Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment. Indeed, he has crossed over from death to life. – John 5:24 Berean Study Bible
The difference between “enter” vs “inherit” the Kingdom is perhaps the most helpful teaching I have learned in my Christian walk. It answers the question about the security of my salvation in Christ and the walk of my sanctification in Christ. The information in this article is primary drawn from Joseph C. Dillow’s book, The Reign of the Servant Kings although I do disagree slightly with Dillow when he applies this teaching to the parables of Jesus. This article also addresses the difference between the “Judgement Seat of Christ” where believers appear before God to receive their degree of rewards in the Kingdom of Heaven and the “White Throne of Judgement” where unbelievers appear before God to receive their degree of their punishment in the Lake of Fire.
An Unbeliever “Enters” the Kingdom of God and becomes a Believer (one time – for all eternity!):
John 3:3-5 ” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.“
Mark 10:15 “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 10:28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
When the word “enter” (Greek εἰσέλθῃ – Strongs 1525) is used in scripture it refers to a “one time” act of faith, the act of being “born-again” and “entering” the Kingdom of God. Note, I am not going to quibble here about the difference between entering the Kingdom of God vs entering the Kingdom of Heaven, there are a number of verses where they are used interchangeable. The Kingdom of God primarily has to do with the divine “inward” life of a believer and the Kingdom of Heaven has to do with God’s divine outward rule on earth as it is in Heaven. The “Kingdom of Heaven” is also the Spiritual realm of existence that we will enjoy as believers when we leave our earthly bodies and join Jesus in Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven also extends to earth, during the Church Age (when believers share the gospel of Jesus Christ and abide in the Grace of Jesus Christ) and during the Millennium Age (when Christ rules with a rod of iron on earth and believers rule with Christ in their resurrected bodies!).
The only way to “enter” the Kingdom is to be saved by grace through faith in believe of Jesus Christ … you must be “born again”. Salvation is a “one time act” of trusting in Jesus, that His work on the cross (by the shedding of His blood) Christ has paid your sin and by His perfect obedience, you are righteous before God. Once you believe in Jesus and enter the Kingdom you can’t leave the Kingdom since it is impossible to un-believe what you once believed and it is equally impossible to un-receive the gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit, that seals your heart for all eternity. You can no more be Spiritually un-born in heaven than you can be physical un-born on earth … it is a logical impossibility.
Salvation is by “birth” in Christ not by “behavior” of man.
Think of it like the sperm cell when it enters the egg cell, it starts a new life at that very point and the process of life can’t be reversed or undone anymore than you can unscramble an egg. Unfortunately, the baby body can be aborted before it is physically born but I believe the “life and soul” that is within that body goes to Heaven and decides to stay with Jesus. All souls that God creates are eternal, it’s just a question of where that soul “decides” to spend eternity. Abortion is not terrible for the aborted person but it is terrible for those of us on earth that miss the “gift of God” in that person who was prepared by God to bless the earth. And of course, there is the hardship of grief and guilt of the parent that must seek forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
I’m sorry, I kind of went off on a tangent but I am trying to convey the concept that entering the Kingdom is a “one time” event that starts a process (salvation – sanctification – glorification) that can’t be undone. You can’t be “thrown out” of the Kingdom since it is Christ who has saved you and guaranteed your entrance by grace through faith not based on your works of righteousness, which are like filthy rags … and therefore there are no works of unrighteousness that you can do that will cause you to loose your salvation. It is Christ who seals your salvation (Ephesians 1:13) and it is Christ who will “complete” your salvation (1 Philippians 1:6). Therefore, in Christ you have confidence that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
If you are trusting in your own good works for salvation, then you have never been saved … you haven’t lost salvation … you have never been saved by Jesus and sealed by the Holy Spirit. But if John 3:16 is true, then you are trusting in the good works of Jesus Christ for your salvation and Jesus doesn’t/can’t lie about what He will do!
