He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’ (Revelation 2:17 NASB)
The British SAS have a motto of “Who Dares Wins”. It’s a good motto for those who’s life is spent preparing and then daring to enter the most dangerous situations imaginable. But Scripture has a different approach to winning. The word in the passage above for “overcomes” is the Greek word for “win”. It’s the verb form of the Greek word, nike.
The context of this statement ties this “victory” to “repentance” (change of mind). But a scary aspect of this word is that it’s singular, meaning the one who wins gains the prize. That’s not an expectation of a crowd in the “winner’s circle”. On the other hand, it could very well be that every one who wins gains the prize. It doesn’t have to be exclusive, but it does make it difficult to blame another for either being or not being included. You either win or you don’t.
So, how is this nike attained? Is repentance the only avenue to find the way to win? This word is used in several of the Letters to the Churches in Revelation. In each case, the criteria for winning isn’t the point, but rather the prize. So here too, the point is more about what is gained. But in 1 John 5, we’re told that our victory is our faith. Or, another way to think of that is our tenacious “bulldog” belief in Jesus. Therefore enduring belief is what brings victory. The one winning gains the prizes offered to the churches in Revelation.
This is usually my answer when the discussion about losing salvation turns to my belief. My answer is typically, “yes, and no”, which also typically bothers both sides. I consider their discomfort an entertaining side benefit. What I see in Scripture is that the concern of Jesus is not whether someone along the way at any point is or isn’t “saved” but rather whether or not they will be among those standing before His throne in the end. The one enduring to the end will be saved, not necessarily the one along the path doing x or y, or believing like I do, or holding this position or that. The one who’s faith is in Jesus at the end wins. We may not be terribly comfortable with such an answer, but Jesus seems to be.
So, the call from this passage is to remember the “hidden manna” and “white stone” await us, but we have to get to the end of the race to get them. The crown, the escape of the second death, the chance to eat from the Tree of Life, to be a pillar in the Temple of God in Heaven, and so much more. All these things are reserved for the one who wins. The call and challenge is to win, to remain faithful and steadfast to the end. “Run with endurance the race set before us.” It’s hard to do with entangling sin and encumbering thinking. Set them down and get running. See you in the winner’s circle!
What’s your view through the knothole?