Are there degrees of punishment and reward in the afterlife

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Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2009 05:02 am
[CENTER][CENTER]DEGREES OF REWARDS IN HEAVEN[/CENTER][/CENTER]
Lending credence to the idea that Jesus' parable in Matthew 20 is not discussing equality of eternal rewards is the fact that the Bible plainly depicts certain people being awarded a unique and distinguished position in heaven. Revelation 15:3 notes that in heaven "they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb." Surely, none of us would be so bold as to suggest that the hosts of heaven will sing a song about us as they do about Moses.

Furthermore, in Revelation 21:14 John wrote that "the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." While we recognize the somewhat figurative nature of certain terms employed by John, the principle nevertheless remains: the apostles ultimately will occupy a place of greater preeminence in the heavenly abode. Also, Luke 16 portrays Abraham as having more prominence and authority in the afterlife than Lazarus. Consider also Mark 10:40, wherein James and John asked the Lord to allow them to sit next to Him in glory-one on His right side and one on His left. Jesus replied, "To sit on my right hand or on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for them for whom it hath been prepared." Some glorified beings (whether angelic or human) will occupy a place of distinction beside the Savior-a unique and special place reserved solely for them.

Least some sense, then, joy in heaven can differ in degrees. The principle of degrees of heavenly reward-which is taught quite plainly in Scripture-should motivate every Christian to "work while it is yet day, for the night cometh when no man can work" (John 9:4).
[CENTER][CENTER] [/CENTER]
[CENTER]DEGREES OF ETERNAL PUNISHMENT[/CENTER][/CENTER]
If there are degrees of reward in heaven, will there likewise be degrees of punishment in hell? Yes indeed. On several occasions, when speaking of eternal torment, the Bible mentions those who will suffer to a lesser or greater degree. And each time such a reference occurs, the punishment is proportionate to the opportunities missed. Those who are blessed with numerous opportunities to obey the gospel and still reject it will receive greater condemnation than those who have little or no occasion to accept Christ. Jesus echoed this sentiment in His rebuke to the inhabitants of the cities of Bethsaida and Chorazin.

Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. However, I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, shalt thou be exalted unto heaven? Thou shalt go down unto Hades: for if the mighty works had been done in Sodom, which were done in thee, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for thee (Matthew 11:21-24)

Jesus offered this censure to those Jewish cities where He had done much of His preaching, and where, on occasion, He even had performed miracles. The citizens of those towns had more opportunity to accept the Messiah than many others living around them, yet they persisted in their rejection of Him. On the other hand, the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon-renowned for their wickedness-would receive a lesser punishment at the Day of Judgment for the simple reason that they had been deprived of direct exposure to Christ's message and miracles. All were to endure punishment, for all had rejected God's law. Nevertheless, it would not be equal punishment.

The writer of Hebrews further emphasized this point when he addressed the "sorer punishment" that was to befall those who had "trodden underfoot the Son of God" (10:29). Notice also Peter's stinging statement regarding the terrible fate that awaits unfaithful, backsliding Christians:

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first (2 Peter 2:20-21).

If Peter's statement teaches anything, it teaches degrees of punishment.
However, perhaps the most convincing argument for the concept of degrees of punishment derives from Jesus' parable of the wicked servant, as recorded in Luke 12:42-48.

In addition, the Lord said, "Who, then, is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall set over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?

Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth, I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath. But if that servant shall say in his heart, 'My lord delayeth his coming,' and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the unfaithful. In addition, that servant, who knew his Lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, "shall be beaten with many stripes"; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, "shall be beaten with few stripes". And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more"

The meaning of the last section of this parable is inescapable. All the wicked will be punished; however, those limited in their opportunities to learn about Christ will be punished "with fewer stripes" than those who knew the truth and obeyed it not.

I do not believe that a non Christian that has lead a fairly good and honest life with few transgressions would be punished by God in everlasting, pain, torment loneness and utter hopelessness. The terrible ultimate hell depicted in Revelations chp: 20 is for Hitler and his kind for the unspeakable evil they perpetrated in the earthly lives We must always remember God is the "Righteous Judge" and it follows logically that his judgments will be fair and just.

Alan
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2009 11:45 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan if there is an after life we might just judge ourselves and give ourselves the fires of anguished regret, till we find our own redemption. Awaking of those errors we secreted and conveniently forgot, they may not be so easy to avoid. Nothing judges so well as your own conscious that has not been denied.
 
prothero
 
Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2009 01:08 pm
@Alan McDougall,
It is difficult for me to even begin to respond because our views about religious truth are so different. For me the Bible is a human product and a record of man reaching for god (for the divine) not a communication from god to man. The notion of life after death and of eternal punishments and rewards slowly develops through scripture and is never explicitly expounded upon or a major feature of the message and teaching of Jesus.

