Rewarding
Unworthiness

Rewarding Personal Unworthiness

Many Christians believe erroneously that we shall all be alike when we get to heaven. However, while we have the same type of resurrected body as Jesus, we will only be what we have already become while walking on the earth. So don’t think that a magical change at the resurrection will turn you into a super saint. Speaking about the time when God fulfills Revelation, the Bible says:

“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

Revelation 22:11 NKJV

God judges all men according to where they are when their lives end. God, in his grace provided: 1.) Salvation from the consequences of our sin; 2.) The Holy Spirit to live in us and help us change from our selfish nature to God’s nature; 3.) The teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, to show us how to live; And 4.) The rest of our lives to learn how to serve under his Lordship.

Paul’s advice to the Philippians was to “. . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12b). Why did he say “with fear and trembling?” Because works bring consequences, works will be judged. Yes, promised rewards and an inheritance go to the faithful servants who walked in the mode of the Spirit during their lives, but what about the unfaithful servants? Remember, God serves justice at the judgment seat of Christ. Unfaithful servants who frittered away their lives on the pleasures of the flesh in the world, walking on the broad way, not serving the Master, but self, do not inherit the kingdom of God. Yes, they belong in the family of God because God always keeps His word. At some point they accepted Jesus’ offer of salvation, but they didn’t continue to follow Christ in their walk to the end of their lives.

These Christians miss out on the privileges and pleasures afforded those who walked close to Jesus. These equate to the seed that fell on rocky or thorny ground in the parable of the sower. They didn’t produce any fruit. Now they must worship him from afar. Neither do they inherit a position for reigning in the Millennial Kingdom. They were not faithful witnesses for Christ, therefore they did not suffer any rejection from the world. Paul told Timothy, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: If we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12). Deny us what—rewards for faithful service, or a position in his kingdom? These Christians lose rewards at the judgment seat of Christ.

Many lose the significance of the warnings in the New Testament about this loss of rewards because they interpret scriptures referring to them incorrectly. They apply them to mere professing Christians rather than genuine believers. One reason is the word “perdition,” as it is used in today’s language. Even Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “perdition” as coming from a Latin word perdere – to lose. But then defines it theologically as “loss of the soul—hell.” This is pure interpretation. The Greek word used in the scripture also speaks of loss, but falls short of always speaking of the soul’s eternal state. Sometimes it is applied to believers, not meaning loss of salvation, but loss of rewards. According to Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance[1] “perdition” comes from the word apoleia which means “loss of well being, not loss of being, used of things signifying their waste or ruin.” This word itself is derived from another Greek word appalumi, which means--a. to destroy utterly b. the idea is not extinction, but ruin, loss--not of being, but well being. This same Greek word is translated “destruction” in Philippians 3:18c, 19, “of enemies of the cross[2] . . . whose end is apoleia (ruin) . . . who mind earthly things. Also 2 Peter 3:16, 17 where he condemns ignorant teachers to the category of losers.

“. . . which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [Paul’s teaching] as they do other scriptures, to their own apoleia (loss or ruin) Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.

Teachers who wrongly divide the scriptures can be ashamed at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Timothy 2:15). God is jealous for his Word. In fact, He honors it above His name according to Psalm 138:2.

For this reason James warned, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.“ (3:1 NKJV). Jesus came down hard on the Pharisees because their teaching led Israel astray.

Since all spiritual growth of the new believer depends upon understanding of the Bible, he must have teachers to teach him certain basic truths of his new life. If the teaching does not come from the Holy Spirit, or is twisted, his walk will become flawed at its beginning.

False teaching does damage to the Church. Whole denominations have been built on teaching that curbs their growth to maturity. Therefore, besides those who ignore God’s claims on their life by living in the flesh or in the world, God denies teachers the kingdom of God when they persist in their perversion of truth.

Paul warned the builders of God’s building (the Church) to take heed of how they built. He said:

Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

1 Corinthians. 3:8-17 NKJV (Emphasis added)

Here Paul is talking to the Corinthian Church corporately, the whole Church is the temple of God. Therefore, when he talks of any minister that defiles the temple, he says God will defile him. tit for tat, like for like, because the words defile and destroy are the same word in the Greek just translated differently here.

Paul even warned Timothy, his own son in the faith, of the necessity of careful study:

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 AV ( Emphasis added)

Many people desire to be teachers to gain importance in the church. God gives gift and calls his real teachers, others presume to teach, using the precepts of men. Presumptuous “truth” has damaged whole denominations, causing their adherents loss of rewards. Like the corrupt fruit from corrupt ministries, corrupt teaching distorts truth. God judges teachers more severely than others. Even if some teachers have entered the kingdom, they could be ashamed before him if they don’t divide the Scriptures correctly.

