Sunday, June 12, 2016 - Reward upon Reward!
2 Cor. 4:16-18
Pastor Roger Marcos
June 12, 2016
(Delivered Sunday morning at North York Church of Christ)
God is more interested in what you are becoming than what you accomplish.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18 KJV
The momentary LIGHT AFFLICTION which is a very description picture of this world of sorrow, pain, tears, and problems.
The moment that we cross to the other side this moment of affliction will be exchanged for an “EXCEEDING AND ETERNAL WIEGHT OF GLORY.
How Do We Make the Best Use of the Choices We Have In Life?
PICTURE: We are shaped by our decisions. Some have life-or-death consequences.
Our lives are filled with many choices of how to spend our time, energy, and resources. Some live for money and possessions, as much as they can, while some invest their time in education or entertainment, hoping to find long-lasting value and enjoyment.
Whatever type of decision we face, there are biblical principles that can help us make better decisions.
For example, when a Christian recognizes a bad habit or faces a moral choice, he or she can apply God’s command to always choose His way:
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
What Does Your Eternal Future Hold? For most Christians, the blessed hope is that once the Rapture occurs or they depart from this world after death, they will spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus Christ. For those who trust in Him.
Jesus will hold each of us accountable for the deeds we performed in our earthly lives. Although our eternal destiny is never in question, the size and scope of our reward is.
Jesus: Our Ultimate Judge.
The Scriptures are filled with references to the ultimate judgment of our works, yet somehow many Christians have either failed to understand--or have chosen to ignore--what the Bible says. Nevertheless, we will be judged. Paul makes this clear in his letter to the Corinthians.
"For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body" 2 Corinthians 5:10, NLT
Jesus confirms Paul's assertion, revealing that each of us will be held accountable for every idle word we speak!
"And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak" Matthew 12:36, NLT
Jeremiah says the same: I, the Lord, search the minds and test the hearts of people. I treat each of them according to the way they live according to what they do.” GNT
"But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve" (Jeremiah 17:10, NLT).
1 Pet. 4:17-18 GNT
17 The time has come for judgment to begin, and God's own people are the first to be judged. If it starts with us, how will it end with those who do not believe the Good News from God? 18 As the scripture says,
“It is difficult for good people to be saved; what, then, will become of godless sinners?
The fate of those who reject Christ is eternal separation from Him. But for those who embrace Him, we can face His judgment with fearless confidence.
"And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of judgement, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world" (1 John 4:17, NLT).
Judgment Is Reserved for Christ
When Jesus walked among the crowds of Israel, He never attempted to build Himself up by knocking other people down. Instead, He attempted to lift others up and to encourage them to live godly lives. He knew that praise from God was a far greater reward than the often insincere and fleeting praise of humans. As such, He never looked down on others or proclaimed Himself superior to them. He humbled Himself, and although He had all the power of God, He expended His life to serve others-preaching the gospel, healing those in need, washing His disciples' feet, and giving His life on the cross in order to save all.
Ultimate judgment of others belongs to Christ, so don't make personal judgments of others in regard to God's approval, for He alone knows all the facts. The day will come when many who are looked down on today-who are rejected, ridiculed, and labeled as "immoral" by their own Christian brothers and sisters-will receive great reward from Jesus Christ. Many who are viewed as experts, saints, and holy men in this world will be given lowly positions in God's kingdom, while many who are viewed as outcasts, kooks, or poorly educated will be rewarded with the highest positions.
So listen to Paul when he tells us to reserve judgment for Christ:
"So don't make judgments about anyone ahead of time-before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due" 1 Corinthians 4:5, NLT
"So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer?
Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘As surely as I live,' says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.' Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let's stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall" (Romans 14:10-12, NLT).
Knowing this, we should encourage those around us, building them up with ample praise, careful rebuke, and all the respect deserving of those God has chosen to call His children. We should approach everyone with the same humility Christ exhibited, because we never know what role others will play in the eternal kingdom. The one you look down on today might be your superior in Heaven!
Not Everyone Will Have the Same Status in Heaven
Christ Will Award Us with Crowns;
Some of our heavenly treasure will take the form of rewards we receive from Jesus Christ:
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have-Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials-gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person's work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames" 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, NLT
For the Christian, belief in Jesus Christ is only a beginning. This is the foundation of our holy existence, and no one can lay a foundation other than Christ. Upon this foundation, we are expected to build a portfolio of works that benefit the Lord. Not one of these works is necessary for our salvation, but if we truly believe in Him, it will be our pleasure to perform such works. On the day of judgment, each work will be tested to see if it has eternal value. Only that which has everlasting value will result in reward.
