Sunday 13 June
Crowned in Rewards
Praying for inspiration for today’s service I was struck by last week’s passage which mentioned the crown of glory and it reminded me of a summer message bible-led time of worship. One younger lad led us for the first time in his life as he recalled the theme from a Scripture Union camp the year before.
The word theology comes from the Greek and basically means what people think about God. Christian theology is what Christians believe about God and practice in their life through their faith based on scripture.
So there is Christian theology that asserts that Christians can attain 5 crowns in this life – they are also known as the five Heavenly Crowns.
1. The crown of life
2. The incorruptible crown
3. The crown of righteousness
4. The crown of glory
5. The crown of joy or rejoicing
When we become a Christian we are of course heirs of heaven and we become Children of God. Since God is the king of kings, we are now in God’s family, are princesses and princes under the King of Kings from that moment on.
Royals wear CROWNS. Charles Swindoll in his book “Insights on Revelations” asserts that according to the New Testament, Christians can “earn” these crowns as rewards for “faithfulness in this life”.
Let’s briefly look at each of the Bible crowns.
The first crown is the CROWN of LIFE.
It is mentioned in James 1:12
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.’
The victor's crown is often translated as the CROWN of LIFE.
And we can attain it by our faithfulness to God when we are under trials. Jesus words in Matthew 24:13 agree on this “those who endure to the end will be saved”.
So, it is called the CROWN of LIFE and the victor’s CROWN because we have become Christians and stood firm in our trust in Jesus saving victory over sin and death. This means we are on the winning side and our reward is perfect life in heaven, having won not lost our soul to the enemy.
The second crown is the INCORRUPTABLE CROWN. This concept comes from,
‘Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever’. 1 Corinthians 9:25
Jesus talks about the temporal world where rust and moth can destroy, and this crown is in sharp contrast to this – this crown is imperishable. Paul is urging all Christians to persevere and last all the way into everlasting life in heaven. This crown is to be worn in action, enduring, denying self, being faithful in service and being a witness for the Kingdom of Christ.
The third crown is the CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS and is mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:8,
‘Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.’
When Christ returns, he will judge believers for their works.
(Romans. 14:10; 1 Corinthians. 3:11-15; 4:5; 2 Corinthians. 5:10).
We will be asked to give an account (Matthew. 25:14-30), about the opportunities (Matthew. 20:1-16) that have been entrusted to them. The outcome depends on whether we built of wood, hay, and straw or of gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:12).
The former cheaper things, as works will be burnt up, but we may be saved so as through fire verse 15; if we build with quality, we receive a reward verse 14. It is promised to "those who love and long for " Christ’s Second Coming. Paul uses this concept of the crown as a reward from the righteous judge – Jesus Christ.
The fourth crown is the CROWN OF GLORY which we touched on last week – Having that Ready Break Glow of the glory of God within and shining out of you.
Some take this crown to be for elders, leaders and ministers who act as good shepherds to younger and less experienced Christians. Peter’s words in 1 Peter 5 from verse 2-4 say,
“being eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away”
As you can see the crown is a reward for stellar service and it is this glow that lasts forever.
Crown number five is the CROWN OF JOY or REJOICING.
It is mentioned in two passages.
‘For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?’ 1 Thessalonians 2:19
‘Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!’ Philippians 4:1
It is suggested that Paul earns his crown of joy through evangelising to the Thessalonians. Seeing someone you shared the Good News with become a Christian always gives you a lasting joy.
JOY surely is a reward in itself, but why the crown here? Well, it helps us to focus on eternal things as children of God who as such will wear a royal crown in heaven.
So, what about all of this? Is it definitive? How can we wear more than one crown unless we can swap them on and off like hats? Could it be a crown with up to five jewels or symbols like the stripes you gain in the armed services, or something like that?
The truth is I do not know. Yet what we do know from scripture is that God does indeed reward those who become His and serve Him faithfully, patiently, enduring hardships, growing and glowing Him to those they meet and help.
These are indeed reasons to rejoice, to stir us to glow each day, to drive our desire for righteousness, and to stay true to God’s Holy word of truth – incorruptibly.
For ultimately the CROWN of LIFE is LIFE eternal, in God’s presence every day forever, warmed, and never in pain or upset, basking in His radiance peace and eternal blessings with all the Saints of every generation.
May we pray for one another and serve one another with the greatest of ardour – to the glory of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.