The Doctrine of Rewards: the Five Crowns
The doctrine of rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ is sadly a neglected topic in our pulpits today, but it is one of the most important for the Christian. This doctrine pertains to the future inheritance of the Christian, and it is a central theme of the Bible. Yet, the great majority of churches rarely preach or teach on this doctrine. It is incorrectly assumed that all Christians will be co-heirs with Christ in his coming kingdom and all crowns and rewards are automatic. While it is true that all Christians will have God as their inheritance, there is an inheritance from the Lord that is not automatic.
There are several aspects of the doctrine of rewards such as the prize for the overcomers, treasures in heaven, praise and honor from Christ, co-reigning with Christ, participation in the wedding banquet, and a special class of resurrection. All of these aspects seem to be directly linked to the five crowns that are to be awarded to the faithful overcomers at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They are earned rewards.
Only those Christians who have earned all five crowns will qualify for “the prize” that Paul talked about (Phil 3:14). The prize is the “full reward,” and those believers who obtain it will be selected as the Bride of Christ. This is the highest level of the three levels of service in the kingdom. A chart is given at the end of this article to help the reader understand the importance of faithful service to the Lord Jesus Christ in the current age.
There will be many positions of service in the kingdom of God the Son, and the rank of each Christian who qualifies to enter the kingdom will be determined by faithfulness while on earth. Contrary to popular opinion, the phrase “enter the kingdom” does not refer to a person’s spirit salvation in the evangelical sense (i.e., the kingdom of God the Holy Spirit). The phrase literally means to enter into the king’s dominion, and it refers to Christians who qualify to reign and rule with Jesus Christ in his millennial kingdom (i.e., the kingdom of God the Son). This privilege is directly related to the doctrine of rewards which depends upon the manner in which the Christian lives his life during the current age. This is the salvation of a person’s soul.
The current age is a time when God is taking a people out of the Gentiles “for his name” (Acts 15:14) so they can be tested for the purpose of filling positions in the kingdom of God the Son. There will apparently be three levels of service in the kingdom, and these levels of service appear to be linked to the five crowns. Clearly those who enter the kingdom will have won “stephanos crowns” at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but it is not absolutely clear about the ranks of the crowns. However, some delineation of ranking order is suggested as the crowns appear to be related to the three levels of service in the kingdom.
The chart at the end of this article may be helpful in understanding the crowns as they are related to the ranks in the kingdom.
The Crown of Life
The first and basic crown that is required for entrance into the kingdom of God the Son is the “crown of life.” It must be remembered that the crowns are earned rewards and do not pertain to the new birth experience which is entrance into the kingdom of God the Holy Spirit. Salvation of a person’s spirit through faith in Jesus Christ can never be lost. Crowns can be lost and the Scriptures attest to this fact. The crown of life is referred to in the following Scriptures:
James 1:12 (KJV) Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Rev 2:10 (KJV) Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Rev 3:11 (KJV) Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
The crown of life will be awarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ to those Christians who are “faithful,” “love him,” and “hold fast.” These are Christians who lose their lives to Christ that they might gain them in eternity. This is the salvation of the soul.
Luke 9:23-24 (KJV) And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
The crown of life will be awarded to those Christians who have their souls saved at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is a salvation based on works. (This is very different from the salvation of the spirit which is by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, without any works of any kind). The salvation of the soul, represented by receiving the crown of life, is a reward to those Christians who seek the Lord and overcome the flesh through confession of sin and filling of the Holy Spirit. (1 John 1:9)
Rev 3:5 (KJV) He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
The Book of Life is greatly misunderstood by the majority of preachers and teachers. The book of life is the basis for rewards in heaven, not entrance into heaven. Every believer’s name was written in the book of life “from the foundation of the world” (Rev 17:8). These are all the ones chosen by God for salvation. Everyone who has his name in this book has the potential for living a life under the control of the Holy Spirit resulting in the crown of life or a reward for good works.
