who manages who

May 28, 2017

Firefighters know the danger of letting a fire get out of control. They are trained to respond quickly. You, too, must respond quickly to control the flames of anger before they consume your life and leave a smoldering ditch of destruction. “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (PROVERBS 29:22).

 WHAT ARE THE DEGREES OF ANGER? Anger is an emotional agitation that occurs when a need or expectation is not met. Like heat, anger has many degrees, ranging from mild irritations to hot explosions. Indignation—simmering anger provoked by something unjust and often perceived as justified Wrath—burning anger accompanied by a desire to avenge Fury—fiery anger so fierce that it destroys common sense Rage—blazing anger resulting in loss of self-control, often to the extreme of violence and temporary insanity

WHAT ARE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ANGER? Is it a sin for a person to be angry? No, the initial feeling of anger is a God-given emotion. The way you express this emotion determines whether your anger becomes sin. Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin.” How can a person keep from feeling guilty when he is angry? Your anger is a signal that something is wrong. The purpose of the red warning light on a car dashboard is to propel you into action—to cause you to stop, evaluate, and do what is needed. For example, Jesus became angry at the hypocritical religious leaders who interpreted “resting on the Sabbath” to excess: “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand’…and his hand was completely restored” (Mark 3:5).

WHAT ARE THE FOUR SOURCES OF ANGER?

Hurt—Your heart is wounded. Everyone has a God-given inner need for unconditional love. When you experience rejection or emotional pain of any kind, anger can become a protective wall that keeps people and pain away.

 Injustice—Your right is violated. Everyone has an inner moral code that produces a sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair, just and unjust. When you perceive that an injustice has occurred against you or others (especially those whom you love), you may feel angry. If you hold on to the offense, the unresolved anger can begin to make a home in your heart.

Fear—Your future is threatened. Everyone is created with a God-given inner need for security. When you begin to worry, feel threatened, or get angry because of a change in circumstances, you may be responding to fear. A fearful heart reveals a lack of trust in God’s perfect plan for your life.

Frustration—Your effort is unsuccessful. Everyone has a God-given need for significance. When your efforts are thwarted or do not meet your own personal expectations, your sense of significance can be threatened. Frustration over unmet expectations of yourself or of others is a major source of anger.

WHAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF ANGER? When we feel that our real or perceived rights have been violated, we can easily respond with anger.

 Wrong Belief: “Based on what I believe is fair, I have the right to be angry about my disappointments and to stay angry for as long as I feel like it. I have the right to express my anger in whatever way is natural for me.”

Right Belief: “Because the Lord is sovereign over me and I trust Him with my life, I have yielded my rights to Him. My human disappointments are now God’s appointments to increase my faith and develop His character in me. I choose to not be controlled by anger, but to use anger to motivate me to do whatever God wants me to do” (see 1 Peter 1:6-7).

HOW CAN PAST ANGER BE RESOLVED? Unresolved anger is a bed of hidden coals burning deep wounds into your relationships with God and with others. This powerful emotion robs your heart of peace and steals contentment from your spirit. So how is this anger resolved? Realize Your Anger — Willingly admit that you have unresolved anger. — Ask God to reveal any anger buried in your heart. — Seek to determine the primary reason(s) for your past anger. — Talk out your anger with God and with a friend or counselor. (Proverbs 21:2)

We need to remember that it is not a sin to get angry, it’s what we do while we are angry that is important. Good, godly responses are what important.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember all those on our prayer lists, especially Joe and his shoulder, a great deal of pain.

And Dave as his fights his 5th battle prostate cancer. He’s a brave guy.

 

  “Always guarded by the power of God through faith…. In such a hope keep on rejoicing, although for a little while you must be sorrow-stricken with various trials” (1 Peter 1:5, 6, Williams Translation, as you’ve guessed, my favorite New Testament Translation, although not as popular today as it was 40 years ago.).

  There are testimonies, and there are testimonies. Some can testify as to how God cleared up adverse circumstances for the victory; but others can testify to the triumph God gave in the midst of difficult circumstances. The essential consideration is that our Father be glorified in all His dealings with and for us. How He brings it all about should be secondary to us.

  “If there is a great trial in your life today, do not own it as a defeat, but continue, by faith, to claim the victory through Him who is able to make you more than conqueror, and a glorious triumph will soon be apparent. Let us learn that in all the hard places our Father brings us into, He is making opportunities for us to exercise such faith in Him as will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify His Name.”

