Henry: Good morning.
Charity: Morning, Henry. How have you been?
Henry: I’ve been fine. Do you want some coffee?
Charity: Sure. That’s enough.
Henry: Hmmm… the first sip of coffee is always the best.
Charity: Ya, it sort of gets you in the mood for the day.
Henry: I haven’t seen you in a while. Have you been visiting family?
Charity: Ya, just for a few days.
Henry: Well, I’ve given your questions a lot of thought. The only thing is, I’m not sure I’m any closer to answering them.
Charity: I do appreciate you listening, though. Some people won’t even allow questions. They would rather have faith, and not put any work toward understanding their own faith.
George: Good morning, everyone.
Henry, Charity: Morning, George.
Henry: There’s coffee left in the pot.
George: Good. That’s the most useful thing they put in this break room.
Charity: Ya, I don’t think anyone uses the stove.
George: Would you mind if I sit down and join you two for a minute?
George: You may not know this, but I’ve been listening to you two off and on for a while.
Henry: Oh, really?
George: Yes. And I can see why you went up to this young lady in the first place. She is very beautiful.
George: You don’t have to say anything. I’m an old man and I have the luxury of speaking my mind every now and then. I don’t mean to embarrass you. I was just wondering if you might let me add something to your conversation.
Charity: Of course, we welcome anything you have to say. You’re one of the nicer employees around here.
George: Thank you. …I notice that both of you have knowledge of the scriptures and can recall specific verses at a moment’s notice. That’s commendable in itself. Some people would be envious of such a skill. But, I wonder if I might pick just one verse, Revelation 2:17, keeping the context in mind of course, and dig a little deeper than normal. I think it will add significantly to your conversation.
Henry: What does the verse say?
George: “To him that overcomes, I will give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except he who receives it.”
Henry: I don’t understand how that fits into a conversation on Heaven and Hell.
Charity: Could you explain what it means?
George: Well, as you know, the Book of Revelation is a book of prophecy about the end of things. In other words, it’s about the whole point of it all, the goal we are all aiming at. And God, in verse 17, is speaking to all the churches. — So, I got to thinking about this white stone with the new name on it and what it’s a symbol of, if anything. The fact that it is a stone and white may strike some as arbitrary and take different meanings to some, but I think the one who wrote it sees in the whiteness purity, and in its substance indestructibility. But, no matter – what I’m interested in is what is meant by the new name. And this brought to my mind the whole notion of names in general. Why do we give each other names and ask what each other’s names are? What is meant by the idea of a name? Is there a perfect notion of a name? Once a man reveals his name, all we possess of him that makes up what we know is a label by which to call him and whatever scrap of external history we are privileged to know: whether he came from upstate New York or whether he started working here a year ago; whether his mother has a three children or whether he hunts on his time off work. Are we any closer, though, to really knowing him? I think not. In fact, we may know more of the man if he has received some other name which he will never hear, but that his co-workers give to him. For instance, they might call him dependable, trustworthy, lazy, or a screw-up. Instantly, we know something of his character and therefore a little bit more about the inner man. – But what does it mean for God himself to give you a name? It must be a communication about what God thinks about the man to the man. It is his soul’s picture in a word. It must be what he had in mind when he first formed him in his mother’s womb. No one else but God sees what the man is or will be and could express it in a name. Of course, while on earth we could never know what we will become. But, when, I ask, is he given the name?
Henry: When he has overcome.
George: Ah, yes. But, why does God wait? He knew his name from the beginning.
Charity: Maybe if the man knew it too soon, he would not understand it.
George: Precisely. Henry, you picked a smart conversation partner. It is only when the man has become the name, when he overcomes, that God gives him the stone with the new name on it. It is the blossom, the perfection, the completion that determines the name which God knew in the beginning. But such a name could not be given until the man is the name. But, let’s look a little deeper at this.
Henry: I thought that was deep. How can we go deeper?
George: Well, if we look deeper we will find every man’s individual and unique relation to God. And this is intensified by the fact that “no man knows the name except the one who receives it.” Every man is not just in a relationship with God, but a particular relation to God. He is to God a peculiar being. And the man can understand and worship God as no man else can worship him.
Charity: It sounds wonderful, but won’t that be a temptation for pride knowing that only you can understand and worship God is this manner?
George: That would be a problem to him who had not overcome. God give me grace that I would humble myself before my brother; that I divide us not with foolish pride, but look up to my brother for what knowledge and worship of God that he and he only can give. Each man stands before God, and lifts up a different humanity to the God who is all in all. And inside every man is an inner chamber that only God can enter, a chamber into which no brother or sister can come.
Henry: That’s quite an insight.
George: And further still, it follows that there is a chamber also, a chamber in God himself, into which no man can enter but the one made for it, made from the beginning. Out of this chamber he must bring knowledge and strength for his brethren. Each can reveal to each the secret things of the Father — Each man discovering the riches of the knowledge of God and of his grace, each teaching his brethren how better to know the one who made them. God has become all in all.
Charity: It’s a beautiful vision of things to come, but how does that pertain to our question of whether all people eventually go to heaven?
George. Well, Charity – you too Henry – Let me ask you this. What would happen if even one man, one individual unique in his relation to God, were somehow lost and separated from God and the rest of humanity forever; or if he was somehow removed from existence so that he would exist no more?
Henry: There would be a serious deficiency in our ability to know and worship God.
George: Yes. For we would be missing what he and he alone would provide for every other man, his own peculiar relation to God and the revelation and strength he would bring from it. Each one of us is precious not just to God but to each other. And this is why Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself, Mathew 22:34-40. For to love God is to love your brother; and to love your brother is to love God. One cannot be done without the other.
Charity: You’ve given us a lot to think about. That’s for sure. I think this is the kind of thing that needs to settle in the brain for a while before one can fully comprehend it.
Henry: Yes. I agree. And as it so happens, our break time is over.
To Be Continued…