would like to know what crowns we can receive and how we receive them.
I want as many as I can to throw at the feet of Jesus.
Crowns, of course,
are rewards and have nothing to do with gaining salvation, as I think you
already know. Although there is a fair amount said about crowns, it is
not totally clear. First let me give you a list of the crowns and then
I’ll talk about the questions.
1) The crown of life for enduring temptation (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10).
Evidently this is both for enduring temptations concerning sin from within
(in the context of James 1;12) or trials for a good purpose from without
(the context of Rev. 2:10). The word peirasmos—trial or temptation—can
have either meaning.
2) The crown of righteousness for loving His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).
Loving His appearing seems to have the idea of righteous living in light
of His imminent return. I want to be found faithful when He comes, and
since I don’t know at what moment that will be, I want to live righteously
all the time.
3) The crown of joy for winning people to Christ (Philippians 4:1; 1
Thess. 2:19). Where the first two have to do with faithful living and proper
responding to life’s trials and temptations, this one is for workers! This
is for those who get out and take the gospel into the highways and byways
of life and offer it to the lost and heavily burdened.
4) The crown of glory for faithful shepherds (1 Peter 5:4). This would
seem to only apply to those who shepherd in an official sense as an overseer
There are several thing we can be sure of. These are heavenly crowns,
according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:25. He uses the word ‘incorruptible’
or ‘imperishable’ as opposed to earthly crowns. On the other hand, they
apparently can be lost, according to what John said to the church at Philadelphia
in Rev. 3:11. If we don’t “hold on to what we have,” it appears a crown
can be taken away. This is not losing salvation, for it is abundantly clear
in Scripture that salvation cannot be lost. One of the really neat things
is that these crowns are VICTOR’S crowns—stephanos in the Greek.
The passage concerning casting the crowns before the throne is in Revelation
4:1-11. The 24 elders who perform this act of worship are (in spite of
some controversy over this) representatives of the Church. So the whole
Church, everyone who is saved during the church age, will cast their crowns
before the throne. This our supreme act of worship will indicate that even
what we receive as reward is lost in the immeasurable GLORY of HIM
who sits on the throne. Even all we accomplish for Him or receive as a
reward will be to HIS GLORY. He is ALL in ALL, ALPHA and OMEGA.
It looks as if it’s possible to receive four different types of crowns.
But notice there is no distinction between the crowns that the elders cast
before the Throne. It's not clear if that means they are all equal or that
there is really one type of crown that we receive for different types of
service or faithfulness, or that it doesn’t really have any significance.
At any rate, it doesn’t actually matter—it is the reward that counts and
especially, as you say, the wonderful joy of using those crowns as an act
of worship to Almighty God.