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The Believers Response to the Return of Christ

The Book of Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Revelation 22:6–12 AV
And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
In
Introduction:
Revelation 12–22: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Chapter 20: The Believer’s Immediate Response to Christ’s Imminent Return (Revelation 22:6–12)

Verses 6–21 of this chapter form the epilogue to the book of Revelation. Having taken the reader through the amazing sweep of future history all the way into the eternal state, all that is left for John to record is this divine postscript. By this point in the Apocalypse, all the glorious and gracious purposes that God ordained before the foundation of the world will have been attained. The devastating judgments of the Tribulation will have been carried out, and their memory will remain only in the torment of the damned. The Lord Jesus Christ will have returned in blazing glory, executed His enemies, and reigned on earth for a thousand years. All rebels, both angels and humans, will have been sentenced to their final, eternal punishment in the lake of fire. The present universe will have been “uncreated,” and the eternal new heaven and the new earth created, in which the King of Kings will be reigning with His Father. The holy angels and the redeemed of all the ages will be dwelling in eternal bliss with Him in the new creation, particularly in heaven’s capital city, the New Jerusalem. From His throne in the center of that majestic city, the brilliant, blazing glory of God will radiate throughout the re-created universe. Absolute and unchanging holiness will characterize all who dwell in the universal and eternal kingdom of God. They will constantly praise, worship, and serve Him throughout eternity in an environment of perfect peace, joy, and fulfillment.

Revelation 12–22: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Chapter 20: The Believer’s Immediate Response to Christ’s Imminent Return (Revelation 22:6–12)

In a series of rapid-fire, staccato statements that move breathlessly from theme to theme, verses 6–12 delineate the responses every believer should have to the imminent coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. These verses convey a furious rush of energy, a wild flurry of excited effort to call forth immediate reaction to the vital truth they communicate. The text is pregnant with urgency, pressuring every reader to take action based on the truths it presents.

The Church eagerly awaits the coming of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:7 AV
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Philippians 3:20 ESV
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Thessalonians 4:15 AV
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is seen as an imminent event, meaning that nothing else has to happen for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And based on that knowledge, this study of Revelation should cause four key attitude in the life of the believer: 1) Immediate Obedience, 2) Immediate Worship, 3) Immediate Proclamation and 4) Immediate Service.
I. Immediate Obedience (vs. 7)
Revelation 22:7 AV
Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
As we come to verse 7, we note that the speaker is no longer the angel but now is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Jesus begins His address to John using what is simply called in grammar an attention getting; by using the word “behold”.
Whenever you see the word “behold” in the Scriptures you know right away that is put there so that the reader (or in John”s case the listener) would stop and consider what is being told to them.
Interesting thing to keep in mind here that from verse 7 to verse 20 of this chapter, Jesus mentions three times concerning the fact that He is coming quickly.
The idea is that up to the very end of the revelation, Jesus Christ is giving an appeal for people to turn to Christ, because He is coming very soon.
Jesus uses on old “Beatitude” word in this portion of Scripture when he says “Blessed” is the one that keeps the words of this prophecy.
It is the Greek word “μακάριος” and it means “happy” or “fortunate”.
It is a fortunate thing for someone to have the ability to keep the words of the Prophecy.
And notice what the fortunate person does, “He keeps the words of this prophecy”.
The word “keeps” is the Greek “τηρέω” and it literally means “to guard or protect”.
Now, that is the general sense in which the word is used.
More specifically the word “τηρέω” means “to guard or protect while being obedient to the words”.
Believers are called to protect the words of the book of Revelation.
Have you ever thought about that?
Not only are we told in the opening chapters of the book that we are fortunate or happy to study the words of this prophecy, but we are also told to guard them while obeying them.
The word is also a Present Participle and it is just like saying, “Happy is the one who is continually keeping the words of this prophecy”.
But just what prophecy is Jesus referring to that we are to obey and guard.
While we are certainly called on to guard and obey all the word of Scripture:
1 Timothy 6:20 ESV
O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,”
2 Timothy 1:13–14 ESV
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
John 14:15 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
John 15:10 ESV
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
John 14:21 ESV
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
John 14:23 ESV
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
1 John 5:2–3 ESV
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
So, it is very clear from the Word that we are told that the ones that prove their true love for God obey the commandments of the God.
However, I just had to ask myself if there was something additional to that the Christ had in mind here; and I think that it is.
And what I mean by that is this: Is Christ referring to something more specific than the entire Bible?
Notice the word in your text “this”, it is the Greek word “οὗτος” and it is used grammatically as a demonstrative pronoun and is used to clarify the word it modifies.
Not only are we call on to obey and guard the commandments of Scripture, but more specifically we are commanded to guard and obey
“THIS BOOK”, not just the book in a general sense to indicate the entire Bible, which there is no argument that we are called to obey and guard that, but more specifically, THIS book.
You have the word “of” which while grammatically being a preposition, syntactically it functions as the article (similar to if I used the word “the”in English; that would be the article).
Then you have the word “οὗτος” (or this) which grammatically is a demonstrative pronoun, then you have “βιβλίον” or “book”.
So what Jesus is saying by the usage of the word “this” with article “of” He is pointing to a specific book....THIS BOOK, as opposed to other books; even other books of the Bible.
“Happy is the one who guards and obeys the words of the prophecy of THIS book”.
So next time someone tells you that you are spending to much time studying prophecy or that prophecy is not important because we are not going to even be here, remind them that promises a special blessing to those people who guard and obey the words of THIS book.
And you cannot guard and obey what you do not know.
So the next time you have someone say to you that Prophecy is not important, why spend so much time on it we are not going to be here anyway; remind them of the special promise to those who guard and obey the words of THIS book.
The question then arises as to what words in the book of Revelation are believers commanded to obey?
It is a general command to long for Christs’ return and the hope of out future glory.

