- April 22, 2015 at 6:31 pm #71473
How To Win Your Crowns
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
So, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Phil 3:13-16)
After we’re saved, we have the opportunity to win rewards, or crowns, which will be presented to us immediately after the Rapture. (1 Cor. 4:5) Jesus Himself will make the presentation in what will be the biggest awards ceremony ever in the history of mankind.
This awards ceremony is sometimes called the Bema Seat judgment, after the Greek word for judgment, because of the similarity. In the ancient Olympics, judges awarded ivy crowns (called stephanos) to the winners of the various contests at the “Bema Seat”, or judges stand, just like they award medals in our time.
The New Testament lists five categories in which crowns will be awarded to qualified believers.
These crowns are identified as the Everlasting Crown (Victory) in 1 Cor 9:25, the Crown of the Soul Winner in Phil 4:1 and 1 Thes 2:19, the Crown of Righteousness in 2 Tim 4:8, the Crown of Life in James 1:12 and Rev 2:10, and the Crown of Glory in 1 Peter 5:4.
The Everlasting Crown (Crown of Victory)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 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. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
This passage most clearly defines the context in which crowns will be awarded, so it’s a good one to look at first. The Crown of victory is also the one that the Bible has the most to say about because it’s one that every believer can win. Paul used a sports analogy to help us understand the rules for winning so we wouldn’t be confused about how this works.
As in events like the Olympics, winning the Victors crown requires that competitors qualify and then compete. For us, qualifying means being saved, because these crowns are for believers only. Then we go into “strict training” in order to increase our chances for victory. Olympic athletes are not satisfied just to qualify for the games. They want to win the event they qualified for. In the same way Christians should not be satisfied just to be saved, even if it does mean gaining eternal life. That’s just the beginning. We should also want to win crowns. It’s a way to express our gratitude for the gift of salvation and be rewarded at the same time. And in going for this crown we’re not competing against each other, but against our old selves, also called “the flesh”.
Achieving victory means putting the flesh to death; getting rid of our selfish desires, our bad habits and attitudes, and any behavior that puts the Lord to shame. One of the places where the Bible has much to say about what it takes to win this crown is Ephesians 4-6. In fact every one of Paul’s letters to the Church exhorts us to compete for this crown, out of gratitude for what we’ve been given. Gaining victory over the flesh is the best thing we can do to show the Lord how thankful we are that He saved us.
As in all competitive events there’s no penalty for losing, only a reward for winning. And failing to win in one event does not mean that we forfeit rewards legitimately won in others. But we have to win fair and square, (2 Tim. 2:5) and more than anything else, our attitude has to be right. Any thought of recognition or personal gain, or even of making points with the Lord will disqualify us. The only acceptable motive is bringing glory to God. (1 Cor. 3:12-15 & 4:1-5)
If we’re in Christ we’re a new creation in God’s eyes. (2 Cor. 5:17) We’re now royalty in training. Our challenge is to live up to what we’ve already become by acting like who we are in Christ. Those who succeed will receive the Crown of Victory.
The Crown of the Soul Winner
Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! (Phil. 4:1).
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? Indeed, you are our glory and joy (1 Thes 2:19).
Paul was happiest when he thought of all the people who had come to the Lord through his teaching, writing, and church planting. And the harvest of his labors has continued unabated through out the entire Church Age. Since there’s no number stated as a qualifier we don’t have to be intimidated by Paul’s unbeatable results. We just have to make the most of every opportunity the Lord brings across our path. And remember, we’re judged here by our effort, not our results. Each person bears the responsibility for his or her own choice regarding salvation. So we don’t have to be argumentative or coercive or manipulative, we just have to make a clear and concise presentation of the gospel and then pray that it’s received. This is the model Paul established for us.
The Crown of Righteousness
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 (2 Tim 4:8).
Since our righteousness is derived from our faith, this Crown is not for those whose lives have been the most pure. You can’t get purer than God, whose righteousness has been imputed to us by faith. When we long for the Lord’s return we’re demonstrating our belief that He’s coming for us. We’re not afraid that we won’t measure up but are absolutely certain that when He comes for His Church, we’ll be among those He takes.
