There are three crowns specifically mentioned in the New Testament. They are the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory and the crown of life.
The crown of life is the most significant one to study in conjunction with our raging controversy regarding the believer's security because of its usage in Rev. 2:10, one of the only two times it is mentioned in the Bible.Rev. 2:10,11 say:Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you THE CROWN OF LIFE. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
The eternal security position regarding the crown of life is concisely presented by H. A. (Henry Allen) Ironside in the booklet, "Eternal Security," published by Loizeaux Brothers:
A crown of life is not salvation; it is reward. There are five crowns ... the crown of life for those who suffer for Christ; .... I might lose all of those crowns and yet not lose my salvation. The Word says, 'If any man's work shall be burned .... he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire' (1 Corinthians 3:15). But I do not want to be saved that way. I want to win the crown of life. 'Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life' (pp. 42-3).
Crown Of Life or Second Death
Close examination of Rev. 2:10,11 reveals the following: (1) Persecution is a "test." (2) To "be faithful, even to the point of death" refers to enduring painful persecution, as a Christian, without disowning Christ. See also Jn. 15:19,20 and 2 Tim. 3:12. (3) While Rev. 2:10 shows what we receive by being FAITHFUL TO THE POINT OF DEATH, verse 11 shows what we miss -- namely being hurt by the "second death." Conversely, if we are NOT faithful to the point of death we will not get the crown of life AND we will also be hurt by the second death! It's a package deal, one or the other!
The next issue that should be settled is, WHAT IS THE "SECOND DEATH"? For the answer we need to go to other times it's used -- such as found in Rev. 20:14 and Rev. 21:8. These two references both clearly identify the "SECOND DEATH" as one and the same as THE LAKE OF FIRE:
Second DeathThen death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. (Rev 20:14)But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Rev 21:8)Now, getting back to Rev. 2:10,11, if we receive the crown of life by being faithful to the very end of our lives we will miss being hurt by the lake of fire, the place where all unsaved people go (Rev. 20:14,15)! There will be NO saved people in this place! In fact, to be saved means, for the most part, to be saved from the lake of fire!
In summary, the crown of LIFE will be given to all of the saved. It is NOT a "reward" that only some of the saved will get! The apparel for ALL of the redeemed after this age, therefore, is a clean, white, linen robe (Rev. 6:11; 19:8) and the crown of life. While only some of the redeemed will possess the crown of righteousness and the crown of glory, ALL of them will possess the crown of life!
The crown of life is specifically mentioned just one other time in the Bible, that is at James 1:12:Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive THE CROWN OF LIFE that God has promised to those that love him.
Observations from James 1:12 are: (1) This life is a "test." If we "persevere," which is equated with passing the test, we will ALL receive the crown of life. (2) Those that receive the crown of life are one and the same as those that love God.
Now let's interject a correlating verse from James 2:5:... Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
Logically, we can now say the following:
- All who love God inherit the kingdom of God (James 2:5).
- All who love God receive the crown of life (James 1:12).
- Therefore, ALL who inherit the kingdom of God receive the crown of life.
Our conclusion, again as already cited, refutes the teaching that the crown of life is a "reward" that only some will receive. The truth is, all who inherit the kingdom of God receive the crown of life. This is important, for one must also be faithful to the point of death to get it (Rev. 2:10,11). This is what the eternal security teachers refuse to proclaim, for it denounces their position of ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED by stating such!
This means those that start off faithful, but don't endure, won't receive this crown or inherit the kingdom of God. Furthermore, the same will be hurt by the second death!
By the way, there are other verses which are much clearer than Rev. 2:10 which show that we must endure or remain faithful to the "end" of our lives to enter the kingdom! They are:
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm TO THE END will be saved (Matt. 10:22);
But he who stands firm TO THE END will be saved (Matt. 24:13).
Perhaps the clearest of all verses regarding the necessity of remaining faithful to the end of our lives for final salvation (as well as the crown of life) is a verse that some of the eternal security teachers totally avoid in their books on the believer's security because of its absolute clarity in contradicting their position:
We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly TILL THE END the confidence we had at first (Heb. 3:14).
Plan Of Salvation
Will Not Inherit the Kingdom of God
What Is Heaven Like
Imputed Righteousness and Eternal Security
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