End-Times when He pours out His glory and judgments as described in the Book of Revelation.
B. The 22 rewards: To eat from the tree of life in the midst of Paradise (2:7); to receive the crown of life (2:10); to not be hurt by the second death (2:11); to eat hidden manna (2:17); to receive a white stone (2:17); to receive a new name written on the stone (2:17); to have power over the nations (2:26); to receive the morning star (2:28); to receive white garments (Rev 3:5); to receive a name that is not blotted from the Book of Life (3:5); for Jesus to confess one’s name before the Father and angels. (3:5); for one’s persecutors to worship before their feet (3:9); for one’s persecutors to know that Jesus loves them (3:9); to be made a pillar in God’s temple (3:12); to have God’s name, the New Jerusalem and Jesus’ new name written on them (3:12); to receive gold to make one rich (3:18); to receive white garments that one’s shame not be revealed (3:18); to have anointed eyes to see more (3:18); to eat with Jesus (3:20) and sit on His Throne. (3:21).
C. In Rev. 2-3, Jesus was speaking to believers who had already received the free gift of salvation.
He was calling believers to live in a way to receive heavenly rewards. Justification is a free gift given to us. It is based on Jesus’ worthiness (Eph. 2:8-9). Rewards are given based on our works.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
“I am coming…My reward is with Me to give to every one according to his work.” (Rev. 22:12)
D. There will be a vast difference in the measure of glory that each believer will be rewarded with.
This will greatly differ according to the measure of one’s obedience. Some will be called least and others called great in the age-to-come (Mt. 5:19; Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:11; Rev. 11:18; 19:5). Some believers will receive far greater rewards than other believers according to their obedience.
“There is one glory of the sun…and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Cor. 15:41-42)
E. All believers in Jesus will enter the New Jerusalem as a free gift of God. Yet, our experiences, responsibilities and the quality of our relationship with Jesus will be different from one another. We are all equally significant to God but we will vary in prominence in the New Jerusalem as well as have different capacities to experience God’s glory.
F. Most of these 22 rewards will be received by all believers in at least an introductory way. The issue in Rev. 2-3 pertains to what measure of the reward a believer receives. Since only overcomers receive the fullest measure of these rewards, it is important that we rightly interpret what Jesus intends when calling us to be overcomers in Rev. 2-3.
G. An overcomer in this context is one who matures in the specific areas of faithfulness that Jesus emphasized in their life. The Lord has a specific calling for which He is preparing you for in the age-to-come. Thus, the Spirit will emphasize specific areas we must overcome to be prepared.
H. Our obedience is deeply connected to our rewards. Some falsely teach that these rewards are given to all believers in fullness regardless of how they live. This view takes these rewards out of their context which requires repentance from certain things and to be faithful to the end.
I. In Rev. 2-3, Jesus was not exhorting them to be born again. He was offering born again believers rewards as incentives to greater diligence in the face of temptation and pressure. They do not motivate us if they are automatically given to everyone without regard to our responses.
J. These 22 rewards are not given with “empty warnings”. An empty warning is one that has no real loss associated with it. If rewards are automatically received without regard to fulfilling the required conditions then they are given with an empty or false warning. They are promises that have specific conditions. Imagine an employer who promised to give $10,000 only to those who did a very difficult task, then gave the money to everyone regardless if they did the work or not.
K. Rewards are given by grace in that we receive a far greater reward than we could ever deserve.
God pays so well for the few things we give Him (Mt. 19:29; Mk. 10:30; Lk 8:8; Mt. 13:8; 23).
“Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” (Mt. 19:29) L. As there are degrees of fruitfulness so there are degrees of reward: 100-fold, 60-fold and 30-fold.
“He…bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Mt. 13:23)
M. Jesus remembers and rewards our small expressions of love by obedience. Our works are our responses of gratitude for Jesus freely saving us. The “exchange rate” for our obedience is high.
“You were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” (Mt. 25:21)
N. When speaking about these rewards, Jesus urged us to have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying because it will take special attentiveness and the Spirit’s revelation to grasp their full meaning (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9). There is more than meets the eye in these rewards.