Rewarding
Worthiness

Rewarding Personal Righteousness

 

As I mentioned in the first chapter, when Christians stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the only thing being judged is their life in Christ. The life spent living in the flesh before salvation will be discarded. However, if these same sins characterize their lives as believers, evil in their lives has consequences. This is not to say that we all shall not experience a measure of shame for the life that we have wasted in the flesh and suffer a denial of good things in the kingdom. John gave another reason we could be ashamed at the judgment seat of Christ:

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

 1 John 2:28 AV

If we continue to abide in Christ we will have confidence! The portions of life spent living in the Spirit will be acknowledged and commended. The purpose of this judgment is to reward saints for their faithfulness and to supply a righteous government for the Kingdom Age on earth. The Scripture mentions two different kinds of rewards, crowns for living righteous lives and positions in th kingdom reign.[1]  Three crowns are available for overcoming the flesh and two for righteous service.

 

Crowns for Overcoming the Flesh

In the chapter on the soul we described the flesh as fulfilling the love for the world. We diagrammed it thus:

 

Lust of the Flesh--------------I Feel (Good)-----------------------------my Body

Lust of the Eyes---------------I want (money, things, people)-----------Will

Pride of Life--------------------I Am (Someone Important)---------------Mind

 

A crown is given for overcoming each of these temptations of the Soul.

The Incorruptible Crown             

The crown given for overcoming the lust of the flesh is an incorruptible one. Paul compares winning this crown to winning a laurel wreath in the Greek Olympic games.

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.

1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NKJV

Paul compares living the Christian life to preparing for the Olympics. An athlete has his eye on one thing: winning the prize for the best. His whole life focuses on that one thing until he runs the race or fights the fight. After the race he returns to a less rigorous life style. Not so with the Christian race. It runs for the entire lifetime. Moreover, Christians do not compete with one another for the prize. Instead, the Christian runs the race against time. He has an individual racecourse strewn with character building hurdles geared to his particular temperament, strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, just as the athlete must keep his focus on the condition of his body for the race, so must a Christian. Paul specifically mentions the problems with the body.

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.

1 Corinthians 9:26, 27 NKJV

Paul knew the power of the flesh. He knew that to indulge in body lusts could destroy his ministry and deny him the prize. In the next chapter he defined the very fleshly lusts that destroyed Israel in the wilderness. He mentions four things to which the Israelites succumbed: idolatry, fornication, tempting God and murmuring. These same works are mentioned in the list in Galatians 5 as works of the flesh. Paul adds: “of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21b).

Believers who allow fleshly desires to hinder their race will not finish the course, and therefore will not receive the full reward. Paul’s answer to the problem of the lust of the flesh was to keep the body under control. He that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. The flesh likes to feel good. If its desires are not curbed, they lead to excesses that control the body. Appetites of the flesh include food, drink, drugs and sex.

Excesses of these desires become characteristic of the evil last days: They shall be eating and drinking and marrying wives (someone else’s). Food becomes a big hurdle for some Christians. The taste and smell senses of the body need control or they will clamor for satisfaction. The sight sense aids desire when delectable treats are set before them. When one succumbs to the lust of the flesh he adds excess weight to his body slowing his health and hindering his capacity to function.

Overeating makes the body sluggish and induces sleep and an indolent attitude. The flesh does not desire to exercise, as that would remedy the situation and revive the body. One must exercise a strong will to inaugurate it. Paul told Timothy “that bodily exercise profiteth a little.” Although exercise is the remedy for over-eating, even this action can be carried to extreme and given more prominence than prudent. One obsessed with the shape and condition of his body for appearance’s sake can go overboard with exercise or dieting. Unhealthy dieting upsets the body and can destroy health as well.

These extreme measures also excite the pride of life to fulfill the lust of the flesh. The secret of success lies in temperance, not excesses of either kind.

Drink and drugs can become a problem when they get control of the flesh. The body becomes addicted and clamors for satisfaction. Drugs and alcohol work on the nervous system and induce good feelings. Yet both alcohol and some drugs have their purpose in creation. The Bible does not teach abstinence in regard to alcohol, but rather temperance.

Sex becomes a problem when its appetites take over the mind. I recently read of a man and a woman whose lives had been ruined by an addiction to sex. Their minds were never free from thinking about their next sexual encounter. Their abnormality cost them their own families and friendships, because the mouth speaks of what is in the heart. Such perversions are demon-inspired bondages.

Child molestation, homosexuality, and lesbianism also fall into this category. According to an interview, some homosexuals have sex eight or nine times a day. This is a terrible bondage to the lust of the flesh. Such excesses lead to heinous crimes against others, particularly children.