Having one’s name blotted out of the book of life does not mean the loss of salvation in the evangelical sense, but the loss of the crown of life or the loss of reward. This crown is a basic requirement for entrance into the kingdom of Jesus Christ and for earning one or more of the other four crowns. Jesus personally described how this crown is earned in the following Scriptures:
Mat 10:39 (KJV) He that findeth his life (i.e., soul) shall lose it: and he that loseth his life (i.e., soul) for my sake shall find it.
Mat 16:27 (KJV) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Verse 27 above clearly establishes that the salvation of the soul is a result of works, and it is directly related to the crown of life. Thus, the loss of the crown of life is the loss of the soul and the loss of reward and not the loss of the salvation of the spirit which is a free gift from God. If man must maintain good works in order to keep this salvation, then it would not be a free gift nor would it be by grace. Salvation is by grace, but rewards are according to works.
Numerous Christians will be in heaven whose names were blotted out of the book of life. These are the Christians who lost all of their reward by living a life controlled by the soulical or flesh nature. Their lives will have been a waste, but their spirits will be saved. There are many examples of this in the Bible.
Saul is a primary type of the Christian who loses his life and his crown by disobedience. Other Old Testament types who lost their inheritance by disobedience are Reuben who lost his double portion because of sin, Esau who sold his birthright for a meal of red stew, and Lot who lost his reward because he loved the things of the world. All of these men were saved spiritually, but they lost their rewards in the coming messianic kingdom.
Every Christian who wins the crown of life is an overcomer and will reign and rule with Jesus Christ in the millennial kingdom. Those Christians winning only this crown will be ruling from the third level in the kingdom, and they will reign over the cities of the earth.
The parable of the pounds in Luke 19:11-27 is a picture of the “good servant” who has been faithful “in a very little.” He will reign over the cities of the earth. This servant is in contrast to the “good and faithful servant” who will be made “ruler over many things” in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-25:30. The “good and faithful servant” will be reigning from the second level in the kingdom. The incorruptible crown and the crown of righteousness appear to be linked to the “good and faithful servant.” The reader may want to refer to the chart at this point in order to grasp the subtle differences in the degrees of faithfulness and the degrees of responsibility in the millennial kingdom.
The Incorruptible Crown
1 Cor 9:24-27 (KJV) Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
The incorruptible crown is awarded on the basis of winning a spiritual race that is marked out by God for each believer. It is a daily race of “putting off” the sins of the flesh which then allows the believer to “put on” the fruits of the spirit (Col 3). This requires self-discipline of the body which is used by the Holy Spirit to manifest the life of Christ. This life is dependent on the filling of the Holy Spirit through confession of sin and a sensitivity to the leading of the Lord.
There is a difference in being “in Christ” and having “Christ in us.” All Christians are in Christ, but Christians winning this Crown have Christ in them. The winner of this crown has been successful in denying the fleshly desires and appetites of the body. He has been successful in “crucifying the flesh” (Gal 5:22-24).
This crown is tied in with the “good and faithful servant” who will be “ruler over much” (Matt. 25:21). According to the following Scripture, it is also apparently a prerequisite for winning the crown of righteousness:
Crown of Righteousness
2 Tim 4:7-8 (KJV) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
In order to summarize and place these crowns in perspective up to this point, it is important to understand that the crown of life pertains to the soul while the incorruptible crown is connected to the body. Thus, the believer who fights a good fight and finishes the course (i.e., he overcomes sin that affects body, soul, and spirit) will have won the crown of life and the incorruptible crown. It is now possible to win the crown of righteousness which is a higher award in the second level of the kingdom. In order to win this crown, the believer must not only “fight a good fight” and “finish his course,” but he must also “keep the faith.”
The keeping or guarding of the faith is required for winning the Crown of Righteousness. This is not the common faith connected to salvation in the evangelical sense but the faith that speaks of Christ’s coming kingdom and produces good works through those who hope in Him. This is why verse 8 above says this crown will go to those Christians who “love his appearing.” Thus, those Christians who are alert to and anxiously looking for the return of Jesus are the ones who are keeping the faith. These are Christians who are daily occupied with Jesus Christ through his Word and anticipate his return.
