Well let's open our Bibles to the final chapter of the Bible, the twenty-second chapter of Revelation...Revelation chapter 22, God's last invitation. The Bible opened with a promise, the promise of a coming Savior, the promise of a coming deliverer who would rescue people from their sin. That promise came in the third chapter of Genesis and the fifteenth verse. "He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel." That is a promise of a deliverer, that is a promise of a Savior, one who would come and rescue men by destroying the enemy, Satan himself.
The Bible then begins with the promise of a Savior and that is how it ends. Verse 20 of this last chapter, "Yes I am coming quickly." Only this is the promise of His Second Coming whereas Genesis 3 was the promise of His first coming. W.A. Criswell wrote this, "First the Savior is to come that He might be crushed, bruised, crucified and made an offering for sin. He is to come to die as the redeemer for the souls of men. After God made that promise in Eden, hundreds of years past, millenniums past, and the Lord did not come. When finally He did arrive, He came unto His own and His own received Him not. He was in the world and the world was made by Him and the world knew Him not. The thousands of humanity had forgotten the promise or else they scoffed at its fulfillment. When finally announcement came that He had arrived, the learned scribes pointed out the place where He was to be born, but never took the time to journey the five miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to welcome the promised Savior of the world. But however long He delayed and however men forgot and scoffed and however few of a faithful band waited for the consolation of Israel as old Simeon, yet He came. In keeping with the holy faithful promise of God, the Lord Jesus came.
"It is thus...says Criswell...in the text that God speaks in closing His Bible, `Surely I come quickly.' Here a second time. However infidels may scoff, however other may reject and however the centuries may grow into the millenniums, this is the immutable Word and promise of the Lord God, `Surely I come.'"
And it is all throughout Scripture reiterated. In the Old testament there are many prophecies of His first and second coming. In the New Testament, many prophecies of His Second Coming. In Jude 14, for example, it says, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way." He is coming not as a Savior, but next time as a judge. And thus you have at the end of the book of Revelation, not so much a promise as a warning.
We have been looking at this tremendous closing invitation. The whole book of Revelation, of course, is the prophecy of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is the apocalupsis, it is the apocalypse, the revealing, the manifestation of Jesus Christ. It is the final statement on the unveiling of the glory of the Son of God when He returns and every knee bows and every tongue confesses that He is Lord. And this book which is all about His Second Coming ends with a final invitation in the light of that reality. As the revelation reaches its end, and the certainty of Christ's return is now clear, the Holy Spirit calls for a response. First of all, in verses 6 through 12 a response from Christians, the response of immediate obedience, immediate worship, immediate proclamation and immediate service.
But secondly, beginning in verse 13 and down to the end, a response from non-Christians. God's final plea is given to those who are still rejecting. This final section we can divide into simply two points...the invitation and the incentives to respond.
The invitation comes in verse 17. And I'm just going to briefly review what we talked about a couple of weeks ago. The invitation comes right in the middle of this passage, from verse 13 to 21, surrounded by the incentives. But we have to start with the invitation. Verse 17, "And the Spirit and the bride say, `Come.' And let the one who hears say, `Come'. and let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." We suggested to you that there are two parts to this verse. The first half is the plea for the Lord to come. The second half is the plea for sinners to come to the Lord and join the plea for Him to come.
First of all in verse 17, the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and then the bride which is the church, they desire the Lord to come because they want to see the end of sin, they want to see the exaltation of righteousness, they want to see the glory of the Kingdom, they want to see the majesty of Jesus Christ, they want to see the enemy Satan destroyed, sin dealt with and the eternal glory of God manifest throughout the universe. So the Holy Spirit and the church are crying, "Come." The striving, convicting grieved quenched and blasphemed Holy Spirit says, "Come." And the struggling, burdened, troubled, sinful, weak church says, "Come." The Holy Spirit wants Christ to come because He wants the work of redemption completed, the enemies of hell banished. The church wants to be a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish. And so the Spirit and the bride say to Christ, "Come, come, come."
