The rewards of heaven await the faithful believer
A minister died and was waiting in line at the Pearly Gates. Ahead of him was a guy wearing sunglasses, a loud shirt, leather jacket and jeans. St. Peter addressed the guy, “Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you into the Kingdom of Heaven?”
The guy said, “I’m Joe, the taxi driver in New York City.” Peter consulted his list, smiled and said, “Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the kingdom of heaven.” Joe the taxi driver went into heaven with his robe and staff, and Peter turned to the minister.
“Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?”
“I’m Pastor Thomas, the minister. I served St. Mary’s Church for the past 43 years.”
St. Peter consulted his list and said, “Yes, please take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“Just a minute,” said the reverend. “That man was a taxi driver and he got a silken robe and golden staff. How can this be?”
“Up here,” Peter answered, “We reward by results. While you preached, people slept. While he drove, people prayed.”
The apostle Paul knew that his days were numbered and heaven was ahead when he wrote, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
What does the believer gain when he or she leaves this life and enters eternal life in heaven?
First, we gain freedom. In this life, we struggle and strain, worry and fret. We deal with human limitations and numerous tribulations. The moment we step into heaven, we’re free of the hindrances of this life.
Second, we gain unbroken fellowship. There are no misunderstandings or broken relationships in heaven. Best of all, we have sweet fellowship with Jesus.
Third, we gain fullness of knowledge. So many things in this life we don’t understand. We have so many unanswered questions. As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13, we see through a glass darkly. We don’t understand why bad things happen to good people, or why the evil seem to prosper. There is no confusion in heaven.
Fourth, we gain our full reward. Have you thought about the rewards of heaven? The Bible is clear that salvation is not based on performance, but is freely given to those who turn from their sin and turn to God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
However, the Bible does refer to heavenly rewards given to believers for faithful service, for enduring persecution and suffering, and for wise management of the resources God entrusts to them.
New Testament writers describe the crowns of heaven. In Greek culture a crown might be either an ornamental head dress worn by royalty or a wreath worn as a symbol of victory. The crown is valuable and recognizes victory and accomplishment.
First is the imperishable crown (I Corinthians 9:24-27). Those who victoriously run the race of life by consistently bringing their flesh under the Holy Spirit’s control receive this crown. We should strive for excellence in the Christian life.
Second is the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7, 8). This crown is rewarded to those who live each day with an eternal perspective and who have grown in righteousness. They have finished the Christian life with integrity and kept their focus on Christ.
Third is the crown of life (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10). This is awarded to those who have suffered nobly and have persevered hardship. Are we enduring suffering and hardship in a way that honors the Lord?
Fourth is the crown of glory (I Peter 5:2-4). This crown is awarded to faithful ministers who give pastoral care and loving oversight to the flocks who are entrusted to them. They set Christ-like examples.
Fifth is the crown of exultation (Philippians 4:1, I Thessalonians 2:19, 20). This crown is also known as the soul-winner’s crown and is given to those who bring people to heaven with them because of their faithful witness. How are you enlarging the size of heaven?
[Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor of McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, just past the department of drivers’ services office and invites you to Bible study this Sunday at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org and “like” them on Facebook.]