God ordained sex as a means of procreation. It is meant to be a joyous union between two individuals committed to each other for life, not an excuse to feed bodily appetites with anybody at anytime in any way. Overcoming the flesh for a lifetime earns a crown of incorruption. Paul was afraid that after having preached to others he might nullify his preaching by giving in to the flesh, therefore he kept his body under strict control. Others we could all name have forfeited this crown by giving in to the appetites of the flesh in sex and ruined their ministries. Temperance and goodness derived by purity are the fruits that earn this crown.

The Crown of Life

The crown of life is awarded to those who overcome two temptations: giving in to the lust of the eyes and clinging to life in this world when confronted with the choice of death or denying Christ.

Jesus said to those faced with martyrdom, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation. 2:10 NKJV).

Both these temptations are aimed at seeking temporal desires rather than eternal rewards. Therefore, they test faith. First, let us look at the lust of the eyes.

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. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

James 1:12-17 NKJV

Temptation begins with lust. We are drawn away by desires for temporal things. Demons are always on hand to entice us to go after the object of our desires. We want things that promote our comfort, such as houses, furnishings, cars—especially the expensive or prestigious. Or we want playthings that amuse us and pass our time. We also want attractive and expensive clothing to adorn our persons and lift up our ego.

Yes, and we even want people. Barren women who want children can be so sick with want, that they steal someone else’s baby. Lonely or seductive people want other people’s spouses. Companies steal away employees from other companies. In the world, people constantly pursue their wants. Excessive wants excite the eyes to the point of covetousness.

The New Testament describes covetousness as a form of idolatry. No wonder, since the object desired becomes the focus of the life instead of God. If we would do as the Scripture says, to let God be the giver of gifts, trusting him who always sees the situation, we would receive all the good things of life. The peace that comes from trusting God’s wisdom in his gifts is called contentment. My friend Harry Robinson’s definition of happiness is—“liking what you already have.” God has promised to give us the desires of our heart if we delight in Him. When we delight in Him, we only desire the good things.

I have experienced this fulfillment many times in my life. It appears I have only to express a desire for something, and the next thing I know it just seems to come to me. I don’t have to dwell on the desire. Countless things in my possession just suddenly showed up in various circumstances: most were bargains, some were gifts. A prime example is my computer (not one of the bargains). Several years ago I wanted a computer to make my writing easier. My husband spent about $1500 on a popular set that suited my needs at the time. But as my needs expanded beyond the capabilities of that set, I became frustrated.

As computers grew more powerful, so did the peripheral machines such as laser printers, scanners, modems, and CD players. My computer would not support the new attachments. The value of my machine was now worthless, so it could not be traded in on a new one. Since my husband was not into computers at all, I knew there was no way I could persuade him to put out more money for another system. So I determined to do what I could with the old one and be content.

To my surprise, two of my sons, who were computer buffs themselves, talked him into getting me a set beyond all my desires (and with capabilities I will never need to exceed or so I thought at the time). God moved on his heart, and through my husband’s love for me, God’s love was expressed and His word fulfilled concerning the desires of my heart.

We often say, “If I only had _______, I would be happy.” But that is not true. No sooner than we are in possession of that one thing, our eyes are on something else. Ask this question to anyone you meet no matter how wealthy. “Do you know how much money it will take to make you happy?” You will receive the same reply. “Just a little bit more.” The victory over this first part of the temptation lies in being content with the gifts God gives and trusting Him to meet your needs in this temporal sphere.

As I said earlier, the second area of temptation comes as a result of persecution.

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.

Revelation 2:10 NKJV

If the devil cannot distract you with enticement to things to keep you from being faithful, then he may try to destroy your faith by persecution. After having taken away all of Job’s possessions, the devil then attacked his life. Even so Job refused to deny God.

Many a Christian has been faced with the choice of remaining alive in this temporal world or dying a martyr’s death.

During the Roman persecution Christians were given this choice: renounce Christ or die. It shows a lack of faith to cling to physical life when He promises eternal spiritual life. Again, Jim Elliot’s famous quote says it all: “A man is no fool to give up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jesus exhorted the people whom to fear:

“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”

Luke 12:4, 5 NKJV

Of course, Jesus was talking about God, the judge. We shall all die eventually. How much better it is to trust our life to God. Jesus said being faithful unto death earns the Crown of Life. It makes no difference if the life is cut short by martyrdom or lived long and full of temptation; remaining faithful is what matters. The temptations of life are merely distractions from obedience. Getting our eyes off Jesus and on temporal things or this temporal life will cost us the Crown of Life.