A person who depends on the righteousness of his or her own works can only feel either arrogance or fear, not longing. Some are arrogant enough to believe that they deserve entry into Heaven because of their exemplary life. Their pride keeps them from longing for the Lord because they’re getting so much satisfaction from feeling superior. They’re like the Pharisees who looked the Lord right in the eye and chose to rely on their own works rather than His Grace.
Others live in fear that they’ll be rejected at the last minute for some forgotten failure. They don’t long for the Lord because they’re scared to death of being rejected.
Only the one who depends exclusively on God’s Grace can long for the Lord. Since they know we can never measure up, they long for the day when we can no longer fall short.
The Crown of Life
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (Jas 1:12)
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 the crown of life. (Rev 2:10)
This crown is for believers who’ve faced persecution and suffering for the Lord, even to the point of death. We’re familiar with the trials and tribulations of the First and Second Century believers, but even in our time hundreds of believers die for their faith every day, and many more thousands are evicted from their homes, incarcerated, or forced to live in fear for their lives. They will win the Crown of Life.
The Crown of Glory
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but 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. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
Only those who are called into ministry can qualify for this crown. The requirements are clear, and many loyal shepherds of the Lord’s flock will finally get the recognition they so richly deserve. Others, who’ve lorded it over the believers entrusted to their care, or strapped heavy yokes of legalism to their backs, will be forced to stand aside and watch as the Lord rewards those who’ve stayed true to His word.
These are the five crowns listed in the New Testament. Some of us may receive all five of these crowns, but every one of us can qualify to receive at least one. And like I said above, there’s nothing we can do that will bring the Lord more pleasure than to reward us for striving for these crowns. And after all He’s done for us, it doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1). Selah 05-26-07
fair use for educational and discussion purposes
I am convinced of this, that the One who began a good action among you will bring it to completion by the Day of the Messiah Jesus. Philippians 1:6April 23, 2015 at 9:03 am #71539
In my opinion, this doctrine of crown winning is at best wishful thinking and at worst false teaching. Jack Kelley has taken almost all of the scriptures mentioned in this study out of context simply to justify his “some christian are better than others” theology. It’s obvious he is a man who doesn’t understand God’s grace/our inability to earn God’s favor through our actions. Paul calls these kinds of people baby Christians because they are “unskilled in the word of righteousness” (Hebrews 5:13). The audacity of people who hold this view – to walk up to the throne of Heaven with your hand out – is just nauseating! I guess Jack has never read Philippians 1:6 where it says “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” It’s not us completing the good works and thus winning crowns and accolades for ourselves, but Christ working in us to complete the good works He started. I’m not saying that God for sure won’t give us gifts in Heaven, but I am saying for sure that they won’t be based on our goodness, but solely on His. After all, our best works are as filthy rags, but the gift of God (gifts are unearned) is eternal life in Christ Jesus.April 23, 2015 at 9:39 am #71548
In the FB comments to the above post JS wrote: “Then… REV 4:10-11 the twenty-four elders (The Church/Us) fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things,
and they exist because you created what you pleased.” Not a trophy to keep on a mantle in our mansion, or to ware and strut around in as I saw someone comment on one of your earlier posts, but to lay them before the thrown. Correct?”
Jack replied “Yes. That’s correct.”
And I put in my 2 cents: “Only seems fitting given that any crown we receive is because of His leading and directing us.”
You are indeed correct that it’s only what we do at His direction and leading that generates eternal value. The rest is like used menstrual clothes aka filthy rags.
As far as some Christians being better than others, if it were based on our own worth we’d be a hopeless bunch. But that doesn’t mean that He can’t work through us, and I don’t see the negative in encouraging people to be sensitive to His leading / prompting to be obedient to the Lord “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
I am convinced of this, that the One who began a good action among you will bring it to completion by the Day of the Messiah Jesus. Philippians 1:6April 23, 2015 at 2:07 pm #71569
In my opinion, this doctrine of crown winning is at best wishful thinking and at worst false teaching. Jack Kelley has taken almost all of the scriptures mentioned in this study out of context simply to justify his “some christian are better than others” theology. It’s obvious he is a man who doesn’t understand God’s grace/our inability to earn God’s favor through our actions. Paul calls these kinds of people baby Christians because they are “unskilled in the word of righteousness” (Hebrews 5:13). The audacity of people who hold this view – to walk up to the throne of Heaven with your hand out – is just nauseating! I guess Jack has never read Philippians 1:6 where it says “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” It’s not us completing the good works and thus winning crowns and accolades for ourselves, but Christ working in us to complete the good works He started. I’m not saying that God for sure won’t give us gifts in Heaven, but I am saying for sure that they won’t be based on our goodness, but solely on His. After all, our best works are as filthy rags, but the gift of God (gifts are unearned) is eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Your opinion STINKS IR. Your words are full of anger, bitterness, rejection and condescension. Of course any rewards we get will not be based on our own goodness, who says there were? The only thing nauseating is your response here to a wonderful Bible based teaching that is meant to encourage and give hope to the Body of Christ. Why would you want to tear that down?
