Victory is assured in the power of “Jesus-the Able One” who wields authority over everything in the universe and this power is available to us to receive and emerge victorious.
“You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs- victory in spite of all terror- Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival”. Sir Winston Churchill
One of the worst nightmares of humanity has been the onslaught of the Nazis under Hitler causing extermination of millions of people of nationalities especially the Jews. The basic aim was to establish the supremacy of the “superior German race” over others in direct contravention to the God established laws. Armies of the Allied Forces comprised of all nations irrespective of their geographical location and in like manner crusades have been led to fight evil all over the world. The ISIS is fighting a battle in the Middle Eastern states to establish the Islamic Caliphate all over the world. What is it that pushes a man/woman to join a war at great personal risk- a physical battle like ISIS or a spiritual battle like the Missionaries? The promised rewards are generally the temptation to join- whether it was “all those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him (David) and he became their commander” (1 Samuel 22:2) or now with various groups fighting in various parts of the world. Followers of the Lord are also assured of rewards for eternity to all those “who overcome” the world and its powers.
And what are the rewards? – As a believer one is promised a “mansion in My Father’s house” and the resultant continual fellowship with God in heaven. What more could one seek or aspire for? The Word of God emphasizes the mode of salvation for us “And having been perfected, He became the author of salvation to all who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). Obedience is an essential ingredient to salvation and the additional incentive for that are the offered rewards. The rewards offered to those who overcome are different in the message to each of the seven churches and their significance needs to be fully understood.
- The Tree of Life – (Revelation 2:7) This is the same tree which was available in the Garden of Eden but access to it was denied after sin through disobedience. The lost rights get restored to the victors and on either side of the river proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb “was this tree of life” and “leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). The tree of life is “in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7) and by implication the fulfillment of the promise to reach God’s Paradise is also assured to the victorious.
- The Second Death – (Revelation 2:11) Death is the result of sin and has different aspects to it- one is the separation from God due to sin; then there is physical death when body goes into the grave while soul and spirit go to their designated place for judgement. The second death is eternal separation from God and condemnation to the ‘lake of fire’. The one who overcomes will not suffer “hurt by the second death” and will reign with the Lord.
- Hidden Manna and a new name – (Revelation 2:17) Lord Jesus is the manna from heaven and the victorious will get what is hidden from others- special revelations through reestablished eternal relationship with God to sustain us forever in His kingdom. The very fact that this manna is mentioned as ‘hidden’ from others may be referring to the concealed mystery of eternal life or the special provisioning of God for His chosen ones- who will never lack or suffer deprivation of any kind. The second part of this reward is a white stone with a name specially engraved and not revealed to others. While on the one end ‘white stone’ itself may be pointing to a state of purity or acquittal of all charges, but this available to all believers; or a token of recognition for greatness; or even as a secret identity for initiation into a special group; or a token for a blessing or special identity tablet of precious stone as for the High Priest to be worn by him on his head or in the breast plate. All these are conjectures and the mention of a special name gives a rare privilege. The Lord coming to defeat the evil forces riding a white horse had “on His head many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself” (Revelation 19:12). A new name was given to Abram and Sarai by God to bestow special blessings, thus a new name connected with the white stone with hidden manna point to special privileges to those who overcome. Since the new name is written on stone it has permanency to it and as the ‘Tablets of stone bearing the Law’ given to Moses had the power of God to transform lives and apparently this reward has a permanency and impact on lives of others. Thus every believer who overcomes will get a special reward and an honored position to bless others.
- Authority and rule over the nations and the morning star – (Revelation 2:26-28). Those “who overcome and keep My works until the end” will be given the power to rule over nations with a mighty hand even to destroy/ dash to pieces “as I also have received from My Father”. Absolute authority to rule and the gift of “the morning star”, which name was ascribed to Lucifer also and in physical terms it would be one who announces the coming of the dawn. Our Lord is also called “the Morning Star” in the same book later (Revelation 22:16) and this when linked to verse 27 develops a different connotation, that of authority as of the Lord Himself through oneness with Him.
- White garments, name in Book of Life and acknowledgement – (Revelation 3:5). Being clothed in white garments is mentioned again “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands” and these are the ones emerging victorious after ‘the great tribulation’. Their robes were made white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9; 14). The reward is of forgiveness of sins with their names being written in the Book of Life permanently and the Lord making a special mention of them before the Father and the angels- before the heavenly throne of the Father.