The Crown of Righteousness

We earn the crown of righteousness for consistent righteous living: staying on course and finishing the race. The alternative would be to leave the track to pursue personal ambitions that promote the ego. This crown is reserved for those believers who do not allow anything in life to become more important than finishing the course set before them by God. Listen to Paul:

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 have loved His appearing.

Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments.

2 Timothy 4:6-12 NKJV

At the end of Paul’s life he had every earthly reason to throw in the towel and call it quits. He was locked up in prison under the mad emperor, Nero. All his workers were gone from him except Luke. Demos, one of his own close workers, had forsaken him for the world. He was facing the approach of winter in a damp prison, without his cloak. What could be more discouraging?

Not only was he in need of bodily comfort, but also his Scripture (if he had originally had it) had been taken from him so that he was without its strengthening power. We know this because he asked Timothy to bring the books (scrolls, probably Old Testament books) and parchments (perhaps some of his own inspired letters) when he came to him. Added were, the bad memories he had of his last stay in Ephesus where Alexander the coppersmith did him much evil, and many of the faithful Christians stood with Alexander against Paul. Paul prayed that it might not be held against them but warned Timothy to watch out for the evil Alexander.

Is he discouraged? No, instead he says: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever” Amen (2 Timothy 4:18). He humbly depended upon the Lord until the end. Finishers like Paul have to lay aside all ambition and self-seeking because this crown rewards those who prevail over the Pride of Life. The letter to Timothy shows examples of winners and losers of this crown.

 . . . for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.

Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.

2 Timothy 4:10-12 NKJV

Looking again at the way Paul grouped his companions in this letter, we can’t help but wonder if both Crescens and Titus departed on their own without Paul’s blessing, since they are linked with Demos who forsook him. Luke seems to be the dividing line between the two groups. Luke remained faithful, as has Mark who is profitable to the ministry, perhaps implying that the others are not. Then contrast the fact that Tychicus was sent by Paul while the others simply went. Demos and Crescens probably returned home. The Scriptures do not mention where they are from. Titus, however, went on to a new mission field and is credited by history to have been the first to evangelize Dalmatia.

The question is, did God send Titus or did he take it upon himself to go? All other missionary efforts were carried out by a cooperative effort of Paul and his companions under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Did Titus get carried away with his experience and position in the Church and go off seeking the glory of a new campaign? We may never know the answer, but if he did, the “finisher’s” crown may be denied him, because in order to finish the course, you have to stay on it. You cannot legitimately finish the race if you jump the track. Another example of someone losing the Crown of Righteousness may be Diotrephes, mentioned in John’s third epistle.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.

3 John 9-11AV

This brother was evidently an elder in the church, because he was using his authority to control others. Can you imagine what audacity it would take to refuse the authority of the Apostle John? One who had been intimately associated with the Lord when he walked upon the earth? Diotrephes loved to feel important. John tells the rest not to follow him, because he that does evil has not seen God. In other words, he goes his own way off the track. Elders are supposed to be examples to others. He was not. He failed to conquer the pride of life.

In conclusion, the three crowns earned for righteous living are for conquering the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Those believers who earn the Crown of Righteousness will earn all three, because you can’t finish the course without doing so.

Adam and Eve faced this same test in the Garden of Eden. Eve saw that the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was good for food (the lust of the flesh), was pleasant to the eyes (the lust of the eyes), was desired to make one wise (the pride of life). She and Adam both ate it. They failed the test, and sin infected the human race.

Jesus was offered the same test from the Devil. He hungered, so Satan said, “Turn the stones to bread” (lust of the flesh). He showed Jesus the kingdoms of the world and offered them to Him if he would worship Satan (the lust of the eyes). Then he took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and said throw yourself down and remain unhurt. God will protect you. Be a spectacle in the eyes of the people (the pride of life). Jesus did not succumb but passed the test.

Now it is our turn. Will we overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life? Will we at least strive to earn the Incorruptible Crown, the Crown of Life and the Crown of Righteousness?

 

Crowns for Service

The crowns for service are divided into two categories, with one crown in each. The Crown of Rejoicing rewards those who have had influence in inspiring others to spiritual life and holiness, which involves the faithful use of our motivational gifts, in the sphere in which God places us. The other rewards the Crown of Glory for faithfully shepherding over a local church.

 

The Crown of Rejoicing

The crown of rejoicing proceeds from a witness. It’s a fact that all the truth that we know comes from someone’s witness. History consists of happenings recorded by eye-witnesses and by what evidence as is left by former generations and can be researched by scholars. We receive both eye witness reports and scholarly truth through testimony of others. Similarly, we do not search out and discover scientific truth for ourselves either, but rely on scientists to experiment and confirm their findings and report them to us. Education itself consists of testimony of people from various fields of endeavor. We accept their findings and hold them to be true by faith in their expertise.

The truths of God are no different. The patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament laid the foundation of our understanding of God. The Judeo-Christian faith was built upon it. Then Jesus came to earth to finish our understanding by fulfilling the Old Testament’s promises. He was his own witness by his life. The Father also bore witness with his voice from heaven. The Holy Spirit confirmed it by acts of power in miracles.

The apostles witnessed his resurrection and gave testimony through the writings of the New Testament. They preached to the world, and the Holy Spirit confirmed their witness with signs and miracles. By their testimony, Christianity spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire. Each believer had the “good news” of the truth told them by a witness. Since then the whole business of the Church has been to witness to the truth of God’s plan for the earth and each person’s opportunity to participate in it. The Holy Spirit’s confirmation to each believer’s own spirit makes him know his salvation has been acquired. He knows that he knows because God talks to him. Because of his “knowing for sure” he becomes a passionate witness to others. Through the centuries, the Holy Spirit imparted more and more understanding to the Church by specially called individuals. These were gifts to the Church known as the five-fold ministry: apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors and teachers. By these gifts testimony lost by one generation is often restored to another. Thus, the precious truths of God proceed from generation to generation by a witness. The effectiveness of each individual’s witness is rewarded by seeing those in heaven whose lives they helped to change. This is the crown of rejoicing. Paul said to the Thessalonians:

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.

1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20 AV

To personally see the lives you have brought into the kingdom or helped grow, crowns your spiritual life. Just as you have satisfaction in the world for work accomplished, so do you have satisfaction in heaven for accomplishing work for God. Paul says that the joy is mutual between worker and receiver.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2:12-18 NKJV (Emphasis  mine)

The Philippians were joyful and full of gratitude for the apostle’s teaching and encouragement. The apostle was rejoicing in the Philippians’ obedience and progress in Christian growth. He was more than willing to sacrifice his life for their improvement. He counted it a joy. But most of all, he rejoiced in the satisfaction that his work accomplished something for God.

Jesus exhorted His disciples as he sent them on a missionary journey:

“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 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. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

Matthew 10:40-42 NKJV

If the disciples’ testimony concerning the kingdom of God being at hand (vs.7) was received, then the hearers would believe the claims of Christ and the truth of God His Father when He addressed them at His appearance on the scene. Thus, the disciples would prepare a people to follow Jesus and witness His death and resurrection. These people would have their faith confirmed and would be the basis of the foundation of the Church on the day of Pentecost. All was built by witnessing to the truth of God and having the witness received by the people.

Then Jesus explains that the same reward comes to the prophet and he who receives him as a prophet. Why? It is the prophet’s responsibility to understand the truth from the Spirit of God and proclaim it in a clear manner. It is the hearer’s responsibility to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit in it. Both receive from the Spirit alike.

The same could be said of any of the five-fold ministry callings. The proof of their ministry results in believers being won or edified. The apostle (missionary) rejoices that he has won converts to Christ in a foreign country. The evangelist rejoices to see people saved, healed, and delivered in his home country. The pastor rejoices to see his sheep grow to maturity. The teacher rejoices when those he teaches receive the truth and change their lives accordingly. All rejoice to see the people under their influence grow to the point of influencing others.

In the case of receiving a righteous man, it is a question of integrity. If a man is known to tell the truth and deal fairly in all matters of his life, then his witness for God is likely to be received. He does not have to be especially called to the five-fold ministry to witness to others. He influences them by his words and by his life. He who receives his witness will receive at the very least a conviction of his sins, even if he does not repent. Or he may pursue salvation then both can rejoice in heaven and be each other’s crown.

In the case of the disciple i.e. a learner, perhaps a new believer giving a cup of cold water, Jesus says even he will not lose his reward. Why? Because he serves another in the name of Christ and this, too, is a witness and produces joy in the servant and his Lord.

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus describes the rewarding of faithful servants.

To the servant that had the greatest ability He gave the most negotiating power (money). To the next man He gave a lesser amount. Both of these servants gained the same, 100%. Although their abilities were not equal, their work was the same. But the third man was lazy and self-indulgent. He wasted his time, and at the same time accused the Lord of evil (blaspheming). The two successful servants received the crown of rejoicing. Listen to the Lord’s words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Just as Paul could call the Thessalonians his crown of rejoicing, so the Lord rejoices to see us accomplish His works. It makes Him glad. His praise in turn makes us glad. Thus, the crown of rejoicing is a shared crown of joy: the minister, those ministered to and the Lord.

