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Why wear the crown

2015-11-08-ZO-Sign-Crown-CrossAs I awoke this morning, a line from “Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh, do remember me” was running through my thoughts, except the words were turned around a bit.  Instead of hearing this line as it is typically sung:

If you can’t bear the cross,

you can’t wear the crown

I kept hearing this particular line sung:

If you can’t wear the crown,

you can’t bear the cross

Although I tried a number of times to “correct” the way the words were running through my thoughts, the message remained the same. So I prayed to understand why and for what purpose I kept hearing these words in this manner.  The message soon became clear: Wear the crown of the victory Jesus Christ has given us so we might bear the cross presented to us in this life.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)

… If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, must be willing to lose it for my sake; and whosoever will be willing to lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.  (Luke 9:23,24)

In practical terms, I understood that the Lord was reminding me that He does not expect us to face the trials of this world alone and without Him.  Rather, He is calling us to receive and put on His Spirit and thereby gain the victory to overcome this world through faith in Him.

Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:17,18)

In the words of the Apostle Paul, we are to put on our Lord Jesus Christ, who is that Spirit he spoke of, and thereby stand against the evil of each day.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not is chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to gratify the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:12-14)

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints… (Ephesians 6:10-18)

With these and other scriptures coming to mind as the tune and refrain of the song persisted in my thoughts, I started to understand how this was indeed a word the Lord had given to us today. Upon entering the church office earlier today, it was further impressed upon me to place these words – the ones which had been so persistent in my thoughts – on the church sign in front of the building (pictured above).  This I understood I was to do in accordance with the admonition given by the Apostle Paul:  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom. And as we are also to teach and admonish one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, I was led to share the meaning of the message I had received with the rest of the congregation.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:12-16)

So, as a part of the offertory portion of our worship together I briefly explained the meaning of the words on the church sign.  Through these and other verses of scripture, I had eventually come to understand how the Lord was intent on strengthening us to face the crosses we are called to bear.  I also understood that He was calling me to encourage others to put on the crown of victory Jesus has gained for us on the cross of His sufferings, and we are to do so by putting Jesus Christ on as our King, as our crown.  In this way we able to stand in the power of His might and strength.

How do we put on the Lord Jesus?  In His own words, Jesus taught that we are to be grafted into Him as a branch is grafted into a vine.  If we fail to be grafted in Him after this manner, in His words, we can do nothing.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 15:4-7)

By being grafted into Christ, we become one with Him.  Thus, in the words of Paul, Jesus becomes our life, the source and strength of all we do.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

As Lord and King, He is the crown of victory.  Therefore, without Jesus Christ there is no victory in our lives.  With Jesus Christ, on the other hand, we can do all things through Him (by His strength).

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (I John 5:11,12)

As our Savior, Jesus is the helmet of our salvation.  As the Lord our Righteousness, Jesus is the robe of righteousness He gives us to wear.

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:6)

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.  (Revelation 19:7,8)

Briefly comprehended, Jesus Christ is our victory.  He is the crown we are to put on so He may be exalted as our everlasting King.

For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King; he will save us. (Isaiah 33:22)

By living in the victory He has gained for us, we are able to live victorious lives in whatever circumstance or difficult place we may be in.

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.  (Isaiah 25:8,9)

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (I Corinthians 15:53-57)

Remember, also that the victory we are called to live in while in this world is but a shadow or pattern of  that which is to come in eternity.  The gift of God’s Spirit is, in the words of the Apostle Paul, the earnest of our inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ … In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.  (Ephesians 1:3,13,14)

For while Paul lived in the victory Jesus Christ and gained for him, Paul nonetheless looked forward to a crown of righteousness that he would receive following this life.  Simply stated, Paul lived in Jesus Christ though the hope of glory, which is Christ in us.

I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; 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. (II Timothy 4:6-8)

Let us, therefore, put on Christ, who is the crown of our victory in this life (given us by faith) so we may endure to the end, as did Paul, and win an eternal crown of righteousness.

And now my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, That ye would hearken unto my words and cast off your sins and not procrastinate the day of your repentance; But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord and call on His holy name and watch and pray continually, That ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear; And thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all longsuffering, having faith on the Lord, having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life, having the love of God always in your hearts, That ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into His rest. And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, That ye may not bring down His wrath upon you, That ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, That ye may not suffer the second death.  (Alma 10:27-30)

And now my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, And that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God, And that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ, That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, But that ye receive it and take upon you the name of Christ, That ye humble yourselves even to the dust and worship God in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth, And that ye live in thanksgiving daily for the many mercies and blessings which He doth bestow upon you. Yea, and I also exhort you, my brethren, that ye be watchful unto prayer continually, That ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, That he may not overpower you, That ye may not become his subjects at the last day; For behold, he rewardeth you no good thing.  (Alma 16:237,238)

To be continued…