Is there a Difference Between the Inheritance and the Rewards of Heaven? (The Glory of Heaven Chapter 6)

Does everyone get the same in Heaven? Do people get different rewards based on their life here? Are you confused about rewards and status in Heaven? You’re not alone. In all my conversations about Heaven, I have found people’s greatest confusion is how status, rewards, and our inheritance will be handed out in the end.
On one side are those who say everyone is going to get equal. They mention passages like Matthew 20:1-16. In the passage, Jesus tells a story about a landowner who hires workers throughout the day. The worker who works the whole day gets paid the same as the worker who works only an hour. The worker who worked the whole day complains. But the landowner said, ‘I’m generous. Don’t be jealous.’
On the other side are those who mention the fact that Jesus says some will be called the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven and others will be called least in the kingdom. They mention I Corinthians 3 and how everything we did will either burn up and we will receive no reward or it will remain and there will be a reward.
So, which is it? How do we reconcile the positions when both sound correct?
In chapter 6 of The Gory of Heaven, John MacArthur clarifies the Bible’s teaching on rewards and status in Heaven. He breaks our future heavenly position into 3 categories: Inheritance, Standing, and Rewards.


John MacArthur says, “Heaven will be our home, and we will dwell there not as mere guests, but with all the privileges of family members.” This is because the Bible explains that we are children of God. Romans 8:17 says, “If children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”
MacArthur says, “Our inheritance is something entirely different from our rewards. Our eternal inheritance is not merited by works, nor is it apportioned according to them…An inheritance by definition is not a reward for merit earned. It is a birthright.”
Revelation 21:7 says, “The victor will inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he will by my son.”


Despite the fact that we all inherit the kingdom as full members of the family, and we all receive the inheritance Christ brings, Christ also points out that there are differing levels of greatness in Heaven.
In Mark 9:33-37, Jesus says that in order to be first, you must be last by serving everyone. In Matthew 23, Jesus tells His disciples, “The greatest among you will be your servant.”
In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus says that the person who teaches His commands but breaks them will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven. The person who teaches them and practices them as well will be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.
In Matthew 18, the disciples asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus did not say, ‘No one is any greater than anyone else.’ Instead, Jesus called a child to Him and said, “Whoever humbles himself like this child – this one is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Heaven does recognize greatness and we would be foolish to think it doesn’t.


There are rewards won and rewards lost in Heaven based on our life on earth. I Corinthians 3 talks of all our deeds passing through the fire and how only what is done for Christ remains. Everything else burns up. MacArthur says, “How are rewards determined? The whole edifice of our earthly lives will be tested by the fire of God to determine the quality of our works.”
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of a man who gives money to three servants. They are expected to take it and use it to increase man’s wealth. Two of them get out there and do some wheeling and dealing and double their money. One hides it in the ground. The two who worked the money for an increase were rewarded.
In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us to work for treasure in Heaven where moths, mice, and rust can’t eat it.
Again, it is foolish to think there is not a reward for those who work for the kingdom of God.

So, who is right? The person who says we all receive everything and no one misses out on anything or the person who says life for everyone will be different based on how we live life here?
To some extent both people are right. There is a sense in which we all receive everything in the family. But just as some children are given more responsibility because they can handle it, so it is in Heaven.


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