Salvation & Rewards According to Evangelicals

This is a crude diagram that I made in Microsoft Paint which shows how I view evangelical soteriology, especially features which I believe will be of interest to Latter-day Saints:

(Trogdor the Burninator comes from www.HomeStarRunner.com; drawing retrieved here. All the crappy stuff was drawn by me.)

Any questions?

I don’t claim to be an expert on theology, even my own theology. I’m just now enrolled in my first ever theology class which is set to cover Christ, Humankind, Sin and Salvation, but we haven’t gotten to talking about the “salvation” part yet.

Listed below are some of the scriptures from my personal study which have influenced this interpretation. I welcome correction from the other evangelicals.

Faith in Jesus = Salvation

Rewards in Heaven Based on Works

Baptism by Water, Baptism by Fire Important

Pre-Resurrected Righteous Go to “Abraham’s Bosom/Side” or Paradise

Information on Hell/Hades/Tartarus

Sanctification, Glorification

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This entry was posted in Heaven, hell by Bridget Jack Jeffries. Bookmark the permalink.

About Bridget Jack Jeffries

Bridget Jack Jeffries is a human resources professional living in Chicago. She holds a BA in classics from Brigham Young University with a minor in Hebrew and an MA in American religious history from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. She is a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church and a single mother of two. You can read more of her writings at www.Weighted-Glory.com.

23 thoughts on “Salvation & Rewards According to Evangelicals

  1. As long as it is maintained that our works do not merit reward but that rewards are based on the good pleasure and grace of God I don’t see how anyone could disagree with your presentation.

  2. I don’t know that I agree with you Gundek. I think our good works don’t merit our salvation. But I think the good works we do “in Christ” do merit jewels for our crowns. (granted those rewards are given by the grace of God, he doesn’t owe them to us).

  3. Tim,

    We may be saying very similar things, as you point out, “rewards are given by the grace of God, he doesn’t owe them to us.” As I understand it rewards given by grace cannot be merited because we simply do not deserve them. It is only because of His unmerited favor, grace, that we are not simply judged and condemned by the law.

  4. If one were to think of the kingdoms of glory all as being heaven, my understanding is similar in many ways. The differences:

    1) It is assumed that all of us here had faith in Jesus during the pre-existence, so that’s a given for all people who don’t expressly reject him after knowing him. In my opinion, this semi-universalism (which is related to the fact that our decision-making ability doesn’t end at death) is the biggest soteriological difference between evangelicals and Mormons, even more so the faith-vs.-works thing or even theosis/exaltation.

    2) The rewards in the above chart relate to the degrees of glory, and within in each “level” there may be varying destinies depending on what we’ve done with what God has given us.

    3) The pre-resurrection hell (hades) and paradise may be separate “neighborhoods” within one “spirit prison.” In any case, hades is different than the “outer darkness” or any kind of eternal misery, and paradise is different than heaven. (I think you’re saying the same thing.) My understanding (which isn’t necessarily clearly taught LDS doctrine) has some similarity with the Catholic concept of purgatory in that there may be a time of cleansing of some sort.

    As an aside, I think one reason for much LDS-evangelical misunderstanding on the works issue is our often different definitions of salvation. Evangelicals tend to clearly distinguish between salvation (which, in part, is an assurance of going to heaven) and sanctification, while Mormons tend to conflate the two into a single term “salvation.” For both of us, getting into “heaven” is all grace without anything required on our part, but the “jewels” (vague meaning in evangelicalism, kingdoms of glory in LDS thought) are related to our actions.

  5. Jack
    I have a question for you. In Rev. 20:15 it states that those whose names are not written in the book of life, were cast into the lake of fire .. on your chart you show that varying degrees of dishonor, punishment, etc. Would you please share with me references from the Bible that would support this? The bible states that those not in the book of the lamb will be cast into the lake of fire. Do you not believe that?

    Thanks,
    gloria

  6. Gloria, can you clarify for me what you’re asking?

    Are you asking me why I believe in different degrees of punishment in hell?

    Or are you asking me whether or not I believe in literal torture in a lake of fire?

    Or both?

  7. Hi, jack.

    It appears by the diagram you shared above, that you believe in different degrees of punishment. Would you please point to me reference to support that? Also, yes… do you believe as it says in Rev. 20:15 in a literal lake of fire?

    Thanks,
    gloria

  8. FWIW, I have a vague notion of different levels of punishment (that I probably can’t support) and I don’t believe in a literal lake of fire though I believe in a literal hell.

  9. Yes, Gloria, I do believe in different degrees of punishment. I don’t believe that the man who goes through life living selfishly and neglecting the poor and needy but generally isn’t going out of his way to harm others is going to be tormented as much as, say, Hitler. There’s biblical support for this idea in several places. The idea that punishment will be meted back on people according to the specific nature and severity of their sins is stated by Jesus numerous times:

    Mark 14:21 – “For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

    Luke 6:24-25 – “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.”

    This also occurs in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus that I cited above, when the reason for the rich man’s degree of torment and Lazarus’s degree of comfort is given: “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.'” (Luke 16:25)

    IMO, what the Book of Revelation passages emphasize is the reality that without salvation in Christ, a person is still doomed to hell. Different degrees of punishment don’t matter much from that perspective.

