Crown of Rejoicing: Soul-Winner's Crown
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Philippians, chapter 4, verse 1:

Philippians 4

1Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

Now turn, please, to I Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 18:

I Thessalonians 2

18Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
19For 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?
20For ye are our glory and joy.

Purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ

For some time now we have been bringing you a series of prophetic messages–messages related to the theme of prophecy. Recently, we began a series of messages on the judgments which are yet future. We began that discussion by presenting to you what the Word of God has to say about the Judgment Seat of Christ. When we are reminded in the Word of God that we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, we realize that there is no way for a Christian to escape appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ. The purpose of our appearing there is that we may receive a reward for the deeds done in the body, according to whether they be good or bad.

Worthy or Worthless

We emphasized to you that the “good” and the “bad” is not a reference to righteousness or evil, but to worthiness or worthlessness. We are reminded that every believer, from the moment he is saved, should begin to work; he should begin to build, for we are co-laborers with God. We do not work our “soul to save,” as someone has said. I hope that is clear in your minds.

We would not even think about that; we work for the love of God's dear Son. If you love Him, you are interested in Him and you are going to want to do all that you can for Him. Much that is done by man is done in the energy of the flesh; consequently, it is worthless. It can be done in the power of the Holy Spirit, and if it is it will be worth something. But only the day will declare it. That is the reason why we are told in God's Word that we should judge nothing before the time; the day will declare it. The day will declare whether the work is good or whether the work is bad. The Apostle Paul believed this so much that he said he could not care less what other people thought about what he did. He didn't even try to evaluate his own work–he was not capable of it. He was faithful in the place that God put him, and he was going to leave the evaluation of his work to his Lord when he would stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Crowns for Every Christian

We did learn from Romans, chapter 14, one encouraging thing. When God judges the secrets of men, the counsels of the heart, every man shall have praise of God. There will be a reward of some sort for everyone. Thank God! The Holy Spirit is pleased to describe these rewards as crowns. We are reminded that God has crowns available for every individual. We are reminded that we should be very careful that someone else does not receive the crown that was intended for us. We are reminded that we should be very careful, after we have begun the work, that we complete the job so that we may receive a full reward. We learned that after we receive the crowns, we are going to have the happy privilege of casting them at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we cry out from the very depths of our hearts “Worthy art Thou, O Lord.” We will not be able to talk about our own worthiness.

Crowns as Rewards

Since these rewards are to be presented in the form of crowns, we are proceeding to examine certain specific crowns which are mentioned in the Bible as rewards for believers. The order in which we mention them has no particular significance, so we will take the order in which they are presented in the Word of God.

The first one we discussed was the Crown of Self-Denial, a crown that is offered to every believer who is willing to keep his body under–the believer who is willing to keep his body in subjection in order that he might be a better servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was described very carefully for us in I Corinthians, chapter 9.

Another Crown

I asked you to turn to the two passages of Scripture that we have just read because the next crown that we are to think about, is referred to in one and described in the other. Look again at I Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 19:

I Thessalonians 2

19For 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?

That is the name of it–the Crown of Rejoicing. By the time we are through with our message, you will be able to see why some Bible scholars refer to it as the Soul-Winner's crown, but the Bible uses the term “the Crown of Rejoicing.” I want you to think with me, and perhaps find in your own heart the same attitude, of the confidence which the Apostle Paul had concerning this crown. That is suggested to my mind by the question he asks in verse 19, where he says:

The word “hope” is a translation of a Greek word which is translated in a number of places in the Scripture as “confidence.” Paul is saying to us, “What is our confidence when we stand in the presence of the Lord at His coming? What is our confidence? What is the reward that we expect to receive?” He says that our confidence is very definitely related to people. Although our confidence is not placed in people, our confidence related to the crown which we will receive cannot be expressed without a reference to people.

People as a Crown

Go back to Philippians, chapter 4, verse 1, and notice again:

Philippians 4

1Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord,…….

