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A Final Call Revelation 22:18-21

Revelation   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jesus gives a warning to those who reject the sufficiency of Scripture. And by rejecting the message of Revelation they reveal they are not believers and thus have no part in heavenly blessings.

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Introduction

Several years ago I took a flight to Wyoming. I flew out of South Bend to Ohare in Chicago. I hadn’t flown since I was in the Marines. So I was not very familiar with how to read the flight/gate data at the airport. I only knew I didn’t have much time to disembark my plane in Chicago and get to the other gate before take off. O hare is big. I had to run with my luggage for a long ways. In fact, I had to go to an entirely other terminal through the underground tunnel. I dreaded hearing the announcer come over the speaker saying it was the last call to board my flight at the gate. If you know me you know I would rather be an hour early than on time. I learned this in the corps. I cannot relax unless I am there. So I hustled to the gate thinking I was going to be late, only to find out when I got there, that the flight had been delayed and people still hadn’t boarded yet. Whew!. We have not boarded yet, but this is the last call of the Bible. It will be too late if you are not on board when we take off.
We come to this last message in our study through Revelation. It has been a long road. But I trust you have learned much that will firmly ground you in your faith in Jesus. Despite all the hardships that accompany the Christian faith in the first century Roman Empire, John’s intention is that those believers would hang tough in their belief about Jesus. There were those false teachers who proclaimed a prosperity gospel just as there are today. There were those who taught a different gospel than that of John and what is proclaimed in this book. So it is necessary to give a final warning to all those who either think the Word of God is not enough and they need more in order to have that close relationship with God. Or they think the Word of God is flat out wrong in some areas so they feel the need to remove some portions that do not fit their paradigm of what God said and intends.
The warning is against willful distortion of the message. It is not unlike Paul’s stern words in
Galatians 1:6–7 ESV
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
to those who would distort the gospel fit them rather than conform to the gospel.
This sort of warning was not unknown at the time,
Deuteronomy 4:2 ESV
You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.
What is interesting in the passages is that it is the same thing happening here. Moses is directing obedience to the Word of the Lord. But that is based on their recognition that God is the Lord and not Baal or some other god. This becomes clear when you read vss. 3,4. Notice how he directs their attention off what the Lord said to what the Lord did in order to help them see He is the true God and therefore worthy of obedience: “what the Lord did . . ., the Lord your God destroyed . . ..” v.4 “But you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today.” Notice he did not say ‘held fast to the word of the Lord.” It just proves the point being made in Revelation, that it is not what The Lord is doing, but who HE IS that is the point and that is why it is so important not to alter the message off of who HE IS. Obedience is the indication that you understand and believe who HE IS. Because if you miss who HE IS you have missed it all and if you have missed it all you are not a believer and hence the plagues, the lack of privilege of tree of life and holy city are your lot.
Warnings of this nature were not uncommon. In Moses tells the Israelites, “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it.” When the translation of the Septuagint was completed, it was ordered that they “pronounce a curse in accordance with their custom upon anyone who should make any alteration either by adding or changing in any way whatever any of the words which had been written or making any omission. The warning is a “stereotyped and vehement form of claiming a canonicity equal to that of the O.T.”35 The solemnity of the injunction suggests that the speaker is Christ himself.
Mounce, R. H. (1997). The Book of Revelation (pp. 409–410). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
So let me make this statement at the outset: He is not hinting or stating that it is possible for a believer to lose his/her salvation. I think you will understand why by the time we are done.
What is interesting in the passages is that it is the same thing happening here. Moses is directing obedience to the Word of the Lord. But that is based on their recognition that God is the Lord and not Baal or some other god. This becomes clear when you read vss. 3,4. Notice how he directs their attention off what the Lord said to what the Lord did in order to help them see He is the true God and therefore worthy of obedience: “what the Lord did . . ., the Lord your God destroyed . . ..” v.4 “But you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today.” Notice he did not say ‘held fast to the word of the Lord.” It just proves the point being made in Revelation, that it is not what The Lord is doing, but who HE IS that is the point and that is why it is so important not to alter the message off of who HE IS. Obedience is the indication that you understand and believe who HE IS. Because if you miss who HE IS you have missed it all and if you have missed it all you are not a believer and hence the plagues, the lack of privilege of tree of life and holy city are your lot.
So then let us look at the text and see what it has for us.
Jesus is clearly reminding us of the serious nature of Heeding His Word. What we do with it has eternal consequences.
Mounce, R. H. (1997). The Book of Revelation (p. 410). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
To help us sort this out I am just going to take this in the order it is given:
I. The One who testifies
II. To Whom He testifies
III. The Message of His testimony
IV. The urgency to make your choice
V. The Benediction
This is a very serious warning to those who hear the words of this book to be obedient to it. There are two provisos here: 1. Don’t add anything to what was said, with a consequence of plagues. 2. don’t take away anything from what you heard lest your privileges be taken away.
I think this is akin to sole scriptura . that the authority of this book is being laid out plainly. Because of the address to those ‘who hear’ I don’t think this is speaking to future copyists but rather to those who upon hearing these words would either add further so-called revelation to it. Or who would cut and paste things out of it as unimportant, irrelevant, not true etc. The emphasis is clearly on the authority it holds to command our attention and expect our obedience.