In my philosophical and theological view, the notion of eternal punishment is not compatible with the notion of a loving and compassionate god. In my view actions inspired by hope of future reward or fear of eternal punishment are not moral actions at all by coerced actions and like coerced belief not meaningful. God is in my view persuasive not coercive. The Catholic Church has modified its teaching on heaven and hell and now hell is regarded as "a state of anguished existence separated from god". Not as specific a notion as Dante's inferno but perhaps a better concept overall. Original sin can also be regarded as alienation or separation from god and this state can be seen as one of choice or will. There are many different theories about life after death (generally not a strong feature in traditional Judaism or "Old Testament" theology). Perhaps only the good have a life after death and the wicked simply perish. Perhaps the wicked are isolated for a period of time appropriate for their sins and then like the lost sheep returned to the fold. Perhaps there simply is no life after death and the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God are here on earth spread out before you but you do not see. Perhaps the Kingdom lies within you and only you can see nature as enchanted and alive with spirit.
 
KaseiJin
 
Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2009 09:00 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Alan you have been very much mislead, it seems, in your biblical researching-to-understand, because you are removing the true facts of having written anything, to anyone, at that particular moment in time, for the purpose of the audience's understanding and use of the content of the what is written. That's what happens when hopes expressed by over zealous religious belief-system leaders fail the test of time; and thus prove false and empty. The document of Revelation is not talking about anything beyond the second century...it, like the hopes of Paul...simply were not true, and never happened.

Additionally, I really reason that this OP should have been put in the newer Evangelism sub-forum...since more than anything else, you are simply preaching here.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2009 02:34 am
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin;115769 wrote:
Alan you have been very much mislead, it seems, in your biblical researching-to-understand, because you are removing the true facts of having written anything, to anyone, at that particular moment in time, for the purpose of the audience's understanding and use of the content of the what is written. That's what happens when hopes expressed by over zealous religious belief-system leaders fail the test of time; and thus prove false and empty. The document of Revelation is not talking about anything beyond the second century...it, like the hopes of Paul...simply were not true, and never happened.

Additionally, I really reason that this OP should have been put in the newer Evangelismsub-forum...since more than anything else, you are simply preaching here.


I don't believe I have been mislead! I most definitely do not believe like the fundamental Christian that if you fail to believe exactly as they believe you are going to burn in hell forever. Utter nonsense is that.

My near death experience changed my views of the afterlife completely God is infinitely more loving and forgiving than the fundamentalist credit him being.

What I saw in my near death event was the "birds of a feather really, applies. Hitler and his kind will find themselves subject to the evil of each other, normal good people like you guys on the forum do not face punishment but a better future beyond the boundaries of physical life. In my opinion God views our religious practices as a thing a little silly that he tolerates.

Like xris said we make out own heaven or hell God does not put us in any realm, we just go to where we belong
 
KaseiJin
 
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2009 05:04 am
@Alan McDougall,
No, Alan, that is not what I was talking about, don't you see?! I was talking about your biblical hermeneutics, and 'reading position. I'm not concerned about your experiences. Why did you say, for example, that Peter wrote the document we have received as 2nd Peter? And, if only because it has that name, then how can we show the proof for that...when many documents carried names attached to them illicitly?
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2009 05:48 am
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin;115831 wrote:
No, Alan, that is not what I was talking about, don't you see?! I was talking about your biblical hermeneutics, and 'reading position. I'm not concerned about your experiences. Why did you say, for example, that Peter wrote the document we have received as 2nd Peter? And, if only because it has that name, then how can we show the proof for that...when many documents carried names attached to them illicitly?


I see, I only used scripture when I started the thread to get hard headed fundamentalist to think further than their very short noses. When in Rome do as the Romans do. Personally I do not believe literally in biblical Scripture mainly because my own life experiences has showed me how nonsensical some of it is. However, we must recognize that the bible also contains many beautiful truths
 
KaseiJin
 
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2009 06:33 am
@Alan McDougall,
I see. Thanks for that explanation. Yes, I do agree that are some very beautiful truths of nature talked about in some areas of those written works...among a number of written works which contain the similar truths, and the matter of agape is, indeed, one of them.
 
 

 
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