It calls on believers to desire heaven, to desire holiness, to desire to see Christ vindicated and triumphant over His enemies, to desire the end of the curse, and to desire the glories of Christ’s earthly kingdom and the new heaven and the new earth.

After reading Revelation, Christians should love Christ more, long to see Him vindicated in His glory, live in light of the reality that they will one day see Him, disconnect themselves from the perishing world system, pursue heavenly realities, seek to be made like Christ, hope for their resurrection bodies, and anticipate their eternal rewards. They should also understand the fearful judgment that awaits non-Christians, and call those sinners to repentance and saving faith in the Lord Jesus.

God inspired Revelation for one purpose: to reveal the glory of His son and to call believers to live godly lives in light of His soon return.
The purposes of Revelation is not to provide entertainment, but to provide motivation for living godly lives.
2 Peter 3:11–12 ESV
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
2 Peter 3:14 ESV
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
Christ’s imminent return demands immediate obedience.
II. Immediate Worship (vs. 8-9)
Revelation 22:8–9 AV
And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
The Apostle John attests to the veracity of the things contained in this Prophecy by saying that He saw these things and heard them.
Listen, the book of Revelation is not some sort of hyperbole or allegory, John says that he saw and heard these things for himself.
These things are true, he says, because I saw them and I heard them.
And the first thing that entered the heart of John when he saw these things was to bow and worship.
He was just so overwhelmed at what he had seen and heard that he just fell at the feet of the angel and began to worship.
He had the right response, but it was just to the wrong object.
This is not the first time that John’s emotions got the best of him.
Revelation 19:10 AV
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

But like Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:28), Daniel (Dan. 8:17; 10:9), and Peter, James, and he himself at the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:6), John simply collapsed in wonder and worship.

A Proper understanding Revelation should elicit worship.
But it should elicit true worship.

One phrase ought to serve as a sober reminder as we go through today’s so-called worship wars: worship is not about us, but about God. So much of the current debate revolves around what we want, what we need, what we prefer, what we desire for a service to do for us. We even argue over whether a worship service should focus on evangelism, discipleship, or praise. In all these discussions the emphasis is squarely on us. No wonder we are confused; no wonder we lack the power we so desperately need and, at our best, desire with all our hearts. But if worship is not about us, what is it about?