I. The One who testifies,

μαρτυρω εγω I testify is none other than Jesus. the same who said “I Jesus” in v.16.
The word marturo-witness, testify. I want you to consider how John uses this word in and Because this is super important if we are to catch what He means in the part of His message.
In Jesus healed the crippled man and the leaders wanted to kill him not because He healed the man on the Sabbath but because He made Himself equal with God . Jesus response to them is to appeal not to His own testimony about this truth, but to John the Baptist’s testimony and to state His own testimony is greater than John’s because of His own works. Those works prove or testify that His statement about Himself is true.
Then in after declaring He is the light of the World thus the giver of life, v.12 The Pharisees reject His testimony about Himself. Jesus answer is v.14
“Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, . . ..”
Thus, Jesus testimony in those texts is about who He is, so our text is that which is about Him. True, He is declaring that anyone who tampers with the text of Scripture is cursed. But my point is that he is not so much concerned about altering or making light of bowl judgments, for instance, as much as He is showing that to do so is to make light of Him or to reject Him, who said those things. To do so is to demonstrate lack of faith in Him and thus to show you are still in your sins, still an unbeliever.
So this is really a last call to examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith. It is also a last warning to those who reject Him to take heed and come to repentance.
So we see then that the speaker is Jesus.
Now we turn to the next one

II. To whom He testifies

The subject=those who hear the words of this prophecy.
He is speaking to those who will be hearing the words of this book read to them. This was a circular letter sent to all seven of those churches mentioned in chapters 2-3. It would be read to them. They would be reading it as well as hearing it.
Also the make up of those hearers would for the most part be those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. But as we saw in the specific references to those churches there were most certainly false professors among them, as well as false teachers. It may have been a temptation for some of them to minimize the particular messages specific to their situations and so we have this warning.
To Be clear there would have been three classes of people who may have heard this message:
True believers,
False professors who claimed to know the Lord, but did not truly know Him. They might not have even known they were false professors. By the way there is a way to know whether you are a true believer or not and at least one of those marks is found in this text.
Unbelievers who clearly reject the Lord. This would also be true of false teachers who know they are false. And there are marks of false teachers and so there is a way to ferret them out too.
This message is directed at those who hear this prophecy.
Now one more thing before we move on. The word ‘hear’ has more than one connotation. It not only can refer to the actual hearers referring specifically to the audible sense, actually hearing it. But there is also the sense in which hearing means obeying. I will not go into that hear because that is the crux of this message, that of obedience to its motivating thrust.
That leads us to the message itself.