Many Christians perform “good works,” but they do them in the power of the flesh. To the observer who sees only the “outward appearance,” these works do not appear any different than good works in the power of the Holy Spirit. Even the Christians performing these works do not realize that they are merely wood, hay, and stubble. These works will perish in the fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Even Peter resorted to the arm of flesh when he cut off the soldier’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemene.
The primary test for determining the quality of these works is the motive behind the works, for God “looketh on the heart.” Many works are performed by Christians for the purpose of exalting and glorifying self. They are performed in order to receive praise and honor from men and not from God. The parable in Luke 19:12-27 pictures the outcome of a servant who performs works in the power of his own flesh. This servant kept his pound laid up in a napkin (i.e., sweat cloth). This servant is called wicked—not slothful—and he loses all reward the same as the servant who hid his talent in the ground (Mat. 25:14-30). The servant who hid his talent in the ground was called wicked and slothful (i.e., he did not even work in the power of the flesh).
Many Christians who work hard in the Church and occupy positions of leadership are going to be surprised when they appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ and learn that they were hiding their pounds in the sweat cloths of self-effort.
Christians often get caught up in works that are to be seen by men rather than God. Some times it is even hard for Christians to know their own true motives. That is why David prayed for God to search his heart and show him any evil ways. Many Christians find it hard to say “no” when asked to help. They are afraid of what people think. They get caught up in pleasing a pastor or friends rather than God. We are told to fear God and not men. It should be remembered that God’s yoke is light and not heavy. If one’s yoke feels heavy or burdensome, then it may be the yoke of man rather than God.
Many of these hard working believers are Laodicean Christians who do not realize that they are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17). They are too busy to study their Bibles. The common thread for these Christians is a lack of knowledge about the deeper things in Scripture. They relate everything to basic evangelical salvation and think all rewards are automatic. They lack understanding of the deeper truths of God’s Word pertaining to the salvation of the soul and the doctrine of rewards.
The Crown of Rejoicing
The Crown of Rejoicing and the Crown of Glory are the two highest crowns awarded to Christians for their faithfulness in seeking the Kingdom of Heaven. It is commonly thought that seeking the Kingdom of Heaven is seeking to be born again, but this is incorrect. Only believers are able to seek the Kingdom of Heaven, and it should be the ambition of every Christian.
The Crown of Rejoicing will be awarded on the basis of soul winning and not spirit winning as is commonly thought among Christians. Evangelism (i.e., witnessing to the unsaved) is a very important work, and there will be rewards for those Christians who evangelize with the correct motives. Unfortunately, much witnessing about Jesus is done out of guilt, coercion by pastors, self-exaltation, and various other reasons, but the true motive should be love for the Lord Jesus Christ and a desire to please our Lord and Savior by being obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. A strong desire to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit will give the believer boldness in witnessing.
The true soul winner is the Christian who wins saved people to a life of obedience by teaching them the deeper truths (i.e., epignosis) of Scripture. Soul winning involves teaching and motivating Christians to be overcomers. Spirit winning saves man from the penalty of sin, but soul winning saves man from the power of sin.
Spirit winning gets the believer into heaven, but soul winning gets the believer into the kingdom of heaven. Spirit winning involves a salvation that can not be lost, but soul winning involves a salvation that can only be attained by persevering in good works until the end. Spirit winning involves a gift that is without cost, but soul winning involves a prize that is worked for, and it is very costly. The rewards, however, are very great and far surpass the costs involved.
