Summary: This is the second in a two part message on who the overcomers are and what they receive from God as reqards. Text for this message comes from the overcomer passages in Revelation 2 and 3.
OVERCOMERS AND THEIR GREAT REWARD
(Sermon #2 in Overcomers series by Ed Skidmore)
Text: Rev. 2-3, Rev. 21:7
After the Crimean War, a great celebration was held in London to honor the heroes wounded in battle. Queen Victoria was present to give out the medals. Some of the soldiers appeared with empty sleeves, some came on crutches, and some had bandaged foreheads. To each she gave the same sweet smile and the same high award. At last, a terribly maimed soldier was brought before the Queen on a litter. His arms and legs were gone. He had sacrificed even more than the rest. At the sight of him the Queen, with tears streaming down her cheeks, stepped forward and
pinned a medal on his uniform. Then stooping down, she kissed his brow and said with great emotion, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
When we read the letters to the seven churches in Asia we notice one thing all seven letters had in common. Each one contained special words for "overcomers" and the promise of special wonderful rewards. These rewards will be the focus of the sermon today. I believe that you will discover that the trials we must endure as Christians and the pain of perseverance are nothing when compared to the wonderful rewards Jesus promised to overcomers. In fact we are told in ROM 8:18 "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." We have so much more awaiting us than just an entrance into the heavenly realms. Let us take time to consider the overcomer’s rewards.
1. Allowed to eat of the tree of Life (Rev. 2:7)
REV 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
This is a twofold reward which contains an implied entrance into paradise and a stated opportunity to eat the fruit from the tree of life. This is most likely the same tree which was in the garden of Eden, and therefore, the tree from which Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat after their sin (Gen. 3:22-24). Having cursed the earth and introduced pain, sickness, and death to the human landscape, God, in an act of mercy, forbid Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of life lest they be forced to live forever in a world of pain and sickness and sorrow.
We can see in the book of Revelation that the tree of life was removed from earth and placed in Heaven where the overcomers will be allowed to eat from it freely. This is a promise of eternal life in a place where sickness, and pain and suffering have been removed forever. What a tremendous reward!
2. Crown of Life and avoidance of Second Death (Rev. 2:10-11)
Rev. 2:10-11: "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death."
Again we notice two rewards given to the faithful overcomers. Those who are faithful even to the point of death (which means martyrdom) are given a special crown called the "crown of life." Several different kinds of crowns are mentioned in the Bible. It would make a fascinating study to examine the different kinds of crowns and what they signify. But the crown of life is the crown given to those who are persecuted or even killed for their faith and remain loyal to the Lord through it all.
We are also told that these people will not be hurt of the second death. Which is another way of saying that they have nothing to fear from the possibility of condemnation to Hell. Those who remain faithful in the midst of adversity have a direct promise of Heaven and a crown of Life.
The crown mentioned here is a "stephanos" or victor’s crown. It is the badge of the overcomer. This crown signifies victory and joy, completion, special recognition as an honored one, and free access to the presence of God. With two different pictures Jesus reveals the security and honor which awaits the homecoming of the overcomer. He gains direct access to the throne room of God and has no fear of the fires of hell. That possibility has been completely removed. Heaven is his only possible destination.
3. Hidden manna, a white stone, and a new name (Rev. 2:17)
"To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it."