Clarification: We are not Saved by Anything we Do - Salvation depends on God's Mercy not his Justice
It is important to know that nothing we do saves us. Scripture is clear:
2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
Neither our salvation in general, or our particular inward calling (John 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.) is based on what we did, we are doing, or what we will do.
God, as Judge and Father, does Reward both Good and Evil
Nevertheless, God is both a just judge and a loving Father.
Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
There are rewards for righteousness:
Psalm 58:11 So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.
There are also rewards for wickedness:
Psalm 9:16 The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
Some are temporal:
Psalm 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
Matthew 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Mat 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Some are eternal, and based on Christ's righteousness:
Colosians 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Some are eternal, and based on the grace we receive to do good works:
I Corinthians 3:11-15
11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
I hope everyone will realize that Christ's righteousness so far exceeds our own that any heavenly rewards we may receive for obedience to Him will seem as nothing compared with the reward given to us for Christ's righteousness.
Will we have a bigger mansion in heaven (or a place to stand closer to the Lamb) based on how many good works we do? Who knows. Who knows how God will reward good deeds in heaven. That is not the main reason we should do good works. In fact, though we can take comfort in the fact that it will be rewarded, we should not have any expectation of the reward:
Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
The main reasons we should good works are (1) to be like our Father God and our Savior Jesus Christ (as pointed out in the verse above); and (2) that we are commanded to obey the law of God. Thus, both our love of God and the command should be our primary motivations.
God requires perfect holiness and righteousness. Thus, even if we do everything we are supposed to do, we are "unprofitable servants," as Scripture says:
Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
Accordingly, we should do good, and we can know that we will be rewarded. How exactly we will be rewarded, Scripture is not clear, and we cannot be dogmatic. Nevertheless, there is a reward in a heaven.
Degrees of Reward
Some have asked whether there will be degrees of reward in heaven. While this should not be a focal point, as explained above, it is the case. Consider, for example, Hebrews 12:5-11, set forth above. We are to build something on the foundation of Christ. What we build may be of precious stones or of straw. Furthermore, we should remember the parable of the talents:
14For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The primary thing we can learn from this parable is that Sanctification is an essential aspect of the Christian walk. If we are not making use of the talents given us, we are not God's faithful servants. Nevertheless, a secondary lesson we can draw from this parable is that there is greater reward in greater sanctification. As noted above, what that reward will be, is not clearly set forth in Scripture.
All Reward is by Justice but on account of Grace
We should not be confused by the fact that we may be rewarded for sanctification into thinking that therefore this sanctification is of ourselves or comes from us, any more than our inheritance comes from us. Instead, any such reward is "grace for grace."
15John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Praise be to our Just and Merciful Judge Who sits enthroned on high,