Did you notice he is addressing people as a crown? He says, “You are my joy now and you will be my crown by and by.” This is the confidence that he has. He recognizes that they are a present joy to him and that they will be a crown for him when he stands in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at His coming.

Now, go back to I Thessalonians, chapter 2, and look at that phrase a bit more closely:

I Thessalonians 2

19For 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?

This may sound like a simple repetition, but if we translate it literally from the original text, it reads “are not even you, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ when we stand before Him?” “One of these days,” the Apostle says, “we are all going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, you Philippians, you Thessalonians, are going to be my crown.” It is difficult for us to think of people in terms of a crown, and yet Paul emphasizes that the Philippians and the Thessalonians, among others, are the crown which he expects as an award to him at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Perhaps now you can see why we refer to this as the Soul-Winner's crown. It is interesting that what the Apostle is saying is that every person whom he has led to the Lord Jesus Christ, every person to whom he has ministered the Word in saving grace, will make up his crown when he stands at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

The Terror of Being Empty Handed

There are a number of crowns in the Scripture and there are a number of reasons why we get them, as we will see before we are through with this series of discussions. I want to ask you a very pointed question: If the crown we are talking about, the Crown of Rejoicing, is related to the souls that you have won to the Lord Jesus Christ, are you going to have this crown to cast at the feet ofthe Lord Jesus? That is a solemn thought, isnt' it?

The song writer has expressed it well: “Must I go emptyhanded, must I meet my Saviour so, not one soul with which to greet Him?” Think about that–a solemn thought. this solemn thought brings terror to the Apostle Paul as he considers it, for he says, when speaking about this very thing in his letter to the Corinthians, “the terror of the Lord persuades me and the love of Christ constrains me so tht I do not rest–I will not rest–until I have expended every effort to win men to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 5:11 & 14).

Attributes of This Crown

The Spirit of God has suggested to us some of this crown's attributes, which we might consider as the composition of the crown itself. Knowing what this crown is composed of may help us to understand it better, so let us notice again I Thessalonians 2:19:

Joy

Do you remember what we read in Philippians, chapter 4? “You are my joy, my crown.” The first abstract word that I would like to bring to your attention as related to the Crown of Rejoicing–the Soul-Winner's Crown–is the word “joy.” The Bible says that in Heaven there is joy for one sinner who repents, one sinner who comes to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, what a joyful time there is in Heaven whenever they behold that thing! Now, think with me: How much greater joy there will be when that soul's journey is finished, the work is complete, and that saved one stands a perfect man in the presence of the Lord! Joy is a part of this particular crown. the Apostle says, “I am going to be rewarded when I look with joy upon the finished work.”

You know that oftentimes there is not as much joy over sinners who are saved as you would like to have, because you see them falter and fail. You see them do less than their best, and you wonder if the effort you have put forth is really worth while. You may spend more time in tears than you do in joy. But when you stand in the presence of the Lord at His coming and the Lord Jesus Christ stands before all who have been born again and you see them as finished products, there will be joy.

Boasting

The next thing that I am going to suggest to you may seem a little bit foreign to you–it might even seem a bit repulsive at first. It might even seem out of keeping as an attitude to be manifested at the Judgment Seat of Christ. But look again at verse 19:

I Thessalonians 2

19For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?………..

Notice there the word “rejoicing,” as I remind you that it is a translation of a Greek word which really means “to boast.” In the Corinthian letter, the Apostle Paul says, “No one is going to take my boasting away from me” (II Corinthians 10:13) If you read the context in the 10th chapter, you will discover that he is boasting about the fact that he has preached the gospel without any strings attached to it at all. No one owes him anything; he did not make anyone do anything; he preached the gospel of the grace of God without any strings attached. And he says “No one is going to deprive me of this priviledge; I don't want this opportunity of boasting to be taken away from me.” That word “boasting” is the very same word which is translated “rejoicing” here. When we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ accompanied by all those whom we have won to Christ, our crown will be composed of real joy when we see the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ “without blemish an without spot.” Our crown is going to consist of boasting, as well. We will be able to boast, not in our own effort, of course, not in what we have done in our own strength, but we will be able to boast about how gracious and wonderful God's grace and God's glory are that made possible that which we see in Heaven's glory. There is a vast difference between boasting of yourself and boasting of the Lord.

