You will ask: What happens to those who don’t pursue holiness but have trusted in Christ’s blood? I reply: they forfeit their inheritance and will have no reward at the judgment seat of Christ.
The word inheritance can be used interchangeably with reward, prize, crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Colossians 3:24; 2 Timothey 4:8). Some New Testament scholars build a case for “justification by works by faith (my paraphrase to describe their teaching) partly because of 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
Some believe that works play a vital role in salvation. As a consequence they have departed from the gospel. What these scholars have not apparently seen is that all those who are justified by faith are called to enter into their inheritance; some do, some don’t. Those who do, have a reward. The basis for this reward is building a superstructure of gold, silver, and precious gems on the foundation-Christ- as put in 1 Corinthians 3:12. Those who build a superstructure of wood, hay or straw will “suffer loss (of reward) but yet will be saved, even though only as one escaping through the flames (v. 15; saved “as by fire,” KJV).
There is not a single passage in the New Testament that warns one of losing their salvation; they all refer to losing one’s inheritance or reward.
To summarize: works necessarily come in where our inheritance is concerned but not whether we go to heaven. Heaven is a free gift by sheer grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
A final irony: those who best understand the gospel are the ones who want to live a holy life.
R. T. Kendall,
It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over