1 Cor 9:25-27 “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Opening: In 1896, an American track and field athlete named James Connolly ascended the victor’s podium at the first modern Olympic games. He was the first Olympic champion in 1,400 years. Connolly embodied the Olympic motto, “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” That may be a great summary of the thoughts that were flooding the Apostle Pauls mind and ours in these verses we have been looking at.
Today we are taking a topical excursion as we launch out of our exposition of this text. Paul is talking about the disciples pursuit and striving for an imperishable crown. We all understand the metaphor of athleticism. In 1 Cor 9:25 Paul speaks of the contrast between the perishable wreath and an imperishable. This is going to lead us to look at the imperishable crowns described in the scripture…
One subject to decay, and destruction, disintegration, and death.
One is impervious to death and destruction - imperishable, incorruptible, immortal.
How am I pursuing this in my life? Paul said, I’m running, Im boxing, I discipline myself.
What for? “The Prize”. an award for exceptional performance, yes, and award. Commentaries note that the prizes in the games … like in Corinth… they resulted in not only crowns, but money, oil, barley, and certain rights . Some might win citizenship, or land.... So the crown represented the actual victory and more…besides this: the victors were viewed as having acquired divine status. "The victors were placed on the same level as the gods and entered into communion with them. When the victors were honored they wore the same mark of distinction as the god."
Phil 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Yes its for Christ, but it is MY goal!
So, we have to keep this major them of 1 Corinthians in mind.
1 Cor 3:11-15 “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
1 Cor 4:5 “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
And when he writes them again...
2 Cor 5:6-10 “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
The ceremony of the crown. On the last day of the games the victors were crowned in an elaborate ceremony. In the morning the victors, judges, and members of the various groups proceeded in a solemn parade to the temple of Zeus, which was observed by all of the spectators who were present at the games. At the temple the judge, wearing a purple robe, placed the crown on the victor's head.
Note: This judgment is not about entry into heaven:
There are no “do overs”. and no second chances. When you breath your last, there is no more opportunity to be saved. If you dont turn to Christ before you slip into eternity. Its already done… That happens at the White throne of judgment.
Rev 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened...if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Johns vision is consistent with what Jesus said:
Matt 25:31-36 ““When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left." (is this why we describe our politics on the right or the left???)
The purpose of this judgement is to determine the faithfulness of followers of Christ.
Paul said: “It is required of stewards, that a man be found faithful” (I Corinthians 4:2). With that stewardship in mind, all believers will stand before the Lord and Judge and be required to give an account of the way they have used their time talents and treasures for His kingdom.
That what we come to here in Chapter 9.
Define the crown/prize.
What are the types of crowns we will receive. Is this exhaustive? no. one of them list the other. These are just crowns that are called for in the context of those circumstances. Now we dont know there are any others, but we also do know that the rewards are many…
You are commanded by Christ to lay up treasures in heaven… where moth and rust do not decay… Matt 6:19
1 Cor 5:6-10 “that each one may receive for what has been done in the body.”
Rev 12:11 “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Prov 11:30 “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.”
“Will there be any stars in my crown?” is an old hymn :
I am thinking today of that beautiful land I shall reach when the sun goeth down; When through wonderful grace by my Saviour I stand, Will there be any stars in my crown?
In the strength of the Lord let me labor and pray, Let me watch as a winner of souls; That bright stars may be mine in the glorious day, When His praise like the sea-billow rolls.
Example of Demas mentioned three times in the New Testament:
“Demas and Luke, my fellow workers” (Philemon 1:24).
“Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings" (Colossians 4:14)
“For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:9-10 “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. ...” )
Notice the downward flow: he is working closely with Paul; then, he is mentioned with without application. Finally, he has deserted Paul. A mind for this present world, but not for heaven.
Dan 12:3 “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
The Bible says these crowns will be our badges of honor reflecting glory upon Christ, Who worked through us to achieve the good works of our life. Not exactly sure, but here is what the 24 elders will do...
Rev 4:9-11 “And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.””
All of this is not for our glory… Its for the Glory of Christ. Who we will proclaim for ever… Holy Holy Holy is the lOrd God almighty!
ARE WE STRIVING for the Imperishable?
There's a line that is drawn through the ages On that line stands an old rugged cross On that cross, a battle is raging To gain a man's soul or it's loss On one side, march the forces of evil All the demons, all the devils of hell On the other, the angels of glory And they meet on Golgotha's hill The earth shakes with the force of the conflict And the sun refuses to shine For there hangs God's son, in the balance And then through the darkness he cries It is finished, the battle is over It is finished, there'll be no more war It is finished, the end of the conflict It is finished and Jesus is Lord Yet in my heart, the battle was still raging Not all prisoners of war had come home These were battlefields of my own making I didn't know that the war had been won Oh, but then I heard the king of the ages Had fought all the battles for me And that victory was mine for the claiming And now praise his name, I am free.
Some are in the middle of the race, and you are are in the middle of the race....