Will Our Reception into Heaven Be Different Depending on How We Have Lived Our Life on Earth?

Question from a reader:

In your book Edge of Eternity, the Christian woman who lived for self rather than for the King, upon entering Charis did not get any private time with the King. Is this the kind of reception the carnal Christian receives in Heaven? Will the King simply demand they appear before Him, kneel while He's talking, and spell out His disappointment with them, saying they could have been and could have done so much more, but all they've done was accept the Gift, so "go ahead and come in"... no welcoming party, no reception, no reward?

Answer from Karen Coleman, EPM staff:

I believe you are referring to the character Victoria.  Since this is not Victoria’s story, Randy would not necessarily spend time developing her reception into Heaven.  Randy does use the contrast of feelings, “in the morning you will be both glad and sad” as people enter.  They are glad to see King Jesus, yet sad for “squandered opportunities” in life to live for Him.  So Victoria is sad about those missed chances. 

It later relates, “Victoria soaked in the world of wonder and delight” and that she was dancing and laughing and recognized that she had entered “the REAL world” at last.  Although the details of her own reception are not spelled out in this book, there is no indication she did not receive a true and joyful welcome.

Randy got his idea for the bag of stones analogy from 1 Corinthians 3:12-15:  “ Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” For more on this, see this link on our website: http://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Mar/23/edge-eternity-questions/

Here is how Randy explains the rewards of Heaven:

“So what would that mean in terms of differences not just in position but in our persons? It may be like what Edwards and Spurgeon said about the full and empty vessel. Bunyan said something similar. All of us will be full of joy in Heaven, but those who served him faithfully, particularly in the midst of adversity, will have been made, by God’s grace, into larger vessels. They won’t be fuller of joy, but they will have a greater capacity, and their fullness will accordingly contain even more joy. (Hence the special place in Revelation given to the martyrs.) There won’t be envy or regret, because of our new natures, and all will be full of joy, yet there will be true continuity and eternal consequence so that what we do—not just what we believe—in this life will have eternal effect.

Maybe one way to say it is that the ‘loss’ of rewards is in some sense permanent, but the ‘suffering’ of that loss will be temporary. God will do away with the suffering (Revelation 21:4), but that is after the judgment, after our giving account to the Lord. The suffering of regret will be there at the judgment (how could it not be?) before entrance to the eternal state, but then there is the learning and purifying and eternal rejoicing. Perhaps a very short ‘I really feel bad and regret my lack of faith and faithfulness’ and expressing this to a God who graciously forgives. Then, that forever behind us, we move on to eternal joy.”

Read more: http://www.epm.org/resources/2014/Jun/18/do-you-think-loss-rewards-heaven-will-be-permanent/#ixzz3UaSHIFMQ

So those who miss opportunities to live for and glorify God on earth (pick up stones in the book’s analogy), will still be completely full of eternal joy, but perhaps have less capacity for joy than those with more stones to offer at Jesus’ feet.

Karen Coleman served as a ministry assistant at Eternal Perspective Ministries for three and a half years. She spent 23 years in Cameroon, West Africa involved in Bible translation and missionary care. Before going to Africa and before EPM began, she served as Randy’s assistant when he was a pastor. In June 2018, Karen went to be with Jesus.