Degrees of glory

Are there levels of heaven?

Allow me to pass along excerpts of an article I worked up a few years ago for Forward in Christ. The article addressed your question.

“Your question provides the opportunity to marvel at the gracious love of God Christians enjoy in equal measure and in unique ways.

“…Our works do not contribute in any way to our salvation (Titus 3:5,6). The salvation we enjoy is God’s doing.

“More than that, the salvation you and I enjoy is what all Christians possess. The book of Revelation illustrates that well. In one vision, the apostle John describes Christians who had been killed for their faith being given ‘a white robe’ (6:11). The garment represents the robe of righteousness Jesus won and which people “wear” through faith in him. Each of those martyrs received a white robe. Some did not receive half a robe; others, two robes. All enjoyed salvation equally. Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) also teaches that God’s children equally enjoy his salvation.

“While all Christians enjoy the same gift of salvation, Scripture speaks of God customizing his gracious blessings.

“Rather than speaking of levels of heaven (as the Mormons do), we understand Bible passages like Daniel 12:3; Matthew 25:23,28,29; Luke 19:17,19; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 9:6; and Revelation 14:13 to address the subject of ‘degrees of glory.’ That expression describes the individual blessings God will graciously bestow on his followers in connection with their faithful earthly lives. We will have to wait to see what that specifically means.

“What it means now is that we do not serve the Lord with the idea of getting something from him in the future…Such an attitude can easily plague Christians.

“I once had a number of conversations with a person who was interested in joining the church I served. The person’s profession of faith and our church’s statement of belief matched until she brought up ‘once saved, always saved.’ In spite of citing Bible passages that speak of people falling from faith (for example, Matthew 13:20,21; 1 Timothy 1:19), she regarded apostasy as an impossibility. Hypothetically conceding to her position, I asked what reason she had to attend worship services in church. Her answer made everything clear: ‘To get more jewels in my crown.’

“Now I got it. Her stated motive for doing God’s will was to get something in return. That is an attitude we need to reject. Any way that God chooses to bless our Spirit-driven lives of love (Philippians 2:13) is grace. Pure grace.”