Jesus died for our sins (past, present and “future”) according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3) … so Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS) is a true Bible doctrine … or I like to say Once Sealed, Always Sealed … or Once in Christ, Always in Christ. However if you claim to be saved and yet you are not concerned about living your life for Christ then you are probably not truly saved, you are probably not “born again” and you are probably not sealed by the “Holy Spirit“. God sent His Son to save us from our SIN … our Self Indulgent Nature way of thinking, which is to think we can live a good and pleasing life apart from God. As previously stated, when a person is “born again” the Holy Spirit “seals” the person for eternal life … you have Christ “in you” … you are “in Christ”. From this point onward, until you physically die and are removed from your physical sin nature body or until you are caught up to Jesus in the Rapture, your thoughts and deeds that are contrary to your new Spiritual life that is in Christ “grieve” the Holy Spirit in you and remind you that you belong to Jesus.
This is what it means to be “born again” … it means you have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. God is able to lead you, guide you, comfort you, satisfy you with His love and overflow you with His joy … so it spill over onto others. God wants to give us the best of everything but we must realize that everything is best when it’s done His way … not according to our way of thinking. If you are His child and continually seek to know God and follow Him, He will guide you through this wicked world so you have “rest” for your weary soul. If you are His born again child and you continue to try to think and do things independently from God … “I did it my way” … then God disciplines those who are His (Hebrews 12:6), so they see the futility of their sin (self indulgent nature) so they will deny their sin and trust in Holy Spirit to overcome their sin.
God wants us to “rest” in His Grace and yield to Him as He completes the good work of Salvation that He began in His born again child (Phil 1:6). “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;” – John 10:27. However, until someone invents a “Holy Spirit Breathalyzer” this debate about whether someone has lost their salvation or they are living in rebellion toward their Salvation or they were never saved will continue until Christ returns.
A profession of faith (head knowledge about Christ) without a possession of faith (being born again in Christ) is not Salvation … you must be “Born Again”!
Repentance from sin (a turning away from self and sin) and Faith in Jesus Christ (a turning toward God) are two sides of the same coin … the gift of repentance and the gift of faith supplied by the gift of God’s Amazing Grace … “all” … work together to bring the gift of Salvation (Ephesian 2:8-9). Salvation is an unmerited “gift” of God’s Grace. Salvation is not offered to you based on any good work you have done and it is not denied to you based on any bad work you have done. There is no work involved to receive Salvation and there is no work involved to keep your Salvation. Salvation means you are “at rest” in what Jesus has done to justify you before God and it means you daily “rest” in Jesus, abiding in Him, doing the good works He has prepared for you to do (Hebrews 4:10-11).
Salvation in Jesus Christ is not to be seen as a license to sin and still be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, like you are holding a “get out of jail free card”. If you are not concerned with living a life of repentance toward sin and righteous toward Jesus Christ, then you most likely are NOT saved. True salvation in Jesus Christ results in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which causes the believer to have an attitude of reverence towards God who created you and an attitude of gratitude towards Jesus who paid the price to redeem your from sin, so you can have an eternal relationship with God. Salvation actually “begins” a battle within the believer between the new born again nature of God and the old and pervasive sin nature of man. This battles is called the “sanctification process of becoming like Christ” and it continues until you are in the presence of Jesus, free from your sin nature and fully redeemed to the new nature of Christ!
On the other hand, if you think you have done or said something that caused you to loose your salvation then this is a good sign that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in you. However, a believer shouldn’t live in fear of loosing their salvation but they should live with the assurance that Jesus who saved them from the penalty of sin (justification) is able to complete the good work of saving them from the power of sin (sanctification) until the day the believer is delivered from the presence of sin in a resurrected body (glorification). It is “our love of Christ” because of the “love that Christ has for us” that assures of our eternal life with Christ and it motives us to daily trust and obey Him!
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18”
The issue of how a person is saved (Salvation) and how a person is kept saved (Sanctification) is divided into to primary camps called “Arminianism” vs “Calvinism”. The Arminians think the “free will of man” can choose salvation in Jesus and the free of man can choose to loose their salvation. The Calvinist think “the sovereignty of God alone” chooses those who are saved in Jesus and God alone keeps them saved. However, I belong to the camp of “born again Christians” who think the free of man can choose Salvation in Jesus and the sovereignty of God keeps that person saved.
| The Question
|Born Again Christian
|Salvation Obtained by the Free Will of Man?
|Salvation Kept by the Sovereignty of God?
