It is true that eternal life cannot be earned. “For by grace are we saved and not our works,” Ephesians 2:8.
However, for the Christian, there are things that exist for us outside of salvation that we should reach for. Our eternal home in Heaven will be affected by whether or not we reach to earn these rewards that God offers to us. What are those rewards the Bible teaches about? Taking from the Open Bible study notes, I have compiled some benefits we can work for and to which God wants us to work for and gave us an incentive. Salvation is free, but the Crowns must be earned. Think of the wonderful blessing it will be that God would reward us beyond salvation. Let us all work to obtain the Crowns God has set in place for us to earn.
There are four Crowns and one Imperishable Wreath.
The Crown of Life.
James 1:12, ” Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the Crown of Life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” This reward could be called the “lovers” crown.
Upon examination of the above verse, we discover that the believer finds the strength to overcome temptation and endures trails, through the love of God. Paul said we also exult in our tribulations. The question is: do we today exult in tribulations? We can only if the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Romans 5:3-5. Without the love of God in the heart of the believer, trials can cause them to become bitter and critical and lose the Crown of Life. All believers have eternal life, John 3:15 – 16 but not all believers will be rewarded with a Crown of Life as this crown will be given to those who are faithful unto death, Revelations 2:10. To receive the crown of life the believer must love the Lord more than his own life. “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel shall save it,” Mark 8:35. This reward will be given to those who live for Christ and endures temptations, in the power of the love of God, 1 Corinthians 10:13.
The Wreath Imperishable
1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win and everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control and all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable wreath.” Ephesians 6:12.
Paul makes use of the Greek games to illustrate the spiritual race of the believer. They ran to win a perishable wreath. But we can win an imperishable wreath. No young man could contend in the games unless he was a Greek citizen, born of Greek parents. No unsaved person can participate in the service of the Lord for rewards; only the born of God are eligible. John 3:3.
Just as the athlete must deny himself many gratifications of the body, so the believer must say I buffet my body and make it my slave or he will become disqualified. He will not lose his salvation, but he will lose the Imperishable Wreath.
The Greek games had hard and fast rules for all participants. The New Testament contains the rules for the believers who would enter the spiritual race to win the Imperishable Wreath.
1. The believer must deny self of anything that would weigh them down and hold them back, Hebrews 12:1.
2. The believer must keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and not look to the right or the left, Hebrews 12:2
3. The believers must find his strength in the Lord, Ephesians 6:10- 18.
4. The believer must place all upon the altar of the Lord. Romans 12:1-2
5. The believer must by faith refuse anything that would impede spiritual progress, Hebrews 11:24-29.
Do not be a spiritual spectator enter the race and run to win the Imperishable Wreath.
The Crown of Exaltation
1 Thessalonians 2:19.
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? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
The Crown of Exaltation is the soul winner’s crown. The greatest work you are privileged to do for the Lord is to bring others into a knowledge of Christ as a personal savior. The degree of your joy in heaven will be determined by the souls you have had a part in bringing to Christ. Paul tells the Thessalonians believers that they are his hope or joy or Crown of Exultation now and when Jesus comes.
1 It is wise to win souls to Christ, Proverbs 11:30.
2. It is a work against sin to win souls to Christ, James 5:20.
3. It is a cause for joy in heaven to win souls to Christ, Luke 15:10. For every soul-winner will shine as the stars forever, Daniel 12:3. How you can win souls to Christ? Witness with your life, live that others may see Christ in you, 2 Corinthians 3:2. Witness with your mouth trusting the Holy Spirit to give power to the spoken word Acts 1:8. Witness by tithes and offerings that others may preach Christ and you will have profits which increase to your account, Philippians 4:15 -17. God has promised that all your toil will not be in vain in the Lord, 1 Corinthians 15:58. The soul winner will not rejoice alone, all of Heaven will rejoice with him when he receives the Crown of Exaltation, John 4:36
The Crown of Righteousness
2 Timothy 4:5 “But you be sober and in all things endure hardship to do the work of an evangelist fulfill your ministry.”
The Crown of Righteousness is a reward, and it is not to be confused with the Righteousness of God, which is what a believer receives when he or she becomes a Christian; “for at that The believer is to become the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21. This saving righteousness is a gift to be accepted by the lost. The Crown of Righteousness is a reward to be earned by the saved. If the believer looks for and loves the doctrine of the second coming of Christ, it will affect his whole life. Look at the dynamic impact this truth had on the life of the apostle Paul. He could say:
1. “I have fought the good fight.” 1 Corinthians 15:32. He fought a spiritual battle throughout his Christian life and won. He never surrendered to the enemies of righteousness. Ephesians 6:12.
2. “I have finished the course,” he had a course to travel, and he did not detour the hard places; neither did he look back. Luke 9:61. He finished his course with his eyes fixed on Christ, Philippians 1:6.
3.”I have kept the faith.” He preached the… whole purpose of God- never betraying any of the great doctrines, Acts 20:24-31. The apostle looked ahead to the ” Judgment Seat of Christ” where the Crown of Righteousness will be given to those who loved his appearing. How important it is for the believer to look with a heart of love for the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that he may receive the Crown of Righteousness.
The Crown of Glory
1 Peter 5: 4 ” And when the chief Shepherd appears you will receive the unfading Crown of Glory.”
The crown of glory is a special reward for the faithful, obedient God-called pastor. He will receive this reward when the “chief Shepherd appears.” It is eternal; it is unfading. Every believer may share in the pastor’s Crown of Glory. “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” Matthew 10:41. Support your faithful, God- called Pastor by praying for him and encouraging him in the work of the Lord. Undergird his ministry with God’s tithes and offerings, Malachi 3:10. Giving freely of your time to the service of the Lord. And God will reward you for supporting his chosen servant by allowing you to share in your pastor’s reward. The pastor will earn this “crown of glory” by the following:
1. Feeding the church. He is to proclaim the word of God without fear or favor and when necessary he will “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with Great patience and instructions.” Tim 4:2-5
2. Taking the spiritual oversight of the church. The pastor is responsible to God for the message preached to his people. No pastor should preach to please the people, he is to please God, Galatians 1:10.
3. Being an example to the church. He is not to serve for the reward of money. Yet, the church is responsible to care for his every material need, 1 Timothy 5:18. He is to be a spiritual leader and not a dictator. He is to walk with God by faith. “And when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the unfading Crown of Glory.”