Those who have read Grace and Truth to You for any amount of time know that this author is persuaded the Bible teaches that the eternal rewards of Christians are those rewards--and only those rewards--which are are earned by Christ. It is Christ's obedience to the will and law of the Father that obtains for God's adopted children our inheritance. It is Christ's perfect obedience which brings to sinners the Father's enduring favor and guarantees for us our position as co-heirs with Christ. As the Apostle Paul eloquently writes, "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17). Trusting the performance of Christ for God's favor is the most freeing, the most liberating, and the most life-changing doctrine of Scripture. But what about the biblical teaching that God rewards people for good, moral and self-less behavior in this life? What about God judging people for the things done in the body, whether good or bad, and giving to those who have done good the fruit of what they have sown? The Bible teaches that God does judge some people in this manner. He judges sinners apart from Christ in this fashion. Sinners without faith in the Savior will be judged and rewarded by God for every public deed (both good and bad), every secret thought (both good and bad), and every word (both idle and profound). This judgment and reward is for those who are not in Christ. This is why hell will different in terms of punishment and rewards, consistent with how moral a person has been on earth. Hell will not be as severe for some sinners as it is for others (see Jesus' words in Matthew 10:15). The experience of righteous imprisonment will vary in intensity according to the depth and number of unrighteous actions of those who die without Christ. God will not be mocked. Whatever a sinner sows in life on earth, that will he reap in judgment (Galatians 6:7). Hitler will experience the wrath of God in a measure greater than a girl who dies in her teens without Christ. The sinner reaps what he sows. If a sinner is without a personal Savior, then the sinner will be doing himself a favor to live as moral of a life on earth as possible. We've all heard the jokes about homes in heaven being different sizes, but the principle upon which these jokes are founded (the reward for moral behavior), is a principle that is associated with hell, not heaven.
Those who have faith in Christ will never appear at any future judgment of God, or be rewarded for their good behavior. Our sins were judged at the cross, and the behavior for which we are rewarded is Christ's behavior. If a sinner's name is found in the Book of Life--the book which contains all the names of those who have trusted God's Son--then that named sinner is guaranteed that the books that contain the enumerations of his works on earth will be forever sealed and never opened for judgment (see Revelation 20:11-13). The Scapegoat has removed our sins into the desert of forgetfulness (Lev. 16:22). Those in Christ never answer for our sins or shortcomings because "God sees no sin in His people." That does not mean God is not aware of our sins; it means that God has dealt judicially with our sin at the cross of Christ, and all 'the righteous wrath of God due our sins' (the definition of hell) has been born by Christ, and all the blessings and favor and glory obtained by Christ is shared by us. Someone might say, "But I wish to be rewarded for the good I have done as a Christian!" I respond: "The good Christ has done is far superior to your good, and the rewards He has earned are far greater than any rewards you may earn. God makes you a co-heir with Christ because of your faith. It is much better to be a co-heir with Christ than to reap what you have sown on earth." It's more pleasing to sit at a table with nice fine linen than filthy rags for napkins, and your works next to Christ's invite the same comparison. So....
The Biblical principle of God's judgment can be stated as follows: Those without Christ reap what they have sown on earth and those in Christ reap what they have not sown on earth. To be a co-heir with Christ means that you receive from God the inheritance Christ has earned by His obedience during His life, death and resurrection. The perfect righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in His complete and perfect obedience to God's law has obtained for us the unsearchable riches of God's great grace (Ephesians 3:8). Heaven is the eternal unfolding and enjoyment of these riches fpr all the ages to come (Ephesians 2:7). Again: We Christians reap what we have not sown. One of the tell-tale signs of the legalist is the inability to totally rest in the knowledge that the riches of God's favor are earned by Christ's obedience, not his own. It is impossible to be a co-heir with Christ if the rewards of God's people are dependent on our performance. God's favor and our eternal rewards are dependent on Christ. The Savior has guaranteed (to the uttermost!) that we will never be cut-off from God's goodness (Hebrews 7:25). It is indeed an awesome and scary thing to fall into the hands of the living God without a Savior. This is why the good news of Christ is such good news. He saves sinners from the coming wrath of God. It is the knowledge of God's impending wrath and the terror of future judgment for sinners that causes us to be ambassadors for Christ. I make an appeal to sinners to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ.
If you won't trust Christ, I urge you to live the most moral, ethical and selfless life possible to make your future judgment and your subsequent eternal prison more tolerable.