Punishment or Rewards Await Christians in Heaven?
By Pastor Glenn Meredith
Senior Pastor – Brookhaven Church
Each mid-July Lamb & Lion Ministries sponsors a Bible conference that is held in the Dallas, Texas area. In 2017, our conference’s theme was “Living with Hope in the End Times.” One of the powerful presentations made at that conference concerned what the Bible has to say about the rewards Jesus will hand out when we stand before His judgment seat. The presentation was made by Glenn Meredith, the pastor of the Brookhaven Church in McKinney, Texas. An excerpt of Pastor Meredith’s eye-opening teaching on heavenly rewards is presented below, or watch it on our television program, Christ in Prophecy.
The Promise of Heavenly Rewards
Glenn Meredith: I’ve got to be honest with you. From the early part of my life, I wasn’t really excited about the return of Jesus.
I remember sitting in a revival meeting one time when I was a teenager. The evangelist actually stood up and said that when Jesus comes He’s going to catch away His Bride, and we are going to stand there before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Then your whole life will be flashed onto a giant movie screen and all the sins that you have ever committed will be projected up there on the screen for all to see. And so, I’ve got to tell you, I certainly wasn’t looking forward to that.
There are an awful lot of believers who think that’s what is coming to them when they get to Heaven. But, I’ve got great news for you, that is not at all what the Bible teaches.
Let’s first look at 2 Corinthians 5. I’d like to look at this familiar passage concerning the promise of heavenly rewards. Understand that we have an awful lot to look forward to, for the whole gist of the message can be summed up as this:
What you do now in your life for Jesus is going to have a dramatic impact on your eternity. How you live your life for Christ matters. How you served other people in the name of Christ matters. How seriously you take the Kingdom of Christ and move it forward by sharing the Gospel and supporting ministry matters. Everything that you do for Christ will have a profound impact on your eternity.
In 2 Corinthians 5:10, the Apostle Paul says, “For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ,” the Bema Seat, “so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
All my earlier life I saw that passage and I would think, “Okay, I’m going to stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat, and He is going to talk to me about all the good things that I’ve done, but also all the bad or sinful things that I have done.” I thought the Judgment Seat of Christ was going to be a time when I would have to give an account for my sins.
But, I’ve got great news for you! That is not what this passage teaches. There are several words for “bad” in the original language of the New Testament that can be translated as “evil, morally bad, sinful, wicked, iniquity.” But, the word for “bad” that is used in this passage is a different word. The primary meaning of the word translated as “bad” in this passage is something that doesn’t mean morally evil, rather, it means worthless.
It would be like if we said, “That piece of fruit that I bought is bad.” What do we mean by that? We don’t mean the fruit is morally evil. We don’t mean that it is sinful. No, we mean that the fruit was no good. It has no value, and so it’s worthless. We don’t want it, so it’s time to get rid of it.
What the Apostle Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 5 is that believers in Christ are going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, which is going to happen just after the Rapture of the Church. We’re going to stand before Jesus at the Bema Judgment to be judged not for our sins, but rather, we will be judged for our works that we have done for Christ. These works we performed ever since we gave our lives to Jesus Christ. The works we perform in Christ here on this earth are of value to the Lord, and so will be recognized.
Conversely, those works that we have done that are worthless, and so have no genuine eternal value, will be burned up. They will be lost. We are only rewarded for those works that are of value to the Lord.
Payment for our Sins
Why is it that when we are standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ that somehow we don’t have to give an account of our sins? Why is that? Is God just going to overlook our sins? Are we just getting a pass?
No, not according to Colossians 2. Scripture says that there was another judgment that took place that acted as a substitute for our judgment. It was when the Lord Jesus Christ, our glorious Savior, hung on the cross. The Bible reveals Christ’s sacrifice on the cross cancelled the charge of the legal indebtedness which stood against us, and which condemned us. Jesus took the judgment for our sins by nailing it to the cross.
The cross was like the electric chair of the Roman Empire. It was the means of public execution. And so, when a person was crucified, the soldiers would nail to the top of the cross the charges for which that criminal was dying. Then all who walked by and saw the person being executed would know the crimes for which that person was dying.
When our Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross, Pilate ordered a similar sign placed, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.” But, the Bible says that’s not really the crime for which Jesus died. The crimes for which He was dying, according to Colossians 2:14, was that God nailed to the cross the record book of your sin. God nailed to the cross the record of your indebtedness, i.e. your sin debt to God. God nailed it to the cross. And, while Jesus was hanging on that cross, God began to treat Jesus like He would have treated you had you stood before God in judgment for your sins. He turned His back. That is why Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” Why? Because at that moment Jesus was answering for my sins.
My sins and your sins were judged upon the cross. Because of the blood that Jesus Christ shed for your sins, because of the death that He died in your place, the Bible says that the record book of your sin was taken away, removed, canceled. No more does a record exist of your sins, that is, if you are a child of Jesus Christ.
Is that not good news? Rather, that’s great news!
In fact, if you stood before God, and God then required for your sins to be judged yet again, He would be unjust. And so, Jesus has totally taken care of your sin. So, if you have never given your life to Jesus Christ, I urge you to do so today, because if you will commit your life to Jesus, then your sins will be completely, totally and forever removed and taken away.
Because the judgment for our sins have already been nailed to the cross, when the Lord Jesus comes for His Bride, the first thing He’s not going to do is beat up on His Bride in judgment. Rather, the first thing He’s going to do is reward His Bride. The Bible tells us there is a promise of rewards. There is the hope of being rewarded for our service to Him.