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Grace Bible Church

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.

The Tree of Life for week ending 04/15/01.

As we continue with Phi chapter 4, we have in verse 1 "Therefore, my beloved brethren [members of the Royal family of God] whom I desire to see or be with, my source of happiness and [stephanos] wreath of glory,"

Here, Paul uses a military word as a metaphor to illustrate the decorations awarded to winners at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  These wreaths are given to winner believers who glorify God in time.  At least five categories are related to these wreaths of glory.  The first four are available to all believers, the last one to pastor-teachers only.  Although we refer to them as crowns, they are more accurately wreaths because the only who will wear a crown in heaven is The Lord Jesus Christ according to REV 19:12.

1.  The crown of Righteousness is for being totally occupied with The Lord Jesus Christ and producing divine good,2TI 4:8.

2.  The crown of Life is for enduring trials, heartaches, disasters and coming out glorifying the Lord, JAM 1:12.

3.  The Incorruptible crown which is for mastering their Old Sin Nature, 1CO 9:25.

4.  The crown of Rejoicing which is for being soul winners, 1TH 2:19.

5.  The crown of Glory which is for being willing to feed the flock of God, 1PE 5:4.

Therefore, there is the warning regarding these crowns or wreaths of glory, REV 3:11, "Hang on to what you have, so that no one takes away your crown."

2JO 1:8  "Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward."

The crown of righteousness is awarded to the Church-age believer who fulfills the predesigned plan of God by the advance to spiritual maturity.  This believer has advanced from Spiritual Self-Esteem (SSE) undergoes providential preventative suffering to attain Spiritual Autonomy (SA) then passes momentum testing to attain Spiritual Maturity (SM).  This is given for virtue, honor, integrity, passing momentum tests, and fulfillment of the royal family honor code.  With this crown comes a tremendous amount of extra privileges, blessings, and opportunities in the eternal state.

The crown of life is awarded to the Church-age believer who in spiritual maturity passes evidence testing.  This mature believer has glorified God to the maximum.  Satan administers evidence testing as an extension of the angelic conflict.  In REV 2:10, The Lord Jesus Christ said to those mature believers in the church in Smyrna who were going through tribulation and poverty, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer.  Note that the devil is about to cast some of you in prison, that you may be tested, and you will have special persecution ten times. Keep on being faithful even until death, and I will give you the crown of life." 
This crown is awarded to all members of the Royal Family of God who utilize the problem solving devices and advance to maturity and then use +H to pass evidence testing.  This believer knows that it is the same God who brings both feast and famine, fair weather and bad.  They understand that God's love is the same although it may often ask them to change their position.   

The incorruptible crown is given to those who mastered the Old Sin Nature through dedication and devotion to the Pre-Designed Plan of God, 1CO 9:24-27.  These are the believers who were disciplined, faithful, dependable, and self-motivated.  They didn't look for excuses not to give, to serve or be faithful to Bible class, 1CO 9:24-27

The crown of rejoicing is for being soul winners, 1TH 2:19 "For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?"

These individuals were accurate in their communication of the Gospel.  They were not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ and they led others to the grace and truth found in The Lord Jesus Christ.  They led many to the righteousness found in the word of God. 

The crown of glory is awarded to pastors who faithfully study and teach Bible doctrine to their congregation.  Doctrine by which the pastor and positive members of the congregation will attain spiritual maturity, 1PE 5:4.

PHI 4:1 also brings us to The Doctrine of Surpassing Grace.

Point 1 is a Definition.

Surpassing grace is the ultimate in spiritual achievement.  It is the maximum place of blessing and reward, and the utmost in glorifying Jesus Christ.  Surpassing connotes something beyond supergrace and beyond time EPH 2:4-7.

There are two special categories of blessings in the grace plan of God.

1.  Supergrace blessings which are the rewards and blessings in time.

2.  Surpassing grace blessings which are the special rewards for eternity for the mature believer only.  This is for the believer who reached spiritual maturity in time and continued to bring glory to God in the plan God designed for their life.  The key to this is reaching spiritual maturity by the daily function of perception, metabolization and application of Bible doctrine, JAM 1:22-25 cf 2:12-13. 

