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Hill Preaches: 'You Can't Have My Crown'

The 48th General Council of the Assemblies of God climaxed Friday night with Missionary Evangelist Stephen Hill addressing a combined session of the Council and the National Youth Congress.
The 48th General Council of the Assemblies of God climaxed Friday night with Missionary Evangelist Stephen Hill addressing a combined session of the Council and the National Youth Congress. Hill delivered a straightforward evangelistic appeal to the closing night crowd of 16,430.

The service carried a youth emphasis as 6,000 teens joined in worship and representatives of the national Youth Department reported on the week's activities. Thanks a $25,000 missions offering given by the teens, the Council presented a Speed-the-Light van to Don Corbin, Foreign Missions Africa Field Director, for the Kenya Children's Home.

Hill opened by asking the congregation to stand. He welcomed everyone "who does not know Jesus." He greeted those viewing by television or video, saying, "It's not about the Assemblies of God, but it's about you."

Against the backdrop of recent tragedies in the nation's schools and national icons dying in the prime of life, he said the question is not "Why?" but "Where are they?" The Bible says it is appointed to man once to die and, after that, the judgment. Hill said he was preaching as a dying man to dying men.

Reminding the audience that this is the last General Council of the millennium, Hill said many will not be here for the next council in Kansas City. He said people are going into eternity all over America, "but in this place tonight, we're going to see God move."

Before reading his Revelation 3:11 text, Hill asked everyone in the congregation to repeat a prayer: "Dear Jesus, speak to my heart. Change my life. In Your precious name. Amen."

He also asked senior pastors to stand and expressed his love and appreciation to them. He said that in pastor-evangelist relationships, there is only one "federal head," the pastor. He told evangelists it is a blessing to have a head over you. He also suggested to pastors who encounter evangelists who usurp authority, "You should show them the back door!"

In an aside about revival, he commented, "It's not about falling down and shaking. You can shake. You can fall. You can twirl like a top. I want to know, are you going to live for God tomorrow?"

Hill introduced his wife as a woman of God and testified of God's healing power in the bleakest of circumstances. "No matter what you're going through, no matter what your lot in life, God is bigger!"

Moving into his text, the evangelist focused on the words of Jesus: "Behold I come quickly. Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." He referred to the Apostle Paul's confident expectation of a winner's crown at the close of his race and urged, "Don't let anyone steal your crown." He defined the crown as an emblem of honor or greatness and a reward. Specifically, he said, "I am referring to the final outcome of our lives."

With the first point of what he called a "two point" sermon, Hill said: "At the end of every life there is a time of reward or punishment...you will be blessed or cursed...it will be great, or you will wish you were never there. God has a judicial system." He said God will judge everyone for three things, "Words," "Works," and "Walk."

He urged, "Don't waste a day, because God is watching." Then he delivered his second point. "In order for someone to take your crown, you first have to have one!" As he spoke, he tore a paper crown into pieces to show what many who have opted for material things will have when they stand before God. "Trash!"

He preached, "The only way you'll get to heaven is to get a grip on the Cross." To get a grip on a crown up there, he said, you "gotta get a grip on the Cross down here." He defined religion as "hanging around the Cross." In contrast, "Christianity is getting on one!"

He delivered the "Gospel in a nutshell," saying every man is a sinner. "You don't know God? You don't have a crown. In order for someone to steal your crown, you gotta first have one! Do you know Jesus?"

Talking about how to get a crown, he stressed that God's gift is eternal life. The rest of the message is "God sent His Son to die for the salvation of men." Jesus saves. Not the church, but Jesus saves. "There is only one way to heaven, Jesus Christ."

Hill warned that the devil can steal your crown. Other people can steal your crown if you let them. Saddest of all, he said, "You can freely give it up."

Speaking from personal experience, he said, "It's never been a money thing. It's been a Jesus thing." He implored the congregation, "Don't let anyone talk you out of it."

Jesus Christ came to take away the sins of the world, Hill reminded. Then he defined sin as anything Jesus would not do. "If you can't take what you're watching at home and put it on the screen on Sunday morning in your local church, it's sin."

He urged his audience to be honest. "If you're backslid, you're backslid. Don't lie to God. He's here to set you free, but you have to be honest!"

Lowering the house lights, Hill closed the message with a depiction of standing before God to receive a brightly jeweled and shining crown. Jesus would give it, but the honor would be in testifying, "I was a drug addict and You saved me. I was deep in sin and You saved me. You saved my life...This crown is my life. I want to throw it at your feet..."

He titled his message during the invitation: "You can't have my crown." To the 48th General Council, he said, "We have work to do. I want God to get a large crown out of this generation."

Mel Surface

The late Mel Surface (1946-2018) was a writer, pastor, and former staff member at the national and North Texas District Assemblies of God offices. A journalism graduate of the University of Houston, he served as a newspaper and magazine reporter and editor. The author of two books, his writings regularly appeared in a variety of print and internet publications.