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An Invitation to Accept

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Jesus warns of His return and invites us to eternal life.

Notes & Transcripts
Tonight we reach the end of a year of studying the Book of hope that you have been blessed as we have journeyed through this book together. I hope that you have learned some things along the way. Perhaps there are some things that you have discovered that are not as you once thought and maybe you have had some other truths affirmed for you that you held dear. If there is anything that you take away from the Book of Revelation, remember that the heart of the message of Revelation is to remain faithful because God has not forgotten you, and He is in control of everything that is happening in heaven, on earth, and even in Hell. Also remember that in the end, God wins. In fact, God has already won. He never was losing. He never was out of control. The final blow was dealt at the cross as Jesus paid for our sin and secured our ransom with His death. He assured us of the victory with His resurrection.
As we close out our study in Revelation, there are some final words that we want to look at the the Apostle John shares with us from the vision. We are taken back to the purpose of the Book of Revelation that was first revealed in chapter 1 where the whole vision began. says,
Revelation 1:1–3 ESV
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
With these words, let’s turn to our text for tonight and look at verses 6-21 of chapter 22.
Read Text. Pray.
I remember as a little boy when I was first starting to study the Bible hearing a peculiar thing that someone once told me. They told me that God did not intend for us to know everything about the Book of Revelation and so we should not try to figure it out. I wish that I could remember who told me this, because it is absolutely contrary to the very reason that is given for the Book in the first place. The first thing that we need to see tonight is:

1. God wants you to know what is going to happen (v.6, 10)

Did you catch that? God wants to calm us and reassure us by showing us what is going to happen. This is just like God. You see, God is omniscient. That is a fancy way of saying that God knows everything. God stands outside of time. Time is a creation of God’s. It began when He created the things by which we mark time like the sun, moon, stars, and light. God is timeless or eternal. It is important to understand this, because when God tells us about what is going to happen in the future, we might be tempted to ask the question, “How can you know what will happen if it hasn’t happened yet?” We might also be tempted to think that it might be possible to change the future if we know what is going to happen by changing a decision that we make. That would be vain becaue God knows every decision we would possibly make and every decision we will make, even if we know that He knows that we know that He knows! Whooosh! I may have just lost a few, so let me slow the train down and let you back on. The point is that God knows the future and sees it just like we see the past and are right now experiencing the present. And, God has chosen to reveal to us the future and let us know what is going to happen before it happens for a reason.
Let me give you an example. I don’t like scary movies or suspense very much. I don’t know why, but I just want everyone to get along. I don’t like to feel stress when I am watching a television show or movie. When I have favorite characters, I want them to fall in love an live a happy life. I don’t like to see them fight, even though they are made up T.V. characters. When the music starts to get really somber and tense, I know that something is about to happen. I can sometimes predict it based on patterns, but other times, I am completely in the dark. I start to get sweaty palms and my heart rate goes up. My eyes get wide and I can hear things I couldn’t before. It’s just like when you hear a noise outside your house at night and you don’t know what it is. But....if I have cheated and looked ahead on my phone to know what is going to happen in advance, I can watch the scene unfold without being too worried. If I know what is outside, I don’t worry so much about that bump I heard in the night. I still might become alert and I still might be a little tense, but if I know how it all works out, I can prepare myself.
The point is that God knows the future and sees it just like we see the past and are right now experiencing the present. And, God has chosen to reveal to us the future and let us know what is going to happen before it happens for a reason.
That is the reason that God tells us what is going to happen in the future. He wants to settle our nerves. He wants to warn us of the terrible things that are coming so that we are not caught off guard, but He wants to reassure us that He has control of the situation. Remember back in chapters 1-3 that Christ is the one who stood among the lampstands and who held the stars, or pastors, in His hand. He was the one that was sovereign over the churches. Jesus is still sovereign over them during chapters 6-20. He is sovereign over believers who are left on the earth during the tribulation. He is sovereign over believers who are in heaven. He is sovereign over the forces of evil, giving permission within limits and ultimately using their evil against themselves and for His glory among the nations. God is in control! It doesn’t mean that we are not frightened or that we don’t feel the reality of the emotions that flood us when we go through trying times, but we can be comforted and get through the difficult times ahead, because God is in control and we know how it will end.
So what does God want us to know particularly?

a. Jesus is going to return soon (v.7, 10, 12, 20)

