INCENTIVES FOR BECOMING AN OVERCOMER
The seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor hold a special place
among all the literature of the Word of God. There are many instances
when Jesus spoke to individuals and groups, but these letters show Jesus
Christ speaking to the very people He died to save. Most of these letters
contain words of Commendation; words of Correction; and words of Challenge.
One thing all of these letters have in common is that each one concludes
with a precious promise to the overcomers
in each church. The word “overcomer”
means “to conquer, or to carry
off the victory.” It refers to saved people who remain
faithful to Jesus in the face of enemies, temptations and persecution.
there is a sense in which every believer is an overcomer, or a conqueror.
Positionally, because of our faith relationship with Jesus, we are conquerors,
Rom. 8:37. Through Jesus and His
finished work on the cross, we have overcome sin, Satan, death and hell!
However, there is another sense in which we can become an overcomer. 1
John 5:4 tells us that we as believers will achieve victory over
this world and its power.
seems to be the sense in which the word overcomer is used in Revelation
2 and 3. While every saint of God enjoys absolute victory over death,
Hell and Satan, many are not as victorious in their day to day walk with
the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus looks at and speaks to these seven churches, He sees believers and
non-believers. He sees people who are faithful and people who are not.
He sees people who love Him and people who love themselves. As He looks
at Gilead Baptist this evening, He sees that we all those classes of people
present with us as well.
Jesus speaks to the overcomers in each church, He is exhorting the faithful,
sold out believers to continue on for the glory of God. He is also challenging
those who are not where they need to be to get where they need to be so
that they too can experience the live of an overcomer. As He concludes
each letter, He makes certain promises to the redeemed people in each
of these churches. The promises serve as incentives for the faithful to
remain faithful. They also serve as incentives for the unfaithful to get
faithful. Every promise He makes in these verses belong to the saints.
Let’s examine these seven Divine
Incentives For Becoming An Overcomer, and let’s allow
the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts. May He teach us the How and give
us the Hunger to become overcomers for the glory of His name!
INCENTIVE OF IMMORTALITY
Ill. The Ephesian church. They were busy for God, but they had fallen
out of love with Jesus. He calls upon them to remember where they had
once been with Jesus and to get back to the place where He was number
one in their lives.
His promise to the overcomer is this: They will enjoy a glorious eternity
in His presence. They have passed rom death unto life. What the first
Adam took from them, Jesus has restored to them, Rom.
5:12, 19. The “No Trespassing”
sign that was erected in Gen. 3:22-24
will forever be torn down and we will eat of the tree of life in
Salvation, restoration of fellowship with God, a home in heaven, everlasting
life, these are all great incentives for living the best life possible!
INCENTIVE OF INVINCIBILITY
Smyrna was a church that was undergoing severe persecution! They were
being hounded by their enemies and they are told that some of them will
be imprisoned and others will be put to death. Jesus exhorts them to remain
faithful to Him unto death and He will reward them!
The Overcomers in the church are promised deliverance from the second
death. What is the second death? Rev.
20:11-15 tells us all there is to know about it. It is eternal
separation from God in the lake of fire. These redeemed people might have
to give their lives down here, but they need not worry about Hell. They
have been delivered from the wrath of God through the blood of Jesus,
We may face death one day if the Lord doesn’t return in our life
times, but we need not fear that. After all, Jesus has conquered death
and removed its sting, 1 Cor. 15:42-57!
We will never go to Hell if we are saved by grace! What an incentive to
serve Him! Hallelujah! Hell proof and Heaven bound!
INCENTIVE OF INTIMACY
The church at Pergamos was also enduring intense persecution. They were
even located in the center of satanic activity. A number of their members
had been martyred for Jesus’ sake in Pergamos. But, there was sin
in the camp! Sin which they tolerated and sin for which they were commanded
by Jesus to repent. He calls them to come back to Him before He comes
to them in judgment!
