TEXT: Revelation 22:10-13
10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
The Free State of Glory (Part 34) — The Reward of Believers: 5 Heavenly Crowns, Part 1
Charles Stanley said, “To help us understand our heavenly rewards, the Bible describes several crowns. First, the crown of life is granted to believers who stand firm and endure trials without giving up or losing heart. The second crown, called imperishable, is given to those whose great desire is to walk obediently before God. Through struggles and even failures, they continue to die to their flesh and follow the Spirit. Next, the crown of righteousness is bestowed upon those who long for Christ’s appearing and live righteously through Him. Lastly, God will give the crown of glory to those who share His Word with others. As Scripture tells us, we will be awed by Jesus’ magnificence and honored just to lay our crowns at His feet.”
In our last message, we looked at Jesus’ proclamation that He is coming quickly and that He is bringing rewards with Him for His saints. The Bible does not go into great detail regarding the rewards that are in store for believers. However, there are five crowns that are mentioned specifically in the New Testament which believers can look forward to and ought to strive to obtain.
The first of these crowns is called the “imperishable crown,” and it is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 9:19-27: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
The Greek word translated as “crown” in the New Testament is “stephanos.” For the first century culture, it is defined as “a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games, or a symbol of honor generally.” During the Greek games, the forerunner of our Olympics, victors in each competition had a garland of leaves placed on their head as a sign of their triumph. Of course, a garland of leaves will eventually shrivel up and die. Paul takes this reality and contrasts it with the “incorruptible” or imperishable crown that believers ought to strive to obtain.
And there is nothing wrong with “striving to obtain” this crown. We ought to go all out in our pursuit of spiritual maturity and service to Christ. Paul calls it “mastery”; the word means “to endeavour with strenuous zeal, to strive to obtain something.” No great athlete has ever been content with mediocrity. Michael Jordan practiced for five hours a day five days a week during the offseason to be the best he could be. And we ought to be willing to discipline ourselves and sacrifice some things that we desire in order to be the best we can be for the Kingdom of God. That is what the word “temperate” means. According to the Outline of Biblical Usage, the Greek athletes “in preparing themselves for the games practiced temperance by abstaining from unwholesome food and sexual indulgence.” Because they had a goal to reach, a crown to win, they knew they could not live any way they desired. And, as Charles Wesley wrote, “A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify, a never dying soul to save, and fit it for the sky.”
Likewise, we must be temperate if we are to achieve mastery in our spiritual walk. Of course, our temperance is to be directed toward sin and selfish indulgence. There may even be some good things that we abstain from if we think they will take away from the time and effort we can give to the work of Christ. Whatever you do, strive to obtain this incorruptible crown, this imperishable reward. It is a blessing that can never be taken away.
Thomas Spooner wrote:
The combatants of ancient days,
Who wanted each to shine
In honor that’s contemptible,
The crown of fading pine;
Prepared, before the games began,
The vigorous mortal frame,
By temperance and continence,
To get a victor’s name.
How much more should those on earth,
Who called and chosen are,
By every branch of holiness
For life above prepare!
The Christians who in holy ways
Are walking ever found,
After their combat here on earth,
Will be forever crowned.
No paltry, fading crown we seek;
But honor glorious and high
Like that of mighty sovereigns,
But which can never die.
If you are not a believer, all the rewards that you receive on earth will one day perish. But, by serving Christ, you can gain eternal, imperishable, and incorruptible rewards. I invite you to place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Allow me to show you how you can do that right now.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.