Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saved by Grace But Judged by Works

It's His Party 
And You Can Bring Gifts 
If You Want To
The invitation to the party of a lifetime reaches your door. The person to whom this party is given is the most amazing and highly respected person you know. Everyone but everyone is invited. It's free; all you need is do is accept the invitation. You get there and see that only a handful of people showed up. Many of them are lined up in great anticipation to give the esteemed guest of honor their gifts that took them their entire existence to cumulate. "Wait!", you exclaim in panic, "I didn't know you could bring gifts!" Ouch. To make matters worse, you found out there was a gift registry.

The Bible tells us that there is nothing you need to do to get into Heaven other than to accept Jesus as your Savior. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Thinking that we have to do anything in addition to believing insults our Lord by telling Him that the cross wasn't enough.

That being said, this does not mean that we cannot do good works for Him. This is great news, as there is nothing we should want to do more than to honor our Savior. Conveniently, we don't even have to guess what He might like; His wish list is scattered throughout the pages of the New Testament. For each wish granted, our King will give us a crown.

1. The Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
This imperishable crown is given to believers who have answered and successfully completed a call from God, and in doing so have sacrificed the money, possessions and life style they could have had otherwise. The apostle Paul compared it to running an extraordinary race, only the rewards of winning this race are everlasting.
2. The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. & Daniel 12:3) 
This crown is for God's soul winners, who have faithfully witnessed to others His saving grace. We may doubt our ability to do such a powerful thing, or think we have no time, but our God is omnipotent. He can bend time and events in our favor to fit opportunities for us to witness and work for Him if we allow Him to.
3. The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
This crown is for those who have lived a good and righteous life for God, and longed and loved for His return. They have lived 'right' by not only talking the talk, but walking the walk even when no one was looking. Only the good…get the crown of righteousness!
4. The Crown of Life (James 1:12 & Revelation 2:10)
Also known as the martyr's crown, this crown is given to those believers who endure trials, tribulations, and severe suffering, even unto death. This is the greatest act of bravery, courage and love that we could possibly show God our Father.
5. The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:1-4)
Also known as the pastor's crown, this crown is for all who serve and shepherd God's people. God did not make the Bible easy to understand, but he did place among his people those who have studied and grasped His Word. These teachers will be given the crown of glory!

So, will people be walking around with crowns in Heaven? Weren't we talking about gifts we could give to Him? In Revelation 4:10 it says that when we receive our crowns we will cast them before Him, professing to Him that He should receive the glory and honor and power, that He created all things, and that for His pleasure they were made. Yes, these are the gifts that we can give to our Jesus on Judgement Day!

One of the unexpected joys of adding the Bible to my repertoire is that so many of the songs I have been singing in church all my life now have more substance. I feel sorry for the person who sits in front of me the next time we sing "Crown Him with Many Crowns!" I get all pitchy when I sing too loud.

Please remember, BIBLE BAIT is written by a novice Bible study student, not a Bible scholar. If something doesn't look quite right to you, do some digging. One thing you won't get is bored!