AGCC Sun. a.m. 6/24/2001
#16 (Book of Revelation Series)
TEXT: Rev. 22:7-21
INTRO:It is interesting that the end of a book filled with so many ominous events should end with an invitation and prayer. The purpose of the book is not to depress the reader but to move the reader into a deep loving relationship with Christ so that the future is bright and not dark.
The challenge then is clear, how do we get the message out ... because failure to do so will leave a lot of people heading for a godless eternity!
The Spirit of God concludes the Revelation of Jesus Christ as it began ... revealing Christ and His invitation to find real life. The book is NOT PRIMARILY the "Revelation of the future" as much as it is the "Revelation of JESUS CHRIST" -- His person, His plans, His promise, His perfection ... and His desire to have as many join Him in eternity as possible! OUR CHALLENGE is to take HIS message to everyone and give them the opportunity to accept Christ and escape the godless eternity that is certain without Christ.
ILLUS:We are not a post-war generation; but a pre-peace generation. Jesus is coming. -- Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 9914.
PROP. SENT: The Bible contains two challenges as we come to the end of the book; for believers the challenge is to get the message out that Jesus is coming again and that people can be saved so they are ready for it, and for unbelievers the challenge is to trust God rather than the progress and plans of man.
I. THE IMMANENT COMING 22:7-16
A. Promise 22:7
1. The revelation ends with a powerful promise, "Behold, I am coming soon!"
a. It seems hard to believe it can be soon in light of all the things predicted, the wide perspective of events that John has recorded, but His coming is closer than we think. Don't be fooled into thinking that so much has yet to happen before He can come ... He IS coming SOON!
ILLUS:Have you ever wondered why the right-hand door mirror on your car says "Objects are closer than they appear"? The reason is that the mirror is convex, allowing a much wider angle of vision. We may borrow the words, though, and say that the second coming may be much closer that it appears! -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
b. The challenge in realizing that He is coming soon is for us to keep the words of this prophecy ... to be walking with God so we are ready for it when it happens!
c. Every Christian should have the expectancy of Christ's return burning in their hearts ... it is clear the early Church did.
2. It seems so odd that many modern "scholars" say that the book of Revelation is not prophetic but only full of metaphors on the history of the Church's struggle in the past ... ironic because Jesus' own words here says it is PROPHECY! "Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book."
a. Jesus' own words here proclaim the book prophetic, and it seems odd that anyone else would call it anything else!
b. Why a prophetic book? So we are looking forward in faith to a great future, staying faithful in the present, and grateful that our past won't condemn us!
B. Prepared! 22:8-16
1. John's reaction here gives us a clear message about worship, DON'T worship anything BUT GOD HIMSELF!
a. In a world that can draw us away from God to worship many other things this is an important message.
b. John's reaction to fall at the feet of this angel in light of the tremendous revelation he has just received shows the power of misguided emotions, surely John was very emotional at this moment and his guard was down as he fell to worship this angel rather than Jesus ... the angel stops him with a direct order "DO NOT DO IT!"
c. This is good advice about getting off track in our worship with anything else except Christ, simply put, "DO NOT DO IT"
2. Mankind can not ignore the important message of Revelation ... today Jesus is your savior, but if you ignore that message, tomorrow He will be your judge!
ILLUS:There is a story about a frontier town where a horse bolted and ran away with a wagon carrying a little boy. Seeing the child in danger, a young man risked his life to catch the horse and stop the wagon. The child who was saved grew up to become a lawless man, and one day he stood before a judge to be sentenced for a serious crime. The prisoner recognized the judge as the man who, years before, had saved his life; so he pled for mercy on the basis of that experience. But the words from the bench silenced his plea: "Young man, then I was your savior; today I am your judge, and I must sentence you to be hanged." One day Jesus Christ will say to rebellious sinners, "During that long day of grace, I was the Savior, and I would have forgiven you. But today I am your Judge. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!" -- Warren Wiersbe - ("Meet Yourself In The Psalms")
3. Jesus' words here, "Behold I am coming soon!" ... "my reward is with me..." and "blessed are those who have washed their robes..." are intended to emphasize the importance of being "READY!" -- prepared!
4. Jesus has given this word so we are not caught off guard, are you ready?
II. THE INVITATION OF CHRIST 22:17
A. Partnership 22:17a
1. An interesting statement is made here: "The Spirit AND the bride say, "COME!" (emphasis mine)
a. Getting the message out is a partnership of both the Spirit of God and the Church of Jesus Christ.
b. We are to work together to give the invitation!
2. We CANNOT invite people to Christ WITHOUT the Spirit, and the Spirit works through Christ's Church!
a. No believer should be independent from the Church!
b. We are working together with God's Spirit!
3. This is a powerful truth ... the Spirit and the bride have the SAME passion!
a. No Church is a New Testament Church that doesn't anticipate the return of Christ!
b. No Spirit filled Church is going to be apathetic about the second coming of Jesus Christ!
c. If the SPIRIT AND the BRIDE say "COME!" ... and it is followed with an exclamation mark in the verse ... then it cannot be that the Church is indifferent to this truth.
4. This partnership is all about INVITATION ... "COME!"
a. Together we are strong, alone we are weak.
