Does your church or tradition believe in the doctrine of eternal rewards? It is the key to so many subjects in theology and to so many passages of Scripture. For example, did you know that Jesus taught there would be different degrees of greatness in His kingdom? In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord said,
“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:19).
Some will be called least, and some will be called great. That is an example of eternal rewards.
But wait, how can that be? Aren’t we all supposed to be equal in the kingdom? Not at all. Michael Eaton explains:
It is often assumed that everyone is equal in the kingdom of God…The Reformation doctrine of “justification by faith only” (which is truly biblical) is sometimes extended as if it meant that there are no differences among disciples at all. But this is a slip in doctrine. There is equality of all in needing a Saviour, and there is the equality of every believer in God’s providing new birth and justification and sonship for all equally. But this does not mean that all Christians are equally pleasing to God. There are dozens of scriptures that teach the opposite. A Christian must live to please God, and pleasing God is not automatic. Some Christians please God more than others. Some sow to the Spirit and reap eternal life back from the Spirit. Some have treasure in heaven more than others. So Jesus is not saying anything very unusual in speaking of greatness and smallness in the kingdom. There are some who are first and others who are last in the kingdom of God. Disciples are asked to press into the kingdom.
Variation of greatness in the kingdom of God extends even beyond the grave. In the judgment day of Christ some “suffer loss” and are saved “through fire.” Others receive reward (1 Cor 3:11-15) (Eaton, The Way that Leads to Life, p. 57).