The highest or first level of rule in the kingdom belongs to the Bride of Christ, and this level will be composed of Christians who have won the soul winning crown which is called the Crown of Rejoicing. This crown is described in the following Scripture:
1 Th 2:19 (KJV) For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
The Thessalonians were very faithful Christians—unlike the Corinthians—and Paul had high hopes of them entering the Kingdom of God the Son. The following Scripture is only one that confirms this to be true:
2 Th 1:5 (KJV) Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
Paul was greatly pleased that the Thessalonians had a mature faith, and they persevered under persecutions and trials. Paul was confident that their souls (i.e., lives) would be saved because of their faithfulness and that they would be part of the Kingdom of God the Son.
Paul was also confident about the Philippians and their perseverance unto the saving of the soul according to the following Scripture:
Phil 4:1-3 (KJV) Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. 2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
The above Scripture confirms that Paul is confident that their names will not be blotted out of the book of life. Note again that the book of life is clearly linked with works and not grace.
It is important to understand that soul winning involves a great deal more than memorizing a few Scriptures and an opening line to determine if someone has been spiritually reborn (i.e., they have entered the Kingdom of God the Holy Spirit). Soul winning involves knowing God by knowing the Scriptures and meditating upon them night and day. It involves being filled with the Holy Spirit and leading other Christians into the spirit-filled life. It involves Bible study, prayer, praise and worship, and it entails more than showing up at visitation on Monday nights. Soul winning requires a daily walk with Christ and an abiding in Christ so that He can work through the believer.
Crown of Glory
1 Pet 5:1-4 (KJV) The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
The second crown in the highest level of rule is the Crown of Glory, and it is possibly the highest ranking crown of all. This crown will go to those faithful under shepherds over a flock. The elders are those who are spiritually mature in the Church. It is thought that they represent pastors and teachers who are responsible for feeding the flock, but it is any Christian who has matured in the faith and who exercises his spiritual gift in serving the body of Christ. These are the Christians whom God has placed in charge over the other servants according to Matthew 24:25.
All Christians are responsible for feeding and edifying the body of Christ by utilizing their spiritual gifts. Those Christians who exercise their gifts will be assigned positions of responsibility in feeding other Christians at the appropriate time. In addition, it seems inconsistent that God would offer a crown to only those Christians who have the gifts of prophecy and teaching or to ordained pastors of local churches. Certainly all pastors should win this crown, but this seems doubtful in the current Laodicean Church Age.
It seems certain that only a small percentage of those in the Church will qualify to win this crown. Indeed, most of those in the Church are spiritual babes in Christ and never even give it a thought that they will stand before Jesus Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an accounting of their lives. Numerous Christians will have their names blotted out of the book of life because they will not be accounted worthy of the Kingdom of God the Son. There are numerous Scriptures that warn of this possibility, but pastors and teachers relegate these warnings to the unsaved (i.e., reprobates). It is necessary to grossly twist the plain teaching of the Scriptures to arrive at this conclusion. The Bible was written to believers, and the warnings in the Bible are meant for believers.
The Crown of Rejoicing and the Crown of Glory seem to be tied in with the “faithful and wise servant” of Matthew 24:45 who will be made “ruler over all his goods” as shown in Matthew 24:47. Christians who win these crowns will have won all five crowns. They will be chosen as the Bride of Christ, and they will rule from the highest level in the kingdom. They will receive a full reward according to the following Scripture:
2 John 1:8 (KJV) Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
The Scriptures are clear that not all Christians will be overcomers at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is important for the reader to strive to enter in the kingdom of God. This involves a great deal more than simple salvation according to the free grace of God. So many preachers are caught up in the grace of God and salvation by faith that they completely ignore the plain teaching of Scripture on the rewards that God has for those Christians who are willing to go on into maturity. Once a Christian has been born of the Spirit, he has the freedom to become a disciple of Jesus Christ or to continue as a slave to his own soulical nature, the old man (Eph. 4:22-24).