There are no surpassing grace blessings without the attainment of supergrace blessings, 1CO 3:11-16.  Surpassing grace is the status quo above and beyond ultimate sanctification, and is the ultimate in glorifying God. 1JO 3:2-3"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.  And everyone who has this confidence fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."

This glory begins with common grace then goes on to efficacious or saving grace and continues on to living or logistical grace and then to supergrace.  From supergrace to ultra supergrace.  Ultra supergrace to dying grace.  Dying grace to surpassing grace.  

There are several categories of spiritual blessings under supergrace. 

Category one includes sharing the perfect happiness of God, having occupation with Christ.  The supergrace believer has great capacity for life, love, happiness, blessings, and total appreciation for grace, these are intensified in supergrace.  There is also the tremendous ability to face undeserved suffering in life without complaining, which is a fulfillment of PHI 2:14 "Keep on doing all things without complaining, grumbling or arguing;" 
Remember the corrected translation of PHI 1:29 "Because to you it has been graciously given with reference concerning Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on behalf of Him,"
Under spiritual blessings the supergrace believer also has the ability to correctly interpret history and evaluate current events in the light of the Word of God.  There is also freedom from the slavery of the circumstances of life and have adaptability to changing circumstances. 

Category two has to do with temporal blessings.  These include wealth, either received or acquired, Professional prosperity which means having a great influence on others, leadership dynamics, promotion.  Here there is the ability to assume responsibility and authority without emotional inspiration.  There is also great social prosperity, great friends, there may be sexual prosperity with one's right man or right woman.  There's also technical or mental prosperity where the ability to think and concentrate increases.  Establishment prosperity includes enjoyment of freedom, privacy, the protection of life and property from criminals and reprisal.

Category three is blessings by association.  This means that those that are around a mature believer are blessed by that association or relationship.  They are blessed either directly by God or indirectly from the supergrace believer as a result of the overflow of his supergrace blessings.  The supergrace believer shares his blessings with others, he is very gracious.  There are peripheral areas of blessing by association such as loved ones, in business life, social life, and those in a local church.  There are also geographical blessings to the supergrace believer's city, state and nation.

Category four of supergrace blessings are historical blessings, 2TI 1:5.

This is the doctrinal principle that the mature believer carries his generation.  The ebb and flow of history does not disturb the tranquility or impact of the mature believer.  The supergrace believer is on the right side of history, the reversionist is on the wrong side of history.

Category five of supergrace blessings is undeserved suffering.  Only in time does God have the opportunity to give us pressure, disaster and undeserved suffering to prove to Satan and the fallen angels that Bible doctrine can handle any situation.  God gives us the ability not only to handle suffering but also to turn it into blessing, ROM 8:28, Deu 23:5.  A mature believer knows the difference between divine discipline which is unbearable or undeserved suffering which is bearable.  The supergrace believer's ability to handle undeserved suffering glorifies God and becomes evidence against Satan in his appeal trial.  Undeserved suffering is also used by God to help the believer keep their eyes on God and focus on eternity, REV 2:10; 2CO 12:9-10.

God in His wisdom deals with us as perfectly as only He can, allowing the suffering, heartache, disaster and sorrows to afflict us to draw us closer to Him.  All of this is designed to put muscle on your faith and occupy the believer with eternal values, ROM 5:3-5; ROM 8:36.

Category six of supergrace blessings is dying grace.  Every believer has a choice in time between being positive to Bible doctrine and receiving dying grace, or being negative to doctrine and dying the sin unto death.  For the supergrace believer, the curse of death with its pain and fear is removed, HEB 2:15 and it becomes the greatest experience in life. Dying grace is taught in 2TI 4:6 "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure [death] has come."

The mature believer knows when he is dying.

