Ed Young, the pastor of the multi-site Fellowship Church in Texas, said in a sermon Sunday there are levels of hierarchy in Heaven and warned Christians who do not use their spiritual gifts to serve God's kingdom will not be elevated to a higher position when they die.
The 60-year-old pastor told his church in a March 6 sermon titled “The Judgment of God” that good works do not earn salvation because Christians are saved by grace through faith.
However, he said Christians still have responsibilities, such as attending church and sharing their spiritual gifts because, on judgment day, they will be held accountable for what they did with the gifts and abilities the Lord bestowed upon them during their lives.
“I think for too many Christians, we’re like, ‘OK, I’m a Christian. I’ve got that get-out-of-Hell card. And that’s fine with me.’ Well, it should be much more than that,” Young told his Grapevine-based congregation.
“God does not zap us to Heaven the moment we are saved, the moment we are rescued,” Young added. “We’re here for a reason. We should have that thought, that awareness, that responsibility, that, one day, we’re going to be held accountable for everything you’ve ever done.”
Christians should not withhold their spiritual gifts from others because part of their responsibility is to glorify the Lord with their gifts while on earth, according to Young. He cited 2 Corinthians 5:10 to state that all believers will be judged.
When believers are judged, he said, there will be “triumphs” from those who used their gifts to advance God’s plan and “tears” from believers who “fumbled the ball and took their eye off the shot clock.”
“I am not the ultimate judge, but if you are not regularly showing your love, support and attendance in church, if you are not loving and honoring the bride, I really have to doubt if you are a Christian,” he said. “Just from my theological study, my background, I would put a big question mark whether or not you are truly born again. I am not judging you. I am just challenging you to take inventory on your life. We are going to be judged on this stuff.”
“You’re going to be judged on how you used your different abilities, whether you sing, dance, whatever you do, whatever creativity, whatever you do!” he added. “And that is for those of us who are believers. Now, you’re going to go to Heaven. But you’re not going to get and hit the levels because there are levels in Heaven that God desires.”
Young contends that instead of “triumph” during the judgment, there will be “a lot of tears.”
Some, among them the apologetics website GotQuestions.org, dispute the claim that there are multiple levels in Heaven, while saying there will be “different rewards” in Heaven.
“The concept of different levels of heaven may have come in part from Dante’s The Divine Comedy in which the poet describes both heaven and hell as having nine different levels,” states the website. “The Divine Comedy, however, is a fictional work. The idea of different levels of heaven is foreign to Scripture.”
During his sermon, Young emphasized that God’s judgment is not a popular topic but inevitable and unavoidable for everyone.
“Everybody will be judged. Judgment is not a sexy topic. It’s not going to sell books. It’s not going to be on the coffee mugs or T-shirts. We’re not going to have a bunch of merch in our bookstore that says ‘judgment is coming,’” Young said. “You won’t hear very many worship songs about ‘God is going to judge me.’”
“There will be a time where we will have to show the Lord Jesus — I’m talking to Christians — and reveal to Him what we did with all of these aptitudes and abilities and gifts and opportunities that He’s given us,” he added.
It’s normal for Christians to feel convicted about the upcoming judgment, Young said, insisting that conviction should serve as an encouragement to share talents with others.
Young believes God gifted him with a speaking talent to preach the Gospel and that, on the day of judgment, God will not only judge him for how often he used his speaking gift but for the content of his words.
“I will be held accountable at the judgment regarding how I stewarded this gift. Did I preach? Did I teach the entire Bible, or did I go, ‘I’ll just teach the fun parts, you know, the positive parts. I’ll just try to have this Christian pep rally,’” Young said. “I’ll be judged regarding how I used the gifts. Did I teach truth? Did I rightly divide the Word of God?”
Not only will Christians be judged based on church attendance and sharing the love of their gifts, but Young said that Christians will also be judged on if they chose to sow into the lives of others.
“Many of us will see our co-workers, our neighbors, our family members, go to Hell. And we will go: ‘Man, I had such an opportunity. I was a part of a church that prayed and thought and planned so much for people far away from God. Yet I didn’t leverage it. I didn’t invite them. I didn’t engage them. I didn’t pray for them,’” Young preached.
Sowing into the Church is not only about inviting someone to church and evangelizing to them, but it also means giving back to the bride of Christ financially, according to Young.
“God has given some of us an ability to make a lot of money. … Are you here just to recreate, procreate, do deals and die. That’s it. Great, you know how to make money. That’s awesome. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’re blessed. Good,” Young said.
“How, though, are we leveraging that for eternity? How are we leveraging that when it comes to the Bride?” he added.