I grew up in the Church of Hurt ‘Em till They Thank You. Guilt and shame were the normal emotionsl of the Christian life. Heaven was colored this way too: everlasting delights, yes; but with them a cloud of guilt and shame for all eternity. My shortcomings would dog me forever. That’s what legalism will do for you.
Thank God for grace, and the freedom it brings. Heaven is a guilt-free and shame-free zone. I know that now. Can’t wait.
But what about, 1 Jn 2:28 and not being ashamed before him at his coming? That is temporary shame; momentary. It occurs at the believer’s evaluation before the Bema Seat (Judgment Seat) of Christ.
- “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Romans 14:10, NKJV.
- “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.” 2 Corinthians 5:10, NKJV.
The Greek word translated judgment in each verse is Bema, like the judge’s stand in the Olympic Games. The Bema seat judgment is for Christians only–true believers. There, we will be evaluated for final reward. The question of ENTRANCE into heaven is not at stake at all. That’s already a certainty–if you’ve made it to the Bema seat, you’re in.
The only question is everlasting reward. Here’s my take on it: I believe that every follower of Jesus has the same potential for reward. We have equal shares in the inheritance of Christ–we are joint-heirs with Jesus, share and share alike. (Rom 8:17).
But I also believe that we will have an UNEQUAL EXPERIENCE of our heavenly inheritance. The gift will be the same, but our capacities to enjoy it will vary widely. Some will be stuck on tricycles, and others get to zoom around on Harleys. The guy with a Harley has a tricycle in his garage, and the guy on the tricycle has a Harley in his garage: he just doesn’t know how to use it.
Because he never developed the capacity for it in this life; on this planet, in that phase of life between regeneration and death. He never developed capacity for it. The fundamental principle is that God is willing to give us more than we are able to receive. That STUNNING REALIZATION at the Bema seat of Christ will cause deep disappointment, embarassment, and shame–for a couple of moments. We will slap our foreheads, say a couple of sancitified “Dang it!”s, and go play with the toys we can understand.
Yes, we will be utterly content for all eternity. Yes, we will have perfect happiness. No, there will be no nagging guilt, or pestering should-have’s. No reward-envy. Nothing like it. Just pure joy.
We will all be FULL. Totally full. It’s just that some will have the capacity of teacups, others will have the capacity of 5 gallon buckets, and others 55 gallon drums. A few will be 20,000 gallon swimming pools. But we’ll all be full, without any sense of lack whatsoever. That’s heaven. Full, but UNEQUAL. Get it?
The Book of Revelation has a term for the believer who develops maximum capacity for everlasting reward: the one who “overcomes.” Here, in highly symbolic language, is a sampling of the Overcomer’s everlasting reward:
- “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’” Revelation 2:17, NKJV.
- “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations–” Revelation 2:26, NKJV.
- “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5, NKJV.
- “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” Revelation 3:12, NKJV.
- “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21, NKJV.
There are more promises like this, but that’s enough for now. Sounds cool, right? Makes you wonder, how do we “overcome”? How do we expand our capacity for heavenly reward?
Let’s save that for the next post. Thanks for stopping by!