Worship is about recognizing God’s primacy in all things. In the Bible, the most basic meaning of “worship” is “to bow down.” To whom do worshipers bow? The creator, sustainer, deliverer, savior, revealer, healer, judge, and covenant maker. In other words, they bow down to the sovereign Lord of all creation. For what purpose do they bow? To give glory to God, who alone deserves such humility and adoration.

The book of Revelation should elicit such knowledge of worship; such as, how little I am and how great God is.
III. Immediate Proclamation (vs. 10-11)
Revelation 22:10–11 AV
And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
Another indication of how important the words of Revelation are is the fact that Christ tells John that the words of Revelation are not to be hidden.
Daniel, in , was commanded not to reveal what he saw, but John is commanded to proclaim what he saw and heard and the reason for this is because the return of Jesus Christ has been imminent from every generation from John all the way forward.
The fact that John is told not to seal the words but to proclaim is further proof that the message of Revelation is not secret, but the truths there are plain.
Now some of the particulars of the prophecy we may not full understand, as John did not either.
But the message is clear; Jesus is coming soon, bringing with Him a just recompense of judgment on the world, repent and be saved.
That is the proclamation and the understanding of the book of Revelation should drive up to immediate proclamation.
Therefore, to fail to preach Revelation is not only foolish, but it is sinful.
To fail to preach Revelation is to fail to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ with the glory that is due Him.
In fact, I will go so far as to say that no one should preach who does not right divide and preach this book.
But check out this next statement:
Revelation 22:11 AV
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
That statement seems way out of place; however, the message that it gives is clear.

But the truth it dramatically conveys is that people’s response to the proclamation of the truth will fix their eternal destinies. Those who hear the truth but continue to do wrong and be filthy will by that hardened response fix their eternal destiny in hell. On the other hand, the one who continues to practice righteousness and keep himself holy gives evidence of genuine saving faith.

John repeatedly uses the word “still” on this verse.
It is the Greek word “ἔτι” and means “still, yet” and in some places it is translated “more”.
What John could be conveying in this verse is that those who do wrong and are filthy here, will be “ἔτι, yet more” filthy and do wrong in eternal hell.
And on the opposite side of that, those that persevere and do right here, will “ἔτι, yet more” do right in eternal praise and glory.
The study of Revelation should elicit immediate proclamation because Jesus is coming and so is judgment for the sinner and God’s spirit will not always strive with men.
Hosea 4:17
Hosea 4:17 ESV
Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone.
Jesus said of the equally hardened Pharisees:
Matthew 15:14 ESV
Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Both of those passages express God’s wrath of abandonment (Rom. 1:18–32), when He turns hardened, unrepentant sinners over to the consequences of their own choices.

Preaching Revelation draws the line.
They must be proclaimed so that men and women can hear them while there is still time.
IV. Immediate Service (vs. 12)
Revelation 22:12 AV
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Jesus’ statement means that His coming is imminent.
You have that attention getter again, “Behold”
“quickly” is the Greek word “ταχύς” and does not speaking about the speed in which He is coming; as if it is speaking about speed.
I means that He is coming soon.
And when He comes, He will bring the reward for all His people.
The study of Revelation elicit service because He is coming soon and bringing His reward with Him.
Believer’s eternal reward will be based on their faithful service to Christ in this life.
Their works will be tested and only those with eternal value will survive.
In , Jesus gave the parable of the talents and what that parable basically teaches us is that:

The rewards believers enjoy in heaven will be capacities for serving God; the greater their faithfulness in this life, the greater will be their opportunity to serve in heaven

2 John 8 ESV
Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
The knowledge that Jesus could return at any moment should produce in the life of the believer a desire for immediate obedience, immediate worship, immediate proclamation and immediate service.
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