REWARDS FROM RIGHTEOUS JUDGE
Leslie M. John
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)
At the fag-end of Paul’s life when he knew that he would not live anymore, because of his impending execution unto death by Nero for preaching the Gospel, he writes letter to Timothy, whom he called as his son in faith and in Christian ministry, exhorting him to preach the word of God. He recollects his own ministry and says that he fought a good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith.
Paul, therefore, says that the Lord Jesus Christ will give him a crown of righteousness at the Judgment seat of Christ. He says not only he receives such crown of righteousness but all those who believe in Lord Jesus Christ and love His second coming.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8)
Bible speaks of five crowns and they are:
- And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. (1 Corinthians 9:25)
- For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
- Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)
- Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12)
- And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:4)
Indeed, Paul struggled hard to proclaim the Gospel of Lord Jesus Christ from the beginning of his ministry. He had a bad past record of persecuting Christians. His name was Saul before his conversion to Christianity. He had consented to the death of Spirit-filled Stephen and kept the raiment of them that slew him. He threatened to slaughter the disciples of the Lord. He desired letters from high priest to Damascus to the synagogues that if he found any disciples of the Lord, whether be men or women, he would bring them bound to Jerusalem.
However, as he journeyed to Damascus he encountered Lord Jesus Christ on the way. There shone a great light suddenly from heaven around him. Saul fell down to the ground and he heard a voice asking him “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Saul answered and said “Who are thou Lord?” Then the Lord answered him and said “I am Jesus whom thou pesecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against pricks”.
It is indeed hard to be obstructive, or stubborn not to believe Jesus as the Lord and fight against His teachings. The ox that kicks against pricks hurts itself and none else. The pricks refereed to here are goads that the farmer uses to prick the ox while farming. The stubborn ox that kicks against such goads, which are sharp iron pieces stuck into the edge of the stick, injures itself and none else.
The Lord was using this phrase against Saul who was persecuting Christians and the disciples. Hurting Christians was like hurting Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Saul was thrown onto the ground and humbled in no time and was made blind. The voice from Lord Jesus Christ was heard by others who were accompanying Saul but they could not see any man. Saul humbled himself immediately.
It is the obedience and change of heart that God demands at a man’s conversion to follow Jesus. Then there should be the willingness to accept Lord Jesus Christ as savior. Confessing by mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believing in heart that God raised Him from the dead will earn salvation and that is called ‘born-again’. The salvation is neither earned by gold nor silver or good works but by faith in Him alone.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).