While inheritance comes with salvation and is a part of salvation, an inheritance in the Kingdom of God is not all there is to salvation. You can lose your inheritance but you cannot lose your salvation.
When you received Jesus Christ as your Savior, you became a son of God. As John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Again we find in 1 John 3:12, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.”
Becoming a child of God is simply based upon what Christ has already done for you by dying on the cross for your sins. When you put your faith in his finished work on Calvary, you were adopted into God’s family. You were put into Christ’s body by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). Therefore, the Holy Spirit bears witness that you are a child of God (Romans 8:16).
Our son-ship, therefore, is never based upon what we are doing or have done for Christ. It is based upon what Jesus did for us. We simply believe Him by faith and switch from the devil’s family to God’s family (1 John 3:10). The adoption is complete at salvation. We are “sealed” by the Holy Spirit until our bodies are fully redeemed (Eph. 1:13, 4:30).
Now, inheritance in the Kingdom of God is something entirely different. Your inheritance has to do with receiving rewards of gold, silver and precious stones, crowns, and authority over cities in Christ’s millennial kingdom, based upon what you do for Christ. You cannot obtain any of that inheritance if you do not first become God’s child.
But after becoming a child of God, you are to serve Jesus Christ and work for Him and He will reward you at His judgment seat (see the ninth weekly question in the Weekly Question Archive for more information on the judgment seat of Christ). However, these rewards, which represent your inheritance, are conditional and may be lost.
For example, rewards at the judgment seat of Christ are conditioned upon you suffering with Jesus Christ. Romans 8: 17 says, “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; IF so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Notice that being a joint-heir with Christ is conditioned upon suffering with Him.
Look at this again in 2 Timothy 2: 11-13. Verse 12 says, “IF we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” The reign with Christ, therefore, is conditioned upon our suffering with Him. As the rest of verse 12 says, if we deny Him in order to keep from suffering with Him (like Paul could have done if he had simply preached circumcision in Galatians 5: 11), He will deny us a reign. Notice that verse 13 shows you that He cannot deny your salvation because He cannot deny himself; He is in you.
Rewards at the judgment seat of Christ are also conditioned upon your motive. In 1 Cor. 3: 13, we find that God checks the quality of a man’s work, not his quantity. This quality is based upon his heart’s motive (1 Cor. 4:5). In Matthew 6: 5, for instance, Jesus pointed out that hypocrites pray to be seen of men. That’s their motive. The result is “they have their reward” down here. Consequently, we are specifically instructed by Paul in Eph. 6:6-7 to do our work as to the Lord and not with eye service, as men pleasers.
Rewards at the judgment seat of Christ are also conditioned upon staying away from certain sins. In 1 Cor. 6:9-10, men who go back to being fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, or extortioners cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Eph. 5: 5 adds whoremongers and unclean persons to the list. In addition to these, the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5: 19-21 can knock out a person’s inheritance in the Kingdom of God, as well.
So, when a person gets saved, he becomes a child of God. After that, he is responsible to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. He is rewarded for his service at the judgment seat of Christ. These rewards become his inheritance in the Kingdom of God. However, if he gets his rewards down here or goes back into the sins of 1 Cor. 6, Eph. 5, or Galatians 5, he stands to lose his inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
A classic example of someone who loses all of his inheritance without losing his son-ship is the prodigal son. In Luke 15: 13, he “wasted his substance with riotous living.” The substance that he wasted was his inheritance (15: 12). When he returned to his father, he said, I “am no more worthy to be called thy son.” However, his father still called him “my son,” (15: 24) because his son could throw away his inheritance but he could never lose his son-ship. Likewise, in 1 Cor. 3: 14-15, we see that a man can lose all of his rewards at the judgment seat of Christ but not his salvation; “he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved.”
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder