Christ’s Final Words (Revelation Sermon 47 of 49)
May 13, 2018 | Andrew Davis
A godly dad told me last week that as he was preparing his family for last week’s sermon in Revelation, his young son, seven or eight years old, noticed what page they were on in the Bible and his eyes became like saucers. He asked, “Dad, are we almost done with church?” No — unless Jesus returns tonight, we are not almost done with church.
In this last section of Revelation, we come to Christ’s final inspired words to the world and the church. There is something very poignant about final words. Back in 2001, I had the privilege of being at the Southern Baptist Convention with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of Purpose Driven Life. His church had just become a Southern Baptist church, and he was at the convention to preach. He gave an unforgettable testimony of him being at his father’s side as he died.
His father, Jimmy, had been a Baptist pastor with many roles for many years —missionary, church planter, church builder, carpenter, preacher. He had built over 160 churches with his own hands. He had terminal cancer, in the final stages. As Jimmy Warren was dying, he was in a dream-like state, in and out of consciousness, as sometimes happens at the end of life. He was hallucinating about the churches that he had built, calling out instructions about 2x4s and such things. Suddenly, this dying man was seized with an overpowering desire to get up out of the bed so he had to be restrained. He kept saying the same thing over and over: “I've got to save one more for Jesus, one more for Jesus, one more for Jesus.”
Rick Warren said without exaggeration that his father said this over a hundred times. Rick knelt by his bed and thanked God for a godly father. He felt his father’s hand on his head, like a patriarchal blessing. He said, “Reach one more for Jesus.” Rick said, “That is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Jesus’ final recorded words to the church before he ascended to Heaven are in Acts 1. After he died on the cross for our sins and was raised to life on the third day, he appeared over a period of 40 days to many people and gave many convincing proofs to his disciples that he was alive. He brought them to a mountain overlooking Jerusalem. “‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. It is reasonable to see that as his final words to the church.
Today we will walk through this text in Revelation, these final written words of God to the human race. We will take them line by line, beginning at Revelation 22:12-13, where he said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
Christ’s Control of History is Absolute (vs. 12-13)
History Is Vital
Here is the end of the story, the end of history. We believe as Christians that history is linear, unfolding one moment at a time. History is the retelling of what has happened in the past, an unfolding of events in space and time. Many people want to make religion a pure idea, somewhat like metaphysics, having no effect on physical life, science, tangible things, not connected to real life. But we believe as Christians that it does and that history really is Christ’s story. We believe that history is absolutely vital to our Christian faith. The Bible begins with a historical assertion. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That is a historical fact.
The Bible unfolds with the history of God’s dealings with a human race that fell into sin in Adam. We all sinned in Adam, and we died in Adam. This unfolding story continues across the Old Testament, focusing eventually on God’s dealings with the Jewish nation, the bodily descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. More significantly, the New Testament picks up the narrative of history to tell about Jesus, who was born of the Virgin Mary, his physical, literal human mother but no human biological father. He lived a sinless life, then died an atoning death in our place on the cross. We believe that he was physically raised from the dead on the third day, that the tomb was empty. That historical account is vital to our Christian faith. It is not just a metaphysical theory or a nice story that gives us inspiration; we believe it actually happened.
The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17 “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Then Christianity is nothing. So we believe in history — it really does matter.
History Is Linear
We believe that history is linear. First, one, then two, then three, or A, then B, then C, or Alpha, Beta, Gamma, all the way to the Omega day. It is a linear, sequential unfolding of a story. Eastern religions like Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, and especially Hinduism, follow a cyclical view of history going on and on in a perpetual cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, or reincarnation. They may get this from looking at the cycles of nature, the cycle of seasons — spring, summer, fall, winter, and then back around to spring — around and around.
Ecclesiastes 1:4-9 says, “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” We saw all these beautiful babies being dedicated, and we know what will happen. I have five children in extended stair step. We are still directly parenting, but we have seen them through from cute and beautiful babies to grown up. They get older, and then they move away. We have a beautiful multi-generational church. I have been here for 20 years and have done a lot of funerals. I have seen people age. We know what happens; we can see that linear view.
Hinduism specifically zeros in on human life. The Hindus look at the cycles of nature and posit that what must happen after they die is that they come back, reborn, reincarnated. Their principle of karma dictates that they are trapped in this endless cycle of rebirth, life and death, breaking out only by enlightenment. We Christians dispense with all of that — we know it is not true. We believe that it is appointed to each one of us to die once, and after that, face judgment. Even then it is still linear. This statement in Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon!” This indicates that something is about to happen.
History Has a Purpose
Revelation 22:13 says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” We believe not only that history is linear, but that Jesus is history. He makes an incredible “I AM” assertion. “I am the story of the human race. I am history.” When he says “I am truth,” he does not merely mean “I teach truth,” he means “I AM truth.”
Linear history has a purpose, moving us to a destination, which is Christ. He says he is coming soon. We have to hear that with the eternality of God compared to the eternity that is coming to all of us, whether spent in Heaven or Hell. This life that we are living right now is a mist, a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes. After that comes eternity.
James Joyce, in Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, tries to capture eternity. He writes, “You have often seen the sand on the seashore. How fine are its tiny grains! And how many of those tiny little grains go to make up the small handful which a child grasps in its play. Imagine a mountain of that sand, a million miles high, reaching from the earth to the farthest heavens, and a million miles broad, extending to remotest space, and a million miles in thickness; and imagine such an enormous mass of countless particles of sand multiplied as often as there are leaves in the forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hairs on animals, atoms in the vast expanse of the air: and imagine that at the end of every million years a little bird came to that mountain and carried away in its beak a tiny grain of that sand. How many millions upon millions of centuries would pass before that bird had carried away even a square foot of that mountain, how many eons upon eons of ages before it had carried away all? Yet at the end of that immense stretch of time not even one instant of eternity could be said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years eternity would have scarcely begun.”
It is chilling to read that and think about people spending eternity in hell. That is the very thing that God sent His Son Jesus to deliver us from, to bring us over into an eternity of Heaven — the very thing that Revelation 21:22 addresses is at stake — surrounded by glory and beauty and joy. Jesus is coming soon to execute wrath and judgment on his enemies and to reward his saints. It is the final act of linear history that God planned from before the foundation of the world.
Christ is history. Christ was the Alpha day, the first day of history. Through Jesus, all things were made, and without him, nothing was made that has been made. Through him, God spoke the universe into existence. He is the middle day of history. Put the cross at the center of human history to divide western time into BC — before Christ — and AD — the year of our Lord. He will be the final day when His Second Coming ends human history. That is linear history.
How History Was Able to Happen
Were it not for Jesus’ blood shed on the cross, there would not have been a single day of this history. When Adam and Eve fell into sin, if there had not been a planned redemption through Jesus’ blood, there would not have been one more day; it would have ended right then. Even atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, and others who do not recognize the atoning work of Jesus enjoy blessings on earth which were bought by the blood of Jesus. This includes all common grace blessings — their meals, the beauty of the sunrise and the sunset, the beauty of holding a newborn son or their daughter in their arms. Though they do not acknowledge God in any of this, Jesus paid for it all by allowing history to continue.
He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Christ’s Cleansing is Essential (vs. 14-15)
The Washing of Robes
The cleansing that Jesus worked by his blood is essential. Without it, we would have no right to enter the city. Revelation 22:14-15 says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” The washing of the robes represents salvation through Christ’s atoning blood. Sin pollutes and defiles us; it makes us dirty in the sight of God. The soiled garment is a symbol of a sinful lifestyle, the actual deeds done in violation of our consciences and of God’s law.
Jude 23 says, “... hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Because of God’s holiness, Habakkuk 1:13 says, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” He cannot look at us clothed in our filthy sin-covered garments. The washing of these polluted robes by the atoning blood of Christ represents our salvation, our cleansing, our justification in the sight of God, our forgiveness of sins through simple faith in Jesus. The multitude from every tribe, language, people, and nation in Revelation 7:14 has done this: “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Christians stand in radiant robes of righteousness given as a gift through faith in Christ. God sees us that way — not guilty, but holy.
This is like the beautiful statement to husbands in Ephesians 5:25-27: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” That is what Jesus did for the church. By dying, he has cleansed her; by the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, he has washed her and made her righteous and clean.
Rights in the New Jerusalem
We have washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, so we have the right to eat from the tree and to go through the gates of the New Jerusalem. Jesus has won for us rights and privileges that were not ours. The Greek word refers to authority, a legal right to act in a certain way. When Adam ate from the tree, in him we all sinned. God said in Genesis 3:22-24, “‘He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” He was not permitted to go back in the garden to eat.
Now that Jesus has died for us, we have the right to eat from the Tree of Life. We have the right to enter the gates of the city. We have the right of access. As it says in Romans 5:1-2, “…since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” We have access, we have the right to go into God’s presence. We have the right to be called children of God, as John 1:12 says: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” We have the right of adoption, to be called God’s heirs. We have the right to the tree.
