Crowns in Heaven – Reward for the Faithful
The Bible speaks of the rewards of faithful Christians as their crowns, as may be seen in the following passages: 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 Corinthians 9:25). 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? (I Thessalonians 2:19)
Five crowns mentioned in Scripture:
The Incorruptible Crown
Faithfulness in self-control
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 1, 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 (I Corinthians 9:25-27).
The Crown of Rejoicing
Faithfulness in Service
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 (I Thessalonians 2:19).
. . . my joy and crown . . . (Philippians 4:1).
The only reward that approaches success.
The Crown of Righteousness
Faithfulness in Testimony
I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (II Timothy 4:7,8).
Not fruit, but faithfulness.
The Crown of Glory
Faithfulness in Tending Those Entrusted to you
Feed the flock of God which is among you . . . Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away (I Peter 5:2-4).
Glory is an attribute of God.
The Crown of Life
Faithfulness in Temptation
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him (James 1: 12).
The believer’s crowns will be given at Christ’s judgement seat (Bema). For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (II Corinthians 5:10).
The Bema Judgement
The purpose of the Bema judgement is not to determine whether a particular individual enters Heaven or not, for every man’s eternal destiny is already determined before he leaves this life. In addition, the purpose of the Bema judgement is not to punish believers for sins committed either before or after their salvation. The Scriptures are very clear that no child of God will have to answer for his sins after this life (see Psalm 103:10-12; Isaiah 38:17; Isaiah 44:22; Micah 7:19; Hebrews 8:12; 1 John 1:7).
The purpose of the Bema judgement is to determine whether or not a believer has been a faithful steward. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful (I Corinthians 4:2). With the subject of stewardship in mind, all stewards (believers) will stand before their Lord and Master and be required to give an account of the way they have used their privileges and responsibilities (talents and abilities) from the moment of their conversion (THE KING IS COMING, H. L. Willmington, pp. 23-25).
The apostle Paul explains in his first epistle to the Corinthian church (I Corinthians 3:10-15) the glorious fact that at the moment of salvation a repenting sinner is firmly placed on the foundation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Himself! Paul gives clear warning when he says:
“. . . But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
From this passage in I Corinthians, it is apparent that God classifies the works of believers into one of the following six areas:
- Precious stones
There’s been much speculation about the kinds of work down here that will constitute gold and silver rewards up there.
But is seems more appropriate to note that the six objects can be readily placed into two categories:
Those indestructible and worthy objects which will survive and thrive in the judgement fires. These are the gold, silver, and precious stones.
Those destructible and worthless objects which will be totally consumed in the judgement fires. These are the wood, hay, and stubble (THE KING IS COMING, H. L. Willmington, pp. 26, 27).
A great deal of what is called Christian work may be only the energy of the flesh. The objects listed in I Corinthians 3 speak of the quality/motive of one’s service for Christ in this life. Those things not done for the glory of God will be burned up and thus not subject to rewards. Only that which is done for Christ will be rewarded at the judgement seat of Christ. God will test everything in the light of His own truth — “the consuming fire.”
If a man’s works remain undamaged by the judgement fire, he receives rewards (wages). Rewards are spoken of as crowns given in direct relationship to the quality/motive of our service unto Christ. Rewards are not salvation, but are those things which may be earned. If a man’s works are consumed in fire, he shall “suffer loss” but he himself shall be saved. It is important to notice that the man will not suffer loss of salvation, but the loss of rewards. The stress of the passage in I Corinthians 3:15 is upon service, not salvation (RYRIE STUDY BIBLE, p. 1730).