“I hope I make it to heaven.” I’ve heard this plea many times. I believe the cause is not being familiar with the Bible and, therefore, not understanding salvation.
With the Roman Catholic belief of faith plus good works needed for salvation, that is probably the problem. I can imagine a person asking, “What kind of works should I do.” or “How many works should I do?” and “If I have underachieved, how long do I have to spend in Purgatory to accomplish the forgiveness in fire?” With the advent of the non-scriptural Purgatory, it could be seen as the alternate to an incomplete spiritual life as well as an out-of-torment gift.
Why should any believer suffer when Jesus completely suffered for us according to the Father’s wish? For Evangelicals, good works are the effect of being saved, not a mandate along with Faith. In addition, Evangelicals should know that the merits of Jesus on the cross forgives all our sins. However, should there be any doubt of your future, let’s review scripture:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting Life” (John 3:16, NKJV).
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13a).
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1a).
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).
“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17, NIV)
“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11b).
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36a).
“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).
The reality of being saved is experiencing the Rapture, the next major church event. You will have a new body, meet Jesus in the clouds, and are now in heaven. You do not have any question as to whether you will make it to heaven or not. You are there!
Now it is time for the Bema Judgment of Christ (also called The Judgment Seat of Christ) which only includes believers. Too bad the translation uses “judgment” as this is solely an awards ceremony, not a trial. The main reward is the knowledge that your sins are forgiven and you will be eternally in heaven witnessing the Glory of God. Many others will not be there for eternity. There is a saying, “Everyone makes it to heaven, but not all stay there!” This is a clue about the White Throne Judgment for all nations that takes place after the Millennium, where some folks will be judged and will be Hell-bound.
You are probably still wondering about why “Bema” is used in the title. The word is from the Greek usage at games where the sports winners were on a raised platform. A modern Bema is the threefold winners’ platform at the Olympic Games. The word “Bema” is perfect for the people who experienced the Rapture and are now in heaven after being with Jesus in the clouds. Bema, in a sense, always means winner, and the people standing before Jesus are all winners without sin. Some may wonder how they get there. Again, we turn to scriptures for an answer:
“For who finds me, finds life and wins favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:35).
“I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I shall come back to take you with me that where I am, you also may be” (John 14:3). (i.e.—the Rapture)
“Also to you, Oh Lord, belongs mercy for you render to each one according to his work” (Psalm 62:12).
The Lord has rescued Raptured believers from the horrors of the coming Great Tribulation back on earth. The surviving seven-year Tribulation believers are brought into the Millennium with mortal human bodies, whereas the rest from heaven will have heavenly Raptured bodies. You, however, are first standing before Jesus in heaven as He prepares to make rewards according to your service for God’s kingdom.
The major heavenly rewards are crowns as referenced in scripture:
The Crown of Glory “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).
The Crown of Rejoicing “For what is our hope, or joy, or the crown of rejoicing? Is it not of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19).
The Crown of Life “Blessed is the man who endures temptation for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12) and “Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10b).
The Crown of Righteousness “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
The Crown of Incorruptibility “Now they (i.e. athletes) do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
We might guess who will receive crowns in heaven based on our favorite preachers, teachers, healers, and missionaries, and others that we watch on TV or at conferences. Regardless of those receiving crowns, the reward of everyone in heaven is to constantly behold the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Suddenly we remember the outcry of Stephen, “I see an opening in the sky and the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand” (Acts 7:56). The glory of Jesus will be everywhere, lighting the New Jerusalem. This is everyone’s reward who loves the Lord.
There is one consideration we should mention, and it concerns those rewards or the loss of potential rewards. In this case, we are judged still sinless, but maybe not worthy of a particular prize. Paul mentions that if we sow sparingly, we will reap sparingly (2 Corinthians 9:6). Expand this thought to the extent of our work for the kingdom, or are we just saved church goers? Can you imagine being ashamed in the great multitude of Bema believers as rewards are given? The answer is to start now to increase your earthly efforts for Christ. Adopt a hunger for a personal relationship with Jesus now.
John proclaimed, “Abide in Him that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28). What God told Moses: “Be holy for I am holy” (Leviticus 19:2b) was repeated in 1 Peter 1:16 and should still be our continuous agenda in the Church Age. However, with the increasing evidence of the End Times happening, the Church Age will be completed at the Rapture.
We will be heavenly people in our fat-free, no gravity, perfect bodies. Perhaps we will play golf on Jupiter or examine Saturn’s rings. Scripture says we should concentrate on heavenly things rather than earthly delights. Well, I do not have room now for a model railroad anyways. However, I hope there is one in my heavenly mansion.
We should all check our righteousness index. If it is not perfect, we should improve it before we reign in the Millennium. Any negative feelings on whether the Jones’s mansion is bigger than ours in the future Millennium will not be acceptable.
Books by the author: A Gilded Walk; Gifted-How God Is Glorified; Choices for Our Eternal Home; Together-Never Alone. Available at Amazon and other fine book sellers.