But it is noticeable that, while the warning is to the corporate Church, the plea and promise that persists throughout is to the individual. He that is willing to, let him hear and heed and be controlled by the Spirit's message.
There are two groups that have remained faithful. There are scattered through the other five those who are faithful. And there are no doubt many who feel the pull to be true but are yielding to the strong undertow of the rising tide by which they are being carried.
The coupled promise and plea that call out so pleadingly to these at the close of each message are, "to him that overcometh." This word "overcometh" is very significant. It is one of the characteristic notes of these messages and indeed of this entire book. It is one of that sort of word that sums up a whole situation in itself.
There is opposition. There is conflict because some won't yield to the opposition. And the result of the conflict varies. Some are overcome by the evil; they go over to the enemy, body and soul. Some wabble. They slip along the line of least resistance, secretly holding on to some few ragged remnants of convictions, but not letting these affect their standing or comfort or particularly their profits.
Some overcome evil. There is struggle tense and continued, quickened breath, moist brow, tightened nerves, the stain of blood, a scar here and there, and heart-breaking experiences. But they fight on, and victory comes. And the evil is less, weakened in its hold on this companion and that neighbour. They get the victory over evil.
There's a wondrous promise to these. It is as though the treasure box is placed at their disposal. It is a seven-fold promise. Every overcomer will receive all that is contained in these seven promises. Note this seven-fold promise: He that overcometh will have everlasting life, [Note: Rev_2:7.] and this is emphasized by the reverse statement, "will not be hurt of the second death." [Note: Rev_2:11.]
He will be admitted into the sweets of intimate fellowship with his Lord, hidden from all save those in this inner circle. And will receive a new name, the family name, that is an inheritance in the family of God, joint heir with Jesus Christ. [Note: Rev_2:17.] He will have the privilege of serving with the King in the blessed Kingdom time coming.
And with this goes the word, "I will give him the morning star." [Note: Rev_2:26-28.] Jesus calls Himself "the bright, the morning star." [Note: Rev_22:16.] The morning star rises in the dark of night after midnight and ushers in the new day. He who is in touch of heart with Jesus as the night deepens to the dawn will (probably) have an intimation in his inner spirit of the glad coming of the Morning Star that ushers in earth's new day.
The overcomer will be made perfect in character, and find his name not only in the family book, but mentioned by Christ personally to His Father before the angels. [Note: Rev_3:5.] He will be admitted into the innermost circle of the King and be reckoned among the dependables. [Note: Rev_3:12.] And he will have closest fellowship with Christ in the administration of the wondrous kingdom. [Note: Rev_3:21.]
It will be seen that these promises overlap, the same thing being put now positively, now negatively, and being repeated in differing words to different groups. Each promise touches the characteristic trait of the group spoken of. The Ephesians, who had many things but lacked the vital thing, are wooed with the promise of life itself, which is only through touch with Jesus Himself.
Smyrna in its suffering is cheered with the prospect of suffering no more. The Pergamum overcomer is wooed away from intimacy of friendship with evil to intimacy of friendship with the coming King. They who resist the evil Jezebel rule in Thyatira will have the privilege of ruling with the King. Those in Sardis who hunger and thirst after a pure heart will have the longing fully satisfied.
Those who have proven dependable in the trying days in Philadelphia will have the exquisite pleasure of being depended upon in the inner circle as wholly trustworthy. Those in Laodicea who resist the current and insist on letting the knocking pilgrim in for heart fellowship [Note: Rev_3:20-21, with Jer_14:8.] will find themselves in fellowship with Him on the throne.
It should be noticed that these promises are one promise, and that that is the promise of everlasting life, of a purified perfected character, and of the privilege of closest fellowship with the King Himself in the coming Kingdom time.
These promises do not take up the matter of rewards for faithfulness in service, such as our Lord speaks of in the twin parables of the pounds and talents. The things promised here are the results of being saved by the blood of Christ. The privilege of fellowship with the King during the Kingdom time is included in salvation. All the redeemed will reign over the earth. [Note: Rev_5:10.]
This is significant. Overcoming would seem to be the decisive evidence of faith in Jesus Christ, the faith that receives everlasting life. It takes opposition to let you know whether you are willing to accept Christ. A man does not know whether he really believes Christ until he is opposed in his believing, and opposed to the real hurting point. He has just as much faith in Christ as he is willing to declare, and stand by, and insist upon, when he is under fire. Opposition is the fire test. Faith isn't faith unless it can stand the fire test.