Works are and always have been based on God’s Will. When a man does a good work, it is based on how he/she feels God led them to do. This is the operation of a spiritually mature Christian, according to Hebrews 13:21. But… in the same verse, the glory is given unto Jesus Christ. This is important, because it shows our good works are not for nothing. However, God does remember these things (Hebrews 6:10). Good works are good and profitable unto men (Titus 3:8). Jesus commanded good works to glorify God (Matthew 5:16). However, as Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us, we are saved by grace through faith, not from ourselves, but a gift given by God that has nothing to do with works to avoid men from boasting about their own works, such as “works helped me be saved” or “works gave me eternal life.” We are His Workmanship, meaning that our good works stems directly from Jesus Christ, because God foreordained us to walk in these good works. Yes, all believers have been foreordained to be ministers. Faith is expressed by our works, because works are faith in action (James 2:14-20; Hebrews 11).
Paul tells us that we are able to obtain an award/prize, an incorruptible crown. What is the key to this? Not works, according to 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, but temperance (self-control). Peter affirms this is true that an imperishable crown is available (1 Peter 1:4). We will also be able to have a crown of rejoicing that is tied to hope and joy, and will be given shortly before the arrival of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:19). Some have equated that this would be the case of wiping away every tear, with no more death and sorrow and pain (Revelation 21:4), but this is a stretch. Although this is true that we will eventually have this, it is not related to the crown of rejoicing.
Next, is the crown of righteousness, which is given to those who loved His appearing, because they endured such a hard race and fought the good fight keeping the faith (2 Timothy 4:5). Then the crown of glory, which is given by the Chief Shepherd Jesus Christ to those who feed the flock willingly without constraint, and being an ensample/example unto the flock (1 Peter 5:2-4).
Lastly is the crown of life, which is tied in with not worrying about suffering, but being faithful unto God until death – which will allow the crown of life to be given to us. He promised us eternal life, and we shall have it (Revelation 2:10; John 2:25). The crown of life is for those who endure temptation, and loving the Lord (James 1:12). So then, what are works, if Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith? These are things that emerge from the Lord unto our heart that He desires us to do. When we do them, we glorify Him (Repeat from above information).
Believers are expected to abound in good works because of their Salvation, but works do not lead to Salvation and Salvation does not lead to works. Works reveal faith to be real, while dead works or no works denote faith as useless. (Romans 3:27; 4:2-6; Galatians 2:16; 3:2-10; 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; Hebrews 9:14; 10:24). Judgment is according to works, with evidence of new life (Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6; 1 Peter 1:17). Faith and good works are never contrasted in the Bible enough, but justification is based on Salvation, not referencing works (repeat of above reference).
Since we know we will be receiving an inheritance, we should work for the Lord and serve Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:23-24). We are rendered inheritance rewards according to Salvation, which include eternal life (The crown of life can be presumed), glory and honor and peace to those who do good (the crown of glory can be presumed) (Romans 2:6-10). Where will this judgment be for believers? It will be at the judgment seat of Christ that we will be judged based on every good or evil work (2 Corinthians 5:10). Good works are separate from works of the Law, because no human is justified by works of the Law for Salvation reasons, because the Law comes knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).
We can conclude that works evidence faith; therefore, a fellow Christian can determine that someone may or may not be of faith based on their works. However, since Salvation is not based on works, it is impossible to tell whether someone is saved or unsaved just by their works. This is why required baptism for Salvation fails to function, because it is requiring works to be completed for Salvation to be given.
Back on subject, the crown of righteousness is presumed to be part of the rewards that are bestowed upon us by the Holy Ghost, because we learn that righteousness, peace, and joy are part of the Kingdom of God. Since we are granted access to the Kingdom of God through Salvation, we receive these benefits (Romans 14:17). Joy, hope, and peace overflow in us as we believe in God (Romans 15:13). This also means we are not judged by what we eat or drink or by festivals we celebrate (Colossians 2:16), but we appear to be judged by being given certain portions of the Kingdom of God that we may safely assume without heresy are an inheritance – this is found deeply interwoven with the Fruit of the Spirit. But why no crown of love? Is love the incorruptible crown? The Scripture does not say (Galatians 5:22). But what we do know is that God is Love and since He gave His Spirit to be with us, His Love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:1-5).
Where then does the incorruptible crown come in? It is the overall crown, we may assume, as we see in 1 Peter 1:4 that the inheritance we receive from God (any inheritance) is incorruptible. We become incorruptible in Salvation, and will resurrect in our new bodies as incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:52-54). Therefore, we put on, literally immortality (2 Timothy 1:10), because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – not because of works!
Do your good works grant you an inheritance? No. Does your Salvation grant you an inheritance? Yes. What is that inheritance? The Holy Ghost is given unto us as a mark, which allows us to put on immortality, and thereby receive each crown: glory, life, rejoicing, righteousness. God already planned for us to receive all of what He has for us. We are given grace by the measure of the gift of Christ, because we must reflect on the power of Oneness with God: One body, one Spirit, one hope of your calling, One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all – and God is above all, through all, and in all of His Believers (Ephesians 4:4-5).