Note, choosing Salvation in Christ is not like choosing what socks to wear or choosing fish instead of chicken to eat or choosing to add sugar to your coffee. You are not choosing to “add” Jesus to your life but you are choosing to have Jesus become Lord of your life. “Choosing” does not accurately describe what Salvation is … choosing is only part of the way we understand Salvation. More importantly you are “believing” Jesus is Lord of All, that He died for your sin and rose again on the third day and He can grant you forgiveness of your sin and eternal life. And you are asking Jesus to come “into” your life … to comfort you, guide you and give you His love and you are receiving Him into your life with thanksgiving and joy!
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. – Proverbs 8:17
Our “choosing” to be Saved by Jesus works in-conjunction with God’s “choosing” to reveal Himself to those who seek Him … which God desires to do and will do … to those who seek Him. And our seeking God is not a work that we do but it is the essence of what it means to be human … “I think therefore I am – Descartes“. Each person wrestles to understand the meaning of their life but some are not willing to acknowledge the evidence of the witness of God. Each person is responsible for acknowledging the witness of God in creation and the witness of God in our moral conscience so man is without excuse if He rejects these two witnesses and does not seek to be reconciled to God through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 1:20).
A Believer receives “reward based’ Inheritance in the Kingdom of God by doing acts of faith in Jesus Christ:
Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, – Ephesians 1:18
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.“
2 Corinthians 5:6-10 “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.“
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23-24
When the word “inherit” (Greek kléronomeó – Strongs 2816 and Greek kléronomia – Strongs 2817) is used in scripture, it refers to inheriting rewards or acquiring your Kingdom status/promises in your glorified body in Heaven. This act of “inheriting” rewards can only be done by a believer of Jesus. (Note, there is a “sonship inheritance“ in Heaven that is guaranteed by your salvation which I will discuss later in this article). A believer receives a “reward based inheritance” when they act in faith to do the good works of faith that God has prepared by grace for them to do. When the believer cooperates with the Holy Spirit in doing these acts of faith he will “inherit” the character of Christ (now), advance God’s Kingdom in Heaven and on earth (now) and store up an “inheritance” of rewards in Heaven (future). This is what it means in Matthew 6:33 “To seek ye first the Kingdom of God …” . It means that as a believer of Jesus Christ we cooperate with the Holy Spirit that dwells within us (from the one-time act of Salvation) and we seek to be transformed into the image of Christ (by the ongoing act of Sanctification) and we look for our blessed hope to be with Jesus in our resurrected body (by the future act of glorification).
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6
As we can see from Philippians 1:6, God is going to complete the good work that He began at Salvation. God is going to burn off the “dross” of sin in the person through the Sanctification process. If the believer cooperates with the Holy Spirit, then the believer will inherit rewards in Heaven. If the believer doesn’t cooperate with the Holy Spirit after he is Saved then he will have a miserable time fighting the Holy Spirit, probably die an early death and have little to no reward based inheritance in Heaven but he will have his “entrance” into Heaven and his sonship based inheritance in Heaven.
When a person is saved that person receives a new Spiritual nature of Jesus Christ that desires the things of Heaven. The Holy Spirit seals the person so he can’t lose his Salvation and the Holy Spirits dells within the person to comfort and guide the person … and also to cause him sadness from sin. However the old sin nature continues to dwell in the person too and it continues to want the things of the world. As a believer of Jesus Christ it is our responsibility to deny our sin nature and walk by faith in our new Spirit nature of Christ (this is the Die 2 Live theme of this web site).
When we follow the Holy Spirit and do the good works of faith that God has prepared for us to do we store up rewards in Heaven for our inheritance. It we are unfaithful and walk by our sin nature then we will not “inherit” rewards in heaven. Unfaithfulness on a Christian’s part causes our godly character to decline and (1) thus we come under the discipline of God as believers (not his judgment), (2) it causes the Kingdom of Heaven on earth to decline and thus the Church comes under the discipline of God (this is happening now) and (3) we loose rewards we would have otherwise gained in the Kingdom of Heaven but we do NOT loose our entrance into the Kingdom and our son-ship inheritance, which is guaranteed by our salvation in Jesus Christ.
Come just as you are … leave just as He is!
