Crown of Glory :: By Nathele Graham

Doesn’t a crown of glory sound desirable? Scripture tells of many crowns that can be won by Christians and tells us how to earn each one, and the crown of glory is no different. There’s a lot of responsibility that goes into earning this crown, and most Christians won’t earn it.

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; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away (1 Peter 5:2-4).

Jesus is the chief Shepherd, and He will reward our work on earth with Heavenly crowns. The context of Peter’s passage speaks to the elders of a congregation. Elders are men who have the responsibility of leading the congregation properly and keeping the flock well fed. It’s a huge responsibility for a man to assume leadership of a congregation. Elders need to lead in the ways of God and teach the congregation, but not be dictators. They need to have the right motivation for taking on that responsibility, which means it’s done for God’s glory.

These men need to know Scripture and follow it in their daily life. If a man desires to be an elder, it should be because he wants to serve Jesus and not in order to make business connections or to line his own pockets with money. If the motive is wrong then there will be no crown given.

It was Jesus who instructed Peter to feed the flock of God. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples on a few occasions, including a meeting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was there that Jesus restored Peter and gave him his life’s assignment. “…Feed my lambs” (John 21:15b). Peter was to feed the lambs, the new believers who needed to be nurtured in order to grow into mature Christians. “…Feed my sheep” (John 21:16b & 17b).

The sheep (mature Christians) need different food than the lambs because they should have grown far beyond the need for milk or baby food. Mature Christians need the meat of Scripture in order to stay strong. It’s the responsibility of an elder to feed the new believers so they grow, and then wean these lambs so they are established in God’s word. The elders must encourage the congregation to grow and mature.

Peter knew from experience what it means to fail and then to be forgiven and restored. He was no better than any other elder but had matured in his faith and knowledge of God’s truth. “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder…” (1 Peter 5:1a).  Peter spoke with authority to the elders who shepherd their flocks and encouraged them to grow strong in faith and Christian living.

If an elder does his job well and has the right motivations, Jesus has a crown waiting. Is the desire for that crown why you do your job faithfully? It shouldn’t be. Shepherding the flock is an act of love.

When Christians grow in their knowledge and understanding of God’s word, the congregation is equipped to reach out to the lost people outside of the congregation. A responsible pastor will stand firmly on God’s word and teach the truth, even if that truth isn’t politically acceptable.

Peter and John had been arrested for preaching in Jesus’ name and were commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus anymore. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:19-20).

These are the words of a proper elder. The US Government, as well as other governments of the world, has been able to silence much of God’s truth by threatening to take tax exemptions away if a preacher tells the truth about homosexuality and other sins that are sanctioned by government. A responsible shepherd who feeds his flock properly will be more concerned with God’s truth than with tax breaks. As an elder, if you’re tempted to compromise God’s truth—maybe you’re not the man to be teaching.

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1, NKJV).

Don’t compromise God’s word, but don’t forget that your teaching needs to be with Godly love.

We can learn so much about ministry from the life of Paul. He truly loved Jesus and loved serving Him. When Paul knew that he was making a last visit to the men whom he had left in charge of the congregation in Ephesus, he had words of advice that need to be applied today:

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28).

Pay attention. The blood of Jesus is precious, and the flock which you shepherd was purchased at a great price. Paul’s warning to the shepherds is as necessary today as it was all those years ago. If the elders are weak and compromising, wolves will enter among the flock, divide congregations, and speak lies.

There are many wolves entering into our congregations and our lives today. Television is full of men who deliver a message that sounds smooth and inspiring, but is filled with erroneous teaching. Books are sold that are filled with New Age ideas, and Christians who aren’t taught truth will be taken in. Sheep who aren’t fed properly will fall prey to such lies. Without strong elders the wolves will win.

When Paul traveled on his missionary journeys, his mission was to establish congregations that were solid on a Godly foundation. He would leave men who were schooled in Christian truth to keep the congregation healthy and growing. One such leader was Titus, and Paul wrote to him and helped him understand how to choose men for leadership in his congregation. The same guidelines apply today.

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayer (Titus 1:6-9).