ILLUS:L. David Mech described how a seven member pack of arctic wolves had targeted several musk-oxen calves who were guarded by eleven adults. As the wolves approached their quarry, the musk-oxen bunched in an impenetrable semicircle, their deadly rear hooves facing out, and the calves remained safe during a long standoff with the enemy. But then a single ox broke rank and the herd scattered into nervous little groups. A skirmish ensued, and the adults finally fled in panic, leaving the calves to the mercy of the predators. Not a single calf survived. Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 that after his departure wolves would come, not sparing the flock. Wolves continue to attack the church today but cannot penetrate and destroy when unity is maintained. When believers break ranks, however, they provide easy prey. -- L. David Mech, National Geographic May 1987
b. We speak and feel the same thing.
5. The Spirit and the bride should have one voice ... an invitation to "COME!"
B. Public 22:17b
1. The invitation is good for ALL ... notice how many times the word "COME" is used in this verse!
a. The call is out to everyone!
b. God "is not willing that any should perish, but all COME" ...
2. If people keep hearing that Jesus is coming, and if they keep hearing the invitation to "COME" then some will respond! But our failure to talk about Christ's coming and the invitation to come will result in people not even being aware of their eternal destination.
ILLUS:"Take a look around where you are sitting and find five things that have BLUE in them. Go ahead and do it! With a "blue" mindset, you'll find that blue jumps out at you: a blue book on the table, a blue pillow on the couch, blue in the painting on the wall, and so on. ... In like fashion, you've probably noticed that after you buy a new car, you promptly notice that make of car everywhere. That's because people find that they are looking for." -- Roger Von Oech ("A Kick In The Seat Of The Pants") Likewise, if we constantly talk about Jesus' coming and invite people to come to Christ they are more likely to, they will think more and more about it.
a. A Church that expects Christ's return and speaks about it will tend to have a more serious approach to evangelizing the lost ... they know the future will soon be here!
b. A true mindset of Jesus' soon coming creates a passion about the lost.
3. Jesus throws the net wide for who can come "... whoever wishes, let him take the free gift ..."
III. THE IMPORTANT CHALLENGE 22:18-21
A. Preach! 22:18-20a
1. No one is to alter the message ... neither add to it or take away from the prophecy of this book!
a. There are strong warnings here to those who would alter the message in any way!
b. We have a clear message already ... we just need to be faithful to preach it!
2. It is critical that we preach the word ... and give the call to come to Christ, the world doesn't realize what's coming, and without the Word of God they may never know the danger they are in!
a. And that is why there are warnings against CHANGING the message, to neither add nor delete anything from it ... the outcome is too important, we cannot mess with the message!
ILLUS:In 1981, a Minnesota radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California. Police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief. On the front seat of the stolen car sat a box of crackers that, unknown to the thief, were laced with poison. The car owner had intended to use the crackers as rat bait. Now the police and the owner of the VW Bug were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to recover the car. -- Leadership Magazine, 1988, submitted by Pat McBride of Windom, Minnesota.
b. The message of salvation is critical for a person's future happiness, but if they don't hear it they won't know this.
3. The message becomes diluted when men start taking out of God's Word parts they don't think are breathed by the Spirit, or add things that aren't there ... we are only safe with the message the way it was delivered by God, without alterations!
4. Preach the message, keep it pure, watch its power!
B. Prayer 22:20b-21
1. The final two verses of the Bible and the book of Revelation contain both a promise and a prayer:
a. PROMISE: "Yes, I am coming soon."
b. PRAYER: "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen."
2. The promise promotes the prayer ... so we must be careful not to lose sight of the promise or fail to take it seriously!
a. It is too easy to allow ourselves to become SO EARTHLY minded that we are no HEAVENLY GOOD! (how's that for a twist!?)
b. If we become sidetracked from this great truth of Jesus' coming we will lose our passion for the lost!
ILLUS:A former police officer tells of the tactics of roving bands of thieves: "They enter the store as a group. One or two separate themselves from the group, and the others start a loud commotion in another section of the store. This grabs the attention of the clerks and customers. As all eyes are turned to the disturbance, the accomplices fill their pockets with merchandise and cash, leaving before anyone suspects anything. "Hours ... sometimes even days ... later, the victimized merchant realizes things are missing and calls the police. Too late!" How often this effective strategy is used by the Evil One! We are seduced into paying attention to the distractions, while evil agents ransack our lives. In times when well-publicized sins have captured our attention, we do well to check our own moral pockets to see if we have anything left. -- Leadership Magazine, 1988 submitted by: Tom McHaffie, Deerfield, IL.
3. We cannot afford the distractions from the message or the mission.
4. God's grace is the prayer John offers for the saints, a wonderful gift!
5. While we wait for Christ's return we exist within His grace.
6. The bottom line: Christ is coming SOON, and all His children pray "AMEN, Come, Lord Jesus."
a. Is this your prayer?
b. Are you ready? You can be!
CONCLUSION: The close of the book of Revelation is a fitting challenge to two groups -- to believers the challenge of being faithful to reach the lost, and to the unbeliever to trust in Christ before it is too late. Jesus promised He was coming soon ... and to God who says that 1,000 years to man is but 1 day to Him it is VERY soon until He comes. Are you ready for Christ's coming? It could be today!