Today’s topic, “Are There Degrees of Torment in Hell” is considered because of the insights that we have concerning heaven, which many would argue is the polar opposite of hell; and perhaps we can gain some understanding from one by what we know of the other.
I am approaching this subject based on the use of the “Comparison Tool,” whereby we approach a subject by examining a related subject or in comparing a polar opposite in order to gain greater insights to the subject at hand.
Severity of Sin with God
However, before going on in utilizing the “Comparison Tool” in understanding if there is separate degrees of torment in hell, let us first consider the apparent Biblical framework in regards to God displaying a diversity in punishment concerning the severity of certain sins by examining the Scriptures first.
This should not need to be said, at least for those that have spent any amount of time on this website; though for the visitors let me say that this essay in no way attempts to rationalize or justify sin any way shape or form.
The fact that God in His justice displays a form of severity index concerning some sins that He regards is more severe than others, should not be found to be that controversial. But more about this below under the heading “The Origin of the Teaching That All Sin Is the Same to God.”
Yet this in no way implies that God condones sin of any kind, simply that God judges righteously that some sins are much more severe than others.
In the last days of her life, Mother Teresa confessed that she had lost faith in God many years earlier. If this is true, then she could not be saved. Yet to equate her life of serving others at the same level of punishment as the atrocities that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao committed, would be unjust at the least.
The Hebrew Midwives
Perhaps the best place to start this examination concerning the severity of sin is the issue of the Hebrew midwives and their lying to Pharaoh as found in Exodus 1:15-21, which states:
“And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.”
What we see here is not that God had told the midwives to lie to Pharaoh, but the fact that when the midwives chose to do good rather than evil by not killing the Hebrew baby boys, God responded positively by dwelling with the midwives despite the fact that they lied to Pharaoh.
Therefore, the only conclusion is that God saw the murder of the Hebrew newborn baby boys as more evil than lying to an evil man and not committing murder.
Samuel Choosing David As God’s King
Another example where God seems to allow for deception can be found when the prophet Samuel is sent to anoint a king taking the place of Saul as found in 1 Samuel 16:2, which states:
“And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.”
We must move not misunderstand what is going on here. It is not that God is telling Samuel to lie, though God is telling him to mask the primary reason for his visit to Jesse’s house.
The point that should be noticed is that the priority here is that the prophet Samuel perform his duties of anointing a King, even if masking the truth is part of the plan.
I refuse to utilize the word deception in regards to what God is telling the prophet to do, in essence God is telling him to mask the true intention regarding the prophets visit to Jesse’s house.
Remember the God is the Potter
We must always remember that God is not holy because he does holy things. God is holy, and therefore what he does is holy. He is not subject to the same limitations he places upon man, wherein man is fallen and evil in God is pure and perfect.
Therefore God can say within the 10 Commandments, thou shalt not murder. Yet at the same time God can tell the Israelites to kill every man women child and beast is a coming to the promise land, and do so in complete righteousness.
We must always remember, we are all God’s property; wherein he can do as he wishes with his property. The property does not have the same ability. God is the Potter that chooses to do what He wishes with the clay, rather it is designed for good or for evil (Please see Endnote #1, where the Justice of God is more apparent) as is found in Romans 9:17-23, which states:
“For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction [See Endnote #1]: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory [See Endnote #1].”
The following work is presented by Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry:
“Biblically, there seems to be definite teaching that there are different levels of hell – at least in the sense that there are various degrees of punishment. The Bible does not specifically mention higher or lower levels of hell in the location sense, but it does allude to degrees of punishment and sins:
1. More Tolerance for Certain Sins
A. Matthew 10:15, “Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.”
B. Matthew 11:23-24, “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. 24 “Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.“
C. Luke 10:13-14, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you,” (cf. Luke 10:7-12).
1. The implication of those above three passages is that there is a greater punishment for rejecting Jesus than there is for even the most atrocious sins in the Old Testament.
2. Greater Punishment
A. Matthew 23:14, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation,” (cf. Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47).
B. Luke 12:47-48, “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”
1. This passage appears to indicate that the greater our knowledge, the greater our responsibility. Also, it indicates the greater our punishment if we fail in our responsibility (this is in relation to unbelievers).