Many people are familiar with the footprints in the sand story … the two sets of footprints in the sand represent a walk of the believer in fellowship with Jesus and the “one” set of footprints represents Jesus who alone carries the believer through a trial of suffering, when the believer didn’t have the strength press on. This is actually, the way our walk with Jesus should look all the times … the footprints of Jesus should be indistinguishable from ours because we are so closely abiding in Him, walking in His steps. Yet, I think that sometimes, instead of one set or two sets of footprints there is a “trench” alongside the footprints of Jesus, where Jesus has been dragging the believer along in rebellion into the Kingdom of Heaven. For some of believers the trench is short because the believer confesses his sins and walks again (1 John 1:9) but for other hard headed believers the trench is long and deep, ending right a the gates of Heaven itself.
Another problem that causes a Christian’s growth (sanctification) to be stunted and their rewards to be withheld is that most Christians remain on a diet of “milk”, pacified with the teaching concerning their salvation but not they are not daily reading their Bible, or being a Berean to study the scriptures for themselves! The “meat” of God’s word is to study the scriptures to see how the promises in the Old Testament are fulfilled in the New Testament … like how the 7 Jewish feasts are represented by the 7 candle Menorah and are fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. Also, a third of the Bible is prophecy, yet many Christians don’t study it and are unaware of the signs of the time, especially today!
Another problem occurs when a Christian tries to do good works by their own power and reasoning, thinking they must do good works or they will loose their Salvation. But as I said before, we are not to be motivated by “fear” but by “faith”. God has prepared the good works and He provides the means for us to do them. It’s the “joy of the Lord” that is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). We must deny our selfish reasons and do it out of our love for God, knowing that in this way we are drawing closer to God and He will reward us for doing so.
But perhaps the biggest problem is that most Christians are so busy building a home here on earth, doing things to bring them success and happiness in this world that they fail to see that this world is NOT their home, but their “real home” is in Heaven where Jesus is preparing a place for the believer using the material that the believer sends to Him … a life lived in trust and obedience to God’s word.
Think of the difference between enter and inherit from the standpoint of your earthly family. When you were physically born you entered into your family on earth. It was God’s decision and His gift to give you life … you can’t be unborn or unrelated from your family no matter how hard you try … it is a logical impossibility. It’s a blood connection, where the DNA of your parents is in your blood, defining your physical characteristics in the flesh. Well, when you become a child of God, you become born into God’s family and your blood connection is through the blood of Jesus Christ. Salvation in Christ is “your” decision to join God’s family but it is also must be made under God’s terms of surrender (repentance) and faith in Jesus Christ. And at your new birth in Christ you receive God’s Holy Spirit in you and inherit God’s Spiritual DNA which defines your “real” identify of who God created you to be. God becomes your Abba Father and you can’t be unrelated to your new Spiritual family of Grace in Jesus Christ . Your physical family may disown you but once you are in the born again family of God, you can never be disowned.
Now, your earthly parents may have an inheritance they are planning to give you and the inheritance your receive might be based on your conduct and behavior toward them. I know there are times when a family member receives “nada” when their parents die … because of something the family member did or didn’t do that was in opposition to the parent. In a similar way your “inheritance of rewards” in the Kingdom is based on your conduct toward God after you become a member of God’s family (note, there is a “sonship inheritance” in Heaven that is guaranteed by your salvation which I will discuss later in this article). God is not like an earthly parent who makes unfair demands on your life or who promises an inheritance but leaves nothing behind. God is a “promise keeper”. Therefore if you “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33)“, then your will be storing up treasures in Heaven that you will enjoy for all eternity (Matthew 6:20).
A believer is judged for the “rewards” he inherits in the Kingdom of Heaven at the Judgment Seat of Christ (also called the Bema seat) based on his good works of faith he has done in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:10). Note, the Judgement Seat of Christ is not a judgment for entrance into the Kingdom, that was decided and guaranteed when the believer was born-again. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) … a believer is covered by the righteousness of Christ and is righteous to enter the Kingdom based on Christ’s righteousness. However, a believer can loose rewards and privileges to serve Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven by not faithfully serving Him now, on earth.
