Saturday, July 27, 2013

Graduation with Honors



One of salvation’s eternal blessings is that we will receive eternal rewards at the judgment seat for believers (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-12). We will not have to give an account of our sins, for they are already forgiven and paid for by His shed blood (Matthew 26:28; Romans 3:25). Once we place our faith in His death, burial and resurrection as the only Way to Heaven, we are saved to eternal life in His presence (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16; 14:6).

But when we see Him face to face, Christ will review everything we did with our life since we were saved. He will also review opportunities He gave us but that we did not use to tell others about Jesus, to encourage and teach other believers, and to glorify God.

In the parable of the talents, Jesus explained that those who are faithful to use their gifts to further His kingdom will be rewarded proportionately (Matthew 25:14-30). For every good thing we did with the right motive, we will be rewarded. But for missed opportunities or good works done for self-serving reasons, we will suffer loss – not of salvation, but of rewards (1 Corinthians 3: 11-14).

The gold, silver and jewels that emerge unscathed from the fire of judgment are those deeds done with the right heart and the right motive to further Christ’s kingdom, while those “good deeds” we did out of pride or for our own selfish motives will burn up like wood, hay and stubble. These lost rewards will bring us momentary sadness and even shame, but He will wipe every tear from our eyes (Revelation 7:17;21:4), and our overwhelming emotions will be of joy and gratitude.

To use an analogy, at a commencement ceremony some graduates receive their degree “cum laude” (with honors), “magna cum laude” (with high honors) or “summa cum laude” (with highest honors). Some may receive special awards for their community service, leadership, or academic achievement. Other graduates may be disappointed that they were not singled out for these rewards. Yet all should experience joy, relief and gratitude that they have graduated and are beginning or “commencing” a new, better life. Each graduate wears a cap and has the privilege of casting it into the air when the ceremony is over.

The Greek word that Paul uses to describe the judgment seat for believers is Bema, referring to the award stand at the Olympic games. For all athletes in such games, it is a great honor just to be there, and all who take part in their event will be blessed by their participation. Certain athletes are given special awards to recognize the excellence of their achievement. But all who are there can be considered winners because of their self-discipline and their devotion to their calling. None are punished or sent home in disgrace.

Based on Christ’s review at the Bema seat of what we did with our lives once we were saved, some believers will receive crowns, which we will give back to Him, casting them at His feet, because of our awe and love for Him (Revelation 4: 4,10-11). Five specific crowns are mentioned.

The soul-winners crown is the crown of rejoicing (Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20) – a living crown of those souls we helped bring to Jesus. What unspeakable joy we shall have in glory when we see those we helped lead to Christ! This may include those with whom we shared God’s Word, even though the seed we planted did not bloom into the flower of salvation until much later. We may not even have met some of these believers before, if they were saved because of missionaries we helped support, or an Internet posting we made, or even a tract we left somewhere (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).

Each of us who looks forward to Christ’s return can receive the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). If we live each day in anticipation that the Rapture could occur at any moment (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17), we are far more likely to live a holy and separated life, not through our own righteousness but through that of Christ.

The crown of life is the martyr’s crown, given to those who were persecuted for their faith yet did not renounce Jesus, even though they were executed as a result (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10).

Faithful, God-fearing preachers, and perhaps pastors, deacons and teachers, will receive the crown of glory, provided they feed their church with God’s Word, are good examples, and are motivated by service rather than financial gain (1 Peter 5: 2-4).  

The victor’s crown is the incorruptible crown, won through spiritual and physical discipline (1 Corinthians 9:25-27; 1 John 2:28). It represents denying the body’s fleshly lusts, such as sex outside of marriage or substance abuse, and living in subjection to the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 2:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) Who inhabits our bodies as His temple.

These rewards and crowns will determine positions of responsibility in His Kingdom when He returns to earth to rule in perfect justice and peace for 1000 years (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 20:6). Knowing this, why would we not want to store up our treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:20), rather than working so hard for earthly treasures that we won’t be able to take with us? May we not give up in our quest to serve Him, so that we will not lose our reward and our crown (Galatians 6:9; Revelation 3:11; 22:12)

Throughout all eternity, we will have meaningful and enjoyable projects and fields of study to challenge and delight us, and we will have the joy of worshipping Him with all our God-given talents and all our being (Revelation 2:17; 3:12 5:8-14). What could be better than the unending joy of being in Heaven, in His presence, with all that He has lovingly designed especially for us? (John 14:1-4).

Just as graduates have the joy of throwing their hats into the air, celebrating their commencement of a new life, may we devote our lives to Christ so that we can earn crowns to cast at His feet with joy, reverence, and eternal gratitude!


© 2013 Laurie Collett
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38 comments:

  1. Laurie, this is so beautifully said, and such an AWESOME reminder of where we are in Christ! To offer back to the LORD all we are, our talents and our opportunities. I am going to recommend this post on my blog today!!! ♥♥♥

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    1. Cathy, that is so sweet of you! I'm greatly blessed that this post spoke to your heart and that you are sharing the link.
      May you have an awesome week in Him!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  2. God's school is the most important school of life - He is fair teacher, who doesn't give marks, but He watch our hearts. Greetings from very, very hot Cracow - we had today +35 degrees. Have a blessed week Laurie!

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    1. Great point, Zim! All we need to know we can learn from His Word and His guidance. It's hot here in Florida too (98 degrees F) but we're used to it! Stay cool, and may you have a blessed week too!
      Laurie

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  3. Lovely just lovely to Him be the Glory

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    1. Thank you, Sherri, for your sweet comment! He deserves all glory, honor and praise!
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  4. Hi Laurie,

    Nice parallel between graduation and using our special gifts given to us by God. We have to realize and embrace our distinctive set of personal characteristics and become all God created us to be!