    No, I don’t believe in a place with literal, fiery, physical torture. The Book of Revelation is full of highly and obviously metaphorical images, such as a harlot riding around on a giant beast. Why should the lake of fire be a literal lake of fire among all of the metaphorical imagery in Revelation?

    The clearest statement of hell as a place of anguish through shame comes from Daniel 12:2 – “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (NRSV)

    For more on these ideas, I recommend this article:

    The Nature of Hell and Shame by J. P. Holding (see the 2nd half of the article)

    There was a good article on this issue somewhere on The Christian Think Tank as well dismantling the idea of hell as a literal place of gruesome torture, but I can’t seem to find it right now.

  10. Jack and Tim,

    How, in your personal views, does Gal. 5:2-5 (and other similar passages) which suggest that one can fall from grace and lose one’s salvation fit into all this?

    TYD

  11. Tim said:

    I like that interpretation of Mormon doctrine, but Robert Millet seems to disagree (according to Seth).

    To which aspect of doctrine are you referring? I didn’t see anything that Millet said that I had a problem with, but I could have either missed something or misstated something in my earlier post (or it is also possible Millet and I might disagree).

  12. Re: Tim’s response to Eric and and Mormonism and semi-Universal. –

    Mormons believe that “Every knee shall bow an every tongue confess that Jesus us the Christ” this is an integral, if less spoken about tenant of faith.

    This essentially means that at some stage, either during or after life, everyone will have the saving confession of faith that Evangelicals see as the requirement for grace. This is what makes salvation both semi-universal and consistent with the exclusivist passages of the Bible.

    Some of these who confess Christ will not escape punishment but will be “thrust down to hell” for a time until they have paid for their sins to some degree prior to going to heaven in the form of the Telestial Kingdom.

    But all will be resurrected and and all will escape an un-ending hell and torment unless they reject Christ after they have “bowed and Confessed” and have a knowledge of what and who He is.

    Ultimately God will give people what they really want. See D&C 88.

  13. TYD ~ My Arminianism is hardly textbook, but I know for sure that I don’t agree with the P in TULIP. I think salvation can be lost (or more appropriately, rejected).

    I didn’t draw that in the diagram because I was trying (at least theoretically) to come up with something that Calvinists would not object to too much. If I were to draw it into the diagram, I suppose I would show an arrow going from the salvation side back to the hell side with the word “Apostasy” in it.

  14. I think personal apostasy is possible. I know people who had evidences of the Spirit in their life and are no longer Christians and want nothing to do with God. I do not believe someone can lose their salvation unintentionally or through lack of effort, but as Galatians lays it out, a direct choice can be made to walk away from God.

  15. This was what I was referring to in regards to the distinction between salvation and exaltation and whether or not either is independent of works

    So here’s my question.

    My Evangelical friend Tim over at the blog LDS & Evangelical Conversations made a comment during one of our debates on the topic of grace vs. works that kind of stuck with me. Here it is:

    “If Mormons would acknowledge that their own doctrine teaches that salvation is by grace and exaltation is by works, this argument would disappear.”

    Salvation” meaning resurrection and a kingdom of glory, of course, and”exaltation” meaning the Celestial Kingdom, in case you were wondering.

    Millett picked up on the distinctions between the words immediately, but rejected the premise. First off, he said he didn’t think that such an acknowledgment would put the debate to rest at all. But then he contended that both salvation and exaltation are ” in a Mormon context ” reliant on grace.

    My question referenced two Book of Mormon verses. The first was 2 Nephi 25:23 which Millett had already covered. The second was Moroni 10:32:

    “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”

    To me, this seemed like a possible statement that maximum effort is required to”earn” grace.

    Millett dealt with this verse by pointing out that what it asks for in the first part of the equation, is for us to accept Christ and love him. It is a matter of doing what Christ himself asks of us in Matt. 22:37 (love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength) and can be done in a way consistent with Matt. 11:28-30 (take his yoke upon us). I’m a little fuzzy on exactly which verse Millett cited, so I may have got this one wrong.

    In any case, Millett emphasized that “salvation” and “exaltation” are merely words with different emphases. Salvation is an individual affair, while exaltation is a family affair. But BOTH are a matter of grace. Millett pointed out that neither of them are dependent on his own works.

  16. Eric, I like your interpretation of Mormon doctrine on salvation. This:
    “For both of us, getting into “heaven” is all grace without anything required on our part, but the “jewels” (vague meaning in evangelicalism, kingdoms of glory in LDS thought) are related to our actions.”

    I had the same thought when I saw Jack’s diagram.

  17. Tim — I agree with Millett that that both justification and sanctification are matters of grace. But I still think that sanctification (which is what leads to exaltation) does involve our actions as a response to grace. It’s not just our works — without grace, we wouldn’t get anywhere — but it’s obvious to me (and supported by scripture) that there must be a faith that leads to actions, or it’s not a faith at all.

  18. You’re almost 2000 years too late with that request.

    Late to the party, I guess.

    I’m just saying, Hades and Tartarus mean things that are extremely different from any Christian conception of Hell.

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