Sermon Illustrations

The White Stone

The overcomers at Pergamos were given a white stone, and in the stone a new name written.The people of Pergamos were familiar with a number of customs involving the use of a white stone. They used a voters urn in which if you approved of a candidate you placed a white stone bearing his name into it. If you disapproved, you used a black stone. So the white stone speaks of approval and acceptance. It was also a practice to note good days by placing a white stone into an urn and bad days by placing a black stone in. At the end of life, the urn was broken and the stone counted, and it was ascertained whether the deceased had lived a happy life or not. So the white stone speaks of happiness. Again, in the law courts the members of the court indicated the guilt or innocence of the defendant by holding aloft a white stone or black stone. The white stone speaks of justification. White stones were also used as admission to circuses and places of entertainment. Thus the stone speaks of admission. White stones were given to departing friends, assuring them of a warm welcome upon their return. Thus they spoke of hospitality. A white stone was also awarded to victors of games. Thus they speak of victory.

But perhaps the most significant way in which the white stone was used in Pergamos had to do with the sacred feasts held at the temple of Aescalapius. If you were invited to partake of the feast, you were given a white stone. The stone bore a name of a pagan god, and this name was held secret by the recipient. In that society, to receive a white stone was an honour. Of course, at the feast was meat that had been offered to idols, and since we are told there were some who had consented to the doctrine of Balaam & were eating things sacrificed to idols, it stands to reason that Christian people had been given and received the white stone of Pergamos. But others refused; it meant being outcast, social suicide, it was to be misunderstood, accused and persecuted. But to those overcomers the Lord Jesus said, "Never mind, I have a white stone with a secret name written upon it, and I have reserved it just for you at my feast!

It was a stone of compensation. And there is no sacrifice made upon earth that is not compensated for in heaven. See Matthew 19:28-30.

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