The man who shepherds his flock well has a great responsibility, and he can’t be a “babe in Christ.” He must be a man who has learned over the years to follow the Lord closely. Experience will have taught this man to trust Jesus and to guide others to also trust Him. This man is to feed the flock, but if he can’t feed himself he won’t be able to feed others; so he must allow the Holy Spirit to increase his knowledge of Scripture.

What about people who aren’t the leaders of a congregation? There are many ways to use your skills to minister to others.

Older women are to teach younger women. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:3-5).

As I read that passage, some wonderful godly women come to mind; and I am blessed to know these ladies. Paul had fond memories of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice and their genuine faith which they passed on to Timothy.

Planting a child’s feet solidly upon God’s word is a special ministry. Every Christian has a ministry. There are men and women who minister through music; others reach out into their communities and share the Gospel. It is a ministry to open your home for a Bible study and invite people who may not feel comfortable “going to church,” and there are much needed prison ministries.

In this day and age where there are so many single parent homes and lies being taught in public school, children need to learn what a family consists of in God’s plan: A man is married to a woman, and then they have children. Teaching that truth to young people and encouraging them to know Jesus is an important way to serve our Lord. If you love the Lord you’ll find it a joy to do all you can for Him.

Will you win a crown? Not if you do your service for that purpose. Do all you can for Jesus for the pure joy of serving Him by ministering to others. Too often people have an attitude of “What’s in it for me,” and that’s the wrong way to think about serving our Lord.

What’s the right way to think? And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).

We all have tasks set before us; and if we faithfully perform those tasks, our reward will be great. Do all for Jesus.

At the end of his life, Paul could look back on his service to the Lord and feel good about what he had done. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Every Christian has the same ministry…to testify the gospel of the Grace of God. Man or woman, it makes no difference. Share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the lost people in this world. Share because you love Jesus.

Would you continue to do what you’re doing for Jesus if you didn’t think you might win a crown? Are you doing ministry for your own gain or Christ’s glory?

The crown of glory rightfully belongs to Jesus, and you will cast it at His feet. What a joy that will be!

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

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Crown for the Soul Winner :: By Nathele Graham

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).

If you are a Christian, then someone presented the Gospel to you. It may have been that you were raised in a Christian home, and your parents nurtured you in God’s word and led by example, so there was never any doubt in your mind about your need for Jesus. If that’s the case, then your parents have earned a crown. Or, you may have happened to talk with a friend who presented you with the Gospel, and you realized your need for salvation in Jesus. If that’s the case, then your friend has earned a crown.

Every Christian should have a desire to tell everyone about Jesus and spread the Gospel. In fact, Jesus gave us orders to do just that.

And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).

Jesus did His part for the salvation of the world by giving His life for us. Now it’s up to us to do our part and share the Gospel. Every Christian has been commissioned to spread the Gospel, but few of us do. Why is that?

Many Christians aren’t prepared to share God’s word. Most of us find it easy to share unimportant things with other people, such as hobbies or political views, but the most important thing that we can share is the Gospel. Could it be that we don’t spread the Gospel because we try to complicate it? We think that only very wise men who have gone to seminary are qualified. Wrong. Jesus didn’t choose the religious leaders when looking for men to teach, but He chose fishermen, tax collectors, and other regular men to be His disciples.

Paul was an exception…he was schooled in the Law and very intolerant of Christians, until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul was given the challenging job of spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles. The Gospel message has never changed.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

That’s really pretty simple. State the facts. We are all sinners and Christ died for our sins; He was buried, He conquered death and rose on the third day, and he appeared to many people who were well aware of the crucifixion.

Paul also shared his personal testimony. Every Christian has a testimony that can be used to share the Gospel with others. Take a minute and think about how you came to faith in Jesus. Is there someone you know whom you can share that testimony with? The person you share with may have questions, and it would be good for you to have answers.

“I’m a good person; how can you say I’m a sinner?” Or “I’m too bad, so hasn’t God given up on me long ago?” Could you give answers to these questions? Study God’s word and become familiar with what it says, and that will help you to have confidence when sharing the Gospel.