The Goodness of God

You know, there are a great many folk who have a false sense of humility. They never tell anything that the Lord has done because they humbly say, “I don't like to brag.” Well now, no one is asking you to brag on yourself, but if the Lord has done something wonderful for you, if He has done something glorious, you ought to be able to brag on the Lord, whether you can brag on yourself or not. And you ought to be able to boast in the Lord Jesus Christ. I tell you, I could spend a great deal of time boasting; the Lord has done so much for me. There is so much I could say. But just think, when I stand in the presence of the Lord, when I no longer see through a glass dimly, when I see face to face, when I see how God has worked wonderfully, marvelously, in the lives of people to whom I have ministered (while perhaps I have wondered if He was even working), when I stand there in the presence of the Lord and see the whole picture from beginning to end, I can boast–boast about how great and glorious our God is.

An Act of Worship

Look again at I Thessalonians 2:19:

I Thessalonians 2

19For 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?
20For ye are our glory and joy.

Look at the word “glory.” These individuals who make up the crown will be our glory when we stand in the presence of Christ. Usually when we use the word “glory” in this sense, someone can see a halo above my head or your head or someone else's head. But I would like to remind you that the word that is translated “glory” here is a translation of a Greek word which elsewhere is translated “worship.” It is where we get our word “doxology.” Remember, I told you when we began this discussion that when we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and the crowns are awarded, we will fall at the feet of the Saviour and we will cast our crowns at His feet in an act of worship.

Permit a hypothetical suggestion–suppose that you were standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ and you had been so neglectful on this earth about your responsibility of witnessing that you never had been responsible for winning a soul to Christ. When the time came to worship Him with a Crown of Rejoicing, you stood on the sidelines, so to speak, with an earnest heart wishing that you could worship the Lord that you love, wishing that you could give expression to that worship, but there would be no way to express it. You had no Crown of Rejoicing.

Concern Related to This Crown

We have considered the confidence related to the crown and the composition of the crown. Now I want to think with you briefly about the concern that ought to be related to this crown. We have talked about concern with regard to crowns before. For example, we noticed the warning in the second Epistle of John to be on your guard lest some man take your crown, be on your guard lest you not receive your full reward. There needs to be a earnest concern with regard to crowns. I would like to suggest to you that the concern which the Apostle Paul felt was not related so much to his not receiving the crown (he had confidence that he would receive it, as it was to the possibility of the crown's being tarnished. It was related to the possibility of the crown's losing some of its glory, some of its sparkle. He was so concerned about this that he uses it as an incentive here in Philippians, chapter 4, verse 1:

Philippians 4

1Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

Do you see what he is saying? “You are my crown, so stand fast in the Lord.” When he suggest this matter of standing fast, he is not suggesting that they may lose their salvation and hence he may lose his crown. Read the context. He is suggesting the possibility that the crown may get tarnished during the journey. He says, “I don't want it to be tarnished; I don't want this crown to lose even one little gem that is implanted in it. I want it to have all the sparkle and all the glory that God intended it to have, so stand fast in the Lord.”

Notice verse 2:

Philippians 4

2I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
3And I intreat thee also, ……….

You see, there was quite a disturbance in the church at Philippi. Two good sisters were at each other's throats, and the Apostle was very much concerned about it. He wrote to them, “Don't do that. don't let this thing break your fellowship. Don't let this thing interrupt the blessing of God in your lives. You are my crown, and when I stand in the presence of the Lord, I don't want one gem missing; I don't want on sparkle gone; I don't want the least bit of tarnish on the crown.”

