Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: The Five Crown Rewards for Grace-living (the Christ-life)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Five Crown Rewards for Grace-living (the Christ-life)

(Link to PDF of Chart)

Perhaps one of the greatest misnomers of Christianity is that Christians will receive rewards in the Kingdom Age for merely being good little boys and girls (because they do not live in sin). The fact is, Christians will receive rewards for fruit produced (souls won and disciples made) to the glory of God because they yielded their bodies to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, Who then creates the Christ-life in their lives. This is what the Apostle Paul referred to in Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:11-13, and 12:1-2.

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break {luo loo'-o; literally loosen; the idea is to teach a more relaxed, broader, more liberal interpretation} one of these least {in size or importance; i.e.; seemingly insignificant} commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case {double negative in Greek text; not at all or not by any means} enter into the kingdom of heaven {this is not referring to the final eternal state of existence, but is referring to the Kingdom Age because God-kind righteousness is required; i.e., justification “by grace through faith”}” (Matthew 5:17-20).

Notice, in Matthew 5:19-20, that there are three divisions of people divided according to their proper understanding and application of the union of Law and Grace; “19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

1. Those who will be “least” in the Kingdom Age (vs. 19a, the unfaithful; i.e., the spiritual legalist and liberal)

2. Those who will be “great” in the Kingdom Age (vs. 19b, the faithful believer who lives in the supernatural enabling of the Spirit and produces “fruit” to God’s glory)

3. Those who will not even “enter into the” the Kingdom Age (vs. 20, the lost)

The “kingdom of heaven” is the Kingdom Age, not the final eternal state of existence. The final eternal state of existence is called the Kingdom of God in the Word of God. There is a difference between these two kingdoms. The “kingdom of heaven,” or the Kingdom Age with still be part of the first and fallen creation, but dominion will be restored to mankind through the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rewards will determine the positions that glorified Church Age believers will hold for these 1,000 years of Christ’s rule on Earth. The parable of the “talents” in Matthew 25:14-30 explains that these positions will be determined solely on the basis of the fruit (or gain) that the yielding of our lives to Christ produces and the indwelling Spirit of God creates the Christ-life through us. Christ precedes His teaching on the parable of the “talents” with His parable of the Ten Virgins (five “wise” and five “foolish”) in Matthew 25:1-13. Which group of “five” do you believe REALLY believed that the Bridegroom was coming for them?

Secondly, The “kingdom of heaven” will last one millennium, or 1,000 years. It has events defining its beginning and events defining its ending. Part of the events defining its beginning is the Judgment (Bema) Seat of Christ where Christ will evaluate the ministry/service of believers during the Church Age. The faithful will be given “crowns” for various areas of faithful service that will also translate into varying degrees of responsibility of positions in the Kingdom Age as they rule and reign with Christ as His kings and priests. Matthew 5:19-20 is addressing these faithful individuals from the Church Age, their positions, and how the degrees of power or greatness of those positions will be determined.

The Word of God speaks of five different “crowns” given to faithful believers as rewards. All five crowns are determined by how faithfully a believer lives the Grace-life (Christ-life) in the enabling power of the indwelling Christ.

1. The Crown of Life

“Blessed is the man that endureth {faithfully continues under} temptation {the trying or testing of the reality of faith; James 1:2}: for when he is tried {dokimos ginomai, i.e., proven to be a regenerated person by his faithfulness to his love for the Lord} he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).

“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).

The “crown of life” is NOT salvation. Salvation is not a reward for faithful service to Christ. Salvation is the salvation of our souls “by grace through faith.” The “crown of life” is the crown for living the Christ-life. The “crown of life” is Christ’s reward to the believer for being “salt” and “light” by living the Christ-life “by grace through faith” by yielding his/her body to the indwelling Holy Spirit. Therefore the “crown of life” is the Crown of the Christ-life habitually lived through the life of the yielded believer as described in Galatians 2:20. The “crown of life” is Christ’s reward to the faithful believer for the salvation of our lives (not our souls) by yielding our ambitions, abilities, and resources to the cause of Christ in evangelizing the world and in bringing glory to God.