III. The message of His testimony

The message=a warning to heed what is said without adding or removing anything on pain of severe consequences
This is a very serious warning to those who hear the words of this book to be obedient to it. There are two dangers here:
1. Don’t add anything to what was said, with a consequence of plagues.
2. don’t take away anything from what you heard lest your heavenly privileges be taken away.
I think this is akin to sole scriptura . that the authority of this book is being laid out plainly. Because of the address to those ‘who hear’ I don’t think this is speaking to future copyists, but rather to those who upon hearing these words would either add further so-called revelation to it. Or who would cut and paste things out of it as unimportant, irrelevant, not true etc. The emphasis is clearly on the authority it holds to command our attention and expect our obedience and that we will see is based on the source of the prophecy.
We need to remember what this prophecy is about. More than the end times it is a revelation about Jesus. It is a book that is revealing who Jesus is:
There are 404 verses in this book (KJV) and 103 of them have clear references or descriptions of Jesus Christ. That is not taking into consideration chapter 4 and the throne room vision of John, though a case could be made that he, like Isaiah sees Jesus on the throne, which would add to our number of verses. That means that 1 out of every 4 verses mentions something about Jesus Christ. And rightly so, since this is the Revelation about Jesus. They also appear in clusters with two main ones, chapters 1-3 have 39 verse out of 71. And then again in chapters 19-22 which has 31 verses out of 84. Thus the book begins and ends with Jesus: which is fitting too since He is called The alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Now I am not going to list them all for you nor mention all the statements about him, but let me list some of them for you.
He is called the bright morning star, the root and offspring of David, the lion of Judah, the lamb that was slain, but lives, the Creator, the Judge, the first and the last, The one who stands in the midst of the golden lampstands, who holds the seven stars, the Almighty, the one who is, who was and is to come, who has the sharp two-edged sword coming out of His mouth, whose feet are burnished brass, whose eyes are flames of fire, (read the description in chapter one). The one who rules over the seven churches, The Son of God, The Son of Man, the One who delegates authority to the church to have authority over the nations. The one who has the seven spirits of God, who has authority over the book of life, who is Holy, True, who has power over life and death, The one who sits on the throne in Heaven, the one who receives the worship of the 24 elders, the four living creatures, the angels, the saints in heaven and from all creatures under heaven from every tongue, tribe, nation people. The list obviously goes on much further, but my point is that these all reveal His deity.
My friend this book is not about the end times as much as it is about Jesus, disclosing Him in all of His power and majesty. All the events are evidences that He is Who He says He is.
This prophecy, this revealing of the person of Jesus Christ, is heard by all who read it. Remember the blessing of chapter 1:3 “Blessed are those who read and hear the words of the prophecy and keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”
He testifies to this truth. Now, as we saw earlier there are two types of hearers.
First, those who hear the words but don’t heed them. In other words, they hear and read that truth that Jesus is the Lord over all heaven and Earth worthy of all our worship and praise, and yet reject that truth as false. On the one hand this is to whom this warning is directed.
On the other hand, as in other passages of Scripture those who hear the word are those who respond in obedience. In this case they recognize the truth about Jesus and bow before Him in worship and praise and faith and repentance. Those in the seven churches who fall under this category will be the ones who obey His directive to repent, to return to their first love and so on.
I would say that the former is whom He is speaking to in these verses. Those who have rejected Him. And he is making a statement about their end.

A. A message to those who would add to the prophecy

Those who would add to this prophecy are those who think more than Jesus is needed. In other words, Jesus is not enough, they have to add more to him in order to be saved.
As to whether or not this teaches it is possible to lose one’s salvation it must be squared with the rest of Scripture on that topic
to whether or not this teaches it is possible to lose one’s salvation it must be squared with the rest of Scripture on that topic
At first glance it appears that one could lose one’s salvation if you tamper with God’s word. But what is meant by tampering, or adding to or removing something from the Word. I don’t think this has anything to do with making mistakes while copying it either to add or remove. But rather with one’s response to it. In other words, I think it has to do with someone who would add to the interpretation and application (their idea of obedience to it) more than what God intended by its writing and message. That would be to sin willfully because God did not say enough and so one takes it upon oneself to help God out.
The word επιθη (v,18)means to place upon, to put upon or impose. This could then mean to place some other writing over this as authority over this. Taking into consideration this book is about Jesus this would be adding to Him. saying He alone is not enough. He is not sufficient, something more is needed. And of course a true believer would never say that. As we have seen in this book Christ is more than sufficient, He is all in all. He is God and to be worshipped. You cannot get more than God.
In either case, this would replace God/Jesus as the authority and would imply one is not a believer in the first place and thus a recipient of the plagues of this book, future in lake of fire, as an unbeliever.
The plagues might also refer to or at least see , as God calls His people out of the city Babylon. This makes it clear that the plagues are judgment for unbelief and is reference to death. which is a further indication this is speaking of a person who has rejected Jesus.