  “God has put you in exactly the right crucible to burn up what He sees needs to be burnt up. Many think ‘victory’ means getting your circumstances put right. No! true triumph is within—when in the midst of your circumstances the Spirit of God can so energize you and strengthen you in spirit, that you can stand quiet in the thick of it all, and say, ‘God is God,’ and know that you are held by Him—which is infinitely better than all your trying to hold things steady.”

  “Therefore, my brethren . . . stand fast in the Lord” (Phil. 4:1).

God bless from scumlikeschurch@gmail.com

 

do the math

May 22, 2017

The problem with setting your expectations too high is that we try to create what we believe is the perfect scenario for us (emphasis on “us”) and then hope God simply blesses our desires.  I think we forget that God’s plans, dreams and expectations for us may not always align up with ours. In fact, His plans may include us having to climb our way out of a valley for awhile before we reach victory.  When that happens then we get upset and tend to question God, feeling disappointed that he didn’t bless our big expectations for the year like we hoped.

What’s ironic is that God gave us the ability to dream in the first place.  He wants us to dream big and have high expectations about things in life but I also believe we have to taste disappointment from time to time to better appreciate and enjoy victory when it happens.  He wants us to be content when things don’t always go our way.  I would say and so would Paul that contentment is the key to a great life here on earth.  He has great plans for all of us that believe and follow Him.

One of the most dangerous places for our unrealistic expectations, though, is what we think God should do. Some of the most bitter and angry people I know, or who have loud voices in the culture (think of the “new atheists” like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris) are those who feel betrayed by God, so they decide He isn’t there.

That sense of betrayal and disappointment comes from having expectations of God according to how we think He should act:

  • Protect the innocent from pain and suffering

  • Protect the people who maybe-aren’t-so-innocent-but-not-as-bad-as-axe-murderers from pain and suffering

  • Show the same grace to all of us by treating us all the same

  • Give us an easy life

  • If I do all the right things to be “a good person,” God should do His part to make life work the way I want it to

When we pray fervently for what we want and He doesn’t answer the way we want, many of us get angry with Him.

Many times, we pray in faith, believing God will give us what we ask for, but we ask for things He never promised in the first place. Or even worse, we “claim” them on the basis of a scriptural promise wrenched out of context, such as “all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matt. 21:22). Jesus never promised that if we believe in our prayers, we would receive what we ask for. Believing in the Bible is all about trusting in and surrendering to the goodness and character of GOD, not our prayer list. We will always receive an answer to our prayers because God is good. Sometimes the answer is “No, beloved,” because we ask amiss. Psalm 84:11 promised, “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” If God says “no,” it’s because it’s not a good thing for us. His “no” is a “yes” to something else. But because we have such a limited perspective, it is essential that we trust in the unlimited perspective of the God who sees everything.

When we feel disappointed in God, when we think, “God didn’t come through for me,” that’s the time to take a step back and ask, “What kind of unrealistic expectations did I have in the first place?” That may be a great question to talk through with a mature trusted friend who can see things more clearly. Then we can place the unrealistic part of our expectations into God’s hands as an act of worship and trust . . . and watch our anger and frustration subside.

You want less anger, less stress, less frustration?

Look at all the ways you have no control, not over anyone, not really, or situations, so what to do?

Try lowering your expectations.

No I haven’t lost my mind, but if your biggest problem is other people, lower your expectations. For example no one has esp, so why are you upset when the person you want to call and see if you’re ok doesn’t call. How will they know that’s want you want? Less expectations, less frustration. Like anything else don’t overdo it.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

ALL OR NOTHING

May 21, 2017

All or Nothing

  “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace” (2 Thess. 2:16).

  It has been well said that “it takes a lifetime to learn real dependence upon God, and to accept practically our own inadequacy.” We are going to learn this only through experience, and now is the time to settle down to this schooling—a day at a time.

We are to understand that God loves us, and that He justifies us by the work of His Son. We have no longer conscience of sins before God, because He Himself has taken them away before His eyes; we know that being united to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has fully glorified God in that which concerns our sins, we have been made the righteousness of God in Him. So the heart is free to enjoy His love in the presence of the Father.

