1 Corinthians 9: 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
The young people who you see in these photos all participated in a program sponsored by Word of Life called Youth Involved. It is an annual event and the young people here love it! This was my first opportunity to be involved with this program because last year I was still in the US when it was held. About 6 weeks before the event the entire team of missionaries goes from church to church to begin to train the young people to participate in the event. There are many different areas of competiton to choose from: Preaching, Sunday School lesson demonstration, gospel drama presentation, open air evangelism, and many different types of musical competitions. The day ends with a bible marathon which consists of a competition of being able to correctly recite one of 31 scripture verses and or the answers to one of 45 different questions on biblical doctrine. Each church youth group is a team and the teams compete against each other for the prize! When the moderator says the reference for a particular scripture the first person to stand gets the opportunity to repeat the verse – word for word from memory. If they cannot do this successfully the other team gets an opportunity to try. The same format is used for the questions and answers session.
This day was such a blessing to me personally to see so many young people who worked so hard to prepare for this day - there were two trophies and many medals passed out for excellent performance but these prizes and awards will not last - just like the verse in Corinthians says. All things on the earth are temporary and will at some time pass away or be destroyed – so then what is the point of this competition and all the time spent preparing for this special day? The point is to prepare and train the young people in the churches to share and pass on the message about the REAL special day - the day our Lord Jesus comes for His people!
The bible talks about 5 different crowns we, as Christians, can receive that will last for eternity:
1.Crown of LIFE – For persevering under trials as a Christian – 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 who love him.
This crown of life is also talked about in a few other places like:
Revelation 2: 10 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.
2. Crown of RIGHTEOUSNESS For those are found righteous in Christ and are looking for His coming – 1 Timothy 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
3. Crown of GLORY For those who work as Pastors and Elders in the churches – 1 Peter 5:2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
4. Crown of REJOICING For those who are soul winners – 1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
5. Crown INCORRUPTIBLE – for self-denial – 1 Corinthians 9: 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
So what is the significance of the crowns we will be rewarded in heaven? Will we be wearing them and strutting around in heaven patting each other and ourselves on the back about how wonderful we were here on earth and how deserving we are of a crown!!!!!! NO!
Here is what the bible says we will do with our crowns:
Revelation 4: 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and worship Him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
We were created by God to serve Him and worship Him forever but sin entered the world and separated us from God. It is only by believing in Jesus Christ as Savior and receiving the pardon offered by the shedding of His blood on the cross for our sins that we can once again be reunited to our creator and compete for these crowns which one day we will lay at His feet in gratitude for what He did for us – not what WE did for Him. On that day, that glorious day, we do not want to appear before Him empty-handed!
There is no other race and there is no other prize that matters except the reward of eternal life - the devil is a liar and there are many today who believe the lie that there are many ways and Jesus is just one of them, or there are many paths that lead to the same end, or there really is no such thing as hell. PLEASE consider the race you are running in and if you a running in one of these wrong directions ( the wide gate and broad road that leads to destruction) turn around, ask His forgiveness and begin to run through the narrow gate that leads to LIFE eternal:
Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to LIFE, and only a few find it.
This is the message that the young people are learning to live out and to share and I am so encouraged to witness the intensity in the youth here to be good servants for the Lord and their desire to see all of the people in their country come to know Him and be saved! Pray for us as we continue to share the Love of Christ and the message of hope in El Salvador!
Under His wing,