3. Greater Sin
A. John 19:11, “…for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
1. Jesus specifically attributes Judas’s betrayal as a greater sin than Pontius Pilate’s.”
(Italics an underlying added – by Ryan Turner and Chad Ressler, see: http://carm.org/hell-sin)
I would only add Matthew 23:23, which states:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
Where Christ points out that certain requirements of the law the Pharisees would meet, and that they should meet them; however, there were other requirements of the law which were “weightier“, meaning: “burden some,” “grave,” “grievous,” “heavy.” While the idea is that certain parts of God’s law are more burdensome, such as: “judgment, mercy, and faith,” yet the idea of importance cannot be separated from this passage.
The point being that Judgment, mercy, and faith, are more important matters of the law than liturgical tithes.
Now back to the main tool in considering, “Are There Degrees of Torment in Hell,” by comparing hell with its polar opposite, heaven.
One of the mistakes that we believers make is this idea that everybody has the same place in heaven as one another, a claim that is heavily contradicted by Jesus own teaching.
When I say “place in heaven” I don’t mean entrance into heaven, I’m talking about what is commonly referred to as the rewards that we receive in heaven for what is done here on earth prior to entering heaven.
The mistake we make is that there is a complete difference between being saved, and our life after entering eternity.
Salvation mandates that each person who is saved enters heaven based on the same equality of standard, wherein there is no diversity in status for anyone entering – all are sinners, and the penalty for that sin was made complete by Jesus dying for our sins.
No one is closer to salvation than anyone else.
It’s rather like understanding the meaning of what the word “sin” means based upon the Greek definition of the word.
Sin – Hamartia
The Greek word which is translated into the English word “sin” is the word hamartia, and it literally means “to miss the mark.”
One of the biblical tools of interpretation that we utilize to understand God’s word more fully is referred to as the “Law of First Mention.”
Law of First Mention
This is an exercise wherein whenever we wish to fully understand a Hebrew or Greek word, we examine the first use of a word, rather in Scripture or the language itself in order to come to understand what the original application and context of the word meant in order to gain clarity.
Hamartia was an archery term, wherein when shooting at a target, the bull’s-eye, which was the same exact size of the arrow, was dead center and the only acceptable approved score was to hit the bull’s-eye dead center.
Missing the Mark
Anything outside of this bull’s-eye was “missing the mark.”
It is the idea of complete perfection, without any degree of acceptance beyond hitting the market self, either you hit the bull’s-eye or you did not – almost did not count. There was not a 9 ring, a 8 ring, a 7 ring, a 6 ring, a 5 ring; or any other rating. Either you made it or you failed!
Relating to God, what this means is, anything that is outside of God’s perfection is falling short, “it is missing the mark” of God’s standard.
It is more than the 10 Commandments, or the 613 Levitical laws, it simply states that anything that is not perfect is imperfect, and thus misses the mark.
The Origin of the Teaching That All Sin Is the Same to God
This is where we get the teaching within the church that all sin is the same to God, because all sin is sin; no greater, no lesser as a group- only one standard – only one form of acceptance, perfection.
So, it is with salvation. There is no greater degree of salvation, either you have it or you don’t have it; there is never the idea of almost when it comes to salvation.
Therefore, whenever we talk about getting into heaven there is one standard – it is the perfection of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and no believer has any greater salvation, or any lesser need of salvation than any other believer.
Salvation – The Vineyard Workers
One of the object lessons that Jesus spoke about was the workers that started work in the vineyard at different points in the day, yet all receive the same reward as found in Matthew 20:1-16 – this was an analogy concerning salvation.
Rather you were a worker / believer all day long, or the last hour; your recompense was the same.
Notice what those that had worked all day long questioned the equality of the master’s payment – the justice that they would receive the same as those that only worked an hour.
Paid in Full
And the point that is made is we all get paid the same, we are all saved the same because even though some have been believers much longer than others, you don’t get into heaven based upon how long you have been a believer, you don’t even get into heaven based upon how hard you work for the Lord – the standard is the penalty and the price that is paid – the blood of Jesus Christ is not stronger in one case and weaker in another – it applies to all the same way – it is as Jesus said on the cross “it is finished,” which means in the Greek literally “paid in full” (John 19:30)
The point is when it comes to salvation it’s either a yes or no situation, either you have it or you don’t – and to reiterate it is because of the price that was paid – because of the preciousness of Jesus blood, and the fact that we are all terrible sinners who miss the mark, commit hamartia.
