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Earthly Images of Heavenly Truths

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by asterisktom, Feb 20, 2024.

  1. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    I remembered reading “In Harm’s Way” by Doug Stanton, the story of the sinking of the Battle Cruiser Indianapolis in the last two weeks of World War Two, and the subsequent ordeal of drifting for four or five days in the Pacific Ocean, most of them raftless, in some cases even without life-vests. By the time they were rescued only one-fourth of the crew had survived. Over 900 had died, either in the initial torpedo attack or due to shark attacks, exposure, dehydration, succumbing to wounds, and even being knifed and drowned by fellow servicemen who hallucinated them as Japanese soldiers!

    When help finally arrived, many, amazingly, could not be coaxed onto the rescue crafts! They were convinced that the rescuers were the enemy, that it was some kind of trick. So the rescuers had to do some quick thinking. They announced that the sailors were being invited to an ice cream party, and that they needed to get in line for this. They used other imaginative incentives as well.

    This reminded me of the variety of incentives that God uses when He speaks of heaven. He refers to a Supper, a Wedding. And He also speaks of our receiving Crowns and Rewards. These are all incentives - symbols and images - of things we know well to convey truth and glories ineffable. From the known to the unknown. God’s message to us associates earthly desires – the better kinds – with an essentially unspeakable eternal reward. It is unspeakable because we have no frame of earthly reference. Perception and understanding, after all, are built largely from experience and observation. Were it not for the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 2:9-16, we would have neither desire for, nor the dimmest understanding of, the things of God.

    Many of the passages and themes of the Bible are more familiar than understood. A case in point is the issue of the crowns just mentioned. Who has not heard a sermon - probably more than once - of how we, although we receive these crowns, will throw them back at the Savior's feet? Truth to be told, Christians would not want to “throw these crowns back” even if they could. They would be throwing away eternal reward!

    Some Christians, by focusing too literally on those images (crowns, supper and so on), don’t perceive the underlying truth. They even sometimes speak of one type of crown versus another, not seeing that all of these crowns are all simply referring to different aspects of heavenly glory. This error comes from overvaluing the supposed “Golden Rule” of hermeneutics, imposing a literal grid over certain truths that are meant to be taken spiritually.


    Many “Crowns” – One Crown

    God uses these incentives because many of us are entirely too comfortable with the familiar sin -infested waters of life in this world and don’t realize the pressing need to change our thinking heavenward. People in this life will either get all of these crowns, so to speak, or they will get none. Or are we to assume that there will be some gloomy, inglorious Christians who have the Crowns of righteousness and life, but lack the Crowns of Life and Glory?

    Here are the main “crown” references:

    For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? - 1 Thess. 2:19

    Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. - 2 Tim. 4:8

    Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. - James 1:12

    and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. - 1 Pet. 5:4

    Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. - Rev. 2:10

    And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. - 1 Cor. 9:25


    Is it not clear that these various crowns are actually different names for the same reward - eternal life - just presented different ways?


    Many “Spirits” – One Spirit

    Similarly, we have a multiplicity of “Spirits”, but in reality just one Holy Spirit.

    How many Spirits of God does the Christian in his or her life? By this same thinking we would have to imagine several:

    Spirit of truth, John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13
    Spirit of holiness, Rom. 1:14
    Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:2
    Spirit of adoption, Rom. 8:15
    Spirit of the living God, 2 Cor. 3:3
    Spirit of faith, 2 Cor. 4:13
    Spirit of promise, Eph. 1:13
    Spirit of grace, Heb. 10:29

    But there really is only one Holy Spirit. So the crowns are the very same thing. Although they certainly have reference to the Parousia event of the first century they also are promises for us. We will receive the same crowns – eternal life!


    Application
    Christ told His disciples as well as grumbling detractors, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

    He spoke this just after assuring them, John 6:53-56, that to have eternal life they must “eat His flesh” and “drink His blood”, causing many of them to finally turn away from following Him. Peter, by blessed contrast, perceived the spiritual, heavenly truth behind the shocking figures of speech. Because the Word of God is foremost a spiritual book we also must consider looking first for spiritual truth in the images we encounter in it.
     
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  2. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    Excellent! Thanks Tom
     
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  3. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946 Well-Known Member
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    As a song leader in the PB Church for 35 years there was a beloved song we always sang called Must Jesus Bear The Cross alone but if in Heaven we are going to wear crowns is it even doctrinal?... Brother Glen:)

    2 The consecrated cross I'll bear
    Till death shall set me free,
    And then go home my crown to wear,
    For there's a crown for me.


    3 Upon the crystal pavement, down
    At Jesus' pierced feet,
    Joyful, I'll cast my golden crown
    And His dear name repeat.


    Am I being too nit-picky?
     
  4. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    Thanks, Kyredneck. This is actually going to be the first article as well as title of my third pdf book. I hope to have it done in March.
     
  5. asterisktom

    asterisktom Well-Known Member
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    Nah. I can see myself singing that. Although I might mumble the "casting crowns" part.:)
     
  6. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946 Well-Known Member
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    Yeah like I get a crown because Christ saved me?... Where is that in the Bible?... When something is crowned it means the ultimate... Being alive eternally never to die again is the crown, not headgear:eek:... Brother Glen:)
     
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  7. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    No, it is not clear to me that the various crowns are the same reward, but they are all rewards for entering "eternal life" by God's action of grace.

    1 Thessalonians 2:19 indicates our reward in the presence of Christ, being in Him and He in us, is joy!

    2 Timothy 4:8 indicates when we meet Christ in the air, we (everyone of us) will have received the reward of righteousness for we all will have undergone the washing of regeneration.

    The crown of life appears to refer to the reward of our bodily redemption when Christ comes in the air. James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10

    And of course the imperishable crown is the reward of eternal life, now and forever. 1 Corinthians 9:15

    And again in 1 Peter 5:4 we receive the reward of being redeemed in "glorified" bodies, the crown or wreath of glory.

    Bottom line, crown is to refer to our rewards upon entering eternal life spiritually and subsequently physically.

    In Philippians 4:1, those Paul had helped become children of God are referred to as his "crown and joy."

    In Revelation 3:11 we see that believers can lose their crown (rewards) but not our salvation. Obviously, then, some rewards are perishable, while others such as salvation and eternal life are imperishable.
     
    #7 Van, Feb 20, 2024
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2024
  8. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946 Well-Known Member
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    But if I'm wrong as some teach and I do get a crown, well I guess I can put it on top of my Halo!;)... Brother Glen:Biggrin
     
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