My pastor says that the hardest thing to do on earth is to deny self and serve Christ, yet in Heaven serving Christ will be the most desired and joyful thing to do. Our desires in Heaven will be turned upside down and we will no longer focus on our selfish desires and be held back by fear and sin but we will desire to serve Christ and be used by Him. Yet, the reward of serving Christ in Heaven will be based on the faithful service that is given to Christ on earth now! Like the poor widow who gave to the treasury at the temple two small cooper coins which represented all she had (Mark 12:41-44). “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all. – Mark 9:35”
An Unbeliever is “Denied Entrance” into the Kingdom of God after their death:
Luke 12:10 “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.”
John 3:16-18 “16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.“
The only person who is “denied entry” into Heaven is the person who blasphemies the Holy Spirit, which means the person reject the gospel of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ. Note, there is no such thing as a neutral or undecided position concerning the message of the gospel of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ. If you are “on the fence” or waiting to make the decision to come to Christ and you die today, you will go to hell. You will appear before the White Throne of Judgment, not to decide your guilt or innocence before God but to decide your degree of punishment in the Lake of Fire. For we are all born an enemy of God, children of sin and followers of Satan. We are all born with a sin nature that we inherit from Adam’s sin nature. Therefore we are born guilty of sin, disconnected from God without the ability to please God and do His will.
However, God in His grace covers the sin nature of the unborn and the babies and children, those who have not reached an age of accountability to understand their sin or those who are physically unable to understand sin because of a mental disability. If people such as these die, they are granted an entrance into the Kingdom or perhaps like the angels that didn’t fall with Satan, they are given a choice after they did and they decide to stay with Jesus in Heaven. And God covers the sin of those who have “entered” His Kingdom by grace through faith in Jesus Christ but if you are reading this article, then you have reached the age of accountability for your sin. God has already revealed Himself to you concerning your sin and you are without excuse if you have not accepted His offer of salvation for your sin in His Son, Jesus Christ.
A Believer may be Denied “reward based” Inheritance of the Kingdom of God but He is not denied Entry:
Galatians 5:16-26 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”
The above scripture is written to born-again believers as a warning to not “carry out” or act upon the desires of the flesh. I have recently updated this article to indicate that this scripture can be understood in one of two ways but this scripture is NOT a warning that you can loose your salvation. However it is a warning that you can loose rewards or it it a warning to examine yourself because you might not be saved at all!
(1) The first way to understand this scripture is that if you are a believer of Jesus Christ and you envy what someone else has (or commit any sin of the flesh) you will not “inherit rewards“ in the Kingdom of God. This scripture does not teach that you will not “enter” the Kingdom if you sin as a born-again believer. Moreover, this scripture above is saying that if the motive for what you do is to be seen as being better than someone else then your works are worthless, they will not count for rewards in heaven. Envy is a sin and you should confess it to God and return to fellowship with God (1 John 1:9) so you can do good works that “inherit” rewards in Heaven but having thoughts of envy are not going to keep you out of God’s house, they just put you in the dog house where you can’t enjoy the fellowship of God until you confess your sin!
(2) The other way to understand this scripture is that Paul is warning people in the church of Galatia (and all believers everywhere) that if they practice deeds of the flesh and have no remorse or conviction of their sin, then they should examine themselves to see if they have been born again and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The Holy Spirit of God will bring guilt on a believer if they practice sin and do not confess sin. This guilt will nag and hound at the heart, and it can lead to sickness and even death if the sin is not confessed by the believer to the Lord (1 John 1:9). In comparison the believer who is living a righteous life in Christ, the Holy Spirit may feel grief because of the sin and suffering that is in the world and empathy for others who are suffering from the effects of sin and those who are lost in sin. The righteous believer will feel uplifted and rejoice in righteous living and victories of righteous done in Jesus name.