The Difference Between Salvation and Rewards
However, when we speak about salvation and rewards, here is where the commonality stops, as this is attempting to mix apples with oranges, because when we walk past the door of God’s acceptance in our salvation into eternity, there are different rewards in the life to come based upon what the believer did on earth.
God is a just God, he is just in forgiving us because he places our sins upon Jesus was punished for what we deserve, and we receive what Jesus should receive in the trade-off.
God is a just God also in the fact that he rewards those who have sacrificed and committed in obedience to him their lives, their families and their fortunes as compared to those carnal believers who did not live in obedience, who sacrifice was minimal.
Crowns and Believers
Born-again Christian believers are blessed in many ways. Not counting the earthly benefits we receive, the pleasure of spending eternity with God, of awaiting Jesus’ return for His own, the “blessed hope,”1 and all the unbelievable treasures we shall enjoy forever in God’s presence.2 Beyond all this, believers can achieve the following crowns3 spoken about in God’s Word, they are God’s righteous recognition for the commitment, sacrifice, suffering, and faithfulness we display in producing fruit for the kingdom of God:
Crown of Life: For Suffering for Christ. (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
Crown of Righteousness: For the Love of His Appearing. (II Timothy 4:8)
“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.” (Malachi 3:16)
Crown of Glory: For Feeding His Sheep. (I Peter 5: 2-4)
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [agapao = “highest regard”] thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love [phileo = “affection”] thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [agapao = “highest regard”] thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love [phileo = “affection”] thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [phileis/phileo = “affection”] thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest [phileo = “affection”] thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love [phileo = “affection”] thee.
Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17) Feeding sheep refers to leading & teaching disciples / the local church, even if the pastor is lacking.
Crown Incorruptible: For Those That Press On Steadfastly. (I Corinthians 9: 24-25)
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (2 Timothy 2:3-5)
Crown of Rejoicing: For Winning Souls. (I Thessalonians 2:19)
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:13-15)
This teaching was originally presented by Leonard Ravenhill, who is a great Biblical teacher of teachers, though others have acted like they discovered this teaching, they have not, and should have given Rev. Ravenhill credit – Chuck Missler for one.
Obedience and Faith
This ministry focuses on faith because it is one of those subjects that so many believers misunderstand, thinking that they know it completely when they actually don’t even live it on a daily basis.
Faith is complete trust that everything in our lives is God filtered and God controlled.
Faith demands a price – action, “works” (Greek: “From εergō (a primary but obsolete word; to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication an act: – deed, doing, labour, work.” Strongs #G2041) as referred to by James in James 2:17, which states:
“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
Faith vs. Mere Belief
As we as stated ad nauseum on this website, works do not save you, faith does. But faith mandates a change in a person’s belief system, and thus is so strong that it changes their behaviors. Whereas salvation starts with belief, we understand that belief is only cognitive, a mental process; and as this same James states belief will not save you, for even the devil’s believe and are not saved (James 2:19).
Yet, when belief is continued and mixed with a confidence that is achieved and found in God’s word (“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” ~ Romans 10:17), based upon what God’s word says, then the natural fruition, the natural outcome is faith actions. Yet this is never to be confused with works that stand alone, as if a man could earn his way to heaven.
1 Peter 1:7 states:
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ“
The word used here for the “trial” of your faith, is actually the “proving” of your faith in the same way that gold is proved when it is pulled out of the earth, placed in the fire of tribulation with the impurities burnt off producing a pure gold – so the trial of gold in the fire proves it is gold – it proves what was true all along – so it is with tribulation in the life of the believer – the trial proves the salvation of the Believer is true as seen in the faith action the Believer lives out – the obedience that is seen.
What faith always produces is obedience. This is the correct type of obedience, where you obey because you trust God, because you have a relationship of trust in God, because you are a child of God and you truly believe that even if something hurts now, or even as Job has said; “though he slay me, yet will I put my trust in him…” (Job 13:15); that if God would take his life, Job would still trust in him, because God would still take care of him in heaven – this is what real faith is – it is the actions exercised as seen in obedience, even unto death.
This is the kind of obedience that God requires, not simply obedience for the sake of obedience which would be void of a relationship and trust in God.