I no longer attempt to produce that which will satisfy God from myself as originator. I know that even if I try I shall only fail. But I do seek to please God by faith in the activity of Another. The Son of God who indwells me by His Spirit is able and willing to carry out in me ‘those things that please Him’; and I count upon Him to do so. Consciously, day by day, I take the attitude that I trust Him to work the will of God in me, and in that attitude I go forward and serve Him. I do not trust myself. ‘I live by faith in the Son of God.’

  “Comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thess. 2:17).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

DO THE HARD PART

May 16, 2017

There are no secrets and there is no easy path.

Do the work, get the reward, that’s the only answer.

When we read or hear the words of Scripture, do we “pay the most careful attention” (Heb 2:1)? How often have you noticed that by the end of the week, you’ve forgotten the Bible reading you did only a few days earlier?

 Too often we attempt to build a framework for scriptural knowledge without first gathering the lumber and cement needed to create a solid foundation. To lay that groundwork check out this simple four-step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind:

  1. Choose a book of the Bible.

  2. Read it in its entirety.

  3. Repeat step #2, 20 times.

  4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.

  The benefits of following this process will become obvious. By fully immersing yourself in the text, you’ll come to truly know the text. You’ll deepen your understanding of each book, as well as your knowledge of the Bible as a whole.

 This method is adapted from the book How to Master the English Bible by James M. Gray, so we’ll let him explain the benefits in his own words:

  The first practical help I ever received in the mastery of the English Bible was from a layman . . . One day I ventured to ask him how he had become possessed of the experience, when he replied, “By reading the epistle to the Ephesians.” . . . He had gone into the country to spend the Sabbath with his family on one occasion, taking with him a pocket copy of Ephesians, and in the afternoon, going out into the woods and lying down under a tree, he began to read it; he read it through at a single reading, and finding his interest aroused, read it through again in the same way, and, his interest increasing, again and again. I think he added that he read it some twelve or fifteen times, “and when I arose to go into the house,” said he, “I was in possession of Ephesians, or better yet, it was in possession of me, and I had been ‘lifted up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,’ in an experimental sense in which that had not been true in me before, and will never cease to be true in me again.”

  Here are three suggestions for putting this reading plan into practice:

  1. Choose shorter books—Because you’ll be reading an entire book of the Bible and not just a chapter or two, you’ll want to choose books you feel are manageable. You might want to start with a short book that has only a few chapters that can be read several times in one sitting. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help develop the reading habit. For example, a short book like John or Jude can be read four or five times in one sitting, allowing you to finish the entire 20 readings in less than a week. And then you always have the option to work your way up to more extensive readings.

  2. Read at your normal pace—Treating the material reverently does not require reading at a slower than normal speed. Read for comprehension, ignoring the division of chapters and verses and considering each book as one coherent unit.

  3. Stick with the process—After the eighth or ninth reading you’ll hit a wall similar to what runners face in marathons. The text will become dry and lose its flavor. You’ll want to move on to the next book or abandon the program altogether. Stick with it. Persevere and you’ll discover the treasures that repeated readings can provide.

  Keep in mind that not every book will be equally rewarding. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you if during one of your readings you find 2 John a bit redundant or Jude just plain boring. The Bible tells us “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching” (2Ti 3:16–17). Keep reading, and you’ll fully understand the truth of those verses.

The good news, it’s get easier and more exciting and more rewarding.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

overlooked?

May 14, 2017

Our new birth means that each one of us is a new creation in Christ, at which time the Comforter (The Holy Spirit) enters our spirit to abide forever (John 14:16). Spirit to spirit joined, we are “partakers of the divine nature.” At birth we are “babes in Christ,” but as we grow in Him we develop in likeness of life—thus glorifying the Son.

Thank God that we are new creatures, our legal identity has changed. Every single wrong that we’ve ever done is gone, forgiven, wiped away, and buried. When God looks at us He sees His Son, not the sinner.

The Apostle Paul called himself the chief of sinners. For some much is forgiven, some lives were more wrecked by sin than others. There should be a higher sense of the gift to those who were forgiven so much.

It seems as the devil spends more time harassing this type of believer. The memories are more painful, the nightmares worse.  Because of the damage we’ve done to others and ourselves we often believe his lies, that we are less than other believers.

We may struggle more than those who didn’t stain their souls to almost black. But the cure is the same for all. Simple trust in the love of God.

There are no second-class Christians.