Gods plan and purpose for my life is never at risk. Phil 1:6April 23, 2015 at 3:52 pm #71574
IR, I do appreciate your zealousness for the Lord, but agree with Tom. Our zealousness or righteousness cannot compare with that of the Lord. I will say again as I have often said, “if there is any good thing in me, it was not placed there by my hand, but by His”! Once again this is about obedience and the reflections of our heart towards HIM! Also, I cannot earn anything in and of myself, except that I have His HELP! May we all receive the Father’s blessings with a grateful heart. His extravagant love is often displayed towards us all, starting before the foundations of the world were laid, now in this life and eternity future! God is GOOD!
Love & blessings…Tender ReedApril 24, 2015 at 10:04 am #71623
I agree. Our Lord and savior Jesus loves us so much therefore it is his desire to reward us for what we have done on earth. There are children of God who saw visions of the Bema Judgement where rewards were given. I pray that I am counted worthy to receive from my Lord Jesus.
Matthew 24:36-37 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.April 24, 2015 at 11:02 am #71629
TXthom thanks for sharing this teaching. Loved it, so encouraging. Longing to earn some crowns to lay at the feet of my Bridegroom. I’d love to see him smile.
"One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. " - Psalm 27:4April 24, 2015 at 6:44 pm #71645
This is such a beautiful teaching, IR, it hurts to see it mocked. Yes, judgment is coming. Our works will be put to the test and such as you describe will be burned up. Wrong attitude. Not rewarded.
We are the King’s kids. It doesn’t seem possible but we are. I’ve seen no one reaching out hands demanding profit, gain or crowns. Such as these would experience the judgment of God and most likely never arrive in Heaven at all. They’d certainly be in danger of not making it. Humbleness and humility would be missing. One’s heart wouldn’t be right. It is also incentive to work towards such goals in spiritual growth areas; why this lesson is taught. On the contrary, those with such attitudes will be flat on their faces like the rest of us as every cell in our bodies will recognize who Jesus is and responds accordingly. Even the demons will be recognizing and be honoring Jesus as the fall face forward before God.
I think of Christians being beheaded , giving up their very souls for the Name of Christ to honor Him. Should our Lord and Savior wish to reward them with a crown, who are any of us to deny, mock or criticize their rewards? There’s no outstretched arms demanding a crown. Where did this thought come from? I think we can all guess.
Some brothers and sisters are living in horrible conditions yet true to God . They’ve been through horrible circumstances and fought bravely and valiantly while still maintaining their Christian witness. Others have devoted themselves full time to ministry or are know for doing good to benefit others at self sacrifice . Yes, it’s Christ in them at work, but spiritually they still made a decision and sometimes at great cost to themselves to make difference. There is no greater love than to die for a neighbor/brother/sister. We’re talking about Spiritual Olympics here while going before God for judgment. We are all in this race, like it or not. The finish line is just ahead. Do not discourage the brethren on their race for you will be held accountable. This is a true Scriptural Word. Remember , the Lord knows each one’s heart. This is what He judges by , along with His great love for each of us.
Who are any of us to voice an opinion that undoes Scripture?
And who sets himself up as judge and jury of Jack Kelly? Have you checked out his credentials? Frankly, IR, you are in grave danger of God’s judgment. Stick to Scripture and forget opinions not based on the Word of God.
Satan , himself, couldn’t have done a better job discouraging the brethren.
May we all be counted worthy to participate and receive a reward/crown. May we all make Him smile Rita May!
The eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him.
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