Soul winners aren’t unique people. They are Christians just like you and me, but they aren’t shy about sharing their faith.

It seems that in today’s world we can share everything except Jesus. Do you have a Facebook account? How many times do you share a cute video of a kitten or your innermost feelings of hurt and anger, but have you ever shared your testimony? Have you ever shared the Gospel? When talking with friends or co-workers, do you share Jesus? You never know when the words you say will cause someone to give their life to Jesus.

We forget that we live on the mission field. Jesus didn’t commission anyone to go build houses in a foreign land and call it missionary work. He commissioned us to spread the Gospel. It’s to be taken into all the world, but that doesn’t negate the need for mission work in your own town. You may be surprised to find that there are many lost souls in your neighborhood and in your own family.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:14-15).

If you don’t share the Gospel, who will? It might be hard to tell sweet little Aunt Bessie that she faces eternal death unless she understands that she’s a sinner in need of salvation, but it’s important that she hear God’s truth before it’s too late. The Good News is that faith in the shed blood of Jesus on the cross was the final sacrifice that takes sin away. There’s no other way to salvation. It’s a gift that has to be accepted by each person individually, but unless a person is told the Gospel truth, how will they know?

There are some people who, for one reason or another, think they are a Christian but they have never confessed Jesus as their Saviour. Were you baptized when you were a baby? That wasn’t a choice on your part and Baptism won’t bring salvation. You need to make your own confession of faith and then choose to be baptized. A soul winner will be able to explain that it’s a personal choice that nobody can make for you.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:9-10).

Many people who belong to cults believe they are saved. Can you explain to a Mormon why Jesus isn’t the brother of Lucifer? Jesus is God and Creator of everything and existed prior to everything, including Lucifer and the angels. That truth can’t be compromised. Many people also think that there are many paths that lead to Heaven. A soul winner will lead a lost soul to the only path that leads to eternal life. That life is found in Jesus.

The Bible is filled with examples of soul winning, and we need to follow those examples. Jesus sent out missionaries and set the standard for spreading the Good News and soul winning.

And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you (Luke 10:8-9).

He sent them to nearby towns and told them to heal the sick and share God’s word. That’s missionary work. You don’t need to go somewhere far away, but look for opportunities in your own town, your own home, and even your own congregation. The seventy whom Jesus sent out got results.

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name (Luke 10:17).

Scripture doesn’t say how many souls these seventy missionaries reached, but they were obedient to what Jesus told them to do…share the Gospel. Another example of soul winning was on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached the Gospel. At first the people who were listening mocked the Apostles, but after Peter spoke plainly to them about Jesus, many were saved.

And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:40-41).

Peter had been a fisherman, but he spoke the Gospel, and people listened. Another time, Peter and John encountered a crippled man who was begging for money.

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk (Acts 3:6).

This opened the way for Peter to share the Gospel with all who were nearby. You don’t need gimmicks, just God’s truth and a desire to win souls.

God loves everyone, but not everyone loves God. Your love for Jesus should cause you to want everyone you know to come to salvation. You really don’t want anybody to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. You can also win a crown for soul winning.

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved (Philippians 4:1).

It’s hard to imagine how many people Paul led to Jesus, but it must be millions. In his letter to the Philippians, he called them his “joy and crown.” Not only did he tirelessly spread the Gospel in person, but his letters are still bringing people to Jesus. Paul’s example of missionary work should be studied and applied today. He didn’t hide the Gospel in works, but he boldly presented the Gospel to the lost people he met. He didn’t just tell them about salvation through Jesus, he also mentored them, which is something missing in many congregations today.

Paul was in Thessalonica for three weeks, and when he left they not only knew why they needed to accept Jesus for salvation, but they had been taught deep truths, such as the Rapture.

Soul winning and mentoring is easier when you know what you’re talking about, so do some study yourself.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Few Christians are taught much more than “You’re a sinner and need a Saviour” even though they’ve been “going to church” for decades. Study God’s word and be sure to mentor the next generation of soul winners.

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19).

Soul winners share the Gospel and bring the lost to Jesus. Be one and win a crown.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.