Prayer requests at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com as well as comments to the email address please.

God bless

 

INJUSTICE

January 3, 2017

THIS IS 10 PAGES LONG, YOU MAY WANT TO PRINT IT OUT. DECIDED TO GIVE YOU THE WHOLE ENCHILADA AND NOT DO IT IN PARTS.

“One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The pledge of allegiance to the flag claims that ours is a nation where every human being, regardless of race, color, creed, sex, or social standing, receives fair and equal treatment. One of the purposes for the United States Constitution, as stated in its preamble is to “establish justice”; that is, to provide every individual with equal rights before the law, without partiality or favoritism.

 

Some people in this country feel that we have failed to achieve that goal. They point to blatant instances of inequity, such as people with money, power, or position securing more favored treatment under the law than the poor, the friendless, or the obscure. They enumerate examples of discrimination against minorities or against women which demonstrate to their satisfaction that injustice persists in our society.

 

Most of us believe that we have been treated unfairly at some time or other. We have been blamed for things we have not done, denied things we feel we deserve, overlooked when we should have been recognized, treated in an inferior manner, or have otherwise suffered without just cause. Some have lost their jobs, their savings, their homes, their friends, their spouses, and even their lives unjustly. Some have languished in prisons for crimes they never committed. Others have endured the poverty, squalor, and disease of slums through no fault of their own. Where is the justice in all of that?

 

We believe in a sovereign God who controls all things. On one occasion He said, “There is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour” (Isaiah 45:21 KJV). How can a just God allow injustices to exist? We learn from the Bible that people who have not trusted Christ as Saviour from sin are condemned to eternal separation from God, even if they have never heard the message of salvation. Some may protest rather indignantly, “How can a just God allow that?” Maybe we need to find out what God’s justice involves.

 

The Meaning of God’s Justice

 

While the most common Old Testament word for just means “straight,” and the New Testament word means “equal,” in a moral sense they both mean “right.” When we say that God is just, we are saying that He always does what is right, what should be done, and that He does it consistently, without partiality or prejudice. The word just and the word righteous are identical in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Sometimes the translators render the original word “just” and other times “righteous” with no apparent reason (cf. Nehemiah 9:8 and 9:33 where the same word is used). But whichever word they use, it means essentially the same thing. It has to do with God’s actions. They are always right and fair.

 

God’s righteousness (or justice) is the natural expression of His holiness. If He is infinitely pure, then He must be opposed to all sin, and that opposition to sin must be demonstrated in His treatment of His creatures. When we read that God is righteous or just, we are being assured that His actions toward us are in perfect agreement with His holy nature.

 

Because God is righteous and just, He has established moral government in the world, laid down principles which are holy and good, then added consequences which are just and fair for violating those principles. Furthermore, He is totally impartial in administering His government. He does not condemn innocent people or let guilty people go free. Peter says He is a God “who impartially judges according to each man’s work” (1 Peter 1:17). His treatment is never harsher than the crime demands.

 

For example, when Ezra the scribe returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity, he was distressed to find that the people had intermarried with the unbelieving inhabitants of the land. He was appalled at their sin and proceeded to lead them in a prayer of confession in which he enumerated the discipline they had experienced. He concluded his prayer with these words: “O LORD God of Israel, Thou art righteous, for we have been left an escaped remnant, as it is this day; behold, we are before Thee in our guilt, for no one can stand before Thee because of this” (Ezra 9:15). God is fair. His discipline is never more severe than our sin deserves. He allowed those disobedient Jews to remain as an escaped remnant in spite of their sin and guilt.

 

Daniel ministered during Israel’s exile in Babylon. He knew from Jeremiah’s prophecy (25:11) that the captivity was to last seventy years, but he was concerned lest the nation’s disobedience prolong it. He, like Ezra, offered a great prayer of confession to God, and in it he made this statement: “Therefore, the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice” (Daniel 9:14). Their captivity was the perfectly just discipline for their sin. All calamity is not necessarily discipline for sin, but we can be sure that if it is, it will be uniquely tailored to our particular situation by an infinitely wise God to teach us the lessons we need to learn. It will be perfectly fair. What God does is always right. As the psalmist put it,

 

The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds (Psalm 145:17).

 

We can never accuse Him of injustice. Everything He does is fair.