False prophets add another category to losers at the judgment seat of Christ. Remember them as taking away joy in the last law of the kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount? Let’s look at this passage again from the perspective of believers being deceived by their own pride.

Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV

This passage of Scripture is controversial. So we must look at it carefully to realize what it actually says. Remember when we examined it in the “joy robbers” column? We talked about the tree coming from a seed, not a slip of the original tree. We can never depend on a seed of a fruit tree producing the same as the mother tree.

Notice in the passage above that it is the tree, which represents his ministry that is thrown into the fire, not the worker. Can a true believer be considered a ravening wolf? Does this not speak of an unbeliever masquerading as a Christian? Probably. But can it not also apply to men trying to build the Church their own way, destroying believers under their teaching?

One of the building materials was wood, which would be burned. Is this not work whose fruit was unacceptable, whether it be a vine that only produced leaves or a fruit tree that produced sour fruit? Both are made of wood. This is the highest form of building material in the flesh: works that can’t pass through the judgment fire

Add to that thought what Jesus said that “Not everyone who called him Lord, would enter the kingdom of heaven.” These men worked rebellion. They never took the time to know the Father’s plan; they had their own. For this reason Jesus said, “I never, ever knew you. He was the administrative head of the body of Christ. If they had listened to him, they would have acted in response to His will, building up the Church.

Instead, they built their own ministries, fleecing the sheep to do it. Actually, many of these men gave the Church a bad name before the world, begging money in flashy TV campaigns while their personal lives lacked the traits of God. Even though some of the miracles performed were genuine because the Holy Spirit ministers to the needs of his people. Jesus denies the workers any reward. They got the glory for the miracles, not God. They had their reward on earth.

Paul speaks of the judgment seat of Christ as a fearful event. He maintains that our labor for Christ has to be “acceptable” (2 Corinthians. 5:9). He further says it will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ as “good or bad.” “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest . . .” says Paul concerning his labor—in contrast to the false teaching of the Judaizers who opposed him. They will face a stern Jesus at the judgment seat for their destruction in the early church.

Another example of false teachers, etc. losing rewards is of those subtracting truth from God’s plans for the future in the book of Revelation.

And if anyone cancels or takes away from the statements of the book of this prophecy?these predictions relating to Christ’s kingdom and its speedy triumph, together with the consolations and admonitions (warnings) pertaining to them?God will cancel and take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the city of holiness (pure and hallowed) which are described and promised in this book.

Revelation 22:19 AMP

These had a part reserved for them that they could not claim. They lost their part in the tree of life and their part in the city (New Jerusalem). Contrast this loss with those blessed saints who enjoy these privileges.

Blessed are they that wash their robes [by keeping his commandments], that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.

Revelation 22:14 ASV

The losers cannot partake of the tree of life or enter the city through the gates. This does not mean some are not saved. Instead, these, themselves deceived by teachers of higher criticism and liberalism teach in seminaries and turn others away from faith, teaching instead the precepts of men. I knew of a young man so spoiled that he renounced his faith and disdained all who still believed what he formerly believed. They rob the faith of those zealous to serve as pastors spoiling their future ministry to the Church. My own father was so robbed, that I was not saved until adulthood. I blame the liberal seminarians. These are they that do damage to the Church.

He doesn’t condemn them to hell like unbelievers, but gives them a just reward for their worthlessness to Christ, in a place, where there shall be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The weeping shows their regrets. Who else will join them in this place? Look at the verse following the blessed in heaven:

[But] without are the dogs and those who practice sorceries (magic arts) and impurity [the lewd, adulterers] and the murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and deals in falsehood (untruth, error, deception, cheating).

Revelation 22:15 AMP

Whoa, how can these be Christians? Wait! Compare these Scriptures.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, or idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians. 6:9-11 AV

Paul goes on to say he will not allow himself to be brought under the power of any [thing] that diverts him from serving God. Then he explains, “Be followers of me.” From the tone of this chapter it appears that some of these believers had slipped back into their old lifestyle. They were going to court against each other, probably for some of the offenses mentioned above. Paul warns that such behavior does not inherit the kingdom of God. How can this be talking about unbelievers when they have no chance of inheriting? Paul tells them flatly that he who does these things does not inherit! Now compare another like Scripture:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV (Emphasis added)

They that do such things shall not inherit! Paul wrote both of these passages to Christians warning them to avoid walking in the flesh. That opens the possibility that some will not heed the warning. Now compare these lists with the works mentioned in Revelation 22:15AV: “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

These without the city have the same sins as those who do not inherit. Looking at the Online Bible for meanings of the word in each category we find this:

Dog = kuon – a dog, as a metaphor – a man of impure mind. Jude says lasciviousness characterizes the end-time church, where some are believers (Jude 19-23).

