What is up with heavenly rewards?


Usually it’s safe to start with a Bible verse. A couple days ago I was reading Daniel 10, titled “The Time of the End” by the NKJV. The first three verses read,

At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.

It was the last two lines that really caught my attention, “those who turn many to righteousness [shall shine] like the stars forever and ever.”

I’m also reading a Biblical study of Heaven right now by Randy Alcorn, simply titled Heaven. And he makes a couple points relevant to this passage. First, and less controversially, he argues that people in Heaven will be remembered for what they did on Earth. So if you turn many to righteousness you will be remembered for having done so, (certainly by those you so turned, right?).

But Alcorn also believes that we will receive rewards in Heaven for the good works we did on Earth – rewards in addition to, you know, eternal life in a sinless universe in the presence of God. He references another book he wrote, which I have not read, called The Law of Rewards. The Goodreads summary of that book says that,

our faith determines our eternal destination but our behavior determines our eternal rewards.

This is certainly not a topic that I, at least, hear discussed very often. (That’s why this is a post by an amateur.) From the limited reading I’ve done, it seems that this “doctrine of rewards” is developed from verses like Revelation 22:12,

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.

And 2 Corinthians 5:9-10,

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Obviously I don’t know enough to really argue for whether Alcorn is right or not. But thinking back to Alcorn’s less controversial point, that we will be remembered in Heaven for what we did on Earth, if there are special rewards in Heaven for good works I wonder if one of them will be to be held in honor. In other words, people will know of the good works you did on Earth, and you will be honored for those good works. Maybe if you did more good works (however that’s supposed to be measured) you will be held in higher honor. For all I know there might be some sign forever upon you to indicate the honor that is due you – perhaps the very honorable will glow more brightly, if you want to interpret Daniel 12:3 as literally as possible!

But as I keep trying to emphasize, I don’t know how much truth there is in the idea that we will receive special rewards based on the good works we have done. And I definitely welcome comments from anyone who knows more. But it is an interesting thought.

But let’s keep doing good works, regardless!

One thought on “What is up with heavenly rewards?

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