 

The Requirements of God’s Justice

 

If God is truly just and always acts in harmony with His holy nature, then He must show His displeasure with sin by opposing it and punishing it wherever it exists. He cannot enact a holy law, threaten a penalty, then take no action when His law is broken. Scripture makes that quite clear. God “will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7). “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil” (Romans 2:9). Since the violation of God’s infinitely holy nature demands an infinite punishment, eternal condemnation can be the only just penalty for sin. Jesus said, “And these will go away into eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46).

 

God takes no pleasure in punishing the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). But it is the only response which is consistent with His holy nature. However, God loves sinners and since He finds no delight in punishing them, He has devised a plan by which they can be delivered from the just penalty of their sin.

 

Justice allows for one person to substitute for another, so long as no injustice is done to the rights of any person involved. So God provided a substitute. When His Son voluntarily offered Himself to die in our place, our sin was punished and God’s justice was forever satisfied. The Apostle Paul explained how God publicly displayed Jesus Christ as a propitiation and thus demonstrated His righteousness (Romans 3:25). A propitiation is a sacrifice that satisfies a justly pronounced sentence. Christ’s death on the cross completely satisfied God’s just judgment against our sin. The penalty has been paid. Now God can forgive the sins of those who will accept His payment, and still maintain His own justice. He can at the same time be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

 

Justice also demands that when the penalty has been paid by one, it never needs to be paid by another who has accepted that payment. There can never be any condemnation for the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as Saviour from sin (Romans 8:1).

 

My children used to listen to a recorded story about a wise and just king who ruled over a nation of wicked people. In order to curtail their wickedness, the king decided that anyone breaking the law of the land would have his eyes put out. A young man was apprehended for violating the law, and when he was brought in the king was dismayed to discover that the lawbreaker was his own son. What could he do? If he were merely a just king, he could exact the punishment and forget about the incident. If he were merely a loving father, he could overlook the crime and let his son go free. But he was both a just king and a loving father. So he said, “You have broken the law, and the punishment is the forfeiture of two eyes. That is what it shall be—one of yours and one of mine.” From that day on, the appearance of both the king and his son reminded the people of the king’s justice and his love.

 

That is essentially what God did. However, instead of making us pay part of the penalty, He paid it all. The death of His sinless Son was sufficient to pay for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Now those who accept His payment can go free. Who then can accuse God of injustice for condemning people to hell? He would be just if He assigned everyone to hell. Yet He satisfied His own justice and provided forgiveness for all. Those who refuse His forgiveness choose His wrath of their own volition. They have expressed their desire to live apart from God and He simply confirms them in their choice. That hardly can be labeled injustice.

 

What about those who have never heard? The Apostle Paul assured us that God has not left Himself without a witness in the world (Acts 14:17), and that lost men have willfully rejected His witness (Romans 1:18, 32). But whether or not we can explain every problem and answer every objection, we accept God’s revelation of Himself as a just God, and we believe Him when He says He will not act wickedly or pervert justice (Job 34:12).

 

The Expression of God’s Justice

 

It should be obvious by now that God’s justice has little relationship to the suffering we observe in the world around us. That suffering is the natural consequence of the sin which Satan introduced into God’s creation. In a sinful world, where sinful men have the will to choose their own sinful ways, injustices are going to exist.

 

There is coming a day when the infinitely just Son of God will physically return to the earth and will rule it with a rod of iron. No sin will be tolerated in that day. Zechariah predicted that the King will be just (Zechariah 9:9). Jeremiah assured us that He will execute justice on the earth (Jeremiah 23:5). We can expect no injustices to exist in that day (cf. Isaiah 11:3-5). But for now we can count on many inequities to exist. However, God wants us to do what we can to reduce them. He shows a concern for social justice throughout Scripture—fair treatment of the poor, the orphans, the widows, the hungry, the needy, foreigners, and underprivileged of all kinds. He encourages us to share His concern. The needs of other people should move our hearts to compassion and motivate us to make some personal sacrifices for their good. That is a major evidence of true faith in Christ (cf. 1 John 3:17-19). But try as we will, we are not going to eliminate all injustice from the earth. It is the natural by-product of living in a sinful world.

