A Crown Of Life  

(2 Tim. 4:6-8)
INTRO: Our text is one of Paul's best known ones. In it he speaks of his impending death and the crown he finally would receive. Moreover, he says this crown may be expected by any who love the appearing, or coming, of the Lord. We now look at two things: [1] a brief study of "crown," and [2] what must be done to attain that crown.
I      "CROWN"
      A.  Diadema
            1.   A crown of rule (Rev. 12:3; 13:1; 19:12ff).
                  a.   Note that even Satan's agent is said to have such a crown; he would rule all he could.
                  b.   Yet the victory would finally be Christ's.
      B.   Stephanos (text).
            1.   A crown of victory (Matt. 27:29; 1 Cor. 9:25; Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:19).
            2.   The crown, or wreath, given to winners of games; contests; races.
            3.   Common in Paul's time.
      A.  A crown of victory implies an enemy to overcome.
            1.   In Paul's case it is death (text).
            2.   We too must recognize the enemy; cannot fight one we refuse to see.
            3.   All will die and face the judgment (Heb. 9:27).
            4.   Death ends our power to prepare (2 Cor. 5:10).
                  a.  Too late to prepare to meet an enemy when we have already yielded to his
            5.   Time to seek the crown is now (2 Cor. 6:1-2).
                  a.  We can have this victory (1 Cor. 15:54-55).
      B.   An individual obligation.
            1.  Note - "I have fought;" crown is laid up "for me."
                  a.  Winning my crown is up to me - nobody else.
            2.   To any who loves the Lord's appearance and manifests that love by obedience.
            3.   To the man who will seek God (Heb. 11:6).
            4.   To the man who overcomes (Rev. 3:5).
      C.  Fight a good fight.
            1.   "Fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-5).
                  a.  Fighting such a fight requires:
                        (1)      Purpose; goal (Phil. 3:13-14).
                        (2)      Preparation (Eph. 6:10-17).
                        (3)      Courage (1 Cor. 16:13).
                        (4)      Contention (Jude 3).
                        (5)      Steadfastness (discuss under next point).
      D.  Finish the course.
            1.   A lifelong course (Rev. 2:10; Gal. 6:9).
            2.   Labor to enter into rest (Heb. 4:11).
            3.   Run in view of many witnesses (Heb. 12:1-2).
            4.   He who turns back not fit for victory (Lk. 9:62).
      E.   Keep the faith.
            1.   May be one's personal faith, or the system of faith; the gospel (Gal. 1:8-9,23).
            2.   May be kept by:
                  a.      Living it (Tit. 2:11-14).
                  b.      Teaching it (2 Tim. 2:2).
                  c.      Defending it (Jude 3).
                  d.      Stand with the Lord - even if others don't (Rom. 8:31; Heb. 13:5-6).
CONCLUSION: What a thought - in all of Paul's greate expectations, we may be included in them! We too may expect a "crown of victory" when the battles of this life are done. We need to reflect upon this more than we do. As Christians, we have a great inheritance awaiting us. If we are willing to wear "a crown of thorns" with Jesus, we can surely expect to receive: [1] a "crown of life" (Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10), and [2] a "crown of glory" (1 Pet. 5:4).