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This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Crown of Righteousness

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When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, he knew that his life was nearing an end. His mind was on eternity, and he expressed his expectations in a wonderful way. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Paul spoke of his end as a fait accompli, and we can trust that his faithful service continued until the hour of his passing. The apostle had proven himself a faithful ambassador of the Lord. He had once proclaimed, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

His reward for his faithfulness was “the crown of righteousness.” This phrase is one description of the eternal reward in heaven with God. The crown is bestowed upon the righteous in eternity. Peter wrote of it as well, “and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:4). It is promised by the Lord, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). A crown of righteousness, glory and life—a wonderful gift offered by the Lord to the righteous man.

And, as Paul makes clear, every single person who lives righteously has the promise of that reward! “and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” Consider the faithfulness of God, and know that when He makes the promise, He will keep the promise. Paul knew it, and rejoiced in the reward he would surely receive.

It is important to note here that the reward comes to those who have “finished the race…kept the faith.” As stated by the Lord in Revelation 2:10, it will be given to those who are “faithful until death.” It is wrong to think that a Christian is unable to forfeit his standing with God. The “once saved, always saved” view does not jibe with God’s word. Paul noted individuals whose faith had been overthrown by the error of Hymenaeus and Philetus (cf. 2 Timothy 2:18). Peter warned of one who is again entangled in worldliness, and states, “the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20). However, this has nothing to do with God’s faithfulness regarding His promise. It is man’s own unfaithfulness that will cause him to lose his reward. “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die” (Ezekiel 18:24).

Our life here on earth is tenuous and short. James made that clear in James 4:13-14, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” As we consider this physical state, which will end in our death, and the immolation of the physical universe, we would do well to cast our gaze upon that which has eternal value. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:26-27).

Because of the offer of God’s Son on the cross, we can have confidence in our standing with God. Some mistakenly think that since it is possible to lose our standing with God, we can’t know how we stand in relation to Him at any time. That is not so! Our efforts to live right, and His promise of forgiveness upon our repentance when we do wrong, serve to give us a confident hope. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7-9).

God’s righteousness requires that He reward the faithful and punish the ungodly. He would not be true to His nature if He treated man in any other way. Paul knew this, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). He lived his life knowing it, and in the end he knew he would spend eternity with his God.

Do you trust in the promises of the Almighty? Are you living a life that will be rewarded with a glorious crown?