The first thing He wants us to know is that Jesus is going to come soon! When I say that, some of you may wonder what the word “soon” means if after 2,000 years have passed and He still has not come. For you it may be like when your wife says that she will be dressed soon and ready to leave and you still have 30 more minutes before she comes out of her dressing room. Or when your husband tells you he’s going to watch a few more minutes of T.V. before coming to bed.
The issue of the immancy of the return of Christ, or the any-time possibility of Christ’s return, has been a tough issue for many people to deal with. Some have chosen to believe that Christianity is a hoax because Christ has not come back yet. I can’t pretend to be able to give an explanation that will satisfy everyone, but I can say that I am glad He waited in returning for me to be born! You might think that selfish until you agree that you are glad you were born too! In fact the Bible tells us why God is patient in ,
2 Peter 3:8–9 ESV
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Can you believe that? Even in Peter’s day, when 2 Peter was written, which is believed to be around 65-68 AD, some 30 years since Christ’s crucifixion, people were getting ancy. And Peter tells us that God is not in a hurry like we are and He doesn’t view time like we do since He is eternal; but that God is waiting in His sovereignty until every person who will believe has been saved to return. Then he turns around and says in ,
2 Peter 3:10 ESV
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Just like that he drops a firebomp on us. Jesus is waiting until the right time to come back, but when that time comes, He is going to come back unexpetedly and without warning and will bring Judgment in His wake. Hold on to that judgment idea for a moment, but let’s make a possible definition for the word soon in light of what we have seen.
In , Jesus says “And behold I am coming soon...”
And again in verse 10 he says, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”
And in verse 12 he says, “Behold, I am coming soon...”
And finally in verse 20 He says, “Surely I am coming soon...”
What does “soon” mean in light of all of this? It means that when the fulness of times comes, whenever that may be, Jesus will come quickly and without warning and we had better be ready!
“Be ready for what?”, you say.

b. Judgment is coming (v.11, 12-13, 15)

When Jesus returns, it is not going to be a joyous occaision for everyone. He is going to bring with Him judgment as well as blessing.
Do you remember when you were in school and the teacher stepped out of the room for a minute? What happened when that took place? At first, everyone may have kept doing what they were supposed to be working on. They feared that the teacher may have only stepped into the hallway for a second and could return at any second. If you were caught standing up or talking, you might loose recess or have detention or more work assigned to you. The worst scenario would be to be sent to the office to be punished (at least back when they readily paddled you at school!). But as time went by, people would grow more an more bold. They would start to reason to themselves, “The teacher isn’t coming back anytime soon! For certain, she will come back eventually, but I will know it and will be sitting in my desk doing what I was told to do when she returns and walks into the room. She will never know what I was really up to.”
What you didn’t know was that she was really not very far off. She was really right outside the door watching you and listening to you. She was waiting for the right moment to come in and catch you in the act. God is waiting to return to bring mercy with Him and allow the sinner to be saved, but He is also sovereignly allowing the sinner to tie the noose that will hang himself as well. You see, no one blamed the teacher when she returned to the room and punished the guilty students. It was her right to do so. She did not need the class’s permission to step out. She did not need to justify herself when she gave out the punishment to the wayward students. They deserved it. They knew what was expected of them and they refused to obey. They got what they deserved.
But what if the teacher, in her grace, did not just open the door and come right in, but instead opened the door only partially and stuck her head in and gave a warning that she would be right there and that the class needed to straighten up and get back to work? Would it make it even more heinous of an offense for those students who knew that she was coming back and even heard the warning, but still refused to listen?
God is like the Master Instructor of the universe. He has not left the room, He has only hidden himself and is remaining silent to those who don’t want to hear Him. He is waiting to return at just the right moment, but He has also in His grace stepped into the classroom of life and given warning of His return. He did that throughout the Old Testament by appearing to people. He did it with the Old Testament prophets, like a teacher calling a student out to the classroom to himself and sending the student back with a warning to the class of what they needed to be doing and that the teacher would soon return. Then God Himself in the Person of Jesus stepped into the class briefly before leaving again to warn us when Jesus came to this earth as a baby and lived out for us what we were to be doing and told us of His return one day soon. But, many would not listen and heed the warning.
In verses 12-13 Jesus says,
Revelation 22:12–13 ESV
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Do you hear that? Jesus even starts using His “A, B, C’s” to warn us. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last. Remember, Jesus is the Word of God.
Revelaiton 22:12-13
John 1:1 ESV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Hebrews 1:1–2 ESV
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Jesus is the first of all creation and He will be there in the end when the new heavens and earth are created. He is the beginning and the end.
Jesus warns of His judgment. We have already seen that judgment unfold in the Great Tribulation, with pauses interspersed throughout and evangelistic pleas to the lost to repent. We have seen their judgment for their wicked deeds in . Before closing the Book and ending the message, Jesus warns once more that the unrighteous will not be in heaven.
In verse 15 we read,
Revelation 22:15 ESV
Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Verse 14 spoke of entering the city by the gates. You can’t enter the city by hopping over the walls. This is not to indicate that there will be a second chance to repent after the judgment. It is simply informing the wicked that they will be excluded from this wonderful city that has just been described in chapters 21-22. Jesus doesn’t want to hide the reward that awaits the righteous. We are not part of a secret club and trying to hide our clubhouse from others. Jesus didn’t intend that the unrighteous might not read the words of Revelation. He wants them to read, hear, and know what is going to happen as well. The unrighteous will not be included in the new city.
Finally we need to see that God wants the righteous to know that:

c. Blessing awaits the faithful (vv. 7-9, 14)

