A minister died and was waiting in line at the Pearly Gates. Ahead of him was a guy wearing sunglasses, a leather jacket and jeans. St. Peter asked the guy, “Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you into the Kingdom of Heaven?”
The guy said, “I’m Joe, the taxi driver in New York City.” Peter consulted his list, smiled and said, “Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the kingdom of heaven.” Joe the taxi driver walked into heaven, and Peter turned to the minister.
“Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?”
“I’m Pastor Thomas, the minister. I pastored St. Mary’s Church for the past 43 years.”
St. Peter consulted his list and said, “Yes, please take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“Just a minute,” said the reverend. “That man was a taxi driver and he got a silken robe and golden staff. How can this be?”
“Up here,” Peter answered, “We reward by results. While you preached, people slept. While he drove, people prayed.”
Have you thought about the rewards of heaven? The Bible is clear that salvation is not based on performance, but is freely given to those who turn from their sin and turn to God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
However, the Bible does refer to heavenly rewards given to believers for faithful service, for enduring persecution and suffering, and for wise management of the resources God entrusts to them.
New Testament writers describe the crowns of heaven. In Greek culture a crown might be either an ornamental head dress worn by royalty or a wreath worn as a symbol of victory. The crown recognizes victory and accomplishment.
First is the imperishable crown (I Corinthians 9:24-27). Those who victoriously run the race of life by consistently bringing their flesh under the Holy Spirit’s control receive this crown. They exercise great self-discipline. We should strive for excellence in the Christian life.
Second is the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7, 8). This crown is rewarded to those who live each day with an eternal perspective and who have matured spiritually. They have finished the Christian life with integrity and kept their focus on Christ.
Third is the crown of life (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10). This is awarded to those who have suffered nobly and have persevered hardship. Do we endure hardship in a way that honors the Lord?
Fourth is the crown of glory (I Peter 5:2-4). This crown is awarded to faithful ministers who give pastoral care and loving oversight to the flocks who are entrusted to them. They set Christ-like examples.
Fifth is the crown of rejoicing (Philippians 4:1, I Thessalonians 2:19, 20). This crown is also known as the soul-winner’s crown and is given to those who faithfully share the gospel. How are you enlarging the size of heaven?
Of course, the greatest reward of heaven is being in the presence of Jesus. When William Montague Dyke was ten years old, he was blinded in an accident. Despite this tragedy, he graduated from the university with high honors. While he was in school, he fell in love with the daughter of a high-ranking British naval officer, and they became engaged.
Just before the wedding, William had eye surgery in the hope that the operation would restore his sight. If the surgery was successful, he wanted the first person he saw to be his new bride.
Wedding day arrived. William’s father, Sir William Hart Dyke, and his surgeon, stood next to the groom, whose eyes were still covered with bandages. The organ trumpeted the wedding march, and the bride slowly proceeded to the front.
As soon as she arrived at the altar, the surgeon took a pair of scissors out of his pocket and removed the bandages. The congregation was in suspense, holding their breath as they waited to find out if William could see the love of his life.
Finally, he exclaimed, “You are more beautiful than I ever imagined!”
One day, the believer will stand face to face with Jesus, and finally being in His presence will be the ultimate reward of heaven.
Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor of McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, near McCurry Park, and invites you to Bible study this Sunday at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them online at www.mcdonoughroad.org, and like them on Facebook.