"The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name." (Revelation 3:12, ESV)
Jesus gives us rewards for being faithful. We should often return and review the rewards Jesus gives to His overcoming church. They are meant to be a source of encouragement and strength that we can draw from as we pass through difficulties in this life.
To the church of Philadelphia, Jesus gives a 'sense' of permanence and identity. To the believer that overcomes, Jesus promises they will be pillars in the Temple of God. Pillars speak of strength and permanence. They are located not just anywhere but in the Temple. If we remember Paul's words, we are reminded that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is as if Jesus is saying I will make you a pillar of strength in my body.
To the believers that overcomes in this world, Jesus promises new names. He will write on us the name of His God, the name of the New Jerusalem, and Jesus' new name. All these have to do with identification with Him. Because we choose to identify with Him in every condition of life. He chooses to identify with us for all eternity!
"The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels." (Revelation 3:5, ESV)
The Church of Sardis had a reputation for being alive but was dead. That is severe! Her works were dead, and she had forgotten what she had received from God in the beginning. But God! Jesus, in His mercy, comes to Sardis and calls Sardis to repent and remember what she had originally received. If she does not repent, Jesus says He will come as a thief, and what she does have will be taken from her.
Yet in Sardis, there is a remnant that has not soiled their garments. Their garments remain clean before God. Oh, that the church would remain in unsoiled garments, free from sin!
Jesus presents the reward to the church of Sardis: To the overcomer, I will give brilliantly white garments; I will never blot his name out of the Book of Life, and I will declare his name before my Father and His angels! To be alive is to have clean heavenly garments, your name in the family album, and everyone in heaven will know you because the Father declares your name.
If you have a reputation of being spiritually alive in Christ but are dead, you need to "wake up!" as John says, and repent and remember what you received in the beginning!
"The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations," (Revelation 2:26, ESV)
The church at Thyatira was forced to contend with Jezebel, a self-proclaimed prophetess; seducer of the servants of God; and champion of sexual immorality. Many had been seduced and given in to her temptations. Jesus stands calling them to repent and come away from her.
The reward He offers to the church at Thyatira is twofold. One, to the one who overcomes, Jesus, says, "I will give authority over nations." Jesus can delegate authority to these overcomers because He has overcome and been given that authority by His Father. Those who overcome in Thyatira have overcome by submitting to the authority of Jesus Christ rather than Jezebel! By submitting to the authority of the Lord Jesus, this remnant has lived free of Jezebel's bonds and is now rewarded authority to shatter the systems that oppose the Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly, to the one who overcomes, Jesus says, "I will give him the morning star." It is unclear what this means, but we know it is good because it is a reward for the overcomer! The Morning Star was the name of Lucifer before he fell. I believe it means that Lucifer's authority has now been taken from him and given to those he sought to destroy. It pays to live free from the bondage of Jezebel and her seductions. Live free and enjoy your authority over the evil one!
"... To the one who conquers, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.'" (Revelation 2:17, ESV)
Each of the churches, of Revelation 2 and 3, were experiencing external pressure to abandon their faith in Christ. The church of Pergamum was located in the place that Jesus referred to as the throne of Satan. The pressure there against the followers of Christ had to be great. The church was doing many things right, but Jesus was bringing correction because she was becoming sexually immoral.
There are promises to those who overcome. Pergamum was given promises too, or rewards for overcoming. Winning over Satan is always our objective! We should overcome even when His throne is right next door.
Jesus promised three rewards to those who overcome sexual immorality and food sacrificed to idols:
Hidden manna is the manna that has been held back just for this occasion! The white stone carries mystery as nothing is told about it except that it has the 'new' name that the overcomer will receive. It is a name only known by Jesus and the one who receives it.
Though mystery may surround the three rewards, the positive note is that nothing is hidden from Jesus. He knows us
"... The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'" (Revelation 2:11, ESV)
The church of Smyrna is the second of seven churches that Jesus addresses in Revelation 2 and 3. Smyrna received no words of correction from Jesus, only affirmation and encouragement! Jesus knew life was very hard for them amid tribulation and extreme poverty. He encourages them, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer...be faithful unto death." Be faithful unto death???
Smyrna was one tough sold out church to Jesus! Jesus tells them, "It is going to get worse." Smyrna stands all the more boldly. Some believers cannot imagine having to suffer for Jesus, not Smyrna. She was madly in love with her Saviour.
To the church of Smyrna, Jesus speaks the promise, "When you overcome the synagogue of Satan, you will not be hurt by the second death." What is the second death? Eternal separation from God. Spiritually speaking, the second death is like the death Adam and Eve experienced and every sinner after them; separation from God. The second death is reserved exclusively for those who have rejected Christ. Not Christians following Christ. This church would rather die for Jesus than be eternally separated from God. Believers do not have to fear the second death.
What a promise to receive while facing death! Stand firm in Christ. Overcome Satan, and you will never have to fear the second death; eternal separation from God.
"...To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'" (Revelation 2:7, ESV)
There are twenty-two rewards in Revelation, chapters 2-3. These rewards are given explicitly to those who overcome and are victorious against the evil one. The word 'conquers' comes from the Greek word NIKE. It means victory, success, and supremacy! The one who has achieved this has overcome and won! They have not conquered an earthly foe; they have remained faithful to Christ by overcoming every spiritual foe.
Jesus threatened the church in Ephesus to have its lampstand removed if they did not repent of having lost their first love. To encourage them, Jesus offers a reward!
The reward for returning to their first love, Jesus, was to be able to eat of the Tree of Life! This tree was off-limits to humanity based upon the sin of Adam and Eve. God put a guardian, with a flaming sword, to protect the tree lest humanity eat its fruit and acquire immortality.
Jesus offers the church of Ephesus an enticing reward in exchange for overcoming their sin of lost love, lost works, and twisted theology. It is not a bribe but a promise they already possessed but had forgotten. The reminder is: Overcoming is worth your while!
This Christian walk can sometimes be very challenging. It is challenging to the point of discouragement. We must always remember—if you do not quit you will eat of the Tree of Life!
"After this, I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." (Rev 4:1 ESV)
In the last five devotionals, we looked at the churches that received correction from Jesus. Those whom He loves, He disciplines. He disciplines us for the purpose of steering our hearts in the direction of His love. What a gracious Leader and King!
His message to the churches, including us, is very clear. He wants us to know what is important to Him! We are important to Him, and who we are is important to Him. What He brings to the surface of our lives is what He finds in the depths of our hearts. He does not do it to embarrass or shame us—He does it because He loves us. He wants us to have an eternity with Him. Everything He shares with the seven churches is to get us to the moment where we can share in His end-time plan!
Behold, a door was standing open in heaven. Our response to Jesus' discipline determines whether we stand before that open door. Our willingness to be changed by His grace determines if we get to come up there and see what must soon take place. A yes in our hearts to Jesus' leadership results in a yes in His heart to our followership!
"'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!" (Revelation 3:15, ESV)
The church of Laodicea had become the church of BAU, 'business as usual.' They were doing the works, but the works were lifeless. They had settled into a lifestyle no longer distinct from the rest of the city. When Jesus mentioned them being neither hot nor cold, he did not prefer them to be one or the other. His point was: "You are no longer distinguishable from the rest of the world."
His following statement was straightforward, "Because of your lukewarm condition, I will vomit you out of my mouth. You think you are wonderful, but you are poor, pitiful, naked and blind." What a tragedy to think you are OK with God and He is not OK with you.
The secret to changing this situation is to get back into the presence of God! Jesus is saying to all of us, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." He is knocking because He wants in! He wants into our hearts. He wants into our lives. He wants into our families. He wants us to open the door, and He will come in and eat with us, meaning he will share His life with us and us with Him.
The result of time with Jesus is a fiery heart where living water flows! It is the fellowship with Jesus that makes us desirable to the Lord. You do not have to remain lukewarm!
"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "'I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead." (Revelation 3:1, ESV)
A reputation is how people see you by looking at your outside. We cannot ever forget that God does not look at the outside. God looks at the heart. He sees what is on the inside of a person. The church of Sardis had a reputation for being alive, yet Jesus called them dead! Yikes! God forbid we would ever have a reputation for being alive and actually be spiritually dead. Sardis had works! What people could see on the outside looked great! It was a 'happening' church. But they were dead.
Jesus exhorts the spiritually dead to remember what they have received and heard, and commands them to hang on to it and repent. He commands them to 'wake up' and come out of their spiritual slumber because there will be hell to pay if they don't. Upon waking up, the immediate order is to strengthen what remains. The word 'strengthen' comes from a word that implies pillar or support. The revelation holding up the church of Sardis was found in disrepair, thus jeopardizing the entire church.
May we be found more alive than our outer reputation displays. God is looking at your heart. What does He see? Alive or dead?
"... you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols." (Revelation 2:20, ESV)
Jesus commends the church at Thyatira for her works, love, and faith. That sounds so good! But, I am reminded of Jesus' words: "On that day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" (Matthew 7:22–23, ESV) I do not ever want to hear those words!
Yes, Jesus commends their works, love, and faith, yet they are snared by sexual immorality. They were allowing Jezebel to lead them into sexual immorality. This spirit hates male authority and leads people into sexual sin to stop the flow of God's authority in their lives. A believer in sexual sin is controlled and dominated by this spirit. Jehu in the Old Testament said, "Throw her down!" It was eunuchs, castrated men, who threw her out the tower window. Rise up, people of God! Throw that spirit down. The One with fire in His eyes has come to purify His bride, the church. Submit yourself to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
We must not tolerate the spirit of Jezebel, her seductions, or her twisting of God's word. Men of God! Rise up! Throw her down!
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