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March 10, 2019 The Judgment Seat of Christ Part Three

 

 

There is an age coming after this one that will be glorious and magnificent. Christ will return to the earth and establish His kingdom. The earth will see a glory that it has never seen before:

 

  • Nature will have the curse removed from it. Even deserts will produce abundant crops.
  • Evil will not be absent, but it will be rare and severely restrained by the presence of Christ and his authoritarian power.
  • It will be a time when there will be peace on earth. No more wars. No longer will parents send their children off to war with many never to return because they've been killed in battle.
  • The glory of Christ will be visible, as it was on the Mount of Transfiguration. He will sit on a throne of glory upon this earth, not heaven, not some other planet. We will be able to see him and speak with him.

 

To those who overcome will be given a share in the glory of Christ during this splendid age. Imagine that! Fallen sinners so transformed by the grace of God and carried along by His spirit so that they actually share in the glory of Christ! That is what the scriptures teach!

 

This will all be determined at the Judgment Seat of Christ which will occur when he returns to the earth. Rewards will be given out. Last week we saw one of those rewards: to eat of the tree of life. We proved that the tree of life does not represent eternal life. All true Christians have that. The tree of life represents God himself in Christ as life to man to be enjoyed and to give the faithful ones; life, energy, power, and healing in order to rule, guide and help the people in the coming kingdom.

 

This morning I would like to teach on some of the other rewards that await the overcomers. Remember, it is the Lord himself who has revealed these rewards for the purpose of motivating us to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil and to inspire us to joyful service to God and his kingdom during our short time on earth.

 

And it is a joyful service in which he wishes us to engage. It is not drudgery. It is not humdrum. It is not joyless. It is joyful!

 

[Illus] C. I. Scofield, someone who devoted his whole life to the Lord's service, relates the incident when he was in Texas and he was going to be visited by a dear brother and friend named Johnson in the morning. But that morning he found himself strangely downcast. He considered it a spiritual depression but could not account for it by any circumstances. He felt like crying that morning and he did shed tears. He could not even get himself to pray.

 

When Johnson came to visit he tried to hide his condition. His friend left but was going to visit again. About noon Scofield experienced the passing of his unexplained status and was filled with joy. In his words: “There was the shining of His blessed face down in my heart again, and I sang for joy.”

 

When he saw Johnson again he mentioned to him that he was quite depressed that morning and his friend replied that he had observed it. Scofield said, “I think you must have gone and prayed for me”. But his friend replied, “No, I ought to have done so; I had a call to, but I did not. But I think you're Great High Priest did.”

 

You see, the Lord himself wishes for us to experience His joy. There is joy to be found in all that we do: whether it is washing dishes, doing laundry, fixing the vacuum cleaner, serving our family; but, especially, in doing those things that directly expand and magnify the kingdom of God here and now.

 

Joy is a choice. It is affected by circumstances. It is affected by chemicals coursing through our veins. But, ultimately, it is a spiritual reality that we either embrace or forsake.

 

Because the Lord desires us to have joy in the battle he has sovereignly designed rewards to await the overcomers and he has revealed what they are.

 

[Illus] Let's say you're not a gambler but someone bought you some Missouri State lottery tickets for your birthday. Then you discover that you won a half million dollars. You verify that the ticket is legitimate, you turn it in, and you were told that in about 30 days you're going to get the money. How would you feel during those 30 days? Unless there is something wrong with you, I think you would be a fairly happy person during those 30 days!

 

Brothers and sisters, we are in the 30 days right now! The Lord has told us that rewards await us and they are far better than a half million dollars! And just as 30 days are short compared to a lifetime, so our lifetime is short compared to the age which is to follow this one. Life is too short not to live for the next age!! There is a joy of reward set before us and the prospect of receiving the reward should fill us with joy in the present!

 

Turn with me to Revelation 2:8-17. READ. PRAY.

 

The One who speaks in these verses is Jesus who is the first and the last. That title, the ‘First and the Last”, is the title of God Almighty. (Is. 44:6; 48:12) for Jesus to take this title shows that he is God. The church in Smyrna needed to know this because they were suffering persecution by the Jews who rejected the messianic claim of Christ. Jesus speaks words of encouragement to the church saying, in effect, “not only am I the promised Messiah, I am God!”

 

The church in Smyrna is already suffering, but they're going to suffer even more. Some will be cast into prison. The whole church there will suffer tribulation for 10 days. The number 10 signifies fullness. Ten days signifies a period of time that is full, yet brief.

 

Jesus then says, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Vs 10) this is the next reward we should consider.

 

The crown of life is a reward given to those who are faithful under tribulation and persecution.

 

What is the crown of life? The phrase can mean several things and we need to discern what exactly is intended.

 

  • It can mean what the crown consists of. For example, the phrase “a crown of gold” simply means that a crown is made of gold. Consistency is not the meaning here because, first, for a crown to be made of “life” does not even make much sense. Secondly, another NT writer, Paul, Speaks of a “crown of boasting” when referring to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20. So, the phrase that begins ‘crown of…” cannot refer to what the crown is made of.
  • It can mean possession, as in “the crown of David.” The crown is owned by David. That does not make sense either. Ownership or possession is by living beings, not by abstract entities like life or righteousness.
  • It can mean “rulership over,” as in the “crown of England,” meaning the crown represents rulership over the people and land of England. But then this is certainly saying far too much. Is there anyone who rules over life itself other than God? No. So, it cannot mean “rulership over.”
  • It can also mean equivalency, as in the phrase “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” That phrase can mean that the gift IS the Holy Spirit. Likewise, the crown of life can mean that the crown the faithful receive is life. That makes sense and that is a possibility.
  • Finally, it can mean origin, as in the phrase, “the crown of the Royal Mint.” There, it simply means that the crown originated, or was made by, the Royal Mint in London. This also is a possible meaning of “the crown of life”. It originated by the life that God imparts. As we cooperate with that life and live by that life, it issues in a crown.