Concern Over Our Crown

Let me pause to ask you something: have you been concerned about your crown? I don't mean have you been concerned about whether you are going to get it or not. Some of you will, because you have won someone to the Lord Jesus Christ. But when you get it, is it going to be all tarnished? Are some of the gems going to be gone because you haven't been concerned about those folk whom you won to the Lord Jesus Christ? Could I be speaking to someone who is such a good witness that you are interested in getting as many folk in as you can, but after you give them the message of the Gospel you don't pray for them, you don't instruct them how to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? You never go back to see if they have a burden that you can help bear, you never do anything to make sure your crown does not get tarnished. I am afraid that if I were to ask you to speak back to me, many of you would have to say, “I am guilty; I have witnessed and I have won, but I have not been concerned about whether my crown gets tarnished or not.” I have every confidence that you will confess, “I will receive the crown, but I haven't been concerned about how it is going to look when I receive it.” I want to suggest to you, Beloved, that some of our crowns may not look so good because you and I do not have all the concern that we ought to have.

Hindrance From Satan

The Apostle's concern was expressed in his first letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 18:

I Thessalonians 2

18Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

Now, why do you suppose he wanted to come back to them? Well, he had had to leave in a hurry. He did not complete the message. He had so much more he wanted to tell them. He had so many more things he wanted to teach them. He said, “You know, you are my crown; you are my joy; you are my crown of rejoicing. I have tried again and again to come to you because I want to do a little polishing on my crown.” That is why he wanted to come. But did you notice what the Scripture says? It says that Satan hindered him. Now, why do you suppose that Satan hindered him? This word “hindered” means he literally broke up the way, tore up the pavement, made chugholes in the road so that it would be hard to get there. Why did he do it? Because Satan knew why Paul wanted to go. Satan knew it was to do a little crown polishing and he did not want it done. He would like for the crown to be as tarnished as possible.

May I remind you that when things get in the way of some good thing you want to do, it is not necessarily the Lord telling you not to do it. It could be the Devil trying to keep you from doing it. Before you fold your blanket and get ready to rest again, check into it. Maybe the Devil doesn't want you to do that good thing that God has laid on your heart. It may not be that the Lord has changed His mind. Satan has a way of hindering folk. Have you had a good intention to go pray with someone whom you have won to the Lord? Have you had a good intention to encourage a good heart whom you have helped to a relationship with Christ, but somehow or other you just haven't been able to get there? You may have said, “Well, it looks like the Lord did not want me to go. I just could not get there.” Don't be too sure about that. It is possible the Devil did not want you to go. He hindered you; he tore up the road. But remember this: there is always a detour around a torn up place, so don't give up too quickly.

Paul's Intense Concern

Turn with me, please, to II Corinthians, chapter 11, for further emphasis on the Apostle Paul's concern. Paul was so concerned about his crown's becoming tarnished and he had such great desire to do something about it that he was considered to be almost out of his mind. He was interested in getting the matter settled, getting people in to a conscious relationship to Christ, and then watching over their growth. Oftentimes even Christians would say to him, “Paul, you are out of your mind. You don't know what it is all about. You are a fanatic. You don't need to do what you are doing.” We see this in II Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 1:

II Corinthians 11

1Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

His “folly” was his concern. Are you that foolish tonight, to be that concerned? He said, “Oh, bear with me. The reason I am concerned is……”

Are you jealous over the folk you have led to Christ? I don't mean jealous of them when the Lord blesses them more than He blesses you or jealous of them when they outdistance you in Christian growth. I mean, are you jealous over them with a godly jealousy? Are you jealous wanting only God to have them, and that they have only God's best? That is godly jealousy–jealousy for those in whom you are interested, that they will have all that God has for them.