But, there was a faithful remnant in that church. To them, Jesus makes
two precious, intimate promises. First, He promises to give them the “hidden
manna”. Just as the children of Israel were given the
mysterious manna from heaven to feed them as they wandered through that
wilderness, Jesus would nourish these faithful ones as they fought the
battles for Him! (Note:
The O.T. manna was a clear picture of Jesus - Small, white, round, sweet,
satisfying!) He also promises to give them a white stone. This may refer
to several things, but there are two that stand out. In that culture,
it was common to decide court cases and other matters using black and
white stones. White stone meant acquittal and black stones meant conviction.
When the judge decided the case, he would put a white stone in an urn
for acquittal or a black stone in an urn for conviction. When the verdict
was handed down, the urn was tipped over and the stone inside would roll
out! He may be telling these believers that they will not be blackballed
in Heaven, but that they have been acquitted of their sins! You see, when
Jesus saved me, my urn was filled with black stones. Jesus removed them
all and dropped in the white stone of grace! Now, when I stand before
the Judge and the urn is tipped over, all that will come out against me
is grace and I will stand acquitted before the bar of glory!
thought is this: Often friends would take a stone they called a “tessera”.
They would break that stone in half and engrave special phrases, words
or nicknames for each other on them. Each would carry the half engraved
by the other as a constant reminder of their friendship and mutual love.
Jesus may be telling these folks that He will one day give them a stone
that has on it a special Name for Him. You see, Jesus means something
different to each of us. Such is the intimacy of our relationship!
white stones were given to athletes who were victorious in the games.
They were also given as tokens of citizenship. When you had been a faithful
and productive citizen in a city they would give you one of these white
He is going to nourish me through the wilderness of this world. He is
going to give me a stone to signify my acceptance into Heaven; the victory
I have in Him; my standing as a citizen of glory; and to reflect the intimacy
of my relationship with Him. Friends, that is an incentive to serve the
INCENTIVE OF INVOLVEMENT
The church in Thyatira was an active church. They were busy in the service
of the Lord and they were recognized for their works. However, they were
roundly condemned for allowing a wicked woman to dominate their worship
and work as a church. She lead them down the path of paganism and idolatry
and Jesus promised to deal with her and those who followed her. His judgment
would be swift and sure!
But, even in a hotbed of iniquity like Thyatira, there was still a faithful
remnant! The overcomers in this church are promised that they will one
day reign with Jesus Christ when He established His kingdom. His promise
to them is that they will share His rule one day. This is taught throughout
the New Testament - 1 Cor. 6:3; 2 Tim.
2:12; Rev. 20:4. When He returns, we are coming with Him, Rev.
19:14. What a great promise!
are also promised the “morning
star”. This is the star that appears during the darkest
part of the night, signaling all those who see ti that morning is coming!
Well, Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star, Rev.
22:16. I think this statement is meant to say to them, “It
may look dark in the world beloved, but you keep looking to the sky, for
I am coming to get you one day!” That is a promise all God’s
children share tonight, 1 Thes. 4:16-17;
1 Cor. 15:51-52! It may be dark in this old world tonight, but
you can see Him working and you know from His Word that He is returning
someday! That thought can brighten the darkest of nights!
His children will reign with Him one day, but before that ever happens,
He will return to this earth to receive us unto Himself and take us away
to be with Him, John 14:1-3. What
a glorious incentive to be faithful to Him!
INCENTIVE OF IDENTIFICATION
This poor church thought all was well, but Jesus placed His finger on
their pulse and pronounce them dead! He challenges them to hold on to
the few things they still have going for them. They are to remember how
things were and are supposed to be and they are to repent. Otherwise,
they will face Him in judgment!
But, even in a dead church there are still those with the live of God
in their souls! These people are promised that they will be clothed in
white robes, which speak of perfect righteousness, Rev.
19:8. It speaks of being clothed in Jesus Christ’s imputed
righteousness, Phil. 3:9. They
are promised that their names will remain in the book of life. (Note:
There is no danger of names being taken out of the Lamb’s Book of
Life, for they were written there before the foundation of the world,
Rev. 13:8. What Jesus refers to
here is the “book of life”.