Sorcerer – pharmakos–Linked to magic or witchcraft?

Whoremonger - Pornos - 1. A man who prostitutes his body to another man for hire. 2. A male prostitute. 3. A man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse and fornication? A child molester?

Murderer – a homicide or national assassination.

Idolater – worshippers of false gods used of Christians participating in any worship of the heathen especially of one who attends their sacrificial feasts and eats the remains of offered victims.

Loves – to love, do like, or sanction . . . and loves the lie

Lie – pseudo – a. a lie, b. a conscious and deliberate falsehood, c. in a broad sense whatever is not what it seems to be (a hypocrite?), d. of perverse, impious, deceitful precepts—teachers of error? Loving all these?

Are not these same sins mentioned in the works of the flesh, which Paul declared would disinherit saints? Do Christians do these things today? What about the Catholic priests who molested little boys? What about homosexuality in the Church, even among pastors? What about the addictions to pornography among the men of the Church? What about teachers of erroneous new heresies prophesied for the end-time Church—liars?

The perpetrators of these sins have not washed their robes. They remain spotted by the flesh. Revelation 22:15 places them outside the city, but where?

Jesus tells of a place where believers in God will be cast into an outer darkness

The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel. And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

Matthew 8:8-13 NKJV (Emphasis added)

Many of the Jews, who believe in and worship the true God still await their promises to be fulfilled, but remain blinded to the gospel. Are they counted the children of the kingdom in Jesus’ eyes? One cannot help but wonder if Jews faithful to God through these two thousand years will also be sent to the outer darkness in a heavenly ghetto after their resurrection because they remained true to God as they knew him, but they rejected Jesus, their Messiah, in their lifetime.

Then concerning the Church, in Matthew 22:13 Jesus tells the parable of the guest at the Wedding feast without a wedding garment.

But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

Matthew 22:13, 14 NKJV (Emphasis added)

Why was he rejected? Did he presume to participate in the wedding festivities in an unwashed garment, still spotted by the flesh? Look at Revelation 19:7-9a: AV

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” (Emphasis added)

Apparently, of those called, the “ready” were chosen.

In the parable of the talents, Matthew 25:30 the master dealt the lazy and worthless servant the same blow as the disqualified wedding guest:

“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:29, 30 NKJV (Emphasis added)

The worthless servant had something, which he held to be more important than that which the master gave him, hence the phrase—take away even that which he hath? some false teaching perhaps? Of course when the Master reveals the full truth, anything false will be taken away. One more example—look what happens to the unfaithful pastor.

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 24:45-51NKJV (Emphasis added)

Jesus states that this latter man is a ruling servant over the household; therefore we would interpret him to be a pastor or overseer in Christ’s Church, Jesus being his Lord. In contrast to the faithful and wise servant, the unfaithful servant’s behavior disqualifies him for promotion. Jesus does not mention the outer darkness here, but he does speak of the weeping and gnashing of teeth, which also designates hell. However, the subject being examined here is faithfulness and obedience in works, not a saved or lost position. Pastors who are unsaved are never qualified for promotion or any reward at all, except hell. In the Law governing the maintenance of Joy, Jesus exhorts his disciples to “Enter into the strait gate,” because this narrow way to walk leads to life, and few there be that find it. Here again we have reference to the few who are chosen in contrast to the many who are called. Those that find the strait gate have to see it. Surely those that find His “abundant life” are they that allow the “water of the Word” and the leading of the Spirit to restrict their lives by yielding their bodies as a living sacrifice. Paul says this is a reasonable service for receiving salvation (Romans 12:1). The flamboyant lifestyle of those on the “broad way” keeps them from entering the kingdom. This suggests that not all of those born into the family of God enter into the kingdom of God.

Many of the teachings concerning whether one can lose salvation by our works after we have been born again, come from misunderstanding that we can fail to enter his kingdom by falling back into the flesh. It is not eternal life that they lose, but rights and privileges in the kingdom. Instead, they go merrily along the “broad way,” or seeking after the things of this world, wasting their new life purchased by Christ’s death.

