Yesterday, I said that our works produce an offering that really belongs to the Lord: gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). In verse 14, notice that after our works are tested by fire which reveals their "quality," we receive a reward accordingly. It does not say that we receive gold, silver, or precious stones, but the reward for faithfulness is described as crowns (1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10; 3:11; 4:4, 10). From the last reference, it appears that even our crowns of reward for faithful service will be offered to the Lord. Perhaps the most joyful thing we will ever do will be to, once again, give God our all.
Just as there will be those who have more to offer God in heaven, those rejecting God will reap differing degrees of eternal punishment. Jesus taught that cities which rejected Him, yet allowed He and His disciples to preach the Gospel to them, would suffer less in the Day of Judgment than those which would not even listen to them. In Matthew 10:14-15, and in Mark 6:11, Jesus said the city that refuses them will suffer much greater punishment than the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha. In Matthew 11:22-24, two cities which received God's prophets, Tyre and Sidon, would suffer less than those of Chorazin and Bethsaida which rejected them. In Luke 10:8-15, Jesus compares an unnamed city, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum with Tyre and Sidon.
What was different about all these cities? After all, they all rejected God's revealed truth. Why would their degree of punishment be different? The answer is found in the same passages. Jesus told His disciples that if Sodom, Gomorrha, Tyre, and Sidon had received as much "light" as the cities that rejected Him, they would have believed and repented. Hebrews 1:1-2 reveals that before Jesus came to be the Light of the world (John 8:12), revelation came through the prophets. One greater than Abraham (John 8:58), greater than Jonah, and greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:38-42) revealed greater light. Jesus was saying that if the Old Testament cities had the light He was giving the cities of His day, they would have accepted Him. The fact that God increases revealed light for understanding is most clearly found in the study of Dispensationalism. However, with greater light, comes greater responsibility. To him whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48).
This principle applies to both those who reject God's revealed truth, and those who accept it. Believers are held accountable as stewards of their understanding of the Word, and of their use of the gifts of the Spirit (Romans 12:3-8). Unbelievers receive judgment base upon the amount of "light" they reject. The real question is, have you accepted Jesus as your Lord? Regardless of what limited "light" other generations received, your generation has received the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Either believe in Him and repent of your sinful way of life, or reject Him, continue as you are, and suffer the consequences. After repeatedly trying to reach someone for Christ, there comes a time to quit "casting your pearls before swine" (Matthew 7:6). Those are harsh words, but they are not mine. Jesus said it. Time is too short to waste on those who have made up their minds to reject the Truth.