And then the verse shifts in the middle and others are invited to say come. Anybody who hears the message of the gospel and joins the church and joins the Spirit can say come, Lord Jesus. And then comes the call to sinners, let the one who is thirsty come, let the one who wishes to take the water of life without cost. And there is the call for sinners to come, to recognize their need, to see the source of help for that need in Jesus Christ and to take of the water of life without cost.
Salvation, we noted last time, comes to those who recognize their desperate threatening condition in sin which is here pictured as thirst. Salvation comes to those who understand the provision God has made in Christ, who see Him as the living water and who repent and believe, taking and drinking what is provided for them.
So there is the invitation to sinners, come...come...come, join the Spirit and join the bride, eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus Christ. You don't need to look at the return of Christ as a frightening reality, if you'll come to Christ you can love His appearing and you can anticipate it.
So, first of all, we looked then at the invitation. Secondly, and what occupies the surrounding text is the incentives to respond. There is the invitation to come and the incentives to come. And there are a number of incentives.
We began to look at them last time, and let me remind you of the first one. We are to come, sinners are to come, because of Christ's person...because of Christ's person. Remember verse 13 He said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." And down in verse 16 He says, "I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star."
What is the significance of that? It is this, it is not just anyone who is calling the sinners to come, it is none other than the Alpha, the Omega, the first, the last, the beginning, the end, the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star. And those are all titles for Christ Jesus, the Son of God, the living Lord, the eternal, infinite transcendent one, He is the source and end of all, He is the goal and consummation of all. He is the root of David, that is He is the source of David, that is to say He is deity, He is God. He is also the offspring of David, that is to say He is a child of the line of David, that speaks of His humanity. He is the God/Man. And then He is called the bright morning star. I told you the Jews used the term "star" to describe a hero. He is the hero of heroes, the brightest star, the morning star that shines brightly to shatter the darkness just before the herald of the dawn.
It's not just anybody who is inviting the sinner to come, it is the majestic living Lord of heaven. The preacher is not the inviter, He is. He is the One who has sent the invitation, we just deliver it. O what a majestic one calls you to eternal life, calls me to eternal life, calls every sinner to eternal life, to turn down the invitation is to spurn the Supreme Being in the universe. And such an affront to Him comes with an immense cost.
Secondly, the incentive to come is because of Christ's person, and secondly because of heaven's exclusivity...because of heaven's exclusivity. And this is really where we stopped last time.
There's another compelling reason to come to Christ, another compelling reason to believe in the One who died and rose again, to repent of your sin and embrace Him as Savior and Lord. And that is because of what verse 14 and 15 says. "Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters and every one who loves and practices lying."
What that tells us is about the exclusivity of heaven. It is not a place for everyone, everyone doesn't go there. There are some people in verse 14 who are inside, participating in the tree of life, there are others who are outside, shut out, according to verse 15. It is likely that in verses 14 and 15 Jesus is still speaking, and if I had been the editor on a red-letter Bible, I would have made sure that all the words from verse 12 clear through verse 16 were in red, because I think there's no reason to assume our Lord is not continuing to speak right here.
Look again at verse 14, "Blessed are those who washed their robes." This refers to the idea of removing sin by purging by cleansing, such as we saw in Psalm 51 verse 7, Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18, and other places in Scripture. And we noted that the only agency by which such cleansing can be accomplished is by the blood of Jesus Christ. First Peter 1, very, very familiar and very important Scripture says, "You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life, inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." It is the blood of Jesus Christ, it is the death of Christ, His atoning work that alone can wash away our sins.
This is again repeated in the book of Hebrews, in fact, many times. I think of just one verse, Hebrews 9:14, how that the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanses us from dead works to serve the living God.
It is only those then who have been washed, it is only those who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ who have the right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city. Only the cleansed have the right to enter, only the cleansed have the right to eat. The new Jerusalem and as well the new heaven and the new earth is only for those who are cleansed of sin. So forgiveness is the requirement for anyone who would enter into heaven. That's why the gospel promise includes forgiveness.
Listen to it in the words of Paul. It says in Ephesians 1:7, "In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses." If our sins are not washed away, cleansed away, absolutely and totally forgiven, we cannot enter into heaven. And the world is full of people who assume they're going to get to heaven apart from that, but they're not. One sin shuts you out. This is a compelling exclusivity. The only way to heaven is to have your sins forgiven by faith in Jesus Christ and in His death and resurrection. That is the only way.