But in obedience based upon faith in God, that God will always take care of you, no matter what you go through in life – because death in our human bodies is not the end of the journey, it is merely the beginning.
Faith & Eternity
The end of life is the beginning of the journey we refer to as eternity. This is where God differentiates and how He treats believers, based upon their obedient faith on the earth which determines their rewards in heaven; to do otherwise would be unjust.
Fight the Fight of Faith
Did you ever notice that Paul did not say to fight the fight against sin?
1 Timothy 6:12 states:
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”
One of the things that has bothered me when I first became a believer, and has over the last four decades is why do believers spend so much time and energy to not sin as an act of willpower, when at the point of death; and they step into eternity, the sin nature falls off – why do you practice not doing something that you can’t do after death. We are to obey because of faith.
This is not to say we are to give in to sin – we are told to ran away from it, as Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:22, which states:
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.“
There is a Difference in Obeying because of Faith and Obeying because of Willpower
Some have said to learn obedience, but then what I see is people obeying for the sake of obeying (acts of willpower, not acts of faith actions) and not because of faith.
We are to obey because of faith, and yes the two can be distinguished because many people obey out of fear of not obeying, rather than obeying because of faith in God – there is a big difference.
Did We Not…
There is a lot of people that from the outside, look like believers, but are not. On judgment day they’re going to be declaring how they did all these things for God as proof that they are saved as seen in Matthew 7:21-23,
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
They talk about prophesying, casting out demons, and many wonderful works that they think are proof that they are saved. Things that demand doing something – what appears to be obedience, which in these cases are merely willpower; yet their inheritance is hell.
The reason why there is a difference between willpower and action faith. Their obedience was void of faith, this is the proof text that there is a difference between obedience for the sake of obedience, and obedience for the sake of faith. You will notice that they did not do the will of the Father and these displays that they presented to men. The will of the Father is to do the work of the Father as seen in John 6:29, which states:
“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
Biblical Faith Always Produces Obedience, For the Right Reason
If I am a believer, and I believe with the Bible says, and by nature I am an alcoholic, and I read that God’s word says for me not to be filled with wine wherein is excess, but to be filled with the spirit. I believe that God has said this for my well-being, as well as his ability to utilize me for his own good pleasure. Therefore, I do fight the flesh, the desire to drink. I do not follow the lifestyle that leads itself to being in the wrong kind of environment, sometimes referred to as triggers. I commit myself to do those things that will not feed the flesh – I run away from the temptation of alcoholism because I believe what God’s word has said is right and true in my life, and I want to be used by him.
It’s not that I stopped drinking, simply for the sake of obedience, by using mere willpower. I seek the power of the Holy Spirit to control the events of my life and encourage me and empower me to stay away from alcohol, again because I trust what God has said, and I obey because of my faith in him and his word which tells me his will.
If I am hungry, and yet God’s word says not to steal; then in faith I go hungry believing that the lesson that he will teach me in my hunger is better than stealing food for immediate gratification. I obey because I trust in what he has said, and that he is in total control of my life even when it hurts.
We should understand that breaking every one of the 10 Commandments is a violation of faith in God. We should commit ourselves to follow these commandments not because they are Commandments which will save us, they will not. We should follow these because this is God’s will for us, exposing us to his holiness – his character. We are not obeying for the sake of obeying. We are obeying because of faith in God that what he is said is good in right for us, and because we can trust in him we want to do those things that are good in right for us. All leading to the place of pleasing God because we exercise faith in what he is said to do.
We Must Not Only Do the Right Thing, We Must Do It the Right Way, and for the Right Reason.
We cannot please God by our willpower to not do sin in our life. The Hindus and other world religions live more pure, sinless lives than we do, yet they are not saved.
We are saved because of God’s grace, His unmerited favor to us which is only accessible through the exercise of biblical faith based upon his word and what it says, which produces obedience to what it says because of this trust in it and him.
Some may say I’m splitting hairs. Yet how many pew sitters, which appear to be righteous, are simply Pharisees. Wherein the sins which are easily seen on the outside may be few, yet the pride of self-control and willpower is a barrier to the submission and humility to God unto salvation.
We must obey because of faith that what God has said not to do, is best for us.
Without Faith It Is Impossible to…
Without faith it is impossible to please God no matter how obedient you think you are.