Numerous preachers today get caught up in judging whether a person is saved or not by how he lives. It has become a common practice for pastors to cause Christians to doubt their salvation by attempting to describe what a "real" Christian is like. Using the criteria established by many pastors today, Jesus Himself would have failed the tests so common in Christian circles. He drank wine, which contained alcohol, and He was friend to prostitutes and those in the lower socioeconomic levels of society and He was highly critical of the religious establishment. It is inappropriate for Christians to attempt to judge another person’s salvation experience by that person’s behavior. We are admonished not to judge (Mat. 7:1). The Bible tells us that some Christians in the current Laodicean church age will live just like unsaved people.
No one except God knows who belongs to him. The only criterion for whether a person is a Christian is his belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Contrary to popular teaching, the Bible teaches “easy believism,” and there is no additional criteria needed to prove that faith is real and valid. The person who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ receives his assurance of salvation the moment he believes (Rom. 8:16). He knows within his heart that he believes, and it is wrong for anyone to rob him of his assurance of salvation by pointing to his works. Salvation is a free gift and no works are required either before or after to either gain salvation or prove that salvation is real. It is the Judaizers who tie works into salvation by faith by making works a necessary consequence of faith. This is the heresy of Lordship Salvation.
It is God’s desire that every Christian come to repentance after he has been saved spiritually. Repentance is a continual work of a Godly Christian. The gospel of John was written so that men would believe and be saved (John 20:31). It is significant that the word repentance is not found even once in the book.
God does not desire for any Christian to lose his soul. The following Scripture is one of the most misunderstood verses in all of Scripture:
2 Pet 3:9 (KJV) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
This Scripture is written “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). Thus, the recipients of this exhortation are born again, blood-bought, justified Christians. The “us-ward” are Christians and not unsaved people whom God is desperately trying to save. God saves whomever he wishes and whenever he wishes (Doctrine of Election), and then he calls them to repentance. It is only after we have been born again that we can truly repent of our sins and save our souls. God is long-suffering to us-ward (i.e., Christians) and does not want any of us to perish (i.e., lose our soul). This is confirmed in the following Scripture which is also written by Peter:
1 Pet 1:9 (KJV) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
If the Christian attains the end of his faith which is the salvation of his soul, then he will be awarded the Crown of Life, and he will enter the Kingdom of God the Son and reign and rule with Jesus Christ in the coming messianic kingdom. Many Christians will not receive the end of their faith which is the salvation of their souls. Their names will be blotted out of the book of life and their lives will perish in the judgment fires of the Judgment Seat of Christ. They will have lost their souls and their inheritance as co-heirs with Christ. Numerous Scriptures attest to this fact, but Christians refuse to apply these Scriptures to themselves.
Numerous pastors attempt to use these Scriptures to show that many Christians have not truly been born again spiritually, but spiritual rebirth is not the issue in these Scriptures. The salvation of the soul is the issue, and this salvation pertains to works, and rewards for these works at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Thus, the Crown of Life is the basic crown for being a part of the Kingdom of God. The following Scriptures are usually misinterpreted as pertaining to the salvation of the spirit, but they are referring to entrance into the kingdom of God the Son:
Luke 13:24 (KJV) Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
Luke 13:28 (KJV) There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
A person does not strive to get saved. It is only when he ceases to strive and he trusts in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary that he is saved spiritually. However, one does save his soul by striving in the power of the spirit, and this salvation gains one entrance into the Kingdom of God. Many Christians strive to enter in by the works of the flesh, but they will not be able to enter the kingdom because their lives will be lost. The following Scripture pertains to the salvation of the soul and the crown of life that is so crucial for every believer to win:
Heb 2:2-3 (KJV) For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
Please note the highlighted phrase to understand that this is a salvation accomplished for the purpose of reward. The implication is that Christians will not escape destruction if they neglect this salvation. This destruction is not eternal damnation but the loss of the soul and the Crown of Life.