 

The Crown of Glory

The crown of glory is reserved for elders/pastors who tend the local flock of God’s people. Those who attain this office already have a righteous living standard because of the rigorous requirements for this office. Two of Paul’s letters state these requirements. They are found in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

They are combined into the following list:

1. His life must be above reproach.

2. He must have only one wife.

3. He must be vigilant—alertly discreet—living in an awareness of the circumstances surrounding life.

4. He must be sober (that is, sound in mind and moderate in opinion and passion, having good behavior, not overbearing or quick-tempered.)

5. He must be hospitable.

6. He must be able to teach.

7. He must be temperate in regard to wine.

8. He must not be given to physical violence (no striker with fists).

9. He must not be greedy for money.

10. He must not be covetous or envious of other’s gain.

11. He must manage his own house well (so that he can manage the Church); therefore, his children must be believers and not have a reputation for being wild and rebellious.

12. He must be a seasoned believer, not a novice, lest he be proud of his position.

13. He must have a good reputation in the world.

 We can see from these requirements that one must already be a very righteous man before taking on the added responsibility of overseeing the lives of other Christians. Therefore, it is fitting that a special reward be given for this job.

Unlike the other ministries of prophet, evangelist, or even an apostle, the pastor is charged with taking care of the everyday lives of the church members. The other ministers may come for a season and then end. But the pastor/shepherd deals with his sheep daily. This is often a thankless job as his charges, like sheep, can be unruly and rebellious.

The job of a shepherd is actually threefold. He is an elder in the faith, having attained maturity and wisdom and therefore able to lead others. He is an overseer, a bishop, able to discern problems and correct them; bind their wounds and heal them; and detect any impending dangers. As their shepherd, he feeds them with teaching and nurtures them to maturity.

Peter describes the reward for this work in 1 Peter 5:1-4: NKJV

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion 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.

Peter declares himself to be an elder, probably because he was currently pastoring a church in Babylon.[2] Then he makes reference to his apostleship when he says he witnessed Christ’s sufferings. And finally he mentions that he partook of the glory, which is future, when he saw Jesus transfigured. These are his credentials for saying what he does about the rewards to follow good pastoring. First, he mentions the three facets of the Pastor’s work.

1. Feed the flock, which is teaching them the truths of God.

2. Oversee them (often a time-consuming vocation) sometimes without pay. Warn them of dangers in the world or in their lives personally.

3. Be a leader who is an example, not a tyrant demanding obedience, but patient with the unruly, using gentleness to persuade to righteousness, always holding up the goal of Christ for their lives.

Then he mentions the reward for such faithful service: a crown of glory.

But those truly worthy of this crown of glory should also have already qualified for all the other crowns. No wonder Paul says he that desires the office of an elder (who is also a pastor) desires a good office, because a pastor must have already been willing to add all the other qualities to his faith that Peter had exhorted all believers to add ( 2 Peter 2-11 NKV).

Peter was an eyewitness to the Lord’s glory at the trans-figuration. Here again he could speak with authority. This unforgettable experience made a great impression on Peter, because he mentions it again in his second letter. After exhorting believers to make their calling and election sure by adding righteous living to their faith, he said, “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Clearly he speaks of receiving rewards. Jesus delights to reward his people. The crowns are the “well dones,” thou good and faithful servants.

The ultimate purpose of God in this world is to dwell with man, and later to train him to rule in His ever expanding (Isaiah 9:7) universe in eternity. That is where He started, with Adam and Eve before sin entered the world. But now the only way a holy God can live with mankind is to save them, then change them into His own likeness so that they can become compatible companions. Then He will have many sons like His Son, Jesus. Revelation 21:3 declares His purpose:

“Behold the tabernacle [dwelling] of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”

Jesus came to fulfill the will of the Father. He did his part. He left us the instructions for our part. Now it is up to us as individuals to submit to God’s rule through His Righteousness Laws. Does this standard seem too high? Perhaps, but if we aim at nothing we will hit it every time. The Holy Spirit has come to help us. Let us strive to please him by obedience, showing Blatant Christianity to this world!

 



[1] Positions in the kingdom rewarding the over comers can be found in the letters to the Churches in Revelation 2 and 3, are not shown here.

[2] Some teachers believe Babylon refers to the city of Rome.