Why should these believers be rewarded with the same blessings as those who have been obedient to the end of their lives? Even worse, why should false teachers or false prophets enjoy the privileges of the faithful servants? Those who used God’s name and power to promote themselves and their fortunes will face a stern-faced Jesus. 1 John 2:4 says: He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” No wonder Jesus says to them, “I never knew you.” The word for “know” here means “to know completely” Mary used the same word when she questioned the angel Gabriel about how she could become pregnant since she “knew” not a man.

These failed to know the Father or the Son. They deserve to be put out of his intimate presence. The writer to the Hebrews says, “The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:30b, 31). Where is this outer darkness of the saved? Some have suggested that it is some far off place, perhaps in outer space. How can these be children of God and not live where the family lives?

Look again at Revelation 22:14 AV:

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Emphasis added)

Remember the teachers who subtracted from the Book of Revelation. They lost their rights to the tree and the city that the blessed gained. Herein lays the answer to a great mystery. Why is the wall to the Heavenly Jerusalem so thick and high, and why does the gate require an angelic guard when they remain open continually?

Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Revelation 21:25- 27 NKJV

Those condemned to the outer darkness never repented of their unworthiness before Jesus caught them away to the judgment. Now they reflect on their losses. Notice those who may not enter summarize those outside: they that work abominations and work lies, both defile. Perhaps God, in his mercy, will release them from their prison in due time, after all, since only believers could be on the premises, their names have to be written in the Lamb’s book of life. They have escaped hell and they do have eternal life, a prerequisite for entering the city. They are saved as by fire; losing everything except their eternal life. However, they shall not mingle with the blessed, at least not for now.

I suggest the wall surrounding the city will be their prison. Are the entrances to the wall through the side walls of the gates? Does the guard prevent exit from the wall?

Look at its dimensions! It stands 144 cubits high and 144 cubits broad. We know the length of the wall because it matches the sides of the city, which are 12,000 furlongs, or 1500 miles long per side. By using the great cubit of approximately 21 to 22 inches,[3] the wall measures 264 feet high and broad, and 6,000 miles long in U S linear measurements around the perimeter of the city.

Twenty-two story buildings

If we allowed 12 feet high to a story, the wall would equal a 22 story building in height, while the gate through the wall into the city would be 88 yards deep, just 12 yards shy of a football playing field. That’s quite a prison!

As to it being called the outer darkness, Jesus used the Greek words “exoteros” and “skotos.” Exoteros simply means “outer” while “skotos” can mean the darkness of night, but comes from a base word meaning shadow from the interception of light. This combination, “outer darkness” occurs only three times in Scripture, the three times we cited that were spoken by Jesus himself. In each incident, the people involved expected to be included in God’s company. They were all his people. They believed in God, but they failed to live up to “a reasonable service” (Romans 12:1), which caused their rejection. The children of the kingdom, the Jews who held the promise of a great kingdom, refused to recognize their king when he came, and ever since. The Christians refused to take Jesus’ commandments seriously, or used His power for their own glorification. Or, like the unfaithful pastor saw Jesus’ coming in the far distant future. He was not watching and fell back into the flesh.

As to the outer darkness the differential brightness between the light in the city and the light in the wall makes it a darkened place by comparison. Light in the city shines unhindered because of the clarity of the city structure. One time John refers to it as “clear as crystal” and twice he refers to the gold of it as being “clear as glass.” The wall, on the other hand, does not have this clarity. Jasper, generally an opaque stone with a wide variety of colors included, appears in its most precious form as barely translucent.

Why John likened the city to a jasper stone most precious, clear as crystal, we cannot tell, unless that stone had a translucent form as well. George Fredrick Kunz, once America’s foremost gemologist, assigns a green hue to precious jasper.[4] But testimony of Marvin Ford, who glimpsed the city during a clinical death experience in 1972, described the wall as being veined, typical of the jasper as we know it today. He said, “I viewed its walls of jasper consisting of a heavenly green unlike anything I had ever seen before. I could see the marble-like vein running all through it.”[5] That’s not clear as crystal! Thus, the light he saw shining through it would have been translucent—low light compared to the city whose light shone with the glory of the Lamb!

Conclusion

Saints of God, beware lest you fail to please the LORD. Many of the Church today do not possess a healthy fear of our awesome God. No wonder Paul mentions the “terror” of the Lord that Christians will face at the Judgment seat of Christ. Let us all strive to finish the race with confidence and enjoy an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God! Paul’s words to the Colossian Christians make a good final warning:

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord. And not unto men; knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

Colossians 3:23-25 (AV Emphasis added)