Then verse 15 on the other hand says, "Outside...outside the new Jerusalem, the new heaven and the new earth are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices lying." Outside.
Look at chapter 21 verse 27, the last verse of that chapter. You remember that chapter described for us the new Jerusalem, describes for us the eternal heaven, the new heaven and the new earth. And in verse 27 it says, "Nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."
Heaven is exclusively for those who have been cleansed, those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Now where are these people that are outside? Verse 15 of chapter 20 tells you, "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, here's where he was, he was thrown into the lake of fire." Heaven is exclusively for those who are forgiven. And it is abundantly clear from verse 15 of chapter 22 that if there's any sin to be held against your account, you're going to end up in the lake of fire. Verse 15 gives you a list of sins, a list of descriptive sins. Mark this, it is not exhaustive. Somebody might read it and say, "Well let's see, I'm not a dog, a sorcerer, an immoral person, a murderer, an idolater, or one who loves and practices lying, I'm just a thief so I'm not included." That's not the idea. These are not exhaustive, but these are representative.
Over in chapter 21 verse 8, the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death. So again we know that being outside means to be in the lake of fire and the list there is a little bit different, indicating to us that this is a representative list and not an exhaustive one. These are people who will still bear their sins and the punishment for them.
Now I want you to look at this list because while it is very apparent, what He's talking about in most cases, there is at least one word here that might baffle you a little bit and that is the first one, "Outside are the dogs." We have domesticated the dog pretty much in our culture so we might not understand that. In fact, you might have a little dog that is more friendly to you than other members of your family. That seems to be true in some cases. You may look at your dog almost as if your dog had a personality and something more than just instinctive behavior. And you might cherish your little dog, taking very fine care of it. That was not how dogs were treated in the ancient world. They were often called curs. They were scrounges. They milled around the garbage of the city and they were despicable creatures, for the most part. And calling someone a dog was referring to the person of the most low character. Dogs were not particular about what they did in view of everyone. They had no desire to hide the list...the lest desirable functions, and you well know that. Dogs will leave their mark anywhere and everywhere. And they were synonymous with the lowest, the scum. Such indications are found even in the Old Testament as well as in the New.
For example, and I won't read a lot of them, but just a couple to give you the idea. Second Kings chapter 8 and verse 13, "Then Hazael said, `But what is your servant, who is but a dog that he should do this great thing?" To call someone a dog was the lowest. In fact, the Jews would call the Gentiles dogs and that was an epithet that infuriated them and demeaned them. In Isaiah 56:10, talking about unfaithful men who were supposed to be in spiritual leadership, it says of them, "All of them are dumb dogs, unable to bark." It is used as well in the New Testament with similar kinds of significance. It is used, I guess we could say, and I was looking for some words to describe it as simply as I could, it is used to describe the impudently impure. It is used to describe those who were blatantly impure.
Now this may really surprise you. The first reference where dogs are used to describe humans because of their impudently impure behavior is Deuteronomy 23:18. You can write it down if you want to look it up. Deuteronomy 23:18, and it refers to homosexual prostitutes, male prostitutes for homosexuals and they were the lowest of the low...the lowest of the low. They're going to be outside the Kingdom.
And so are sorcerers, that refers to people engaged in magic, drugs, pharmakiais the word from which we get pharmacy. Magic was associated with drugs, supposedly to induce some euphoria and some ascent to the deities. It engaged them also in demon activity.
Outside are immoral persons, pornosfrom which we get pornography, those who commit immoral sexual acts. Outside are murders, that's pretty clear. Outside are idolaters, those who worship other than the true God. Outside is everyone who loves and practices lying. And here then we have then another representative list like the one I mentioned earlier in chapter 21 and verse 8, a representative list very much like 1 Corinthians chapter 6. The New Testament is full of these. Neither fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, swindlers shall inherit the Kingdom of God, that's 1 Corinthians 6. Galatians chapter 5 has another such list. It talks about those people who will be outside the Kingdom, immoral, impure, sensual. It talks about their sin of idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these. You have a similar list in Ephesians 5:5.
