Rewards and White Stones
In story and character development for any show, movie, or story-driven book, one question that the creators and producers have to consider regarding the main characters is this: What is their motivation? Or, put another way, what does the character want more than anything? What drives them?
Let’s apply that to our lives as believers. What drives us? Regarding our relationship with the Lord, we know that our salvation is secure—paid for by the blood of Jesus. So should we just coast to the finish line? Or, to use a boxing analogy, should we turtle-up and lay on the ropes until the round is over? What motivates us to finish strong? What motivates us to stay alert?
Our salvation was earned at the cross by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We can’t earn it or work for it. Scripture is clear that it is a free gift offered to everyone who accepts it. Even though we can’t earn our salvation, we will receive eternal rewards in heaven. The Bible indicates that during the tribulation period on earth, the church will be in heaven receiving rewards at the judgment seat of Christ and taking part in a great wedding banquet.
Books have been written on that topic and I can’t adequately cover it here, but as we see the day drawing near we need to be reminded of that fact. Related to the future events in Heaven while the Tribulation period is taking place on Earth, the Bible gives us insight about a unique event that is in your future as a believer in Christ.
We read this in Revelation 2:17: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it” (emphasis mine).
We will overcome adversity by the blood of Christ and by our personal testimony—our journey (Revelation 12:11). As overcomers we will receive a white stone from Jesus. What exactly is this white stone? The interpretation that seems to make the most biblical sense is that this stone is similar to the white stones that were given to winners of athletic events in ancient Rome. The white stones served as their means of getting into the awards banquet at the culmination of the games.
This lines up with other verses that support the idea of the bema seat, or the judgment seat of Christ (mentioned above), occurring in heaven while the tribulation period is taking place on Earth. The bema seat is similar to the medal platform in modern-day Olympic ceremonies. This is the concept associated with the judgment seat of Christ. Notice how personal this experience will be. Jesus himself will give you a stone with a new name on it that only you will understand.
New names were given to important figures in God’s redemptive story. Hebrew names had inherent meaning. I believe when we see the new name the Lord has given us, our whole life will make complete sense in an instant. In any case, it seems that this will be an incredibly personal moment that those of us who know Christ can look forward to just prior to receiving our eternal rewards.
On a practical level, that should motivate us to rest in God’s love for us, leverage every day for God’s purposes as we wrestle to overcome sin, share Christ with others, give glory to God, and allow the joy of the Lord to shine through our lives.