Q. You are doing a great job and may God bless you and your web site. I was wondering if you could explain the difference between rewards and inheritance. I know our rewards will be based on how we live and we will earn them. But what about our inheritance? Is that something different and, if so, is everyone’s inheritance the same?
A. First of all let’s establish your right of inheritance. John 1:12-13 says that all believers have been given the authority to become children of God. In Galatians 4:4 -7 Paul said we have been legally adopted by God (given the full rights of sons), which also makes us His heirs. Romans 8:16-17 confirms this.
In Ephesians 1:13-14 Paul said the Holy Spirit was sealed within us when we believed as God’s guarantee that we’d receive our inheritance. So our inheritance is something that’s already guaranteed to us, we got it for being members of His family, and everyone will get the same. In John 3:16 it’s called Eternal Life. It’s a gift we didn’t earn.
Rewards are not guaranteed, so we do have to earn them. Like you say they’re based on how we live after we’re saved. They can only be earned by God’s heirs, but not all His heirs will earn the same rewards. Some could receive a great deal while others might not earn any (1 Cor. 3:10-15).
Think of it this way. If your rich father promises to leave you and your siblings a million dollars each in his will no matter what, that’s a guaranteed inheritance. It’s a free gift you’ll get for being part of his family. But if he also says he’ll leave each of you even more if you live your life the way he wants you to, any additional money you get would be considered a reward you’ve earned. So your inheritance is a gift, but your rewards are earnings. They are not the same.