One final Scripture exhorting Christians to save their souls and win the Crown of Life is the following:
Phil 2:12-13 (KJV) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The Incorruptible Crown and the Crown of Righteousness are the crowns awarded those Christians who reign from the second highest level of rule in the Kingdom of God the Son. They are most likely represented by the 24 elders in Revelation 4 and 5. The 24 elders are analogous to the 12 disciples who were administrators with Jesus when he was on the earth. The number 12 is the number of earthly government while the number 24 is the number of heavenly government. Thus, the 12 disciples were the earthly equivalent of the 24 elders who will be crowned sovereigns in the Kingdom of God the Son.
The Crown of Rejoicing and the Crown of Glory are the crowns awarded to those who will reign from the highest level of rule in the kingdom These Christians make up the Bride of Christ and they are most likely represented by the four living creatures in Revelation 4 and 5. The number four is the number of creation and represents all things created. The Bride of Christ will be reigning over all the Lord has which is all created things.
The four living creatures of Revelation look like a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. Clearly they are the praise and worship leaders in John’s vision of heaven since the 24 elders follow their lead in praise and worship. It is interesting that these four creatures symbolize the different aspects of Jesus Christ presented in the four gospels. The lion represents Jesus as the King of Israel since He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the book of Matthew depicts this side of Jesus. The ox (i.e., calf) represents Jesus Christ as the suffering servant presented in the book of Mark. The man represents the human nature of Jesus Christ as presented in the gospel of Luke. The eagle represents the divine nature of Jesus Christ as presented in the gospel of John.
Thus, the four living creatures reflect the character of Jesus Christ in his different roles. They cannot represent Jesus Christ in the book of Revelation since they participate in worship, and they clearly depict redeemed individuals. Therefore, they represent a class of Christians who most closely resemble the image and character of Jesus Christ. They have the very mind of Christ. This group can be none other than the Bride of Christ.
It is significant that Lucifer was the praise and worship leader in heaven before his fall and he was the most powerful being created by God. It may very well be that the Bride of Christ will take the place of Lucifer. Clearly the Bride of Christ will be co-heirs with Christ so their authority will be over all creatures. This was also the position of Lucifer before his fall. He was the most powerful creature in the universe.
It is a beautiful plan of God to replace the rebellious Lucifer with lowly man whose only qualification is that he learned to be a servant. Those Christians that follow Jesus’ example as a servant now will reign and rule with Him in the coming Kingdom.
The book of Esther presents in typology the fall and exclusion of Lucifer from the kingdom in Queen Vashti who was disobedient to King Ahasuerus when he was showing the riches of his glorious kingdom. Lucifer was also very beautiful, but he became proud, disobedient and resentful of his position in second place. Hence, the criterion for reigning and ruling is humility in place of pride.
The Christian’s position in the kingdom is determined by faithfulness in performing the Lord’s work in the power of the spirit and in obedience to Him in this life. There will be many Christians who will be ashamed at the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ because of their selfishness and their love of the things of this world. The things of the world will pass away, but the things done for the Lord will be greatly rewarded (1 John 2:17).
The Kingdom of God the Son is a literal kingdom occupying time and space. It is one thing to be a subject in this kingdom (i.e., all Christians). It is an honorable thing to be an officer in the king’s service and be an administrator over a portion of his kingdom (i.e., Christians who enter the kingdom and rule over cities). It is quite another matter to be among the king’s court and take part in governing the kingdom and live in the palace in close proximity to the king (i.e., Christians who enter the kingdom and rule over many things). It is still a more prestigious honor to be the wife of the king and co-reign with him from his throne (i.e., the Bride of Christ). This is a simplified analogy of the Kingdom of God the Son with the three levels of rule and those unfortunate ones who will have no position of authority in the kingdom.
The five crowns addressed in Scripture represent the goals that every Christian should strive to attain in his Christian walk with the Lord. Every wise Christian should set about earning all five crowns so that he can receive a full reward and reign and rule as the Bride of Christ. Only those Christians who have kept themselves clean and pure and who have lived in close communion and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ will be rewarded with the “prize” of the high calling of God. These servant Christians will be gloriously presented as the Bride of Christ. The honor will be unparalleled in all of history.
The five crowns are described: