Crown Him With Many Crowns

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  3 : 10-15
Subject: Heaven, Rewards in; Judgment Seat of Christ; Crowns
Introduction

Today I am going to share with you something fascinating that is going to take place in heaven one day, and every Christian ought to be interested in it. It is interesting to hear child talk about heaven.

A girl named Christiana, age 12, said of heaven: "Everything is free. Everyone lives in a mansion. No one has to go to work. There are no house payments."

Molly, age 9 said, “"Heaven is a place that is so beautiful, you would think it was make-believe. It's perfect.”

Ben, age 8, said of heaven, “I imagine that it is made out of gold and silver. And houses are made out of ice cream and water is chocolate milk.” I think Ben got a little carried away.

I like what Jake, a boy 9 years of age said, “The weather is nice. It never rains. Nothing can go wrong. My dad will not have a scar in the middle of his head. We will be perfect."

Jake is right! The only scars in heaven will be the ones Jesus bore for us on the cross. But, I want to talk about something regarding heaven that is actually true and not imaginary. It concerns you and me as believers in Christ.

In 2 Corinthian 5:10 Paul wrote the following: "For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Paul was not saying that Christians will appear before a judgment regarding their eternal destiny. That issue is fixed when the believer trusts in Christ as Lord and Savior; however, we are told that the child of God will stand before Christ one day at a judgment of his or her life as a Christian. And, for what purpose is this assize established? That is the subject of this message.

In the New Testament we note that Christian crowns are mentioned on different occasions. The most amazing of these we discover in Revelation, chapter 4, where the saints cast their crowns before the Lord who is seated upon the throne. In other words, the crowns that Christians have received are laid before God’s throne because we know that we have nothing to give Him except that which He has given to us. All we do in His name, we do because of His Spirit within us. He deserves all the glory, praise and honor.

The question remains – exactly what are these crowns we lay before Him? Where did they come from and how did we obtain them? Turn to 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (NKJV)

Paul tells us that one day all Christians will appear before Christ to have their works judged. What exactly is judged here? We are told that Christ is the foundation and we are building on that foundation. If we are living for Him in a way that honors Him, we are building with marble, encrusted with Jewels, silver and gold. On the other hand, if we are dishonoring him with our Christian lives, we are building with wood, hay and stubble. At the Judgment Seat of Christ our works will be judged with fire. God will put the torch of His Spirit to our works to test whether they are honorable or dishonorable. If our works are dishonorable, we will be saved as by fire, but if our works are honorable, we will receive a reward. That reward, at least in part, will be a crown or several crowns. In fact, in the scripture we are told what at least five of these crowns are how they are earned.

You might not care so much for crowns or rewards, but on that day you will. It will be most shameful to stand before Jesus with nothing to lay at His feet. So let’s look at these crowns and judge even now if we are worthy of them.

I. The Crown of Life

James 1:12 reads, “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.” (NKJV)

The Greek word translated “temptation” in this passage is a word which can mean a trial or test. In our walk with God, all Christians go through temptations and tests. We face some issues that are severe and some that are easier to handle, but none of them are comfortable. Honoring God through temptations and trials is required in order to receive the crown of life. This is a special crown given at the Bema Seat Judgment to those who endured trials and walked forward with Christ through it all.

In Matthew 26:41 our Lord told us to watch and pray so that we do not enter into temptation. In other words, the closer we are to Jesus in this life, the more able we are to repel Satan’s attacks and the world’s ills.

In Revelation 2:10 we read, “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.” (NKJV)

Here again we note that the crown of life is for those who endure through suffering and hardship for Christ. We are told that we “may be tested” in this life and that we are to remain faithful to our Savior. Not many of us in America really know much about suffering for Jesus. I have witnessed very kindly to people and had them curse me or slam a door in my face, but I have never been thrown into prison, been beaten, or had my life threatened because of my faith. There are many, however, who have face such hardships – even in our own time. In Iraq many Christians are now imprisoned, held as sex slaves or have been beheaded because they will not renounce their faith in Christ. They surely will have a crown of life. But, even those living in less difficult places can be found faithful during trials and temptations and can have this crown to lay at Jesus’ feet. Will I be one of those? Will you?

A man came to Christ in a church and was baptized, but not long after that he stopped attending the church. The pastor went to visit him and asked why he had fallen away so quickly. The man said that at his job some of his co-workers were mocking him and ridiculing him, so he just stopped attending. The pastor asked, “Have they spit on you like they did Jesus? Have they beaten you? Have they driven nails through your hands to kill you?” The new Christian replied, “Well, of course not!” The pastor said, “They did that to Christ and you ought to be faithful to Him. No matter what they do to you, don’t forget what Christ paid for your sins.”

II. The Crown of Glory

The second crown is mentioned in 1 Peter 5:2-4:

“…and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for

‘God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.’

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…” (NKJV)

This crown is often referred to as the Pastor’s Crown, because it is promised to those who are shepherds under the Chief Shepherd. Note, however, that there is the implication that those who love the “elders” (pastors) and support them may also receive this crown. Pastors are certainly to be faithful to the Lord. Yet, every Christian is called upon to serve under leadership. A pastor who follows his Lord faithfully will be honored, but believers who honor the pastors and follow their leadership will also receive it.

In Matthew 10:41 Jesus says: “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. How much clearer can it be those who honor God’s prophets will receive the prophet’s reward.” (NKJV)

As I think back over my ministry, I remember those who worked with me, were encouragers and always faithful. They prayed for me daily and supported the tasks that God had given us. Their love, prayers and support lifted me up and gave me strength in the work I was doing as a pastor. Some of them are with the Lord now, and I believe at the Judgment Seat of Christ I will watch them receive the Crown of Glory.

Pastors aren’t perfect, but neither are you. They need your support, love and prayers. God knows that Satan desires nothing more than to strike the shepherd and scatter the sheep. The Lord puts a great premium on people supporting those He has called to lead the churches and preach the Word. Are you one of those? I am busy preaching in my retirement years and assisting pastors with a website, but I want you to know that I love and support my own pastor – the man God has called to lead the church I attend. I seek to pray for him, and his family every day. I encourage you to do the same for your pastor! If you do, it will be your joy to receive this crown and to lay it before your Lord one day in the future.

III. The Crown Incorruptible

The third crown we are to consider is called The Crown Incorruptible. Please turn to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

“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. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (NKJV)

In this passage, Paul points to the way that athletes win rewards. In his day a person who was successful as an athlete won a laurel crown. It was a crown that was corruptible because it was made from leaves of laurel. Paul points out that the Christian who goes at the Christian life the way a champion athlete goes after the winner’s prize, will receive an incorruptible crown. This means we must be spiritually disciplined in order to gain this crown at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We must be enthusiastic about our faith in Christ.

Paul compared his discipline for Christ to that of a runner. I was a serious runner for many years and I can tell you that it takes great effort and continual training to run effectively. When a runner is in a race, he or she must enter it with weeks, months or years of practice and training. I ran at least 20 miles a week for years and many weeks I ran 40 miles a week. I ran in pouring rain, snow and even the day after hurricane Hugo hit North Carolina back in the 1980s. I had to jump limbs, brush and even downed power lines to get in my six mile run that day. But, here is the question, Do I run for Jesus like that? Do You? Am I disciplined in this Christian race? Only those who are will gain the Crown of Glory – the incorruptible crown.

IV. The Crown of Rejoicing

The fourth crown I want to mention today is called a Crown of Rejoicing, sometimes referred to as the Soul Winner’s Crown. Note what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20:

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? Four you are our glory and joy.”

Paul was speaking of those he had won to Christ, along with those won to the Lord by those who partnered with him in his missionary ministry. The Crown of Rejoicing is the crown given to those who seek to win people to Jesus. Sadly, not many Christians are engaged in this work for our Lord. Someone estimated that about 5% of Christians every try to win a lost person to Christ.

Anyone who has been a witness for our Lord and has led someone to faith in Christ knows why Paul called this crown the Crown of Rejoicing. There is no way to describe the joy one feels when a person comes to Christ during a witnessing experience. It is a joy unspeakable and full of glory. Imagine what it will be like when we meet Jesus and there are those present who we were allowed to lead to Him in New Birth! What a day that will be.

Baptisms are down across our America and I believe it is because we are not sharing our faith with others. Yes, I know it is more difficult now to get people to listen to the gospel message than it was a few years ago, but it is not more difficult that it was for Paul and the early Christians. Many of them were arrested, beaten and even put to death for sharing Christ with others. It will be a sad day in glory when Jesus hands out the Crown of Rejoicing and many are left standing without a single soul to whom they shared earnestly and directly the way to salvation.

V. The Crown of Righteousness

Lastly, note the Crown of Righteousness. We find this crown mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:6-8:

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 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 love His appearing.” (NKJV)

There are those who never think of Christ coming again. They live as though everything will go on just as it has for ages past. This is especially true of the lost world. They don’t care about this subject and do not fear it. They are unprepared and do not know it. Satan keeps them blinded to this truth – the truth that Jesus is coming for His people and He is going to take us home to be with Him (John 14:1-6). But this ought never to be said of God’s people. We are to keep our eyes on the skies! We are to be ready if He should come today.

The coming of Jesus does not bring fear to the Christian. His return brings us joy and peace. John, when thinking of His return said, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” That is the heart-cry of the child of God. For those who love His appearing and are living as if it is today, there is a special crown.

Porter Barrington, the evangelist, stood by bed of dying friend. The friend began to weep. Barrington said, “You don’t have to be afraid to die for you are a Christian.” His friend said through tears, “I’m not afraid to die, I’m ashamed to die. To meet the Lord Jesus with this feeble life I’ve lived for him.”

What about you? If He should come today, are you ready? Perhaps you are saved, but you are not living a life that is in keeping with His soon return. Oh, my friend, you can recommit your life to Him now. You can begin to live as if He were mounting the clouds to return right now. You can know Him as your Savior, and if you are a Christian, you can live for Him as you should!

Conclusion

I wish for no crowns for myself in glory. I don’t think we are going to walk around heaven as a two-crown Christian or a four-crown Christian. We will have no snob hill in glory. But, I don’t want to go empty-handed before the Lord. When others are casting crowns at His feet, I want to place something before Him to show Him honor and glory. Don’t you? Sure you do. Then let us recommit our lives today. Let us be ready for Him if He comes before this day is out. But, also, if He delays His coming, let us so live as to have these five crowns to place before Him in the presence of the angels. What a day that will be.

Charles Luther wrote the words:

“Must I go, and empty handed,”

Thus my dear Redeemer meet?

Not one day of service give Him,

Lay no trophy at His feet?

“Must I go, and empty handed?”

Must I meet my Savior so?

Not one soul with which to greet Him,

Must I empty handed go?”

Let us determine today that we will not go empty-handed to the throne of God!