Now the point that I want to make out of verses 14 and 15 is simply this, hear the invitation, my friend, because heaven is exclusively for people whose sins have been cleansed. It isn't that none of us have ever done those things, it is that we have been forgiven. Who doesn't want to be forgiven? The one who cherishes that sin. And if it is unforgiven, if you do not come to the foot of the cross and embrace Jesus Christ, you will die in your sin, Jesus said in John 7, and where I go you cannot come. You will not go to heaven, you will burn forever in the lake of fire.
And so, the invitation is...let the one who is thirsty come and let him take of the water of life without cost. There's no charge, just come and drink, receive eternal life, receive forgiveness. And you should be compelled to do that because of the person who asked you and because of the exclusivity of heaven. You will be left out if you are not forgiven, and you will not be forgiven unless you come to Christ who alone grants forgiveness.
Thirdly, and this too is a vital incentive. Come because of the glory of the person who invites you, come because of the exclusivity of heaven, and come because of the truthfulness of Scripture. Come because of the truthfulness of Scripture. It is so important that the Bible ends with an affirmation of its truthfulness. And that is found in verses 18 and 19. "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city which are written in this book."
Now these words are to be heeded. This is not the first affirmation of Scripture in this chapter. Go back to verse 6. The angel who is speaking to John says, "These words are faithful and true." And then in verse 10, and he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near." The words are true, they must be proclaimed and they must not be altered. Don't add to them, and don't take away from them, they are true, proclaim them.
Sinners need to respond because of the truthfulness of these words. This is the Word of the living eternal God. And you better respond. If in endeavoring to avoid the clear revelation of God you add something, shall be added to you the plagues that are written in it. If endeavoring to avoid what it says you take away from it, you will have no part in the tree of life.
Now all through Revelation we have faced the doom of those who reject Christ. The world has been destroyed, as we have seen through this panorama of the future. People have been plagued and tortured and starved and shaken and demonized and scared and maimed and killed and damned and consigned to a lake of fire. And all of those pictures, all of those visions, all of those prophecies are true. That is exactly what will happen, that is exactly what is happening now as people are going to hell without Christ.
And then Jesus Himself adds a further statement about the permanence of this truth. Verse 18, and I believe this too should be in red letters, "I testify," I don't think that's John, I think that's Jesus speaking. Why? Because verse 20 says, "He who testifies to these things says yes, I am coming." Here our Lord Himself offers an extended word of testimony regarding the authority and finality of the prophecy. He had commissioned John to write it, but He was the author of it. "I'm telling you, this is true, don't tamper with it, don't add to it and don't take away from it."
Now notice what He calls it. "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book." First of all, obviously He has the book of Revelation in mind...the book of Revelation is prophecy. It says it there. The words of the book of this prophecy. These words make up a book that is prophetic. This is a prophecy.
Do you realize there are people who don't even want to admit that? This is a prophecy. It was given through John the Apostle who was the prophet. It was a prophecy that came through a prophet. And John was that prophet. He was that spokesman.
Back in chapter 1 verse 3, it says, "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy." And here it is a prophecy in the predictive sense. This is a prophecy put in a book, authored by God through a prophet not to be tampered with. This is a warning. It's really a way to guard the book. This is very important. It's not a new way to guard a book, it's an old way. In fact, way back in Deuteronomy, in the Pentateuch, the first collection of books that God ever inspired, listen to what you read in Deuteronomy 4:2. And Deuteronomy, remember, was the last book in the Pentateuch which was the first book, really, the first volume given by God through Moses. But listen to what it says in Deuteronomy. "You shall not...verse 2...you shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it." That's the same thing precisely. Don't add to it, don't take away from it. Don't touch it. Take what it says exactly as God gave it. In Deuteronomy 12 again comes the warning. Verse 32, "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do, you shall not add to, nor take away from it."
In the thirtieth chapter of Proverbs, this, too, I find very interesting. The thirtieth chapter of Proverbs and verse 5, "Every word of God is tested, He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words." Isn't it interesting? For the Pentateuch there is such a warning. Here in the wisdom literature, there is such a warning.
And then in Jeremiah, I'll give you one other illustration of this, in Jeremiah 26 and verse 2, "Thus says the Lord, Stand in the court of the Lord's House and speak to all the cities of Judah who have come to worship in the Lord's House all the words that I have commanded you to speak to them, do not omit a word." Not a word, not a single word should be omitted.
Now here you have the same kind of thing at the end of the Scriptures, don't touch a word, don't add to it, and don't take away from it. The warning forbids any alteration of this book, but this is not just this book, because we've heard this warning repeated over and over in the passages I just read you and we could safely extend it to all of Scripture.
You say, "Well why didn't He put it at the end of Romans? Why didn't He put it at the end of Ephesians? Why didn't He put it at the end of the book of Acts? Why didn't He put it at the end of Hebrews?" He put it at the end of Revelation because Revelation is at the end of revelation. It's at the end of the New Testament. It's the end of all scriptural revelation and so it goes to sweep across all that has been given. And He also put it at the end of Revelation because Revelation, God surely knew, would be the book most assaulted, and that is the case.
The warning forbids any alteration of this book and any alteration of anything that God has ever written, which goes for all sixty-six books. These words of Jesus then head off any attempt to add or subtract from the book's content through some deliberate falsification, some distortion of the teaching in it. And that would go for a purposeful, falsification and misinterpretation.
Now remember, this book of Revelation when it was written, immediately when it was disseminated to the seven churches, it would have been very unpopular, for example, with Jezebel and her followers who were at Thyatira. It would have been very unpopular with the propagators of the false religion of the Nicolaitanism. It would have been very, very unpopular with those at Thyatira who had embraced the deep things of Satan. It would have been very unpopular with the Jewish slanderers mentioned in chapter 3 verse 9. And it would have been very popular...unpopular with many others. And so they would have immediately began to assault it, and they did. And they're still assaulting it.
And so, is the warning...don't tamper with it. It refers to Revelation, now listen to this, but since Revelation...follow my thought...takes the biblical story, takes biblical history, takes redemptive history...follow this...all the way to the very end, doesn't it? This book takes us all the way to the eternal state, all the way to the end, the eternal lake of fire, the eternal new heaven and new earth. This book takes us all the way to the very end. That's why it's the last book written, written several decades after the earlier New Testament books. It takes the account of God's plan all the way to the end, so there's nothing to be added to it.
Then we could also say, anything added anywhere in the Scripture to any book in the Scripture would have to be added to Revelation because Revelation is the end. If you wanted to add to Scripture, it would have to be post the book of Revelation, wouldn't it? So anything added anywhere is added to Revelation which is the end, and there's no need to add anything because the story goes clear into the eternal state, nothing more needs to be said.
Dr. Thomas has just completed his second volume, he teaches, of course, at the Master's Seminary, and completed his second volume on Revelation and in that volume he has a paragraph, it's not yet published but will be in a few months. This is what he says, "The predictive portions project from John's life time all the way into the eternal state. Any type of prophetic utterance would intrude into the domain of this coverage and constitute either an addition or a subtraction from Revelation's content. So the final book of the Bible is also the concluding product of New Testament prophecy. It also marks the close of the New Testament canon since the prophetic gift was the divinely chosen means for communicating the inspired books of the canon," end quote.
That really sums it up. No more revelation, no more gift of prophecy in its revelatory sense. Nothing needs to be said because everything is said clear out to the end. There's nothing more to add. No more Scripture to be given. And now we can take the delivered Scripture and give it to the saints intact.
"If anyone," verse 18, "adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book." There's nothing more to add. The canon is closed. The gift of prophecy in its revelatory sense is ended, no more prophets to speak, not more apostles to write, no more words from heaven, no more spiritual visions. And the pledge here, the warning here is to those who do add to Scripture...whether they are liberals or higher critics or false prophets or frauds or fakes. Those who tamper with truth, to falsify it, to mitigate its message, to alter it or going to feel the vengeance of God. There's nothing that you need to add to this. And to add to it is to incur its judgments.
Then verse 19, "If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life from the holy city which are written in this book." It's equally dangerous, of course, to diminish Scripture.