It contains the names of all those who have ever lived. As men die without
Christ, their names are removed from the book of the living. When men
stand before God at the Great White Throne, the book of life and the Lamb’s
book of life will match perfectly.) Jesus is merely giving them His blessed
assurance that they are eternally saved by His grace.
He promises to confess their names before God, this may refer to His role
as our Intercessor, Heb. 7:25.
Or, it may mean that one day, Jesus Himself, will lead us past the pearly
gates of glory, through the jasper walls, silent ranks of angels, down
the golden street of Heaven, and into the very throne room of God Himself.
There He will publically proclaim us to be one of His Own! Either way,
I am glad He knows my name, John 10:3,
and that He is not ashamed to admit that I am His, Heb.
Let’s see, I am dressed in His righteousness, my name is securely
and eternally written in the book of life and He is and will confess my
name in Heaven before the presence of the Lord! I say those are some good
incentives for being all He has saved me to be!
INCENTIVE OF ILLUMINATION
The church in Philadelphia was a blessed church! They were little in
strength, but the Lord was using them to reach the world for Jesus.
The Lord has no words of complaint for this church. All He has for them
is praise. He has promised them open doors and blessings. He even promised
them that their enemies would one day acknowledge the fact that God’s
blessings rested upon them.
This church was filled with overcomers. They are promised several great
blessings.Inthem, He opens their eyes to the future! First, they are
to be set as pillars in the Lord’s temple in Heaven. In Philadelphia,
it was customary to recognize outstanding citizens by placing a pillar
in their honor in one of the temples of the gods. On this pillar would
be engraved their name, what they had done to receive it and the names
of the officials who had bestowed it. It stood a permanent reminded
that this person was someone of note in the community. You see, this
little church was getting no recognition or respect in that city, but
God said “I see what you are
doing and I will honor you when you get home!”
the phrase, “Shall go out no
more” is important. This is a reference to the fact that
Philadelphia was built near an active volcano. When that mountain would
begintorumble, the citizens of the city would be forced to flee. In many
ways it was a very unsafe place to live. An earthquake shook the city
in 17 B.C. and destroyed many of the temples. The earthquake was so devastating
that many of the people refused to move back into town, but remained in
the countryside instead. Jesus reminds them that they are headed to a
place of safety in Heaven. This world may be changing and there may be
dangers on every hand, but those who have the door of Heaven opened to
them find a place of eternal safety, peace and rest! He is going to place
them in His city and give them permanent stability.
These people would be clearly marked as belonging tot he Lord. They would
bear His Name upon them so that no matter where their duties carried throughout
theuniverse,they would instantly be recognized as belonging to God and
as a citizen of Heaven.
With His promise to securely fix us in Heaven and with His promise to
mark us as His Own, we certainly have even more incentive to serve Him
faithful until He fulfills those things for us.
INCENTIVE OF INSPIRATION
The church at Laodicea was a self-centered, materialistic congregation.
They did felt that they were totally self-sufficient and did not need
the Lord. In fact, Jesus is pictured as being outside the church desiring
to enter the presence of the family for which He died. He tells them that
their attitude and self-righteous posture makes Him sick at Hisstomach.
He challenges them to seek Him and promises to have intimate fellowship
with anyone who will open the door to Him.
There are even overcomers in this wicked church. The Lord’s promise
to them is that they will join Him in His throne, which is also His Father’s
throne. What He is promising them is the most glorious kind of exaltation.
Think of it! Today, we are seated with Him in Heaven, spiritually speaking,
Eph. 2:6. When we get there, He
will invite His people to join Him in His glory and in His exaltation.
We do not deserve that kind of love, forgiveness, mercy and grace, but
it is ours through Him!
If anything were to serve and an inspiring incentive to serve the Lord,
the promises of this verse is it!
Are you an overcomer? Would you like to be? The first step is that of
coming to Him by faith and getting down before Him and asking Him for
His help. I need to do that! How about you? If you want to be all He has
saved you to be, then this altar is open to receive you into His presence
at the throne of grace.