Degrees of Glory?

Recently, in a Sunday School class I was visiting in an LCMS church, someone asked a question—and the pastor answered—regarding “degrees of glory.” Is this something the Lutheran Church teaches? I have been a Lutheran Christian all of my life and don’t recall ever having heard about “degrees of glory” before. Or have I just forgotten something?

—Anonymous, Texas

In its 1989 report on the End Times, our LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations addressed this question as well as others. Regarding heaven and “degrees of glory” the commission said the following:

“Eternal life is pictured in the Scriptures as a state of never-ending ‘blessedness.’ This means, on the one hand, that Christians will live forever in perfect freedom from sin, death, and every evil (Is. 25:8; 49:10; 1 Cor. 15:26, 55–57; Rev. 2:7, 11; 20:14; 21:4). At the same time, they will experience the unending joy of being with God in the new heavens and new earth (e.g., Revelation 21–22; Ps. 16:11). Forever eliminated is the possibility of falling away from God. This blessedness
will bring with it the joy of being in eternal communion with fellow believers, whom we have reason to believe we shall recognize (cf. Matt. 17:3). And, there will be no limitations or degrees attached to the enjoyment of the happiness to be experienced, though there will be degrees of glory corresponding to differences of work and fidelity here on earth, producing praise to God but no envy (see 2 Cor. 9:6; Matt. 20:23).”

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