There’s going to be a lot of people that are going to be shocked to discover this, because they feel like they’ve sacrificed so much; when in reality they only serve their own egos and received their reward.
They prayed to be seen of men, they gave love gifts to be seen of men (read Matthew chapter 6), they did all this stuff; yet all for obedience and not for faith – they earned their self a ticket into heaven, at least that’s what they believed; and God’s retort is “go to hell.”
God Is Not a Debtor
God will be a debtor to NO man, yet the justice of God demands that those that in obedient faith, who sacrifice more are rewarded greater than those that are less obedient, and live in less faith, doing less of God’s Will.
And the fact that God chooses to reward His children for obedient acts of faith, for doing His will and not their own, does not make Him a debtor, it makes Him Just; and the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, as Hebrews 11:6 states,
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Rewards – Talents
One of the teachings of Jesus that asserts to the rewards believers can receive in heaven is found in Matthew 25: 14-30, which states:
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. ~15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. ~16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. ~17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. ~18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. ~19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. ~20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. ~21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. ~22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. ~23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. ~24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: ~25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. ~26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: ~27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. ~28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. ~29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. ~30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
God’s Reward System
Here we see that after salvation there is a reward system that God has set up displaying His justice, wherein those that have sacrificed much in dedication of serving God and His kingdom, reap the rewards of that dedication and service done in faith.
Which mandates the opposite is true as well, that those that lived more for their flesh and less for God on earth, yet were saved because of faith in Jesus, their reward would be less.
The righteousness of God mandates that He duly recognize and rewards faith based servitude, sacrificial giving; as compared to those that committed themselves far more to their flesh, as they say, those that would merely “get into heaven by the skin of their teeth.”
This Article’s Speculation
This begs the Question, if the righteousness of God demands that there is diversity of reward in heaven based upon behavior on earth; would not the same righteousness of God demand that those that are destined to hell and do the most severe evil while on earth suffer more in torment in the hell than those that committed much less severe evil?
What God would exact the same punishment that is given to Hitler upon someone who would never harmed anyone in their life, yet died without accepting Christ, a Mother Theresa type (Routinely in the last 50 years of her life she communicated her loss of faith in God, which started in 1945 in Calcutta due to the inhumanity she had witnessed).
Mercy and Justice
One of the things I’ve been attempting to practice the last few years, and don’t always do very well, is that when I get mad at somebody for sinning against me, I do NOT to ask God’s judgment upon them.
I feel this is very biblical, yet my reasons are more pragmatic and self-centered.
The reason why is I don’t want God’s judgment on me for my sin, I want God’s mercy.
So as I get older, I am attempt to ask for God’s mercy upon the sins of others – I’m not very good at this, I confess.
Yet on the other side of this coin, when I see the evil that is done at the highest stage of office in my country, where people died because of the egos of others, where the unwarranted murder of millions of babies in the womb each year is called good, where honoring a false religion that is the doctrine of demons is called good, where good people are disenfranchised of their constitutional rights and it is called good, and where fellow Christians suffer and it is called good; I also know the righteousness of God demands that those who do such murder and atrocities will suffer the righteousness of God, and that will really and truly be what is good. Isaiah 5:20-24, states:
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”
Understanding that the Old Testament title “the Holy One…” is a synonym for Jesus Christ, it is Jesus Christ that will execute righteous justice upon those who do such things (Acts 17:30; John 5:22).
God’s justice reigns supreme, His righteousness without compromise, His mercy to His own without measure, His grace without condition, and His Majesty without compare; and His justice in damning the unbeliever will display His righteousness as well.
1. Romans 9:22 – “fitted for destruction” and “made for honor,”
There is a difference in the two words used to describe the making of these two distinct vessels, the verb utilized concerning the vessel (literal Greek) “fitted for destruction,” denotes the idea that the vessel receives the action that it deserves and therefore is appropriate. The idea being that those that reject Christ are destined for hell according to the righteous determination concerning what they deserve.
Yet the verb utilized concerning those vessels “made for honor,” does not indicate that those vessels deserve honor, this verb means “prepared,” or “made ready for.“
The idea is that these vessels did not get what they deserved, but were given by grace in order to receive honor.
2. Titus 2:13; Romans 8:20, 24-25, 15:4.
3. Matthew 6:20, 19:21; Luke 12:33, 18:22.
4. Revelation 3:11