I am a student at Colorado Christian University, and I am currently doing a project on the eternal state. I was wondering about the doctrine of eternal rewards.
My question is—will believers who are not as good of servants here on this earth experience more regret than those who were? Because I think I’d feel regret if I saw good stewards getting rewards and I didn’t receive them because I stewarded my life poorly. However, I also know that regret is a type of pain, and pain should not be in heaven, according to Revelation 21.
What is your take on this?
Many wrongly interpret Rev 21:4 to mean that there will be pain after this life is over. As MM says, “I also know that regret is a type of pain, and pain should not be in heaven, according to Revelation 21 [v 4].
Here is what Rev 21:4 actually says, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
The first question is when Rev 21:4 takes place. The answer is obvious: it takes places after the Millennium (Revelation 20) during the eternal kingdom on the new earth (cf. Rev 21:1-3).
That answers the second question too. Where will Rev 21:4 take place? The answer, in light of Rev 21:1-3, is not in the third heaven, but on the new earth. There will be no death and no pain on the new earth.
MM is asking about the Judgment Seat of Christ, also called the Bema. Compare Luke 19:16-26; Rom 14:10-12; 1 Cor 3:5-15; 9:24-27; 2 Cor 5:9-10; 1 John 2:28.
The Bema occurs 1,000 years before the new earth of Rev 21:1-4ff.
We know that some believers will experience shame at the Bema (Matt 10:32-33; Luke 19:16-26; 1 John 2:2). Shame is a negative emotion.
Regret is a normal response to shame. Yes, believers will experience regret over failure to endure in our Christian lives. But the regret will not be eternal. It will be short-lived at the Bema.
I hope MM is thinking in terms of the new earth, not heaven. Believers will not spend eternity in heaven. Revelation 21-22 makes it clear we will spend eternity on the new earth.
The point of Rev 21:4 is that after the Millennium, God will wipe away all tears and all pain. That is not to suggest that any believers will experience pain for a millennium prior to that. Rev 21:4 concerns those dwelling on the new earth.
MM is correct that if we abide in Christ, then we will “not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28). We should live now in light of our coming judgment at the Bema.