Q. When the prodigal returned, his father welcomed him with open arms. But, there is no example of his father giving him another inheritance. Does this mean that when we fall out of fellowship with Christ that we lose any crowns we may have earned and they will not be restored upon repentance but we will have to earn them anew?
A. The parable of the prodigal son describes our earthly relationship with the Lord, and shows the restoration that comes from confession. It has nothing to do with our inheritance, which is guaranteed from the moment we believe (Ephes 1:13-14). The prodigal’s immediate restoration to his former position in his father’s house is evidence of this, and shows that in his father’s view he had never lost it. Also, I don’t think crowns and inheritance should be compared, since crowns are earned while our inheritance is freely given.
I do think it is fair to say that we don’t earn crowns while we’re out of fellowship because in John 15:5 Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.”
In Rev. 3:11 Jesus told the Church at Philadelphia (a model of the evangelical Church) that He’s coming soon and to hold on to what we have so that no one will take our crown. Since crown is singular, I take that to mean the crown of righteousness which the Lord will award to those who have longed for His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8). I think He meant that if we grow tired of waiting and no longer long for the rapture we will disqualify ourselves where this crown is concerned because it’s given on the basis of perseverance.