B. A message to those who would take away from this prophecy, v.19

The second side of this to take away αφελη which means to take off, away, remove
“to cause to cease, implying that someone is no longer permitted to enjoy or participate in some state or activity—‘to take away (from), to cause to no longer do.”
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 659). New York: United Bible Societies.
It is used 2x in this verse the latter time to refer to God removing them from the blessings of eternal life. The reference to the tree of life and the holy city are clear references to Heaven. The opposite of the lake of fire. It has been made clear in our study that only those who have put their faith in Jesus alone are in heaven everyone else is not.
Taking into consideration the same thinking on the first half, this would be like cutting something away from what God commands or said, or communicate so as to give a false transmission of information/instruction from God to the hearers.
In essence is it saying that Jesus is not true, that is something has to be removed,He has taken too much for himself and hence this too is an untrue statement about Jesus. It is like the Pharisees who claimed Jesus had a demon.
It is merely the flip side of the former statement. Both end up doing the same thing or thinking the same thing with regards to what God/Jesus has said, rather to what this prophecy says about Jesus. He is not speaking of removing a judgment or adding more. He is speaking of the main focus of the book, namely Jesus Christ. In any case, even if one did remove some teaching in this prophecy it is still saying that Jesus has lied, thus it is a faith claim, or lack thereof.
Again a true believer would not only not say Jesus is not sufficient, but they would also not say that Jesus is too much.
It’s implication is that God either said too much or what He said was a lie when He said it therefore you don’t need to head it. This is the lie of the serpent in the garden. In this case also the one who does this shows they are not a believer in the first place so that the statement regarding their part of the tree of life and holy city is merely a statement of fact pertaining to the reality of their unbelief.
My conclusion is that the person who would do either one shows they are not a believer in the first place hence, the consequences mentioned here are merely the reality of their state.
In other words, this is a call to believe as in the previous section in the form of a warning regarding the reality of hell which is the end result of unbelief.
You have a choice to make: Believe the words/the message of this book that Jesus is the Lord and is to be worshipped, and so repent and believe. Which would be evidenced by your obedience. An example would be like the message to the church at Ephesus to return to your first love. If they are true believers they will repent and return to Him.
or
They reject this message and suffer the consequences in eternal Hell.
That leads us to

III. The urgency to make your choice, v.20

Taking into consideration of the message ofvss.18,19
Jesus has called for a decision and then said,
‘Yes, I come quickly!” this speaks of the urgency with which one needs to get off the fence or change sides of the fence. He is coming. This is not speaking of his coming soon chronologically or it would not have made sense. Rather this speaks of the suddenness of His coming as illustrated in the gospels by the parables of the thief who comes when you are not expecting him, or the the ruler who has gone on a journey and returns unexpectedly by the unwise wicked servant.
The second part of this is the response of John, which is the response only of those who believe in Jesus.
ie. Amen, Come Lord Jesus.” One cannot and will not call Him Lord this side of heaven apart from true faith, the work of the Spirit of God in the heart. That is what Jesus said to Peter.
Only those who know Him and look forward to seeing Him face to face will desire this.
All others, unbelievers, will not be looking forward to Him. Thy might even think He is taking his time to return as those in one of His parables thought that their master was tarrying and yet when they least expected him he returned and caught them with their pants down so to speak.
Thus, this is the telling response of those who are the true believers.
Finally,

IV. The final benediction, v.21

The final benediction, v.21
the grace of our Lord Jesus be with all is a statement of grace upon those who are the true believers. This is like the ending of many of the epistles of Paul. It is an assurance of grace to the believer.
That is, with all that hear the words of this book, and heed them, by bowing before the Lord, the Creator of all, the one who is the Victor over Satan. Grace is to be upon all who believe. Surely it cannot be upon those who don’t believe. They would not even acknowledge His grace. Instead, they are recipients of His Wrath/judgment.
So to a true believer this book is filled with hope, joy, peace, assurance, strength, confidence and so on. Stand fast, hold on to the Lord. Keep the Faith.

Conclusion

Hear my Word
IT
We have seen this message is from the Lord Jesus who is presented very Clearly as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and is worthy of all our worship and praise.
I testify to the hearers of this Word
take heed you do not reject my testimonyDon’t be caught off guard, My coming will be quickGrace be upon you
We see there is Choice you must make today. You cannot and will not leave here without making a choice. Either you will
MT
Accept His Testimony as True.
or you will try to alter this testimony to fit your agenda which is what we are warned against. and in the warning is the inherent call to examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith.
God’s grace be upon you all.
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