Colossians 1:12-14 says it beautifully: “…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” We are qualified for heaven. That is exciting. It is much better than being pre-qualified for a loan. You are qualified to go through the gates and reach out your hand and take and eat from the Tree of Life, and live forever. Is that not incredible? Jesus paid for that.
Outside: The Unclean
Outside are the unclean. Revelation 22:15 says, “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” This is a regular theme at the end. God is very clear about who will be excluded. We Christians are not Universalists; we do not believe everybody ends up in Heaven. Most do not. Jesus warned, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” We believe only a few will be saved, though it is — percentage-wise and numerically — a multitude greater than anyone could count from every tribe, language, people and nation. But outside are those who are rejected because of their wickedness and sin.
We get lists like this in Revelation 21:8: “…the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:27 says, “Nothing impure will ever enter it, [the New Jerusalem] nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Verse 15 gives a similar kind of list, saying, “Outside are the dogs.” Dogs in those days were not pleasant domesticated animals that are members of the family, beloved and grieved when they die. The term refers to wild, junk-yard-type dogs, rabid, prowling around, like wild boars. It can refer disparagingly to male prostitutes or anybody who is of repulsive moral make-up. It is used in that context here. Who are the dogs? Those who practice magic arts, or pharmakeia — the corruption of drugs and black magic. The sexually immoral: we live in a corrupt age with countless sexual perversions, one being the violation of one man and one woman in covenant relationship for life. Murderers: Jesus said it is not enough to not physically murder somebody, but if you are angry with them in your heart, you are in danger of the fire of Hell. Idolaters: anyone who sets a created thing above God, and lives for that created thing, rather than God who made them. Those who love and practice falsehood. All of these are excluded.
We need to be aware, to know, to understand these words. We need to warn those who are living this kind of life that they are in great danger. We need to fear God on behalf of people who do not. By the grace of the Word and the Spirit, transfer that fear. It was grace that taught my heart to fear. In grace, my fear is relieved. We want to fear on their behalf until they fear like they should and cross over from death to life.
Christ’s Identity is Mysterious (vs. 16)
Jesus’ Mysterious Self-Identification
In Revelation 22:16, Jesus identifies himself as the speaker. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The authors of the Scripture frequently identify themselves by their own name and with the pronoun “I”. John does it twice: “I, John,” in Revelation 1:9 and again in Revelation 22:8, “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.” But here, Jesus makes it clear that it is not John but Jesus himself who is the real author of Revelation. He has sent his angel to give the testimony for the churches, plural, to enable all of us to listen to this book of Revelation.
He presents a mysterious identification of himself: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” This connects to Isaiah 11:1-3: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD — and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.” The image here is Jesse, or his son David. David’s lineage seems to have been cut off, pictures as a stump, but it maintains an active root system. Up out of the seemingly defunct lineage of King David will come a branch, which will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:10 says, “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.” That refers to Jesus.
But here, Jesus claims to be both the root of David and the offspring of David. Effectively, he is both David’s creator and his descendant. That is the mystery. He is David’s creator and also his descendant. This is only possible by the mystery of the incarnation. This is who Jesus is, fully, eternally God, but also at the right moment in the fullness of time, human in the lineage of David.
The first thing the New Testament asserts about Jesus is “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David.” He is the descendant of David, but he is also David’s creator. When the angel Gabriel came to the Virgin Mary with the news that she would give birth to the Savior of the world in Luke 1:30-32, “…the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.’” Imagine being Mary, hearing that — the Son of the Most High, given the throne of his father, David.
Christian theologian have spent centuries trying to figure that out. It is called the mystery of the incarnation. That is who he is.
The Bright Morning Star
He is also called the bright Morning Star. In the early morning before dawn, often right at the horizon, you can see the Morning Star. Frequently, it is Venus, not even a star, but it is a harbinger of the sunrise that is about to come. The Morning Star in this verse refers to Jesus and His incarnational life, and then the 20 centuries of the advance of the Gospel in his name. This is a harbinger, a Morning Star of the glory that is about to come. After all of this darkness, light is coming, He is the Morning Star.
Christ’s Invitation Is Wide and Free (vs. 17)
Revelation 22:17 says, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” These are God’s final words to the human race. This is Jesus’ final word. He is pleading with thirsty sinners to come to Himself and be satisfied in salvation. The Holy Spirit is in partnership with the bride — the church. Together we have a role, to invite thirsty sinners to find salvation in Christ.
