Spiritual Rewards and Works:
The Bible shows that our rewards are closely related to our good works. For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works – Matthew 16:27.
Here, we can see that rewards are the result of our work. Because of this, we can conclude our reward is NOT salvation, for we can never earn salvation. For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast – Ephesians 2:8,9. Since salvation is a gift of God obtained through faith, our reward must be something other than salvation. We know God’s plan was for every Christian to give himself to good works.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them, Ephesians 2:10. We also know our good works are to be maintained carefully, and they will result in profit for us. That is a faithful saying, and I want you to constantly affirm that those who believe in God should be careful to maintain good works.
These things are excellent and profitable to men. Titus 3:8. If our works cannot save us and our reward is not salvation, to what end are our good works profitable? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to His works. – Matthew 16:27. We see that rewards result from our works. Because of this, we can conclude our reward is NOT salvation, for we can never earn salvation. For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. – Ephesians 2:8,9.
The Five Crowns Reward:
The Bible mentions five different crowns or rewards which a child of God may win as he passes through this life. As we study these, we will mainly take note of three things: How the crowns are won! The area of life they refer to and God’s commands for each of these areas.
- Crown of Life
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him – James 1:12.
The crown of life is a reward promised to those who genuinely love the Lord. Loving God and demonstrating that love by enduring trials and temptations win it. These are opposite sides of the same coin. Our love for God gives us the strength to endure our testing, trials, and temptations rather than become bitter, critical, or disillusioned. This crown deals with our discipleship. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of Jesus’ endurance under the supreme test and urges us not to lose heart in our struggles. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls – Hebrews 12:2,3. Endurance wins the Crown of Life.
2. Crown Incorruptible
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.
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I should become disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:25,27.
This crown also deals with personal discipleship and is won for self-denial, something this existential age knows nothing about. The challenge of Jesus: Then He said to them all, “It anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23. Though “self-denial” may be a dirty word for the existentialist, it is at the heart of personal discipleship for every follower of Jesus Christ. If we have disciplined our lives and have denied ourselves the pleasures of sin in this life, the crown incorruptible will be ours.
3. Crown of Joy
For what is our hope, joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 1 Thessalonians 2:19.
Here, Paul says that the Thessalonian Christian, whom he had led to Christ, would be his crown of joy on the last day in Christ’s presence. This crown is given to those who have obeyed what the Scriptures teach about evangelism.
And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of Men.” Matthew 4:19
If you are not a fisher of men, I don’t know whom you are following, but I would wonder if it is Jesus. He said, “I will make you fishers of men.” Evangelism may not be your primary gift, but at least you will know how to fish for men. If Jesus taught you to fish, you would not come home empty-handed. Men and women will be brought into the Kingdom because of the testimony, not only of your life but your lips as well. If you have been faithful to proclaim Christ to others during this life, this crown will belong to you on that last day.
4. Crown of Glory
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords 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 does not fade away. 1 Peter 5:2-4.
This crown is given as a reward to those who nurture the flock of God. It is not a unique crown reserved for the clergy, but one every Christian can win. It has to do with caring for the children of God, helping them to grow in Christ so they can serve in the building of God’s Kingdom—in other words, disciple-making.
Jesus said: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. – Matthew 28:19 (NASV).
Jesus’ last command is to be our first. We are charged with the responsibility of disciplining the nations. Jesus not only commands us to BE disciples but to MAKE disciples.
5. Crown of Righteousness
Finally, the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but to all who have loved His appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:8.
Those who live in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ win this crown. Many Christians have hopes, dreams, and aspirations that do not concern God or His Kingdom. For such people, Christ’s return would “ruin everything.” Jesus said: Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.
Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat and will come and serve them.” – Luke 12:37.
Jesus desired that we live life watching and waiting for His return, exchanging our lives for the building of His Kingdom. If we do, we will receive the crown of righteousness. Are you living for His coming?
Crown How Obtained Area of Life
Life Enduring Trials & Temptations Discipleship
Incorruptible Self-denial Discipleship
Joy Soul-Winning Evangelism
Glory Under Shepherd. Disciple-making
Righteousness Looking for the Second Coming of Christ Second Coming of Christ
The Crown of Life and Crown Incorruptible are vertical. These two crowns comprise the Vertical Spokes that deal with our personal discipleship and walk with God. They relate to the Great Commandment and demonstrate in a very tangible fashion our love for God (Matthew 22:27-38 – the First Commandment) and our willingness to make disciples.
The following two crowns (Joy & Glory) are horizontal. The Crown of Joy and the Crown of Glory relate to the Great Commission and engage us in what God has commanded us to do. We are to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19) and makers of disciples (Matthew 28:19).
The last crown (Righteousness) is related to the hub of our existence, which makes Jesus the Great Commander of our lives. All five crowns demonstrate the reality of obeying God’s Word.