Editor's note: Sunday, March 9, Steve finished his race. Oh, to have seen that moment when he saw Jesus for the very first time and heard Him say, “Well done.” He lived every day of his life for that moment. It is truly fitting that we would post this article of his this week as we celebrate his homegoing.
My friend, there is coming a day when you will receive your reward for the work you did here on earth. None of us are aware of the time set for that event, but you can rest assured it is coming, and it is coming quickly.
This has been on my mind now more than ever. Many are aware that I have been fighting cancer for the last 10 years. In 2011, I spent nine months in the valley of the shadow of death. Doctors gave up on me, giving me hours, perhaps a few days, to live. At that time it appeared to be over. My burial plot was purchased, my funeral arranged. I was laid in a hospital bed to await the inevitable. In my spirit, I cried out, “Jesus, will I ever be able to win another soul to You?”
Since the time I was saved, winning souls is all I’ve cared about. Now I lay here on this deathbed wondering if it was over. Thankfully it wasn’t. The Lord raised me up, and I’ve seen many more come to Jesus. I didn't know then any more than I know now what will happen next, and neither do you.
We are all the same. Each of us have a few years here on this earth—a fact I am more and more aware of with each passing day. Many live with the mentality “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Life is not like that, my friend!
I am reminded of the days of Noah. This holy preacher of righteousness prophesied to an unholy people of the day of judgment. They mocked and scorned him. Finally the Lord told the man of God, “Enough!” He shut Noah and his family up in the boat. It was over. There was no more eating, drinking and being merry. Just the sounds of people screaming from outside the boat.
They were ready to listen now, but it was too late.
My friends, I’m writing this as a warning. Your life, whether good or bad, is not forever. It’s going to end, and what you did with your life is going to be judged.
For the sinner, you will be brought before the great white throne to be judged according to your works. Everyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
For the saint, you too will be judged. Preachers rarely, if ever, speak of this. Thankfully, I had men of God in my life like David Wilkerson and Leonard Ravenhill, who fixed my eyes on eternity. The Bible says that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor 5:10).
Paul said, “Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor 3:13-15).
The day of judgment is coming. No one will escape it. Each of us will stand before the Lord to receive according to our works. All of our deeds will tried by fire. What was worthless will be burnt up. Only the precious will remain.
Ravenhill often said, “On that day, you had better hope you're not standing knee-deep in ashes.”
I refuse to stand before Jesus on that day empty-handed. I desire a glorious crown that has been shaped and fashioned over years of faithful service to the Lord.
One day I did a quick search online for precious stones. I knew of stones such as diamonds, emeralds and rubies. But there where so many more that I had never heard of. As I went through the countless images, I said, “Jesus I want that one on my crown, and I want that one.”
You may find that strange, but I live with my eyes on eternity. It’s my desire to have something of great value to place at Jesus’ feet.
Whatever you’ve earned, that’s what you’re going to cast down at His feet. I want to throw a costly crown at His feet as I exclaim, “Worthy! Worthy! Worthy is the Lamb that was slain at Calvary. Jesus, this was the very best I could do. I know it doesn’t compare to those who have gone on before me, those who spilt their blood for You, but this was my best. There was nothing more I could have done!”
John wrote down these words of Christ in Revelation 3:11: “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
Be assured, at the end of every life, there’s a time of reward or punishment. According to the Word of God, there exists a system of checks and balances, a judicial system, a standard by which we are expected to live. There is a Lawgiver, and there is a law. If the law is violated, there is punishment. If the law is followed, there is blessing. In order for you to have a crown up there, you must have first lived for Christ down here. To put on a crown up there, you must first put on a cross down here.
Some presently have no crown. They have done little to nothing with their life since they came to Christ. Likewise, they will have nothing to lay at Jesus’ feet. Others have a paper crown at best.
Friend, time is too short to waste. Place your eyes upon eternity, and start living your life for the next. The control of the crown is in your hands. Don’t let anyone have it. When you stand before God, you will want a crown—a glorious crown!— to lay at His feet in worship.
Evangelist Steve Hill preached the Brownsville Revival for five years, was pastor emeritus of Heartland World Ministries Church and authored 13 books, including Spiritual Avalanche.