I'm assured that my salvation and place in heaven comes by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, through Christ's blood alone, and that I can offer nothing to God that will impact my salvation in the tiniest bit. That said, I'm curious as to how other Scripture such as the parable of the talents, and Matthew 6:19-20 fit into that. Put another way, if two people both have saving faith and have their place in heaven secured, are the rewards in heaven different for each of them depending on the fruits of the Spirit each has borne in their period of grace? When Jesus says to store "treasures in heaven," Jesus is so infinitely precise with his Word that He can't be merely saying secure your place in heaven, right? Or is He? He also said, "Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last," implying it is possible to be "first" or high up in heaven. I very much understand that to be last in heaven is still infinitely better than being first on earth, but I'd like to know more since Jesus spoke several times regarding apparent difference of rewards in heaven. I am guessing this is an enormous topic, so if you can point me to a good resource or Bible study, please do so. Thank you for all of your work for the Kingdom!
As you noted, people enjoy salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot contribute to the salvation that Jesus has won for us (Titus 3:4-6). The parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) teaches that the gift of salvation is the same for all Christians, regardless of what stage of life they entered God’s kingdom through conversion.
While Christians enjoy salvation equally, there are Bible passages like Daniel 12:3; Matthew 25:23, 28-29; Luke 19:17, 19; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 9:6; and, Revelation 14:13 that speak of God graciously blessing his followers in proportion to their lives of sanctification. This action on God’s part is due entirely to his gracious love; Christians do not earn or merit any blessings from God. While there are differences in these blessings, all Christians enjoy equally God’s gift of salvation (Romans 6:23).
To read more about the Christian life, you might consider Sanctification: Alive in Christ. It is available from Northwestern Publishing House.
Jesus’ words about storing up treasures in heaven direct us to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
— And thank you for your kind words.