Revelation 2:7 “To him who overcomes . . . ”

Observation: Christ’s revelation to John contains messages to seven types of churches and to believers within. These were specific first-century places, but they were also representative of churches that always exist:
       Ephesus, which had abandoned its first love;
       Smyrna, which was about to go through great tribulation;
       Pergamum, some of whose members held to false teaching;
       Thyatira, where Jezebel and her false teachings were tolerated;
       Sardis, a spiritually dead place;
       Philadelphia, affirmed in its commitment to Christ and the Word;
       Laodicea, where lukewarmness reigned.

Application: While Christ’s affirmation and criticisms were toward the churches themselves, it is worth nothing that His promises of reward are unfailingly directed toward individuals:
Ephesus: “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life” (2:7).
Smyrna: “He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death” (2:11).
Pergamum: “To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and . . . a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but him who receives it” (2:17).
Thyatira: “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; . . .  and I will give him the morning star” (2:26, 28).
Sardis: “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (3:5).
Philadelphia: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God” (3:12).
Laodicea: “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with me on My throne” (3:21).

Churches will not populate heaven; overcoming individuals . . . men and women who wholeheartedly pursue God will populate it. As such, I am without excuse.  My church may have left its first love or be lukewarm or dead; it may have suffered tribulation or unsound doctrine or, like Philadelphia, it may be outstanding. But the “so what?” of all this is that I am still individually accountable for my response to the greatest love story in history. My church need never prevent my heart from burning with passion for God. It makes church hopping seem a little pointless, doesn’t it 

Prayer: Father, thank You that You have a plan to advance Your kingdom one heart at a time, and that You do it even through the most imperfect of institutions.