19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20).

The “crown life” (the Christ-life) is given as a reward to the believer who truly lives out the testimony of his/her water baptism in the death to self and the commitment to live life in the resurrection power of the indwelling Christ.

Failure to keep the promise of daily dying to Self and being filled with the Spirit (putting on the Christ-life) that was made in water baptism will result in the loss of this reward and the position of ruling “over cities” that comes with the reward (Luke 19:11-17). Those who are not faithful in living the grace-life/Christ-life during the Church Age will hold a position of the castaway in shame during the Kingdom Age. The degree of rewards (greatness in positions of rule) during the Kingdom Age for glorified Church Age saints will be determined solely because of the spiritual fruit produced by the Holy Spirit through our lives habitually yielded to Him.

2. The Incorruptible Crown

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” (I Corinthians 9:24-27).

The crowns awarded at the Greek Olympic Games were laurel wreaths. They would quickly wilt, turn brown, and crumble into dust. They were intended to be very temporal because they represented who was the champion in that particular event at that particular moment. On any other day, another of the competitors may win that crown. However, the “incorruptible crown” is an eternal crown because it is not given for one race. The “incorruptible crown” is given to a Christian based upon Christ’s evaluation of a believer’s whole life. The key to this reward are the words “temperate in all things” (I Cor. 9:25).

The word “temperate” is from the Greek word egkrateuomai (eng-krat-yoo'-om-ahee) and refers to the self-control of human appetites, carnal lusts, and/or worldly desires or ambitions. There are six things that God “hates.” Either the seventh, or having all seven, is an “abomination” (disgusting or abhorrent) to Him.

16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Sin is like a spider web. Seldom is there but one strand. One sin connects to another that connects to another that connects to another. For instance, in David’s sin with Bathsheba, we see all seven of these abominations referred to in Proverbs 6:16-19. Pride led to lying that led to cover-up that created a situation of urgency that plotted to do evil that led to murder that brought God’s chastisement upon David, his family, and ultimately upon the nation of Israel. By David’s sin, he gave his children permission to do the same and the seed of spiritual discord was sown.

God does not leave us guessing about what constitutes intemperance or the failure in the self-control of the “flesh.” In Galatians chapter five, God tells us exactly how intemperance will manifest itself through a person’s life.

13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do {present, active, participle; i.e. are doing as the regular practice of their life} such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:13-21).

The “kingdom of God” is the final eternal state of existence provided only to those “born again” into God’s family “by grace through faith.” All true believers receive this inheritance. Therefore, the issue of unrepentant, habitual living in the “flesh” is also a manifestation of still being lost even though there may be a profession of faith in Christ.

The third Crown reward for living the Christ-life builds upon the previous two. We cannot earn the third Crown reward apart from having earned the first two in that producing a true disciple of Jesus Christ must be done in the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. Discipleship is a supernatural work involving progressive transfiguration (Rom 12:2).

3. The Crown of Joy or Rejoicing (the Disciple Maker’s Crown)

17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. 18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 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” (I Thessalonians 2:17-20).

This “crown” is often referred to as the Soul Winner’s Crown. However, I like to refer to it as the Disciple Maker’s Crown because there are three phases in the evangelization of a soul. These three phases (or steps, because they must follow in order or succession to one another) of evangelism are detailed in the Great Commission given by Christ to His Church (all “born again” believers).

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:16-20).

1. The first phase of evangelism is preaching the gospel and leading a soul to a faith decision to be “born again.”

2. The second phase of evangelism is leading a “born again” believer to become a disciple of Jesus in daily dying to the “old man” and yielding himself to the indwelling Holy Spirit. The beginning of this second phase of evangelism is leading a person to be water baptized, which is a physical/outward portrayal of this spiritual/inward commitment. Water baptism is intricately connected to formal local membership and accountability to other members of the local body in living the Christ-life. There is no such thing in Scripture as a Lone Ranger Christian outside of formal membership to a local body of believers. Scripturally, such a person would be considered an anomaly and to be living contrary to the commands of God.

