"...and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."
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The Christian's Crowns
There are five crowns mentioned in Scripture which are promised to God's children upon certain conditions. They may be won or they may be lost (Revelation 3:11). They are spoken of as prizes (I Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 3:13,14). They are described as crowns of gold (Revelation 4:4).
l. THE INCORRUPTIBLE CROWN (I Corinthians 9:25). This crown is given to those who are temperate in all things and who are not indulging the appetites of the body, in order that they may faithfully preach the gospel to all men, whether Jew or Gentile, whereby at least some shall be saved (vv. 16-27).
2. THE CROWN OF REJOICING (I Thessalonians 2:19). This crown is given to those who win souls for Christ, whether by personal work, by preaching the gospel, or by distributing the gospel in print. Solomon declared, "He that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30), and Daniel said that "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Every soul saved through the prayers and efforts of the servant of Christ will be a part of his crown of rejoicing when he stands before the Judgment Seat of Christ and is rewarded according to his labors.
3. THE CROWN OF GLORY (I Peter 5:4). This is the crown which is given to faithful pastors who hve willingly cared for the flock of God as overseers, not as lords and not for the sake of financial gain, but as a shepherd who cares for his sheep. Such pastors practice what they preach and are examples to others. They feed the flock with the Word of God, "rightly dividing the word of truth," so that they will grow in grace and become fruitful in their lives and labors. They warn the flock against false teachers and the prevalent errors of the day, encouraging them to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3,4). All such pastors and teachers will receive a crown of glory which will not tarnish or fade away.
4. THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (II Timothy 4:8). This crown is given to all those who love the appearing of Christ. They not only are trusting Christ for salvation and loving Him because He loved them, but they are also looking forward to the personal coming of Christ in glory and power, when they will be caught up with other Christians in the clouds to meet Him in the air (I Thessalonians 4:14-17). Because of this blessed hope, they endure afflictions, fight the good fight of faith, and speak the truth in love. They are loyal and faithful to Christ at all times, for they know not when He may appear for His own. All such are to receive a special crown.
5. THE CROWN OF LIFE (Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10). This crown is given to all who endure trials and temptations even unto death for Jesus' sake. "They loved not their lives unto the death" (Revelation 12:11). Many of those who receive this crown, such as Stephen, James, John, Peter, Paul, Huss, Tyndale, Latimer, Cranmer, and many others, are martyrs for the sake of Christ. (Read Foxe's Book of Martyrs.)
The crown of life is to be distinguished from the gift of life, which is mentioned in John 4:10, John 5:24, Romans 6:23, and Ephesians 2:8. Eternal life is a free gift from God to all who believe on His Son. "He that hath the Son hath life" (I John 5:11,12). But those who receive eternal life through faith in Christ may also receive the crown of life in addition, if so be that they suffer for Him even unto death.
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