Category seven is the blessings of surpassing grace at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Surpassing grace is the optimum in spiritual achievement.  It is the maximum place of blessing and reward, and the ultimate in glorifying Jesus Christ. 

Point 2. The Judgment Seat of Christ is the Time of Distribution of Surpassing Grace Blessings, 2CO 5:10; 1CO 3:11-15; 1CO 9:24-27.

2CO 5:10 says that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body.  Many individuals want to see the Lord, they can't wait to talk to Him and we will all get our chance.  In 1CO 3:11-15 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.  Therefore, the Judgment Seat of Christ eliminates any necessity of judging or maligning any other believer, ROM 14:10-11.  The analogy to the Judgment Seat of Christ is found in HEB 6:7-12

The human references can not possibly handle such wonderful concepts like what God has prepared for us in surpassing grace blessings.  We have to be satisfied with the things we can understand, phrases like "no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain, no more death, the old things that past away."  We really even do not have any good descriptions of heaven because it is beyond the scope of human language to qualify these things.

Point 3.  The Reversionist, Backslider or the Carnal Believer can lose Supergrace and Surpassing Grace Blessings, but never his Salvation, 2Ti 2:11-13.

The reversionistic believer rejects Bible doctrine and receives discipline in time, but cannot lose salvation.  Salvation is the work of God believers do nothing to earn it and can do nothing to lose it.  JON 2:9 "Salvation is from the Lord."

God the Father planned salvation, God the Son executed it, and God the Holy Spirit revealed it.  When you believe in Christ, there's no merit involved in your faith.  You believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you're saved, and there is nothing you can do even after you believe in Christ that can cancel that salvation.  You can turn your back on Jesus Christ in every way but you can't do anything to lose your salvation.  God did everything so you could have it, and God does everything to keep it, and you can't lose it.  Because of the immutable, eternal, infinite attributes of God, He cannot cancel the salvation of any believer.  Jude 1:24 "Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling and present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty, dominion and power both now and forevermore."

The failure or renunciation of any believer living on earth cannot cancel the perfect integrity of God, 2Ti 2:11-13.  The fact that we are unfaithful does not change the faithfulness of God.  Every believer is indwelt by God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  God cannot deny Himself and since He indwells every believer, He cannot deny the believer.  The essence of God is related to our eternal security.

Point 4.  In the Old Testament, "Stephanos" was related to the eternal Heavenly City, 
HEB 11:8-16.

God is not ashamed of mature believers.  Therefore, He gives them fantastic blessings in time and even greater blessings in eternity.  The eternal heavenly city is used to designate surpassing grace blessings and rewards for the patriarchs and leaders of Israel, HEB 11:10,16,23.

Point 5.  The Analogy of Self-discipline is Related to Surpassing Grace Blessings and Eternal Rewards, 2TI 2:5.

2TI 2:5 "And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules."

You don't receive a wreath unless you compete according to the rules.  To enter the games, an athlete had to live by a very strict set of rules, which if broken, even once, disqualified him.

Point 6. Self-discipline and Surpassing Grace Rewards,

1CO 9:24-27 "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.  And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified."

Self-discipline is living your life in the light of eternity, life is short; eternity never ends.  Self-discipline requires more motivation than anything else in life, it takes self-discipline to be consistent.  Once you get even a small glimpse of eternity, you are motivated to that self-discipline which is so necessary for the consistent metabolization of doctrine and resultant spiritual growth.  The overriding considerations of eternity are more important to you than the distractions of time.  Self-discipline counters this tendency and brings the believer under the academic discipline of the local church, where spiritual growth is accomplished by persistent metabolization of doctrine is the only source of growth in time.  Knowledge of doctrine leads to understanding of doctrine, which leads to wisdom.  You cannot read the Bible for yourself and understand it.  Only the Pastor can do that, because that is the nature of his spiritual gift. You must be taught under the principles of self-discipline and academic discipline.  Through these you grow spiritually, receive supergrace blessings, then by holding on to maturity, you advance to ultra-supergrace, and receive your surpassing grace rewards.

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