We have been considering spiritual gold, how is is purified and how to recognize it. It is a popular opinion in some circles of the modern church that it is not necessary to build upon the foundation of faith with spiritual gold, silver, and gems. We have seen in 1Corinthians 13:12-15 that it is important, that there are rewards awaiting believers who have works of value built upon their faith in Christ.
Scripture informs us of some of the rewards God has prepared for those who love Him, though the half has never been told. Yet even in these glimpses, they are something to be desired. This lesson is a bit longer than usual.
Let us first look at 1John 2:12-14. I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the father. 14 I have written to you, fathers because you have known him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.
These indicate various levels of spiritual growth and maturity. You start out in the Kingdom as babies, just as in the natural world, and (presumably) grow up in the faith. A number of truths can be gleaned from this short passage. John writes to the little children (spiritually) because their sins are forgiven and they know God as Father. He writes to the young men, because they have some strength and maturity in the faith. And he writes to the spiritual fathers, because they have a deep faith and knowledge of God.
I want to focus in on the ones John calls young men. These have obtained a fair measure of spiritual maturity, and spiritually speaking, are like teenagers or young adults. A five-year-old has very limited capacity to figure things out because of his immaturity, and often gets into trouble simply by doing what ever small children do. The young men, on the other hand, have the capacity to do right, and demonstrate it in their lives. They are strong in the Lord, have some measure of maturity. They abide in the Word and the Word in them, having some victory over the influences of the devil and sin nature, which desires to keep them living defeated lives of immaturity. Many of the rewards are for overcomers, those who are growing up in the Kingdom.
Revelation 2 and 3 promises a number of rewards to overcomers. Who are the overcomers? They are the ones who put faith in Christ and built with gold upon that foundation, growing in maturity.
Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and because they did not love their lives to the death.”
While the context specifically refers to believers who must endure the persecution of the Antichrist – the end-time world ruler under Satan – it also has spiritual application to all who overcome the evil one. They overcame first by the Blood by putting their faith in Christ for salvation, the foundation of faith. They overcame by their testimony, which is their open proclamation of faith in Christ and their changed lives which demonstrate their faith. They have a testimony.
And they loved not their lives even unto death. This applies two ways. First, of course, is a willingness to endure persecution and death for their faith without falling away. The second way this applies is a willingness to die to their old, sinful nature so that their spiritual nature, which is of God, may be manifest, as Paul explained in Romans 6-8.
Jesus, through the Apostle John, wrote letters to seven churches in Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3. These letters praised what was good in these churches, and condemned and warned things which needed correction. At the end of each letter were promises of certain rewards to overcomers. These promises are addressed to all the churches, seen by the statement in each, “..hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” These are various rewards awaiting those who grow and mature in Christ without regard to church denomination.
Revelation 2:7 To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. This has both eternal significance (Rev. 22) and application for the here and now. If we die to ourselves, their is a spiritual level in which we have access to the tree of life now. This is a lesson in itself. But it is also an eternal reward.
Revelation 2:17 To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows, except him who receives it. Hidden manna, deeper spiritual truths either found in God’s written Word or, sometimes, through a proceeding Word (which will not contradict the written.) A few lessons ago I briefly discussed the mysteries of God which are revealed to the mature, and here we see the same truth taught.
A new name written on stone, which nobody else knows. I believe this is a little like the loving nicknames spouses often have for each other, or parents for their children, as an expression of their love. But the name will also be something significant. You can find books which explain the meaning of different names, and several times in the Old Testament God told a prophet what to name a child because their name was important for His purposes. John the Baptist and Jesus likewise were given names directly by God. The name He gives us will cause us to say, “That’s me! He really knows me!”
Revelation 2:26-28 And he who overcomes, and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron, They shall be dashed into pieces like the potter’s vessels’ – as I also have received from My Father; And I will give him the morning star. Power over the nations – This promise is not given to every believer, unlike what many churches teach. It is given only to those who not only overcome, but who also keep watch over to perform the works Christ has given them to do. Christ only gives this kind of authority to those who have demonstrated that they can handle it to His glory. This does not necessarily mean it is given to recognized leaders in the church, such as pastors or teachers. The promise is to any believer who looks for opportunities given by Christ to serve Him faithfully. The morning star is like a king’s miter or staff, a symbol of his authority. One of the titles for Christ is ‘The Bright and Morning Star,’ so this reward means that He gives them His authority.
Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. It must be noted that all genuine believers will be clothed in white, etc. The church to whom this letter is addressed is essentially dead, spiritually – but even so there are a few who have a real saving faith within this church. Jesus promises that if they keep the faith in opposition to the deathly nature of the church they attend, they will be saved.
Revelation 3:7-13. We must look at the entire account of the Philadelphia church, for it is full of promises as the only church, aside from Smyrna, to receive no rebuke from the Lord. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, These things says He who is holy, He who is true, ‘He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”; I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie – indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. 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 out of heaven from my God. And I will write on him My new name.
First, Jesus identifies Himself as He who holds the key of David. David was the king of Israel, and thus held the key to the treasury of the nation. Jesus has the key to the heavenly treasures where all the riches of the Kingdom are stored, and has opened the door for this group of believers. He is not talking about money, but about spiritual treasures which have much greater value to God. Again, this treasure is available in this life, as well as in eternity.
Why is the door opened for this church? Jesus tells us: Because they have some spiritual strength demonstrated in obedience to Christ, and they boldly declare His name in the face of all obstacles. They actively live Rev. 12:11 which we looked at earlier.
They also take a stand against those groups falsely claiming Christ, those who say they are Jews (religious term, not racial term) but are a synagogue of Satan. On judgment day, these false teachers/believers will bow in worship of Jesus before their feet, to know that Christ has loved the true believers.
Moreover, because of their obedience to Christ’s command to persevere in their faith despite all obstacles, Christ promises to keep them from the hour of trial and testing which comes upon the whole earth to prove earth dwellers. The Greek language promises divine keeping within the time of testing, which I believe relates to extra strength and wisdom from God. Because this church has been faithful to Him and walk by the Spirit of God, they are open to His leading during times of tribulation on earth. In verse 11, Christ warns not to let anyone rob them of their crown. They must continue to stand firm in their faith.
We then come to the promises for overcomers of all churches. He who overcomes will be made a pillar in the temple and not go out anymore. and shall bear the name of God and God’s city, the New Jerusalem. For better understanding, see my lesson on The Bride of Christ (Archives: January 2011).
Revelation 3:21 To him who overcomes I wil grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Now to those whom God has called as shepherds, as spiritual leaders in the church, a Crown of Glory is promised if they serve willingly and live as examples to the flock (1Peter 5:2-4). There is also a Crown of Righteousness given to those who complete the race set before them and who have loved Christ’s appearing (2Timothy 4:8).
This covers most of the eternal rewards that every Christian can potentially receive as revealed by the Word.