There are some people who wouldn't want to add to it, they just want to take away from it. I remember when I was in seminary, studying liberal theology, we came across a theologian who had finally concluded there were only twenty-three verses in the whole Bible that were actually inspired by God. And there was a great effort made to inform all of us as seminary students about German(?) higher criticism, which set its goal...set as its goal to demythologize the Bible. Liberalism, old liberalism, new liberalism, neoorthodoxy, whatever you want to call it, higher criticism, the Groffwell(?) House and JAPD(?) theory, all of that kind of stuff that you learn about in philosophy and in seminary, sets out as its objective to strip from the Scripture everything that offends the sinner. But God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city which are written in this book. Those kind of people won't be in heaven.
"Take away" is a play on words. You take away from the words of this book and God will take away your part in heaven. The part you might have had if you hadn't tampered with Scripture. Now you have to understand a true believer wouldn't tamper with Scripture. You see, anyone who knows God, anyone who knows Christ, anyone who is on the way to heaven is going to treat Scripture with great respect, is going to say with the psalmist, "O how I love Thy law." Is going to say, "It is my delight every day." You see, God's Word is absolute, true, faithful, permanent and complete, not to be altered, not to be changed, not to be added to, not to be taken away from. And true believers understand that.
Now the fact that this warning is here indicates several thins to me. First of all, it indicates that men would be prone to tamper with Scripture, and probably prone to tamper with Revelation more than any other, and that has been true. Secondly, it indicates that men would deny its validity because it is so specific, prophetically. And that has been true.
But it also indicates to me that the Holy Spirit wants to make a final sweeping statement about what you do with Scripture all together. And the bottom line is, God has written it, don't erase it and don't expand it.
You say, "This concerns me a little bit because maybe I've been guilty of that." Maybe you are saying that and maybe you have. Let me help you to sort some things out. First of all, our Lord is not threatening those believers who make an error in judgment. He's not threatening those who make an error in discernment. He's not threatening those who have rendered an inadequate interpretation. What He is doing is threatening unbelievers who engage in deliberate falsification and emasculation, and deliberate and deceptive misinterpretation, those whom Paul calls corrupters of the Scripture. No real believer, no real lover of the Lord of the truth, no one born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, no one washed by the cleansing blood, no one regenerated by the washing Word would willfully mutilate the Scripture. He wouldn't willfully poison his own food. He wouldn't do that.
A true believer would say, with David, "O how I love Thy law." A believer may say I don't understand it all, I am not able to explain it all, I may not interpret it exactly with precision every time, I may not always touch the depths of it, I may not be able to understand its mysteries, but I love it and I would never tamper with it. That is the sign of a true believer.
Jesus even said that. In John chapter 8 and verse 31, Jesus said this, "If you abide in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine." If you abide in My Word. If you rest in My Word. If you hear and obey My Word. That's what He's talking about.
Over in John 14 verse 23, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word." And then at the very least it's true of a believer, that the Word of God is everything to us, as babes we desire the milk of the Word that we may grow. No, believers don't adulterate the Word of God. Believers don't tamper with the Word of God. True Christians keep it, honor it, love it. We may wrongly understand some parts of it, our theology could be off here and there, but this is not a willful assault on the truth.
The great commentator of years past named Seiss, S-e-i-s-s, wrote what I think is a very helpful paragraph. Listen to this. "With an honest and prayerful heart and with these solemn and awful warnings before my eyes...he writes...I have endeavored to ascertain and indicate what our gracious Lord has been so particular to make known and defend. If I have read anything into this book which has not been put there, or read out of it anything which He has put there, with the profoundest sorrow would I recant and willingly burn up the books." He was a writer. He wrote this commentary, he wrote A commentary on Revelation. Further he says this, "If I have in anything gone beyond the limits of due subjection to what is written, if feebleness or rashness or overconfidence in my own understanding has distorted anything, I can only deplore the fault and pray God to send a more confident man to unfold to us the truths which here stand written. According to the grace and light given me, I have spoken. If I err, God forgive me. If I am right, God bless my feeble testimony. In either case God speed His everlasting truth," end quote. Isn't that a great statement?