Does Galatians 2:21 teach that you can loose your salvation … NO! [youtube id=”T-4SHFmhJfs”]
Romans 8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God 17 And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
This scripture from Romans is a reminder to the believer that he is a child of God, therefore we should be willing to suffer in this world for righteousness sake taking up his own cross to identify with Christ. Yet, Peter denied Jesus three times and Jesus didn’t reprimand Peter telling him he had lost his salvation but he did remind Peter that He was called to feed Christ’s sheep. Peter was also greatly grieved because he denied Jesus, after bragging in his own strength that he would not abandon Jesus. Peter was suffering in guilt and shame of his sin nature, which proves Peter was a child of God. Peter later greatly proved his faith and love for Jesus, even dying upside down on a cross. Those who who deny their self/sin nature daily and take up their cross serve/suffer for Christ will be glorified to a “greater” degree with Christ. This is scripture is not meant as a threat that a Christian will not receive a glorified body in Heaven if they do not suffer for Christ to the degree that Paul or the disciples suffered but it is encouragement those who sacrifice more for Christ will receive greater glory and rewards with Christ. As Jesus told the mother of James and John, “You will indeed drink My cup,” Jesus said. “But to sit at My right or left is not Mine to grant. These seats belong to those for whom My Father has prepared them.” – Matthew 20:23.
John makes this clear that even a “born again” person in Jesus Christ will continue to sin no matter how hard he tries to avoid it. That is because the believer continues to have a sin nature that fights against his new Spirit nature of Christ while he walks the earth “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us – 1 John 1:8.” Don’t be naive or ignorant about your sin and don’t wallow in your sin but stop your sin, confess your sin and try not to do it again. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).” The important thing to remember is that you do not ride a roller coaster of uncertainty about your salvation, wondering if there is some sin in your life that is going to derail your entrance into Heaven. Sin in your life will diminish your Christian joy on earth and your rewards in heaven but it will not keep you out of Heaven or send you to the imaginary place of purgatory that the Catholics have dreamed up.
When you sin, after you are saved, the Holy Spirit within you will convict you of your sin and this should cause you to confess your sin and repent of your sin (1 John 1:9). If however, you profess to be a Christian but you are not concerned about sin in the world or convicted by the sin in your life, then I would be very concerned about my relationship with Jesus Christ. The scripture is clear that once you are saved you have crossed over from “death to life” (John 5:24) but if you claim to be saved and you are not concerned about sin in your life or you approve of sin in the life of others then you are most likely NOT a saved. For although a believer in Jesus Christ will still commit sin, a true believer of Jesus Christ will be prompted by the Holy Spirit to confess their sin and return to fellowship with God.
Note, a person who is not concerned about sin in their life or the person who “approves” of sin has not lost their salvation but they never were saved because it is for this reason that Jesus died for us, to save us from the penalty, power and presence of sin (http://die2live.worthyofpraise.org/the-three-aspects-of-salvation/). Moreover, a concern to be holy and humble like Jesus and a purpose to live your life for Christ by His power and grace is the sign that the Holy Spirit has sealed you for all eternity as a child of God.
A Believer receives “sonship based” Inheritance of the Kingdom of God but an unbeliever does NOT inherit sonship
1 Corinthians 6:9- 11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
So that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:7
In the above passage (1 Corinthians 6:9- 11) Paul is addressing the unrighteous, the unsaved person and he is saying they will NOT receive a “sonship” based inheritance into the Kingdom of God because they will NOT enter the Kingdom of God. Previously in this article I have been talking about “reward based” inheritance, which are “conditionally earned” rewards given to a believer based on the faithfulness of the believer after salvation. But there are also unconditional “sonship” inheritance “gifts” that every believer receives when they “enter” the Kingdom of Heaven.
Ephesians 1: 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Here are some of the “sonship” gifts of a believer in three stages … color coded: (Salvation – Sanctification – Glorification)
(1) guaranteed entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven (John 5:24) – “opportunity” to earn Kingdom rewards (1 Corinthians 3:14) if good works of faith are done – the “potential” to enjoy Kingdom rewards/service in Heaven to reign and rule with Christ if self is denied and works of faith lead by the Holy Spirit are done (2 Corinthians 5:10)
(2) sealing of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14) – filling of the Holy Spirit when faithful toward God – fullness of the Holy Spirit in Heaven
(3) Christ’s righteousness before God (Romans 8:1, Isaiah 61:10) – ongoing forgiveness of sin when confessed (1 John 1:9) – a white robe of righteousness in Heaven (Revelation 3:5, Revelation 19:14)
(4) Spiritual death sentenced cancelled (Colossians 2:14) – grace to preserve until death or until the rapture – a resurrected body in Heaven
(5) reconciliation with God – fellowship with God – presence of God and fullness of joy!