What is the reward that awaits the faithful? Well, we have spent three messages looking at the heaven that awaits us. Jesus says in verse 7,
Revelation 22:7 ESV
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Again in verse 14,
Revelation 22:14 ESV
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
Our reward is that we have the right to the tree of life. We have access to enter the city through the gates. Remember again that a cherubim sits over the entrances to the gates. Look back at
Revelation 21:12 ESV
It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—
The angels are not specified here, but are most likely cherubim. Now lets go back to Genesis 3:24 again.
Genesis 3:24 ESV
He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Remember there was the angel guarding the way to the tree of life with a flaming sword. It too was a cherubim. Now let’s look at one more passage to prove the point I am trying to make here. Look at ,
Genesis 3:26
2 Chronicles 5:7–8 ESV
Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles.
These, too, are cherubim. The role of the cherubim was to guard the way to the holy. They covered the ark with their wings which represented the presence of God. In Genesis they guard the way back into the Garden which is where God dwelt with Adam and Eve. In , they guard the way into the holy city where God dwells with His people. The point is that they will not allow anything unholy to enter the city. So how then do we get to go into the city? How do we get to receive our reward?
It is not because we are not vile and detestable like those who were warned earlier. It is not because we have done righteous deeds ourselves that we get to obtain heaven for ourselves. It is because of what verse 14 says.
Revelation 22:14 ESV
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
We have washed our robes in the blood of the Lamb. The reward is ours because we have been cleansed from our sin. In fact, the presence of the angels reminds us that we will never get into the city to get back to the tree of life; we will never get into the new Eden, apart from washing ourselves in the blood of Jesus.
That leads us to the second major thing that we need to see tonight and the shortest, yet most direct point of the letter.

2. God invites the lost to come (vv. 16-19)

In this letter filled with fire and brimstone and punishment and judgment, there has been a consistent theme. Several in fact. Remain faithful. Repent of sin. Accept the invitation. God has extended an invitation to the lost. In verses 16-19 we find that invitation.
Revelation 22:16–19 ESV
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 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 desires take the water of life without price. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Jesus first of all gives credibility to the messengers of this invitation. He says, I sent my angel to you to tell the church. Why tell the church? Because we are the carriers of the invitation to the nations. We are the ones that are supposed to call the lost to the Great Wedding Feast. We are supposed to offer the invitation without descrimination.
Jesus reminds them that He is the rightful King, the Messiah, the Lord. Two key figures in our salvation are the ones giving the invitation. The Holy Spirit and the Bride, the Church. As the Bride, we are to send out wedding invitations. We just had a wedding at the church and I can tell you that the Bride was making a list and inviting people to come to her big day. We are the Bride as the church of Christ. This is our big day. We are to invite the lost to come.
The second person there is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to hear the gospel, understand the gospel, believe the gospel, and stand in the gospel.
After the invitation is a warning about altering the invitation. We are told that we are not to change a word of the prophecy. Now this applies directly to the Book of Revelation, but also to all of Scripture. It is God’s word and we are not to monkey with it. When we don’t like what it says, preach it anyways! When we don’t understand all of it, preach it anyways. When we are afraid people won’t like it, preach it anyways. Don’t leave anything out and don’t add anything to it. Don’t think that you can do what God could not!
God takes this so seriously that he promises banishment for anyone who does alter the message. Why such a serious punishment? Because to alter the message is to play with the eternal destiny of someone’s future.
As we close out this Book, we need to here the invitation of Jesus to join Him in eternity. Jesus wants us to be with Him in heaven. He has prepared a special place for us that is beyond our imagination. He wants to invite us back to the way things were supposed to be before the Fall. He has reversed the curse and made it possible for us to walk past the angel with the flaming sword back into fellowship with God in the Garden City. He has warned you of what is to come so that you can make it through the tense moments of life in this world. He has given you hope for what is in the future so you won’t give up. He has commanded you to share the hope you have with this world around you and to warn them with everything you have. Will you accept the invitation? Will you preach the Word? Will you hold fast to the gopsel of Jesus Christ?
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