The Word is true. Revelation in all of Scripture is true. True Christians believe it and keep it and love it and obey it. The fact that it is true is incentive enough that the sinner better come because what it says is going to happen is in fact going to happen. And you will have no part in the tree of life which is the picture of eternal life. You will have no entrance into the gates of the eternal city.
So the invitation and the incentives, respect for the person who gives you invitation, the exclusivity of heaven, and the truth of the Word of God. And finally, one last point, sinners should come because of the certainty of Christ's return...the certainty of Christ's return. One final time, verse 20, "He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." "Amen...says John...Come, Lord Jesus."
One last reminder, the last words Jesus spoke, these are they. One last reminder. John hears from the Lord Himself, the last words Jesus spoke heard on earth, the next will be the shout when He comes for His church. The last words, "Yes, I am coming quickly, soon. It's going to happen, folks, exactly the way the book of Revelation describes it. It's certain. And John affirms...Amen...that means, so let it be, let it be, "Come, Lord Jesus." What does that mean? It means, I'm ready...doesn't it?...I'm ready. Like Paul it means, "I love His appearing. I long for His appearing." Peter recognized that there were false prophets, who scoffed at the coming of Christ. Their love of sensuality, their greed caused them to mock the return of Jesus Christ. In 2 Peter chapter 3 these mocking scoffers come and say, "Where is the promise of His coming, for ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." Everything is just going along, it will keep going along, it's the theory of uniformity, it will always be the same. It won't. And Peter reminds them, "Have you forgotten the Flood that destroyed the whole world?" Things aren't going to continue the way they are. Jesus is coming and when He comes everything in Revelation will happen. Can you say, "Amen, Come, Lord Jesus?" I can. I trust you can.
And then the benediction of the Bible. And wouldn't you know...wouldn't you know that if the Lord was going to pick a last word it would be grace? And you just thought we arbitrarily named this church. The last word is, "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen." And the last thing the Bible says that there is available to sinners...what?...grace...grace. After all this, grace. Is it yours? Are you ready?
You know, as we think about these prophecies, prophecies in Scripture, it's like looking at a sky full of stars and you look up in the sky and sometimes on a very clear night and you see all these stars all over the place and for all you know, if somebody hadn't looked up there with a telescope or flown around in one of those tin cans that are in orbit up there, for all you know we could just be inside a globe and all of those are just little dots painted on that surface. They really all look like they're kind of out there in the same location, like the lights in this building as we look up at them. But the fact of the matter is, you're looking at stars that all appear to be just kind of shelf, on the underside of the roof of the sky, in reality they are billions of light years apart from each other. They don't appear that way to us. But they are. Billions of light years separated from each other.
And you know, that is how it is with prophetic truth. We look at the book of Revelation, the book of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse of Jesus, we look at the things that Zechariah said and the other prophet Scriptures, Isaiah, Jeremiah. And we see this tremendous panorama of stars. But what we can't see is the distance that separates all these prophetic things. And so I just remind you in the end, the timing of these events and the spacing of these things, unless it's particularly stated, is not known to us. So we live all the time with expectancy. And yet sometimes wondering...Well why doesn't it happen? And everybody who tries to figure out the sequence gets it wrong.
The point is, everybody all the time better be ready, and watchful and alert because He comes in a time that no man knows and in an hour when you think not. Until that hour there is grace. May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Let's pray.
It's been a joy, Father, to spend these several years in this book. Little did we know the adventure we were in for when we began. But how it has changed us, how it has shaped us, how it has given us a whole new sense of time and eternity, a whole new view of the future and consequently the present. O how we rejoice that Jesus is coming and how we say with John, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." I pray for sinners, unrepentant and unredeemed, unforgiven that they might hear the invitation to come and they might know that it is You, the living Lord of heaven, inviting them. What a magnanimous and amazing thing that You, the eternal Holy One, would invite sinners to come. May they realize the exclusivity of heaven, that's it's only for those who have been forgiven and none of the others will ever enter but will spend eternity in the lake of fire. And may they know full well that the Bible is true, that the Word You have written is true and that You are coming very soon. We just don't know how soon.
May all of us be prepared and watchful for the One who comes like a thief in the night, may we be ready. And may we be looking and loving the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
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