I noticed that murderer is not on the list of the unrighteous (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and some say that a murderer cannot be saved, but if that were true then they themselves would be eliminated since every man is guilty of murdering the Son of God. Because of my sin and your sin, Jesus died. And some Christians think that it is impossible for a “born-again” believer to murder someone and even if it is possible then that Christian should be banned from Heaven (loose their salvation) and treated as an unbeliever. But God does not look at the outward appearance of things, He sees the true condition of the heart. He know which children are His regardless of their sinful behavior and He knows how to discipline them and get them into Heaven, even if He has to bring them there by the rod of His discipline.
Here is how God intends for His born-again child to behave so they can inherit full rewards in the Kingdom of God and enjoy God to the fullest now!
Colossians 3:12-17 “12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
In addition to the guaranteed “sonship inheritance” (see above) there is a “reward based inheritance” you can “earn” by your faithfulness “after” you are saved! The “crown” rewards will be presented to believers by Jesus at the Judgement Seat of Christ if the believer has passed the specific test of faithfulness on earth to receive the crown reward.
Crowns of Reward for the faithful works of believers in Jesus Christ
The Crown of Rejoicing is for rejoicing with believers and for sharing the gospel to make believers of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will reward each according to what he has done. – Matthew 16:27 HCSB
I think there are also Kingdom service rewards to reign and rule with Christ that will be rewarded to those who faithfully do the works that Christ has called them to do on earth.
In closing thought, I know it’s hard from some Christians to fathom that a born-again believer can sin in foul and perverse ways or curse God’s name or deny God’s love for them but I have heard the testimony of saved people who turned their back on Christ and committed terrible sins, only to later sense God hounding them and holding them and calling them back into His fellowship. And I think some Christians don’t seriously look at their own sinful behavior and they judge others more severely than themselves, thinking they can tell the wheat from the tares. But we can’t tell the wheat from the tares and Jesus told us not to pull up the tares in the Church but he would separate the wheat from the tares at the harvest, which is the end of the Age.
Matthew 13: 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’
This does not mean that we are to condone sin, especially in the life of the believer. God hates sin and we are to confront sin but it means that we don’t condemn or judge the motive for why a “believer” severs or doesn’t serve God. Each believer will have to answer to God for their walk with Christ. Also, I am being realistic to acknowledge the ongoing battle of sin in the life of the believer and I am writing this article to give the weary believer hope, that he will not loose his salvation if he sins because God has guaranteed to complete the good work of changing a believer into the person God created that person to be. Also, God is always knocking on the door of his born again child’s heart when that person sins, longing to forgive His child and come in and dine in sweet fellowship. And I am giving encouragement to the believer who faithfully overcomes sin and cooperates with God’s sanctification process, that he will be rewarded by Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Do you want to be saved from the condemnation of sin and be “born again” to everlasting life with Jesus? Repeat this prayer:
Heavenly Father, I know my sin separates me from You. I know that I need Your forgiveness to cover the penalty of my sin and Your righteousness in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I now repent of my self indulgent nature (SIN) way of thinking and turn my life over to You, by faith in Your Son – Jesus, in order to become the person You created me to be before sin entered the world. Lord Jesus, I do believe that You earned my salvation for me; through dying for my sins in Your perfect sacrifice on the cross, and through living on my behalf, a perfect life of obedience and righteousness; and that You rose from the dead on the third day, according to the scriptures, as proof that you are the Son of God who is able to grant everlasting life to whomsoever will call upon Your name. I trust in You alone to save me, and I am willing to follow You as Lord of my life. Thank You for granting me forgiveness and a new birth into spiritual life, united with You for eternity. I receive the Holy Spirit that seals me, comforts me and guides me into all Truth. I pray this in Your Name, Jesus. Amen.
If you said this prayer, rejoice you have everlasting life in the family of God’s Grace. Read God’s word daily to feed your new born again nature … begin with the book of John. If you know another born again believer, share your testimony with them and email me so I can celebrate with you!
– Rogersings email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org