 

It is difficult to determine which is meant: whether the crowd is life or whether life issues in the crown. I tend to think it means the second for two reasons.

 

  1. The word crown carries with it the idea of rulership. If the crown is life, there is no direct connection between the life and rulership.
  2. Even though the idea of the crown of life being life makes sense, remember Paul's statement about the crown of boasting. Paul was using boasting in a good sense and that he was boasting about what the Lord had gained in the Thessalonians through the ministry of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. But if the Crown in that verse just means nothing more than boasting it is quite odd, especially if it is a crown that will be used in the next age.

Therefore, the crown of life means rulership granted to the faithful believer that has come from being united to and cooperating with the life of God and its operation in the present.

 

Let me ask you: are you cooperating with the life of God that is operating within you, if indeed you are a child of God? Are you loving your brother and your sister, especially those in your own family? It is easy to love brother so-and-so who you see only on Sunday morning for one hour a week. But are you loving your brother or sister in Christ in your own household? The one you see every day?

 

The Lord Jesus loves them, doesn't he? His life issues in love. Hence, if you're not loving your brother or sister then you are not submitting to the life of God in you. You are independent of it. And that means you are not walking in the Spirit but in the flesh.

 

These then are two of the rewards that await the overcomer: The tree of life, which represents God himself in Christ as life to man to be enjoyed, and the crown of life, which means the authority to rule because of our union with and cooperation with the life of God.

 

Next, the letter goes to the church in Pergamum where Jesus as Judge says the throne of Satan is. Pergamum was a governmental seat of Rome in that area as well as having the oldest temple devoted to Emperor worship in all of Asia. Whereas Smyrna suffered persecution at the hands of the Jews, the Saints in this church suffered persecution at the hands of the Gentiles.

 

But worse than this, some of them held to the teaching of Balaam who taught that it was permissible to eat food sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication.

 

I tell you, there are those in the modern church who teach these things today. That you can engage in idolatry or fornication on a regular basis and still be a Christian. It is not so! If one practices sin, says John in his first epistle, then one is not born of God. It doesn't matter if you said some kind of prayer when you were in middle school. It doesn't matter if you were baptized. You can baptize the dog but that doesn't make them a follower of Christ.

 

I am not saying that a real Christian cannot commit fornication or fall into idolatry. They can. But if they do they repent in sorrow and tears and they resolve to avoid those sins at all cost because they know it is against the will of their Lord. Anyone who practices sin is not born of God. Those are not my words. Those are the words of John the apostle.

 

If you are in one of those sins, Jesus is calling you to repent. If you do not he will war against you with the sword of his mouth.

Then in verse 17, we read this: “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who overcomes…” Overcomes what? Overcomes idolatry and overcomes fornication. “… to the one who overcomes I will give you some of the hidden manna.

 

Manna is a type of Christ as the heavenly food that enables God's people to live for him. In the OT a portion of the manna was preserved in a golden pot concealed in the Ark of the covenant. The hidden manna signifies the hidden Christ as a special portion for his overcoming one's. Therefore, it is very similar to the first reward, the tree of life. The difference is that it is hidden. It is nourishment that is not seen or experienced by many, but by a few.

 

The overcomer will receive a white stone. What does this mean? A white stone was given to both soldiers who accomplished a feat in battle or to athletes who excelled in a competition, and this stone granted them entrance into a banquet in the presence of the king or some other royal dignitary. It was a Roman custom and would have been predominate in a city like Pergamum.

 

The meaning is this, matching up perfectly with two of Christ's parables that we recently looked at. Those who overcome will be granted entrance into the marriage supper of the Christ. Those who do not overcome will not be granted entrance.

 

Upon this stone, a new name will be written. In the Bible, the Lord often changed the name of those whom he called. He changed Abrams name to Abraham. He changed Sarai's name to Sarah. He changed Jacob's name to Israel. He changed Sauls name to Paul. He changed Simon's name to Peter. In each case, the new name represented a reality about that person. In other words, the name shows what they are, what they have, or what they do.

 

If you are an overcomer the Lord is going to give you a new name and that name will say something about you. But no one else will know it! Oh, this is glorious!! It is between you and the Lord. You two are the only ones who will know this name! It's as if, let's say, Tommy, is given the name “The One that Cannot be defeated in a Fight.” No one knows that name except Tommy. Now Tommy is not a troublemaker. He is actually a pretty nice guy. But if he was given that name by the Lord, for the rest of his life he can walk around on this earth never having to worry about getting licked in an altercation because he has that name.

 

That's the way it will be for those who overcome. They will have a name that only two people know. And that name will give them the confidence and an assurance that is unassailable. What a blessing!! If you receive this stone with the new name, the fact that only you and the Lord know it speaks of intimacy! Intimacy with the Lord! A unique knowledge only between you and him! What a blessed privilege! What blessed reward!!

 

This is better than gold, or silver, or diamonds, or real estate. This is relationship! Oh, how I want that kind of relationship with Him! Do you not feel it? Do you not desire it? If you do, the time is now to get serious about getting rid of sin in your life.

 

[Illus] A young man who studied violin under a great master gave his first public recital…. The criticisms of others and the compliments of others in the final day will mean nothing. Only Jesus's smile and nod of approval. These rewards ARE Jesus's statement of approval!

 

These four rewards are waiting for you if you overcome: the tree of life, the crown of life, the hidden manna, and the white stone with a new name given to you. Seek them! Strive for them! The time is now for getting out of your comfort zone and begin to work for His kingdom in a greater way than you have before.