 

God’s justice relates not so much to the suffering in the world as to His attitude toward and treatment of the sin that causes suffering. He will deal with all sin with perfect justice, without a trace of partiality or favoritism. He says that He “will render to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:6). That almost sounds like salvation by works, although actually it has nothing to do with salvation. It establishes again the principle of God’s justice. Entrance into Heaven is dependent solely upon faith in Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary. But God is going to treat every person in accord with the quality of his life—believers and unbelievers alike. Unbelievers will be punished in hell on the basis of their works and believers will be rewarded in Heaven on the basis of their works.

 

Scripture clearly teaches degrees of punishment for unbelievers: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you” (Matthew 11:21-24). If it will be more tolerable, more bearable, or more endurable for some than for others, then there are obviously degrees of suffering. The issue on which they are judged seems to be the light they received. Those who saw the greater demonstration of God’s power and rejected it will experience greater punishment than those who saw less of God’s power and rejected it.

 

Some of our Lord’s most scathing denunciations were reserved for the scribes and Pharisees, men who enjoyed some of the greatest spiritual privileges yet exhibited some of the least of God’s love. They “devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation” (Mark 12:40). Greater condemnation can mean nothing less than degrees of punishment.

 

To illustrate this truth, Jesus told a story in which he contrasted two servants—one who knew his master’s will and did not do it, and one who did not know it. “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:47-48).

 

Again, we have a clear reference to degrees of punishment—many stripes and few stripes. And again, the issue is their response to the knowledge they had.

 

A native in the jungle who has never heard the gospel does not have the same degree of responsibility as an American who can hear the gospel any day of the week. Therefore that native will not receive the same degree of punishment. A person who was raised in a secular home and taught to be nonreligious may not have the same degree of responsibility as a person who was raised in a Christian home and taught the truth of God’s Word yet rejected it. That less privileged person will not receive the same degree of punishment (cf. also 2 Peter 2:20-21).

 

When unbelievers stand before the great white throne, they will be consigned to the lake of fire because their names are missing from the book of life. But at the same time they will be judged “according to their deeds” (Revelation 20:12-13). That makes very little sense unless those works make some difference in the degree of their punishment. We do not know what the difference will be, but the justice of God will be expressed by different levels of punishment. There finally will be justice for all.

 

On the other hand, believers will be rewarded in Heaven on the basis of their works. Works will have nothing to do with their entrance into Heaven. That is based solely on their acceptance of the merits of Jesus Christ and His provision of eternal life. But believers’ works will be tested by fire at the judgment seat of Christ to determine their quality. “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

 

Everybody knows the difference externally between gold and hay, but the fire reveals something the eye cannot see—motivation and enablement. Were the works performed for the glory of God or to fulfill some personal ambition? Were they performed by the power of the Holy Spirit or in the energy of the flesh? Those done for the glory of the Lord and by the power of the Holy Spirit will become the basis for reward. So it seems likely that everyone’s reward will be different.

 

We are not told here what the rewards will be, but several things are mentioned in other passages. The New Testament speaks of crowns that are cast before the throne of God (Revelation 4:10), a probable reference to our capacity to glorify Him (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10). Nothing will bring us greater satisfaction in eternity than our ability to exalt the Lord Jesus.

 

In addition to crowns, Biblical writers refer to the ability to shine (cf. Matthew 13:43; Daniel 12:3), a probable reference to our capacity to reflect the glory and radiance of our Lord, another source of great pleasure in eternity. Some have likened it to a great chandelier containing some twenty-five-watt bulbs, some fifty, some seventy five, and some one hundred, each shining to the peak of his ability, but all magnifying the Lord.

 

Jesus told a parable that implied different levels of governmental authority in God’s kingdom. A nobleman leaving for a far country entrusted the same amount of money to each of ten servants, and they were to invest it for his benefit. When he returned he called them into account. The first gained ten times the original amount and was commended by his master: “because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17). The second gained five times the original amount and was likewise commended by his master: “And you are to be over five cities” (Luke 19:19). Our rewards will not be trophies to put on a shelf, but greater responsibilities and greater authority.

 

There will be no jealousy between us, but clearly there will be differences—a different number of crowns, a different capacity to shine, a different level of authority. God’s justice does not require Him to reward us. Everything worthwhile we ever accomplish is by His power and through His grace, so at best we deserve nothing, and He does not owe us anything. The rewards He gives us will be out of His store house of grace. But since He has decided to reward us, He will do it with perfect justice in accord with our works—not just what shows on the outside, but what is in our hearts! Not just what we did, but how and why we did it! There will be justice for all.

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