What are the various crowns promised to faithful believers?
What makes us jump out of bed each day to face life’s challenges? What is it that makes us tick? What motivates us in life? It all depends on our worldview and values.
Some believers focus on the ‘here and now’, thinking that blessings such as prosperity and health are indicators of God’s favour. And, provided they do not go overboard, this kind of thinking is not entirely wrong (Proverbs 22:4).
But excessive preoccupation with temporal blessings without an upward focus is unbiblical:
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).
As a man thinks so is he. Thinking about heavenly rewards, instead of earthly treasures, helps us reorient our goals and aspirations in life. When we live in light of eternity and Christ’s return, we purify ourselves, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).
Various crowns are promised to faithful believers who overcome. What are these imperishable heavenly rewards (1 Corinthians 15:58, Revelation 22:12)?
Crown of victory
Champions in the ancient Olympics are honoured with perishable crowns—wreaths of olive leaves. But believers who are faithful in discharging our God-given calling and triumph over sin will be given imperishable crowns.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9: 24-25).
Now, is there a possibility of being disqualified after we have enrolled ourselves in the spiritual race? Yes. To finish well in the spiritual race, believers need endurance. Paul warns that, though he preaches to others, he might be disqualified if he fails to exercise self-control and discipline (1 Corinthians 9:27).
May we run with perseverance, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), so that we might receive the crown of victory.
Crown of righteousness
While languishing in a musty prison cell, Paul writes with a triumphant note:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4: 7-8).
Does this crown come easy? No. Nothing worthwhile in this life (or the next) is attained effortlessly. It is only for those who manage to overcome the world, flesh and devil. As we choose to abide in Christ, and seek God and His strength, we will receive this crown of righteousness at the end of life’s journey (Matthew 7:13-14, John 15:6).
Though we live in the world, we are not of the world. In fact, we are to distinguish ourselves from the world through the process of sanctification.
“Come out from among them. And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
Neither are we to be like the world nor allow it to squeeze us into its mould.
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Jesus was once asked, “Will few people be saved?” His reply is this: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24). Unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).
No matter what “feel good” teaching might tell us otherwise to soothe our itching ears, the “passing mark” for entry to heaven is indeed high.
Crown of life
Though we do not look out for them, temptations will inevitably crop up. If it were not so, why would this line, Lead us not into temptation, be a part of the Lord’s prayer?
But temptation is not synonymous with sin. We are not held accountable when we are tempted but only when we fail to overcome it. Moreover, we can take heart in the fact that God gives us the strength to overcome temptation (Matthew 26:41, 1 Corinthians 10:13).
And, if we do not yield to temptation, we will be rewarded. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
This crown of life is also bestowed on those who remain faithful and steadfast under persecution, even to the point of death—not only to those who overcome temptation.
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
The fact that only overcomers receive the crown or prize is in line with Christ’s teaching on persecution during the end times. “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who enduresto the end, he will be saved” (Matthew 24: 9-13).
Crown of glory
Leaders often face challenges which can be overwhelming. But those who faithfully tend the flock can take comfort in future reward. “When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).
Paul, who suffered a great deal for the faith, also encouraged believers to press on, pointing out that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
But, no matter how glorious our crowns might be, we will have to lay them down at heaven’s throne for it is God who truly deserves all glory, honour and power (Revelation 4:10-11).
In closing, let us be encouraged by the life of Moses, who turned his back on the world because he knew that the invisible God would eventually reward him for his enduring faith.
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for heendured as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).
What is our consuming passion and focus in life? Do we merely live for visible and tangible things? Don’t we look forward to receiving these everlasting crowns of unfading glory?
Why do believers need to be overcomers?
If we start well in our journey of faith, does it mean we will definitely end well?
The best awaits those who choose the unseen and intangible over the seen and tangible
Some believers may lose their eternal rewards BUT eventually they are saved. In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, did the foolish virgins merely lose their rewards or much more?
SOURCE OF ARTICLE: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2016/09/everlasting-rewards.html
NOTE: This is a personal exhortation from the writer, meant for the edification of readers.
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