Will Christians receive rewards in heaven?
Yes. I think if you had asked any Christian who lived prior to the twentieth century, or certainly any Christian in the Reformed world, the answer would have been, “Absolutely, definitely yes.” Something happened in the twentieth century regarding this doctrine of rewards. If I asked twenty-five or thirty modern seminary students: “How many of you expect rewards in heaven and that some will be rewarded more than others?” I doubt that two hands would go up.
Somebody needs to make a study of what happened to the doctrine of rewards. It was certainly a Puritan and a magisterial Reformer idea. Scripture clearly teaches that some are rewarded, not for their justification, but for their progressive sanctification—for using the gifts that God has given them well. Some are given ten cities, some are given five, and some just get Orlando. I’m in Orlando, but you see my point. That parable is clearly teaching, at one level, different gradations of reward. If that is not a part of your understanding of progressive sanctification and what that means in terms of faithfulness and loyalty in response to the gospel, I think you have a different understanding of the gospel and how it manifests itself in the Christian life from most Christians of the past.
This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Derek Thomas and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.