The idea of working and striving to achieve rewards is an integral part of the gospel. The Lord lets us know several times in scripture that once we receive the free gift of salvation by God’s unmerited, unearned favor toward us, he is expecting a proper return on his investment from us.
And the encouraging thing is that we can accomplish great works that result from our salvation because his Holy Spirit is partnering with us as we work. He also has other believers working with us on those endeavors. It’s a team effort that ultimately rewards us as individuals. Among the individual rewards we will receive for our efforts are a collection of crowns. How many of these crowns we receive will be up to us. Those crowns include the following:
The crown incorruptible
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 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. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:27 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. 1 Corinthians 9
This crown is received when we run the Christian race with integrity and self-control that backs up our sharing the gospel with others. When our works are done with genuine faith and godly love, they last forever, just like this crown. The crown incorruptible is not only a single crown, but it is a class of crowns which include the other crowns below.
Crown of rejoicing
19 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? 20 For ye are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2
When we do the works mentioned above for the crown incorruptible and the people we witness to become true believers that endure to the end, then we will one day rejoice over them when we see them in the presence of the Lord. Not only are they the personification and means by which we can have hope, joy, and a crown of rejoicing, but our hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing are what we possess independently of them through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Crown of righteousness
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a 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. 2 Timothy 4
The Lord Jesus made us new not only so we could be lovers, but fighters as well. Our good fight is against our fleshly nature, the world, and against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. When we stay the course to the end to finish the works God calls us to do and when we look forward to him appearing, we will receive this crown.
Crown of life
12 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
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Revelation 2:10
When we stay faithful to the Lord through earthly trials, even to the point of forfeiting our lives for his sake, we receive this crown.
Crown of glory
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 1 Peter 5
1 Peter 5 talks about those who lead God’s flock as faithful pastors or bishops or elders. This crown will be their reward. We also have Christ’s word in Matthew 10:41 that those who receive such believers and welcome them will receive the same rewards they will receive, including this crown.
Crown of victory or crown of the elders
4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. Revelation 4
A group of 24 elders from God’s redeemed will be selected to fill these seats and while they do, they will be given golden crowns. They represent those who are washed in the blood from every kindred, tongue, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9). Only God knows who they will be. I find it interesting that John, who recognized Elijah and Moses at the mount of transfiguration and knew the other 11 disciples, doesn’t recognize these elders.
I’m excited about one day receiving my collection of crowns so help me, Lord, stay focused on your will.
Harry A. Gaylord