Our Need for Concern

Parents, are you jealous over your children in that fashion? Do you begrudge every moment that is spent in the energy of the flesh? Are you so jealous over them that they think you are a little bit foolish and somewhat of a fanatic (“square” is a better word right now)? Well, they don't understand now. Maybe you need to say to them, as Paul said to his children in the faith, “Bear with me in my folly. If I am foolish, there is a reason for it. I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy.” Notice verse 2:

II Corinthians 11

2For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

A Marriage Contract

He says, “I have already engaged in a marriage contract for you.” That was the expression of his day. “I want to keep you pure. I want to keep your pure, so that when I present you to Christ I can present you as a chaste virgin. I can present you as clean, untarnished, in all the splendor of real glory.” Look at verse 3. He was concerned; he was concerned about his crown: He says:

II Corinthians 11

3But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

“I am afraid. I am afraid that, as the Devil did before, he will do again. I am afraid that, as the Devil slipped up on Eve, he will slip up on you.” Notice the emphasis he places on the subtilty of the Devil in slipping up on people and getting them into his control before they even realize it. As we have said to you any number of times, if the Devil came along waving a big red flag we would be able to handle him, but he doesn't do that. He beguiles us, and then the crown is tarnished before we know it.

I do not want to leave you under a wrong impression. God is gracious to forgive. I am glad He is. His forgiveness is plenteous. But sometimes sin has a way of leaving a tarnish. I am not suggesting to you that God does not fully, completely forgive. He does. But sometimes the thing that you do when you are out of fellowship leaves a mark on you that cannot be erased and the crown is tarnished. It has lost some of its glory. It has lost some of its splendor. That is a sad thing. Are you concerned about it? You may say, “Well, I don't see what this has to do with the Judgment Seat of Christ, anyway–tarnishing, the losing of splendor. Surely by that time all the tarnish will be gone and all the splendor will be restored.” Well, evidently it will not.

Made Ashamed By a Crown

Turn with me, please, to the first Epistle of John, and notice chapter 2, verse 28:

I John 2

28And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

Look at the words again:

This is the Judgment Seat of Christ. Only Christians will be here. But what is it we read? “Abide in him, that when he shall appear you may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

Now, that is the way a great many people interpret the text and there is a sense in which it is true because, if we abide and if we learn the secret of abiding, we will not be ashamed at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. but the context of the verse, along with the grammatical construction, indicates that the Apostle was not concerned about their being ashamed at the Judgment Seat of Christ; he was concerned about he himself being ashamed when he realized that they had not abided, when he realized that they had not continued on as they should have. You see, it is just another way of talking about the tarnishing of the crown.

Paul says, “I am jealous over you. I don't want anything to happen to my crown.” John says, “I am concerned about you, too, because when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and I am asked for those whom I have won to the Lord and I present them, I don't want to be ashamed because you haven't abided. I don't want to be ashamed because my crown is tarnished. I don't want to be ashamed because it has lost some of its gems.” No illustration is ever perfect enough that you can get the point, Beloved.

The Waiting Crown

There is a crown waiting for you if you have won someone to Jesus Christ. Have you won anyone? Before you answer that in the negative, be sure. You say,

“Well, actually, I have never looked anyone in the eye and and heard them say to me, 'Yes, I receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour.'” Well, that does not mean that you have not won someone. You know what the Scripture says: A cup of cold water given in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. You may not have had the privilege of having someone look you right in the face and take you by the hand and say, “Yes, I will receive the Saviour.” But you may have had a part in the salvation of multitudes of people whom you have never met who will be part of your crown when you stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Polishing Our Crown

I want to ask you another question. If you could answer, “Yes, I believe I have won folk to Christ and I believe I will have the crown about which you are speaking,” the second question is this: How is it going to look? Have you been concerned? Have you been interested at all? Do you care? Before you look around for some more folk to win so that you might have more crowns, why don't you polish up the crowns that you have? You would be rendering a tremendous service.


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org