Last Words, Part 2 (Rev. 22:16-21)

 


We do not know the Bible if by it we do not know Jesus. 

TESTIMONY (16)

In verse 16 we see the TESTIMONY, “…”  Too often perhaps the Church leaves apocalyptic themes to Hollywood.  But our Lord intends that we be apocalyptically-minded people. So, He “sent [His] angel to give this testimony for the churches”.  It is often said that by studying history we should learn from the past so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.  There is equal wisdom in looking to the future as it has been revealed in order to appropriately adjust our lives and be fit for what is coming.  

 

The testimony Jesus mentions here is the whole book of revelation so far.  And the whole book of Revelation is about Jesus! We do not know the Bible if by it we do not come to know Jesus.  While on earth He told the Pharisees that the whole OT was about Him, “You diligently study the Scriptures [Old Testament] because you think that by them you have eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about me…” (John 5:39).  Jesus is the focus of all the New Testament as well.  Jesus is the message. His identity. His person. His life.  His activity. His judgment. His grace. His salvation. His death.  His resurrection. His glory.

 

We would be at a deficit if we didn’t at least mention the names Jesus ascribes to Himself here.  He has dozens and dozens of titles and names and references throughout Scripture, so, these 3 would seem important for being selected.  The first two names identify Him with David, King David, the greatest historical king of Israel. He is the Root of David, by which Jesus means David came from Jesus.  This is an unmistakable claim to deity on Jesus’ part. His earthly life occurred hundreds of years after David, but, Jesus, as God, pre-exists everything and has no beginning.  

 

But He is also the Offspring of David.  Here now Jesus shifts the emphasis from His deity as the Root of David to His humanity as the offspring of David.  He is a descendant of David, humanly speaking. His lineage, as both Matthew and Luke open their gospels show, was connected to King David.  This was the premiere qualification of the Jewish Messiah. Jesus is asserting Himself as the fulfillment of all Messianic Prophecies here.

 

Throughout Revelation the Divine titles expressing eternality and sovereignty are used:  Alpha & Omega, First & Last, Beginning & End. God is before all things and He is after all things – His existence is into eternity past and eternity future.  Now, that same thought is used here: Root and Offspring of David. He was before David (Root) and after David (Offspring).

 

Then He calls Himself the Bright Morning Star.  He is the light that infinitely outshines all other light because His is the eternal light of divine glory. This light of Jesus will illuminate the New Jerusalem (21:23) making the sun, moon and stars unnecessary.  Another way to see this Morning Star title is eschatologically, meaning, the title indicates something about Jesus that is related to the end times. Morning comes after night, and, when this dark age passes it will be Jesus standing for all eternity in His divine, luminous glory.

 

Application:  We hold on to the testimony of Jesus.

 

INVITATION (17)

Secondly we see the Invitation, verse 17 “…”  Three things stand out to me in this verse: 1) those doing the inviting, 2) the offer, and 3) the decision for everyone who hears.  

 

First of all, those doing the inviting.  Three times the invitational word “come” appears in this one verse.  First the Spirit invites, then the Bride (the Church), then, the person who hears the message.  That’s interesting, “let him who hears say come”. Here’s the point: God intends that those who hear the invitation and respond to it that they turn around and invite others!  

Application:  Evangelism is the business of the Church.  The Gospel is our product and we are the only ones God has put in business to get this product out there.  “Where do you see that, Pastor?” Notice the text says “these three: the Spirit, the Church and the one who hears (actually the one who hears becomes part of the Church) all say “come”.  They are the only three mentioned who are involved in inviting people to the gift being offered.

 

The fact of the invitation being pressed hard shows the relentlessness of God to convince people to take up His offer of eternal life.  I’m not Calvinist here, the Bible clearly shows man has a choice and He must make it.

  • Like wisdom crying out in the streets in Proverbs, inviting people, giving them the decision, it says, “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets he cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech.  
  • Like the man who prepared a great banquet in Luke 14, but no one would come.  He told his servants, “Go out to the roads and the country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full!”  
  • This is like all prophetic ministry in history:  sure it is calling people to God – to turn from their evil, escape judgment, and be saved.  But the fact that God would care enough about people who don’t care about Him to send them prophets to call them to Himself is broadly speaking an invitation!  An invitation to life, salvation, blessing.

 

Second, what is the offer in this verse?  It is the offer of something free.  It is the offer of the free gift of the water of life.  Come, you are invited. This water of life flows down in a peaceful river originating in the throne of God during the New Jerusalem.  What you are invited to is eternal life. It’s free! It costs nothing. It is yours for the taking. You simply must come to the source and drink.  

 

This brings us to the third point:  the decision.  Everyone invited is faced with a decision.  Yes or No thank you. Maybe’s and not yet’s are the same things as “No” – they are No’s right now.  Everyone who hears the Gospel responds. Yes or No. What the Spirit, the Church and those who have said Yes are doing is inviting you, compelling you, imploring you, begging you to come to the water of life offered freely.  

 

WARNING (18-19)

Next we see the warning, verses 18-19, “….”

This warning appears in other places in Scripture.  Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32 and Proverbs 30:6.

