Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 150:597 (Jan 93) p. 106
“Degrees of Reward in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Craig L. Blomberg, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 35 (1992): 159-72.
Do eternal rewards exist for the believer and is such a hope an appropriate motivation for the Christian life? Blomberg, associate professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, answers these questions negatively in this provocative article. Furthermore he argues that such a teaching is ultimately highly damaging for living the Christian life. He begins by suggesting that the Parable of the Laborers (Matt 20:1–16) teaches that all disciples are equal in God’s eyes. In addition, he discusses the Parable of the Talents (where outer darkness in Matthew refers to a place to which unbelievers go; Matt 25:14–30); Revelation 21–22; 1 Corinthians 3:11–15; the “crown” passages (1 Cor 9:25; 1 Thess 2:19; 2 Tim 4:8; Jas 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4); Matthew 5:19; 11:11; 19:28; along with other Matthean reward passages; and a few other New Testament epistolary texts.
In denying rewards in eternity, Blomberg leaves open the possibility of rewards in the millennium, though he notes there is no textual warrant for such a view. The implications of this view are that the believer should seek to persevere to obtain eternal life and that all work for the Lord should be motivated by gratitude (not on a works standard that can promote potential competition in the body of Christ). He is convinced that some who are not genuine believers take refuge in the idea of degrees of reward to see themselves as in the faith, but content to lack rewards.
Three positive observations and a few questions about this article can be raised. First, Blomberg is probably correct that the crown passages of the New Testament refer to eternal life. In the New Testament, suffering for believers is a “given” because they live as God’s children in a world still awaiting redemption (Rom 8:18–25; Phil 1:27–30). One can endure because he knows he is called to eternal life and therefore responds to and clings to that hope in faith. (This is how this reviewer expresses what Blomberg calls persevera...
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