3. The third phase is teaching the “born again” believer, now committed to live the Christ-life, the Word of God and how to become a “doer of the Word” and not just a “hearer only.” The emphasis in the words “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” in Matthew 28:20 is upon the word “observe.” The idea of the word “observe” is to preserve or guard. The natural tendency is to lower or lessen God’s expectations. The believer is to live in such a way as to never let this happen. The high expectations of righteousness (and therefore righteous living) must be carefully guarded and passed on from one generation of Christians to the next with exacting specificity. This involves teaching the specificity of Bible doctrine and living the specificity of what we know.

This three-fold mission is what defines the ministry/purpose of the Christ-life and is what should define the life of the believer who hopes for the “crown of rejoicing.” Christ died for this purpose. This Crown of Rejoicing is the reward of rejoicing for the souls won to Christ and made disciples through YOUR “work of the ministry.” In His resurrection and ascension to the Father, Jesus sowed the Seed of the Holy Spirit of God into the bodies of every “born again” believer with the hope they each would begin to live His purpose; i.e., God-kind righteousness being miraculously produced through the lives of “born again” sinners. This same purpose must become the Disciple Maker’s sole purpose for living. When this spiritual “fruit of the Spirit” is produced inwardly in the believer, it will produce the fruit of souls won to Christ and disciples made of Christ to the glory of God. This Crown is the actual believers who are saved and discipled through your ministry.

“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved” (Philippians 4:1).

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” (I Thessalonians 2:19-20).

4. The Crown of Righteousness (the Crown for Keeping “the Faith”)

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept {to guard against loss by teaching and living} the faith {the jot and tittles of the Word of God}: 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” (II Timothy 4:1-8).

The local church (made up of individual believers saved by “grace through faith,” discipled, and “perfect[ed] for the work of the ministry”) is the “pillar and ground of the Truth.” Every local church and every individual believer will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ according to two criteria regarding how we kept “the faith.”

1. The effort we put into learning the Word of God and the effort we made to teach the Word of God to others.

2. The effort we made to translate the Word of God into the language of living (“be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only”).

The Crown of Righteousness is for learning, living, and teaching the Word of God to others so that they might do the same (creating a continuum of “the faith”). Living the Word of God cannot be separated from teaching the doctrine of Grace, because no one can live the Word of God (be righteous) apart from the supernatural inner workings of the indwelling Spirit of God.

1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh” (Galatians 3:1-6)?

The Crown of Righteousness is the reward for yielding to the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who then produces God-kind righteousness through our lives. Apart from this work of Grace, the believer can never be anything but a sinner. The Spirit of God is the inner source of “living water” (God-kind righteousness).

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:17-21).

II Corinthians 5:21 refers to practical God-kind righteousness supernaturally produced by the Spirit of God through the regenerated believer. Christ having been “made . . . sin for us” opens the spiritual door for the Spirit of God to indwell the believer. “Made” in II Corinthians 5:21 is from the Greek word ginomai (ghin'-om-ahee). The idea is to become. I believe this goes beyond the imputation of righteousness “in Christ” to the potential of practical God-kind righteousness supernaturally produced through the believer’s life by the indwelling Spirit of God. This is exactly what Paul is saying in Romans 8:4; “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” This was never even a possibility prior to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the Age of Grace. “Now . . .in Christ Jesus” the fulfillment of “the righteousness of the law” is a possibility in the regenerated believer’s life if that believer will “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” This, of course, refers back to what Paul has already said in Romans 6:11-13.

5. The Crown of Glory (the Faithful Pastor’s Crown)

1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (I Peter 5:1-4).

The Crown of Glory is possibly the highest ranking crown of all. Rewards are given for faithfulness according to levels of responsibility of ministry given to people by the Lord. We must remember that Pastor’s will be held accountable for the lives under their ministry if they have not taught people properly and/or administrated the local church under their charge according to the directives given to us in the Word by the Chief Shepherd.

7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. 10 We have an altar {the Lord’s Supper}, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. 11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:7-17).

All Five Crowns are referred to as “full reward”

7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (II John 1:7-9).

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