So how do we know what works will have everlasting value? We must remember it is not our deeds alone the Lord will judge, but the motives that caused us to perform those deeds in the first place. The Lord, who knows the deepest secrets of our hearts and minds, will know the motives upon which our earthly lives were built. And the only motive that will result in a reward is one that desires glory for Jesus Christ.
Among the many rewards we're eligible to receive, the Bible specifically mentions Crowns:
1. The Crown of Victory.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. NIV
"Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified"(1 Corinthians 9:25, NLT).
The prize to which Paul refers is a crown. This crown is reserved for those who, through careful discipline, have overcome the desires of the flesh. Through means of the Holy Spirit, they have managed to gradually wean themselves from the power of the temptations of this world. Just as an athlete trains to perfect his performance in an athletic contest, Christians must train themselves to overcome the desires of the flesh.
If you want to win this crown, make sure to listen to and abide by the Holy Spirit within you. Train yourself so that your every thought, feeling, and action is measured and judged in accordance to God's will for your life.
2. The Crown of Rejoicing- THIS IS THE SOUL WINNER'S CROWN - FOR BELIEVER'S WHO WERE OBEYING JESUS' GREAT COMMISSION (MATT 28:19-20)
Daniel 12:3 "Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who LEAD MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS will shine like the stars forever.
"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work"(Philippians 4:1, NLT).
1 Thessalonians 2:19 "For what is our hope, or joy, or CROWN OF REJOICING? Is it not even YOU in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His Coming?"
This crown is reserved for those whose efforts have led to others becoming believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. As Paul states, this crown will be a source of pride and joy for all of eternity, represented not only in the form of a crown, but in the form of actual fellow Christians who will be a source of joy for the Lord for all of eternity.
If you want to win this crown, make sure to share the gospel of Christ with others whenever God presents an opportunity.
3. The Crown of Righteousness. THIS CROWN IS FOR THOSE BELIEVER'S WHO WERE READY & WAITING FOR THE RETURN OF JESUS - ALL THOSE WHO HAVE LOVED HIS APPEARING.
"And now the prize awaits me-the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8, NLT).
This crown is reserved for those who eagerly and patiently await the promised return of Jesus Christ. Throughout the Scriptures, Jesus encourages us to be good and faithful servants, prepared for the master's return. One day, He will come "like a thief in the night"--unexpectedly--and only those who have lived their lives in daily anticipation of this moment will be awarded this crown.
If you want to win this crown, make sure to live every day of your life with the constant expectation that Christ could return at a moment's notice.
4. The Crown of Life. THIS IS THE MARTYR'S CROWN - FOR THOSE WHO WERE FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH- THOSE WHO PATIENTLY ENDURED TESTINGS, TEMPTATIONS, AND TRIALS.
"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him"(James 1:12, NLT).
"Don't be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10, NLT).
This crown is reserved for those who endure testing, temptation, persecution, suffering, and martyrdom for Jesus Christ. Believing in Christ is not a recipe for carefree living in a world that hates Him, for if the world mocked, ridiculed, and murdered Jesus Himself, then why should His followers expect to avoid suffering? We cannot. Some will suffer worse than others, but everyone who remains faithful will receive the crown of life.
If you want to win this crown, make sure to love Jesus Christ more than you love your own life.
5. The Crown of Glory. THE ELDER'S CROWN - THIS CROWN IS FOR THOSE LEADERS, PASTORS, ELDERS, TEACHERS WHO WERE GODLY EXAMPLES TO THE FLOCK OF BELIEVERS THAT WERE ENTRUSTED AND ASSIGNED TO THEIR CARE
1 Peter 5:2-4 "Care for the FLOCK God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly-not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. DON'T LORD IT OVER THE PEOPLE ASSIGNED TO YOUR CARE, but LEAD them by your OWN GOOD EXAMPLE. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the CROWN OF GLORY that does not fade away.
This crown is reserved for those who are placed in a position of authority and responsibility in earthly life. With others looking to us for leadership by example, this is a task of enormous importance. Such people must exhibit love and humility, carefully watching over those with whom they have been entrusted. Their motives and hearts must be pure, focused on serving God rather than serving themselves. Those who lead others by example will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.
If you want to win this crown, make sure to be a good example to others, especially those who look to you for guidance. And be a good and faithful steward of those God has entrusted to your care.
"Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" Revelation 22:12-13, NLT