I have been sitting on the side lines watching this discussion. You were asking April for scriptures to reinforce that there are rewards in heaven vs. punishment for lack of works. When i first learned these kingdom truths I was burdened with the "lack of works" issue myself. But it was before I learned the valuable truth that my works are worth nothing, it is only Christ's work done thru me through the power of the Holy Spirit that has any value. The ego got kind of in the way while I pondered why my works weren't good enough, but I finally got a grip on verses like:
Phil 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [perfect or bring toward maturity] it until the day of Jesus Christ;
God's goal is to bring us to maturity, maturity of what?
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Mature faith. Faith that blooms and grows as situations in life cause us to cling to:
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
And what defines this purpose:
Heb. 6:12: That ye be not slothful [sluggish], but followers [imitators] of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises....... Heb. 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul..... A hope that will give you a reason to restrain the desires of the soul [flesh], so that there can be a outworking of Godly works done by the spirit in the restrained individuals life. Conversely, those that do not have a knowledge of this hope do not have the power that comes with this knowledge to have a reason to hold onto faith and live a life filled with patience toward God as He changes us into the image of His son. This impatience can cause a lot of works done in the flesh because after all don't we need to prove we are a good christian by our list of works? I was there once, and it caused all kind of heart ache because I was discouraged by my lack of opportunity when I was overlooking that the greatest opportunity was given to me in the patient raising of my children. And this leads to another verse,
Heb. 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. Faithful to the work in which God has set before you whether it me mother, student, father, bread winner, teacher.....and learner. In the previous verse it says that we are stewards of the mysteries of God. Something that needs to be learned through the patient faithful reading of His word.
Hebrews speaks quite a bit about the inheritance of the Christian and even illustrates how Esau, although given the status of first born and would inherit the double portion from his father because he would be the family ruler, the religious head for the family, and would need the extra funds in which to do this.....did not value his inheritance and sold it to his brother. God honored that by allowing Jacob to deceive his father into giving him the birth rite and later after Esau realized that what he thought would automatically by his, was lost forever even though he sought it with tears. Heb. 12:16,17 lest there by any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel [mess] of meat sold his birthright, For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance [for a change of mind in his father], though he sought it carefully with tears. Even though Esau was the rightful owner of the first born status, because he failed to value what was his, he lost it. Was he punished, well that is a matter of opinion. To me he just lost his status, but to Esau, it was a terrible loss of who he thought he was, what he thought he would be doing in regards to the family, and the status amongst the local people of being the head of the family.
There are a lot of scriptures that say we can forfeit our rights of inheritance in heaven.
Heb. 3; 14, For we are made partakers of Christ, IF we hold the beginner of our confidence stedfast until the end.
Heb. 4: l Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come sort of it.
:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to [sabbath rest for] the people of God.
:11 Let us labour therefore [give diligence] to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief [disobedience].
the"rest" is the time of God giving the rulership reins to Christ and Christ has a duel rulership and rules both in earth and from heaven. We know this as the millennial reign of Christ. the 1000 year reign.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
The fighting comes first, the laying hold on eternal [age lasting] life comes next. If you read a word study on the word eternal you will find that the word we have for eternal meaning forever and ever is not how the Greeks expressed it. The greeks thought in ages, from one age to the next. The word eternal was translated from this concept of an age, and if the author wanted to express forever and ever he would have used the words" ages upon ages" This eternal life spoken of in 1 Timothy is an age lasting life that results from fighting the good fight of faith.
All of this to say, you can see there will be those Christians who do not qualify to this position. I am not judging people but just looking around within the Christian community, you can see those who are not patiently enduring life which allows their faith ( knowledge and acceptance of who God is in every situation) to grow. They are not learning the lessons in faith, not following the game plan declared int he Bible and so will not receive the rights declared to those that do.
I wasn't aware of hardly any of the names of men who write on this issue that you posted earlier. I am aware of the authors from the 1800's and early 1900's though and find that like anything, there may be some that go to far in speculation. If punishment is the taking away of the rights of the first born, the loss of privileges, the right to stand only on the outskirts of activity .......then call it punishment. By the way, my understanding of outer darkness is simply being on the outside of the spot light as in a beauty pageant. The less the focus is on you, the less light is involved.. The less status, the less value per say,...... And why is that a part of heaven...... Because we have an inheritance out ahead of us. We can place little value on it like Esau did, or we can hold onto it like the treasure it is with the faith that God will do the work necessary for us to attain it. So are we going to accept this inheritance and fight Satan as he throws the sink at you to rob you of your faith, or by the power of the Holy Spirit will you faithfully endure and hold onto the faith that God will complete the good work in you that he has started. The fact that some will overcome and others won't are listed in Rev. 2, 3. What causes those to lose out is also mentioned. But it is faith, faith, faith that separates us here on earth and later in heaven at the judgment seat of Christ.
This all makes perfect sense to me. Doesn't mean it will to you, but I pray God's blessing on you of a quite spirit as you search out these truths for yourself. For he is faithful who has begun a good work in you, to perform [cause to mature it] until the end.