually, they are cut off. The Spirit stops the process of sanctification. He is cast aside, and on judgement day, he is saved, but THROUGH fire. His old ways and old self are burned away. It reminds me of the story C. S. Lewis tells in his book The Great Divorce. In it, a man wants desperately to go to heaven, but he has a sinful side of him. The angel asks if he may remove that side (symbolized by a lizard whispering into his ear). The man agrees, and the angel kills it, but it is very painful, because the lizard must be burned away.

Would it not be great loss to have everything you did in life burned away in front of you and called unworthy? You will absolutely suffer loss! But, you yourself will be saved. We see the same thing in John 15. He who does not abide in Christ is cut off and cast aside to be burned, but we must not think that he is to be burned in the Lake of Fire.

Something we must remember is that God can allow no unholy thing into Heaven. I think we agree on this. We can also all agree that the process of sanctification--the process by which we are turned more and more into the image of Christ--is certainly not pleasant. It is painful to cut out those parts of you that are not pleasing in His eyes. It requires taking up our Cross. Imagine, if you will, then, two men standing before God. Both are justified, but one has spent the majority of his life abiding in Christ. He has been pruned for a long time, and he has produced much fruit. He has some things to account for, and those are burned away. He suffers just a little loss. Next, we see a man who was a Christian, but who did not abide in Christ. He never let himself be pruned, and he never produced any good works. There is very, very much to burn away. The second man clearly suffers much more loss than the first!

My final analysis for these verses is this: the Christian will either be pruned and tried, or cut off (no longer subject to the process of sanctification) and burned (ultimately sanctified). God will not present a less than perfect bride to His Son.

Hopefully, that covers the basic on that verse. I'm on benedryl right now, so I may come back and make an edit when I can think more clearly, but that should be a good start.
K wrote:Just wondering about any thoughts as to what the heavenly rewards might entail?
I'd direct this question to Lewis' The Weight of Glory. I totally reject the idea of "fame" as the reward. And, as it has been noted, the person who has God and nothing else has just as much as the person who has God and everything else.

The reward, as I see it, is that personal recognition from God--it is fame in God's eyes. That isn't to suggest that He will love one more than another, but He will most certainly hold some in higher appreciation. The more God approves of us, the greater our glory. That approval is based on our works as Christians (that's not 100% true, but it's close enough that I'd rather not go into details in this particular post).

Posted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 9:01 pm
by Felgar
A lot of food for thought there - thanks a lot Jac.


Posted: Sun Dec 26, 2004 9:58 pm
by Anonymous
Just my view on rewards. I believe we will all be seen as equally clean by the blood of Christ. So what does or works grant as rewards in heaven? The only good works that could reap a positive reward God himself is responsible for so to reward us makes no logic to me. The bad we have done is covered by the blood of Christ. What are we judged on if we are released from judgement of the law? It is not a question of good mark two points bad mark minus two. It is the good and faithful servant when given a talent used it and turned it into more for his master. God gives us a position on earth not of higher and lower but of left hand right hand , foot , eye etc How we handle these positions on earth determines what we are able to do in heaven. A Janitor is looked on as less of a position than the Dean of Admissions by man (because man believes he accomplishes it on his own) but in Gods view there is no difference only how well we allow God to work with in the situation we are in. In Heaven therefor, we are given the reward (position) that best suites the talents that we have allowed Him to work in our lives, not as we use the word rewards today but as what we have best come in union with God in. As the Janitor of the Church i clean with a heart full of hope that by having a clean area to worship God others may come in union with the father, then I will be a janitor in heaven because I have used this talent to serve God. As the Pastor of the Church I cursed the position the congregation put me in and strived to have more free time, in heaven I will be given a different position because I didn't learn how to allow God to work within the position I had on earth. I do not mean there are janitors and pastors in Heaven just different duties based on talents not a hierarchy of good, better and best, least.
Judgement and Reward is not of Sin and Payment. Judgement is of what we are best suited to with the talents we have used that God gave us and reward is the continuation of the positions that we have learned to have union with God in. If I need to write this another way to make my thoughts clearer let me know.