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Wordwise Insight, Issue #137
January 14, 2016


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): Can rewards believers have earned be canceled because of sin?

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Heavenly Rewards

QUESTION: Based on Scripture, can bad works [sin] or lack of good works cancel out already-earned rewards in heaven?

ANSWER: The verse you refer to is likely: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (II Jn. 1:8).

Let’s take a moment to put this verse in context. John calls himself “the elder” (vs. 1), as he does in Third John 1:1. That may refer to his age–the elder one, or (more likely, I think) to his ministry as a pastor. He was clearly so well known in the early church that readers knew who it was who was writing to them.

John addresses his letter to “the elect [chosen] lady and her children.” There, we have a question, and commentators from ancient times have been unsure of the answer. Is he writing to a literal family, a woman and her children? Or is it a way of referring to a local church congregation? I’m not sure.

It’s possible that John is writing to a local church, and purposely disguising which church it is, in case the letter were to fall into the wrong hands. These were days of persecution (Rev. 1:9). If a local church is in view, “the children of your elect sister greet you” (vs. 13) would be a greeting from John’s home church, traditionally believed to be in Ephesus.

If this is literally an older woman, with grown children–ones with whom John has laboured in ministry, in past days (vs. 8), we know several things about her. Some of her children are believers, others seem not to be (vs. 4), and her sister likewise seems to have grown children, from whom John conveys a greeting to their aunt and cousins (vs. 13).

If the addressee is an actual mother and her children, this is the only ...

(To read the remainder of this article, click on Heavenly Rewards.


Come and Pay Us a Visit!

I have developed a blog that is called Wordwise Hymns. As the title suggests, it is about hymns, and church music in general.

But as many of you will know, a blog is especially designed to facilitate a conversation on its particular subject. Readers can easily post comments about what they see, and I'm able to reply. I hope you will take part in the discussion!

Through 2010, almanac entries dealt with what happened in hymn history on each day of the year. Beginning in 2011, I hope to analyze hymns from a biblical standpoint, linking to the material that has come before.

My hope is that the blog will add to the value of the website and this newsletter, and promote some profitable exchanges on the subject of sacred music.

What happened on this day in hymnology? To find out, click Wordwise Hymns.

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