 

God means business with His words man plays a dangerous game when he messes with God’s words.  Add to his words and God will add the plagues in this book to him. Subtract from God’s words and God will subtract the blessings of this book from her.  This is why Paul declared, “I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God…” (Acts 20:27).  We have seen the command to “keep the words” (Rev. 22:7) and this is what it means:  don’t add to them and don’t take from them.  Believe them – every one of them. This is core to the preachers obligation in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show yourself approved who does not need to be ashamed but who correctly handles the word of truth”.  This is why James 3:1 says ….

 

False prophets were stoned in the OT.  God says their words originate in their own imaginations (Ez. 13:2, 3, 17).  

 

The reason these people were so dangerous and those today are so dangerous is that the consequences of their manipulation of God’s word doesn’t end with them.  The mishandling of God’s word results in the destruction of other people that listen to their teachings. They follow the paths of unrighteousness, evil and wickedness because they are not told the truth about sin, judgment and God’s righteousness.  The souls of their hearers will be condemned with the prophet they listened to. That’s why they are so dangerous – their crimes result in their own condemnation, and in the condemnation of all the souls who listen to them. HEED THE WARNING

 

There is an obligation not just of the teacher to handle the word correctly, but, the hearer as well.  First ensure and insist you are getting good teaching. Second, submit yourself to the instruction in the word of truth:  be changed in your convictions, your attitude, your behavior, your speech as you listen. To listen, but, not be changed is not handling it properly as a hearer.  It is the opposite of having ears to hear.

 

GOODBYE – SEE YOU SOON(20-21)

So we leave Revelation with Jesus’ testimony, with an invitation, and with a warning about handling God’s words.  Finally we come to our last sermon point in our 21 month long series: Goodbye, I’ll See You Soon. Read verse 20-21 with me, “….”

 

Whenever something is repeated in a section it indicates the focus of the passage and, usually what God wants us to take away.  Three times in this last chapter of the whole Bible Jesus says, “I am coming.” Verse 7, “Behold I am coming soon!” Verse 12, “Behold I am coming soon!”  Verse 20, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

 

This puts everything in context in our sermon today.  He left us His testimony about Himself to keep until He comes again.  He is coming again soon and so the chance to take up the invitation and come to Him for salvation is for a limited time.   

 

If we could sum up the core traits of a true, Biblical local church it would be what we see here in these last two verses.  Three things:

 

First, affirmation of the truth of Jesus’ words.  It says “Amen.” That’s not Jesus saying Amen. That’s John.  That’s the reader of the book of Revelation, the testimony of all that Jesus is found in Scripture saying, “Amen.”  A true local church affirms the whole testimony God has given in the Bible concerning His Son, Jesus Christ

 

Second, a true local church is anticipating Jesus Christ’s return.  Notice again, “Amen.  Come Lord Jesus.”  That is not just an affirmation, but it is a heart and soul anticipation.  That’s why you hear us say at the end of services a lot, “Maranatha”, which means

 

And thirdly, a true local church is characterized by the grace of Jesus Christ, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with God’s people.”  (v21).This means a local church is comprised of people who have received and experienced God’s grace in regards to their own personal sins.  We are a people who recognize our faults before God, that we are morally wrong before Him, and that He is the rightful Judge of our sins, but, we can testify also of His grace and forgiveness of our sins in Jesus Christ.  

 

But grace is in a true local church in that it also becomes a strong guiding ethic in our personal relationships with one another.  We don’t all live up to our FB profiles, we know that we all have “tendencies”, and, we choose to live by grace with one another, loving one another beyond each other’s faults, because we know that is what God has done with us.  

 

Grace also energizes us for service to Jesus Christ.  

Conclusion:

Do you have what psychologists are calling “selfitis”?  In an article in the Miami CBS Local, Selfitis is a smart-phone age phenomena – an addiction to taking selfies.  Its defined by California State University psychology professor, Ramani Durasula, as “a person who is almost obsessively taking selfies, multiple times a day, and posting that to … Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram.  Durasula says that if more than 50% of your photos are selfies and you frequently use filters (to enhance your appearance), then those are red flags.

 

The problem, is one that many psychologists have been raising the alarm over in the last several years:  this social media age is having tremendous negative effects on people: a hyper-self-centeredness, depression, anxiety, inability to cope and so forth.  

 

This is an ancient problem simply augmented by the advent of technology: selfishness.  The Bible has said that this is man’s problem since the beginning. The Bible also has the solution:  shift one’s focus from self to Christ. Focus on His testimony of who He is. Focus on His invitation to come to Him.  Focus on His Warning about His words. Focus on His Coming again to this earth.

 

The paradox of the Christian faith is that joy, peace, the capacity for giving and receiving love all do not come from trying to love yourself more.  Instead they come as the inflow of blessings when you consent to being loved by Jesus Christ. It is then you discover the supernatural power to have your heart opened up to love Him back.  It is then you will also discover the enlargement of your love to new unimaginable capacities towards others. Revelation has given us that picture of Christ.

 

Handel’s Messiah is perhaps one of the greatest

 

Handel’s Messiah, comments

Hallelujah Chorus plays.

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