- Pillar in the Temple bearing the Lord’s new name – (Revelation 3:12). This reward is granting of a special status to become a structural part of the Heavenly Kingdom, supporting it up. The foundations of New Jerusalem are of precious stones of great value and ‘the pillar’ holds up the great structure bearing the special identification of citizenship of the Kingdom and of belonging to our Savior through His new name inscribed, the name that is only known to Him. This assures us of special rights and privileges in the New Jerusalem through this unique identity provided.
- Sit with the Lord on His throne – (Revelation 3:21) The Savior is seated on His throne ‘with all authority over everything in the heavens and the earth’. The victorious are granted the privilege to share in this power and rule with Him eternally.
How do we earn these rewards? – For each believer there is the promise of “a mansion in the Father’s house in heaven” and the reward mentioned above is beyond this promise. The beauty of the contest is such that the one giving the reward is ensuring the victory also and personally leads us in every step- through preparation and the race. Joshua was repeatedly blessed with the promise “Be strong and courageous, Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). In the same manner we also have the promise “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrew 13:5) and His very presence ensures victory to the obedient. The Lord does not come with us to be a witness as a bystander but comes “to strengthen you with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). This inward strengthening is achieved through the following of His commands and we need to cooperate in this process.
Abide in Him – “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The first and foremost is to surrender before the Lord’s throne completely and not depend upon personal capabilities or traits. It is only through this that we can invite the Lord to use us for “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20
). His power can only work in us once we invite that to happen and that is only possible when we stop banking on our power. To surrender daily and seek His hand in every activity will lead us to victory.
Believe in His Word- David “was a little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome” and his sole qualification to be victorious over Goliath was “the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David” from the day he was anointed by Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 17:13). The same Holy Spirit is in us as promised by the Lord Jesus since all “who received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). As a child of God we inherit the blessing available to “the only begotten Son” of God, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. David had faith and won that and other battles, the woman with the twelve years of blood flow believed and received healing, Peter believed and walked on water and the fish he caught had the promised coin in its mouth to be used to pay the Temple Tax.
The Word says “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrew 11:6). The Centurion had faith and declared it “only speak a word and my servant will be healed” and “When Jesus heard it He marveled” (Matthew 8:8; 10). Is my faith such that even the Lord would be surprised? Do I have such strong belief in the Word of God about it being true in letter and in spirit? David did and so did King Jehoshaphat on hearing the word of the Spirit of the lord through Jahaziel “Do not be discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15).
Step out in faith- Jehoshaphat believed God and “appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 20:21). The Lord had already caused the enemy forces ‘to destroy one another’ and for Jehoshaphat and his army “There was so much plunder that it took them three days to collect it” (2 Chronicles 20:25). God’s promise is always clear without ambiguity and those who obey are victorious- always and every time, for “He turns everything for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). How can someone love God without having faith in Him and only in believing is receiving?
Perseverance – There are three stages to tackling any problem- perception, reaction and promotion. The first step is about understanding the issue- the battle is spiritual and cannot be fought with carnal/worldly means. The mistake starts at this point itself when we start on our own. The second step is our reaction to the fight- we start focusing on the problem itself and this tends to its magnification. The answer lies in realizing that “He who is in you is greater than he who is of this world” (1 John 4:4) and then fighting in ‘the power of the one who is in us’. Each battle adds to our experience and there is no doubt that we shall fall also on occasion but He will help us get up and strengthen us again to resume the fight. Each battle ensures promotion and added responsibilities in the world and so it is with God; as we progress the battles become tougher but His power also gets magnified in us equally so. Persevere in the fight for this is a battle in which victory is assured to us when we accept the “hand of blessing of our Lord” extended towards us. Sir Winston Churchill had gazed into the future and declared during the second World War “The day may dawn when fair play, love for one’s fellow-men, respect for justice and freedom, will enable tormented generations to march forth serene and triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair”. That is the key to overcome- faith and perseverance.
The promised rewards are not only beyond imagination but also eternal. Apostle Paul was shown by the Lord Himself on the road to Damascus “how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). After having witnessed for the Lord Jesus all over he could say with humble confidence “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Will I be able to say this, I do not know! Do you??