Three Scriptures come to mind related to this invitation. John 7:37-38 says, “On the last and greatest day of the Feast [of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and said in a loud voice [with thousands of Jews around], “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” Jesus called on thirsty sinners to come to Him, to believe in Him and find eternal refreshment, to find life. It is an invitation for anyone who is thirsty to take the gift of the water of life freely — without money.
Isaiah 55:1-3 says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Sin makes us thirsty. Being spiritually dead but still physically alive is a thirsty place to be. You violated God’s laws and your conscience, which leaves you on the outside. The sin is not satisfying but only makes you more thirsty, like drinking salt water. You need Christ. You need forgiveness. If you are on the outside, you are in danger; John 3:36 says you are under the wrath of God. If you die in that condition, you will go to Hell forever, but he is inviting you to come, drink, and he will satisfy you forever. Believers, those who have already partaken, are to participate in the invitation, to be inviting others.
Christ’s Word is Complete (vs. 13, 16, 18-19)
Purpose of Scripture
Christ’s Word is complete. Revelation 22:18-19 says, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” This is the very end of the Bible. These words go beyond the book of Revelation. God intended that Revelation would be the capstone of written Scripture, His final word, the end of what He has to say.
There is a purpose for the words contained in this written book, in page after page of Scripture, in prophecy. Revelation 19:10 says, “…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The Apostle John — the same person who wrote Revelation — said at the end of his Gospel, in John 20:30-31, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” No one comes to faith in Christ apart from the ministry of the Word of God. You do not think or reason your way to Jesus; you hear the Gospel proclaimed from the Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 says that the Bible is given to make us “…wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work [holiness, evangelism, ministry].” Scripture is given to bring us to faith in Christ and then to make us fruitful.
He warns us — referring not only to the book of Revelation but to the whole Bible — not to add to it nor take away from it. “If anyone adds anything to them [the words of the Bible], God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city…” The Word is perfect, sufficient to save our souls and give us a fruitful life for the glory of God. We do not need anything more.
This is an ancient warning. Deuteronomy 4:2 says, “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.” Proverbs 30:5-6 says, “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” Satan always seeks to interfere with the Word of God. He said to Eve, as though simply raising an innocent question, a topic for discussion, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” … You will not certainly die [a lie]. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil [the truth].” Satan is behind all cults, constantly mixing truth and error together, creating one big mess.
Various categories of people add to God’s word. Legalists insert extra-Biblical commands. The Pharisees, Scribes and teachers of the law in Jesus’ day added many Sabbath and other regulations, it was difficult to keep track. Jesus has cleared all of it away. The word of God commanded, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God — Yahweh — in vain.” They protected that command by putting extra wall around it, forbidding even saying the name Yahweh. Wherever the four letters pronounced “Yahweh” occurred, they inserted “Adonai” instead. That way, they were certain not to take the name of the Lord in vain. But God had said Yahweh was the name by which He was to be known in every generation, and they would not even speak the name. They added regulations to the commands.
Other legalistic cults and religions add extra commands. For centuries, the clergy in the Roman Catholic Church, in which I was raised, have had to take a vow of celibacy. They are not allowed to be married, to have a godly wife. The river of immorality and wickedness which that interjected into the Roman Catholic life is indescribable. Paul says in 1 Timothy that forbidding marriage is the doctrine of demons. The Shakers, a cult, forbade men and women to touch each other. At the Smithsonian, in the religion section, there is a picture of a Shaker dance, depicting the women on one side and the men on the other. The Shakers had better be good at evangelism, because they are not raising up the next generation of Shakers. It is a cult — they are adding these commands. Other cults, like Islam, which by any definition is a cult, have added holy books. It came after Christianity, it adds and subtracts and multiplies and divides, meeting every criteria for false teaching. Its success gives it the status of a world religion. Their book, the Quran, was given by an angel to Muhammad in a cave. The Mormons, founded by Joseph Smith, added the Book of Mormon, given to him also by an angel, and other books besides.
On the other side of legalism, those who take away from the commands of this book practice license. They do not worry about commands regarding things like sexual immorality, encouraging people to live as they want, because all are forgiven. Jude 4 says that such teachers in the New Testament era were “…godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” Such people say, “Do whatever you want. Do not worry about this, do not worry about that, just believe in Jesus, that is all.” Or theological liberals do like the genius Thomas Jefferson when he created his own version of the Bible. He went through the Bible, perhaps with a red pen, and eliminated passages he did not like. Theological liberals pick and choose and get rid of aspects of Holy Scripture. They take away from the things written in the book of God.
