“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved”. Philippians 4:1
We can see by the above verse just how much Paul loved those in the church of Philippi. He strongly encouraged them to stand fast in the Lord. As we have discussed in past articles, there are enemies of the Cross that try to bring false doctrine into the church. We also battle the general pull of the world, the flesh trying to exert authority, and our mortal enemy, the Devil. We need to be aware of all these enemies of the Cross and stand fast in the faith. Timothy, Paul’s young companion, and coworker, received this instruction from Paul: “Hold fast the form of sound words (doctrine), which you have heard from me (that which was given Paul by the Lord), in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (what he accomplished at the Cross)” 2 Timothy 2:13. He also encouraged Timothy to “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).
Paul sent similar warnings to other churches he oversaw and for good reason. The world is opposed to the Gospel and we are in for the fight of our lives as we hold fast to all the Lord has given us. As mentioned, our fight is one of faith. We will overcome the enemies of the Cross in this way alone. We are told in Ephesians Chapter 6 to “Put on the whole armor of God”. Here, Paul likens our walk of faith to that of a soldier putting on all the armor that will protect him in battle. The object of our faith must always be Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. Jesus fought the battle and won the victory and our faith needs to be in Him, and what he accomplished, to gain the victory for ourselves. We need to do this daily. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after me (be my disciple), let him deny himself (our own ability), and take up his cross (the benefits of what Jesus there did) daily (must be done each day), and follow Me (Christ and Him Crucified)”. Paul said of this ” I am crucified with Christ (from where all victory comes – Roman’s 6:3): nevertheless I live (new life); yet not I (not in our strength), but Christ lives in me (resurrection life – Romans 6:4): and the life which I now live in the flesh (our daily walk with the Lord) I live by the faith of the Son of God (what he did on the Cross), who loved me, and gave Himself for me (what a great Savior)” (Galatians 2:20).
Paul, in other places in the New Testament, encouraged believers to stand fast or hold fast in the faith. As we have discussed, there were good reasons for these warnings then, and we need to heed these warnings today as well. Some other examples of Paul encouraging believers in this way are ” Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith” (Hebrews 10:23), “For now we live (are comforted), if you stand fast in the Lord” (1 Thess. 3:8), “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21), and “Stand fast in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1). Any time we see “in Christ” or any of its derivatives (e.g. in Him, in the Lord), Paul is talking about what Jesus accomplished at the Cross. In each of these verses, Paul’s admonition to these believers was to stand or hold fast to their belief in Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. Our faith in His great work will be richly rewarded.
The Bible speaks of 5 crowns (used figuratively) that will be given to believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ (where believer’s works are judged and rewarded). They are imperishable and represent a symbol of honor that will be given to believers in Heaven. They are as follows:
The Crown of Life –
Given to those that persevere under trials (James 1:12 & Revelation 2:10).
The Crown of Righteousness –
Given through the Righteousness of Christ to those that love and anticipate His coming (2 Timothy 4:8).
The Incorruptible (Imperishable) Crown –
Given to those who faithfully run the race (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
The Crown of Rejoicing –
A reward to saints for their lifetime work (1 Thessalonians 2:19).
The Crown of Glory-
Awarded to those that have faithfully cared for and fed the flock (1 Peter 5:4). This includes apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, ministers and all those that work to propagate the Great Commission.
Although any believer would be honored to receive these crowns, I believe the greatest reward we can receive is to look into the face of Jesus, the One that loved us and died for us. In the words of the song “What a day that will be when my Jesus I will see. When I look upon His face, the One that saved me by His grace. When He takes me by the hand and leads me to the Promised Land. What a day, glorious day, that will be”. It’s hard for us to comprehend that we would actually receive a crown after all the Lord did for us. In Revelation 4:10-11 it says this of a scene taking place in Heaven “The four and twenty elders fall down before Him Who sat on the throne, and worship Him Who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power…”. We owe Him everything!
We look forward to actually seeing the Lord and being with Him forever. David exclaimed, ” I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. Psalm 23.6. We can certainly take comfort in these words. What a wonderful Savior. What an incredible salvation. Let us, therefore, stand fast and wait, ” For the Lord, Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. Indeed, what a glorious day that will be.