    Have a blessed Sunday my friend!
    Denise

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    1. Thanks, Denise! May we use all He has given us to glorify Him!
      Many blessings to you and your ministry,
      Laurie

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  5. Hi Laurie,
    it all rides on 'believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved'. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God, so we have to 'believe' on that Word to be saved. I acknowledge that we all have varied opinions though and it is good to share with one another. God bless.

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    1. Amen, Brenda -- we are saved by His grace through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of His Son. It is always a blessing to hear your insights.
      Blessings to you and your ministry,
      Laurie

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  6. Dear Laurie,
    I say "amen" to the Bema Seat of Christ. What personal rewards I would get, only God knows. Perhaps there will be a Blogger's Crown? Lol!
    But like all the graduates you mention throwing off their headgear at the end of the graduation ceremony, this was a privilage I never had, and never will experience, since I was something of a disaster at school.
    However, by reading Revelation 21 & 22, I feel that my excitement won't be contained when exploring the wonderful city of New Jerusalem. An ideal venue for one who loves travel!
    God bless,
    Frank.

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    1. Amen, Frank! The New Jerusalem will be an amazing, joy-filled, unimaginable destination that will truly be a delight to explore! One thing is for sure, when we reach the Bema Seat, He won't be asking about our academic qualifications!
      God bless you too!
      Laurie

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  7. Your words hold Our Lord in glorious joy! I am very happy I was able to stop by. Have a wonderful week.

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    1. Dear Anne,
      Thanks so much for your visit and lovely comment! May you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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  8. What a great great message! I am stopping by from Inspire Me Monday Blog Hop! I look forward to your visit at http://www.homemaker-mom.com/2/post/2013/07/old-boxes-with-a-new-purpose.html . Happy creating!

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    1. Thanks so much, Susie, for your kind words! I'm headed over to your blog now!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  9. Such an amazing post, bless you.

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    1. Thank you, Denise, for your faithful encouragement. You are a great blessing.
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  10. Hi Laurie! I am coming to you from Inspire Me Monday.

    I love that image of the kids throwing their caps in the air. What a snapshot of pure joy. (I wonder what my degree will be???)

    I hope that I have lots of jewels that make it through the fire. I hope that what I do pleases him every day.

    So good to meet you :)
    Ceil

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    1. Amen, Ceil! May we live our lives to His glory to earn crowns to cast as His feet!
      Wonderful to meet you too! Thanks so much for your visit & comment.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  11. Laurie,
    You always teach me something. Thanks for linking to Sunday Stillness. May we continue to listen to the Holy Spirit who guides and teaches us in the way we should go.
    Blessings,
    Janis www.janiscox.com

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    1. Dear Janis,
      I am blessed and humbled by your comment. Thanks so much for your encouragement and for hosting.
      May you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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  12. I am so thankful for His promises. Because of what he has done, I don't have to worry about whether I will graduate and can concentrate on doing my best instead of having to take remedial classes.

    Great post.

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    1. Amen, Donald! He has paid our tuition in full and assured our commencement of new, abundant, eternal life in Him! May we spend our time doing all to His glory.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  13. Wonderful, encouraging words. I love that the Lord has promised us rewards - and that He reminds us in His Word that our current suffering is NOTHING compared to those heavenly rewards.

    May we continue to focus on the eternal and lasting inheritance that we have waiting for us.

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. Amen, Sharon -- our life here is but a vapor, and then He will wipe every tear from our eyes and we will enjoy His presence throughout eternity!

      Thanks for your lovely comment and for following, and God bless!

      Laurie

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  14. Wonderful to have a crown - to cast at His feet!

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    1. Amen, David! A lady in the Bible study that I teach says that not having a crown to cast at His feet would be like attending a birthday party and not having a present to give. Thanks for your comment & God bless!
      Laurie

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  15. Your words are so wonderful here. I am so happy I came over to be encouraged! I was looking at your profile. What an excited life you have lead. I especially love that you follow the Lord. Having had 3 V.P. Shunt surgeries in my lifetime I was interested to see you had been a Neuro MD. Always nice to meet new faces her. I love to dance but you have certainly done some terrific things! So good to meet you here. Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Thanks, Anne, for your sweet comment and for following! It is wonderful to "meet" you too, and I love it when God connects sisters in Christ through the Internet. You have a lovely blog and a lovely family! God is so good!
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  16. I always learn so much when I stop by here. I love the graduation analogy, Laurie. Such a good illustration.

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    1. I really appreciate your kind words of encouragement, Laura!
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  17. I always enjoy your encouraging posts!

    I wanted to let you know that I am featuring your blog at this weekend's Harvest of Friends Weekend Blog Hop. Have a blessed weekend!

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    1. Thanks so much, Kelly, for featuring Saved by Grace! I'm blessed and honored! Just returned from an out-of-town competition for a few days or I would have commented & linked up to this week's hop sooner.

      Many blessings to you & your ministry,
      Laurie

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  18. Thank you for sharing your words of encouragement. I found you through Our Everyday Harvest's Harvest of Friends blog hop.

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    1. Welcome, Kelly! Thanks so much for your visit & sweet comment.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  19. This is fantastic teaching here and has filled me with encouragement about the hope that we have for the future because of Jesus! I love your analogy about the graduation ceremony. Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays.

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    1. Thanks, Mel -- your kind words are such a blessing! Our future is bright indeed because of the blessed hope we have in Him!
      Thanks for hosting, and may you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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