I preach verse by verse, book by book because I want to teach all Scripture. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” It is a lifetime work to become proficient in the Word of God. It contains milk and meat. Harmonizing all of these Scriptures, line after line after line, into a system of truth, is hard to do. But that is your lifetime work.
Christ’s Grace is Effective (vs. 20-21)
Verses 20-21 affirm that the grace of God and Christ is effective. Revelation 22:20 says, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” For the last time in this book, Christ warns us that He is coming soon. We are to be constantly vigilant, doing the works that God entrusted us to do. We are to be like the faithful steward in a household, who is put in charge of the servants in the household, to give them their food at the proper time. Jesus said about them, “It will be good for that servant, whom the master finds him doing so when he returns.” We do not know when he is coming. We need to be vigilant. He is coming soon. We need to be aware that our lives are brief.
James 4:14 says, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Isaiah 40:6-8 says, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Knowing our lives are brief, and we will die soon, we are to be vigilant and active, growing in holiness, sharing the Gospel with lost people, until God takes us out of this world or Jesus returns. Psalm 130:6 says it well: “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” We are to be expecting Christ in that way, with ready anticipation.
As we wait and as we work, we echo John’s agreement when Jesus says, “I am coming soon,” John agrees, “Amen. Come, Lord, Jesus.” Maranatha, come. He may not return this afternoon. All of us who are in Christ would be delighted, but it may be a while, so we are to work for the glory of God until then.
What will keep you in Christ between now and the day you die or the day Christ returns? Only the grace of God. He says very plainly in Revelation 22:21, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” Every epistle ends this way. We are not independent of the vine, we are branches. He is the vine, and as we abide in Jesus through the ministry of the Word and the Spirit, we will stay alive in him. That is grace will keep flowing, and by that grace, we will keep walking with Him for the rest of our lives.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
Come to Christ. If you are a family member here today for a baby dedication, we celebrate with you; we are thrilled to welcome all these children into our church family. But if you know that you are on the outside, you do not usually go to church, I yearn that you get more than that out of the day. That moment of the childhood of these infants is so brief. Jesus is offering you eternal life. Come to Christ.
First, for us who are already in Christ, reach out with the Gospel. Next week, we will talk about evangelism, the responsibility First Baptist has, to share the Gospel with people in Raleigh and Durham.
Second, see your life as part of this unfolding story of the Alpha-Omega. Does your life have purpose, or does it seem meaningless? Are you squandering your days on electronic entertainment that will burn like wood, hay, and straw on Judgment Day? Or are you called by God, gifted for a ministry to serve Him? He is the Alpha and the Omega, not only of all of human history, but of your life. Find your life purpose, find your story within the story that Jesus is telling. Do not waste your life. Do not waste this week.
Third, are you continually ready and awake and aware of the imminent return of Christ in the way you live your life? He said four times, “I am coming soon.” Are you able to say, “Amen, come Lord Jesus. I want to be ready at every moment, for the Second Coming of Christ”?
Fourth, purify yourself as He is pure. The text speaks of washing your robes so that you may have the right to enter the New Jerusalem. Justification does that, but you also need Jesus to wash your feet. A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. You get dirty as you live and as you walk. 1 John 3:3 says, “Everyone who has this hope of Heaven in him, purifies himself as He is pure.” Get ready for Heaven.
Finally, I challenge you to ask yourself if you have a taste for the things of God, for Scripture, like you used to. Is it greater, the same, or less than it was two years ago? If it is less, I guarantee that you are too much in the world, dining at the world’s table and you have less of an appetite for Scripture and for Christ. You have forsaken or you are in the process of forsaking your first love. Do not do that. Fast from worldly things. Get into God’s Word. It is not just a matter of protecting, not adding to or taking away. You must open it up and read it, feed on it, but also do not add to it or take away from it. Ask of God, “What do you want me to do? How can I live today? What can I do for your glory and to serve you today? How can I feed on your word to be strong for your glory?” That is the call.
Lord, thank you for the things that we have learned in your Word. Thank You for the power of the Word, for the way that you have spoken to us. What a rich day it has been. Thank you for Wes and brothers and sisters that have teamed with him today to bless us, enabling us to sing by their skillful playing. Father, I pray that you would give us a sense of the glory and the greatness of these themes in Revelation. I pray that we would rely on the grace of God more and more, to make it through the dangers that we have in this world. Next week, Lord, as we study evangelism, give us a heart to take risks, to share the Gospel with co-workers and people we will meet with, even this week. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.