Misconceptions About Heavenly Rewards (Part 4 of 6)
By Nathan Jones
Are heavenly rewards merely temporary?
Each mid-July our ministry sponsors a Bible conference that is held in the Dallas, Texas area. In 2017, our conference’s theme was “Living with Hope in the End Times.” One of the powerful presentations made at that conference concerned what the Bible has to say about the rewards Jesus will hand out when we stand before His judgment seat. The presentation was made by Glenn Meredith, the pastor of the Brookhaven Church in McKinney, Texas. An excerpt of Pastor Meredith’s eye-opening teaching on heavenly rewards is presented below, or watch it on our television program, Christ in Prophecy.
Glenn Meredith: Some people do not think about heavenly rewards much because they’re not really motivated all that much by rewards. They frankly think, as many believers do, that heavenly rewards are temporary.
I was taught that one day I would die, or the Lord would come, and I would stand before the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ. When it was all over with, I might get some rewards. I’d possibly receive a crown. But then, all of a sudden, as it is revealed in Revelation 4, at the very first worship service in Heaven, I would take my crown off and cast it at the feet of Jesus. Everybody else would do the same, and then all our crowns would be gone. From then on, we are all the same for all of eternity.
Some erroneously believe that somehow the best heavenly rewards are temporary, and so not really all that motivating. For a moment I’m sure getting a crown would be a great event, but then, eternity is a long time, so assuredly we’d get over it. A lot of people think that!
That illogic is a misunderstanding. The Bible doesn’t teach that. Revelation 4:9 reads:
“Whenever the living creatures give glory, and honor, and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever. The 24 elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and they worship Him who lives forever and ever, and they lay their crowns before the throne. And they say, ‘You are worthy our Lord and our God, to receive glory, and honor, and power. For You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.’”
Many people read about that scene in Revelation, where we take our crowns off and throw them at the feet of Jesus, and that’s it. The crowns are gone forever! Well, number one, never base your whole theology of rewards on this one scene, because theologians are not totally sure just who these 24 Elders are. Yes, everybody has an opinion about who they are, but the last I saw there were like 13 different major opinions by scholars about who these elders are.
Assume for a moment that the 24 Elders do represent the Church, meaning the saints who believe in Christ as Savior. They are there in God’s throne-room ruling and reigning around His throne, and sitting on their smaller thrones as God promises us one day they’ll receive. Just assume that these crowns represent our rewards. The chapter does not say that once and for all the Elders take their crowns off and throw them to Jesus, and then they never pick them back up again. Rather, the passage states the opposite. It begins with, “Whenever.”
Do you think whenever the living creatures give praise to God that the saints then take off their crowns and throw them before the Lord, that happens only one time in all of eternity? Do you think there is only one time the living creatures are going to somehow break out in worship before God? No! This happens all the time. This scene will play out all throughout eternity.
So what seems to happen is, if these Elders do actually represent you, then you too will take your crown off as a token to give glory to Jesus. Your crown represents your reward, and remains with you as something you will be able to use to honor and glorify God again and again throughout eternity.
Do you think it won’t matter if you no longer have any rewards with which to say to God, “I glorified you on earth. I thought you were worthy of living my life for you back when I was on earth. Here are the rewards you’ve given me for that which I believed were my just and reasonable service. You rewarded me with this, and now I place it at your feet, and say, ‘Lord, you are the one who deserves the honor, and the glory, and the praise. Not me!’” No, rather, you will have these rewards shaped in a crown with which you will be able to glorify God over and over and over again throughout the rest of eternity.
In the fifth segment of this series on heavenly rewards, Pastor Meredith will explain three more misconceptions people have about eternal awards.