O, Can You Say You are Ready, Brother?
Introduction: We believe that Jesus Christ could return at any moment. Once He does, the events described in the Revelation will occur. This is known as the imminent return of Christ. This teaching in Scripture helps all of us keep our lives in perspective.
I remember teaching this concept to a Bible class in the early 90s. One of more lively spark plugs in the class raised her hand. She was visibly concerned that Jesus might return before she had the opportunity to marry! Kids are that way. They think they have plenty of time to serve Christ, but they must realize that their lives could end at any moment. Since this is true, all of us should do what God is leading us to do right now. Today is the day of salvation; it is also the day of sanctification!
The Revelation of Jesus Christ concludes with the concept of Christ’s imminent return. It has been said that no prophecies must be fulfilled before Christ returns to rapture the church. That is true.
Some are consumed with the idea of protecting Israel so that prophecy might be fulfilled. Yet, Israel could cease to be a nation tomorrow and nothing would change. Most people forget that in 1948 Israel became a nation almost overnight. This could happen again. When we say that the coming of Christ is imminent, we mean that not one event must occur before He comes.
1. He who is coming will come (22.6-7 cp. w/ Heb 10.37).
1.1. These words are faithful and true (6). The words of the Revelation are faithful in the sense that they are consistent with the whole of Scripture. They are true in that they are completely accurate.
1.2. Christ is coming quickly (7; see also vv. 12, 20). The angel showed the servants of Christ “the things which must shortly take place (6).” Yet it has been just about 2,000 years since Christ ascended from the Mount of Olives. Christ promised the first century readers that He would return quickly. Here we are in the 21st century. The events will occur suddenly. Fulfillment is certain, but the timing of the fulfillment of those events is not. There will always be scoffers who say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” These people willfully forget the Word of God. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet 3.9). Aren’t you glad He waited for you to be saved?
2. The time is near. Believers should respond to this fact in four ways… (22.7-10, 20-21)
2.1. We should keep “the words of the prophecy of this book” (22.7). The word keep means to preserve and protect the prophecy; to guard the promise of Christ’s return and pass this hope to the next generation. Keeping brings blessing. That blessing takes shape when we long for the return of Christ, motivating our allegiance to Him.
2.2. We should worship God (22.8-9). The more John understood the future, the more his desire to worship intensified. Many approach prophecy to win arguments or satisfy curiosity. A correct understanding of the future compels worship. However, the right object of worship is God. Notice the angel considered himself a fellow servant.
2.3. We should make Christ’s imminent return known to all believers (22.10). Revelation is not off-limits to new believers. It’s not a revelation for the inner-circle of Christianity’s intelligentsia. All of us should read this book, learn this book, love this book, and obey this book!
2.4. We should yearn for Christ’s soon return (22.20-21). But until He does, we need His grace upon us. Without the grace of God, we will not be faithful. When we pray, we ought to ask the Lord to return. Who wants to remain in a sin-cursed world, when we can be ushered in rather dramatic fashion into the very presence of our Savior?!
3. The finality of Christ’s judgment upon His return has four aspects to it (22.11-15).
3.1. The choices in this life fix the destiny in the next life (22.11). If people will not listen to the Revelation of Jesus Christ and come to God through Him, then they will listen to nothing else and be convinced. Second, a man truly is the sum total of the choices he makes in this life. When he faces judgment, he will not be able to undergo a radical spiritual transformation. He will either be confirmed in his filthiness or righteousness. There is a finality to the judgment of Christ. It is inescapable.
3.2. The rewards of the next life are according to each one’s work (22.12). The work is done when Christ returns. We need to think about that. Not all believers will get the same reward. It is according to his or her work. The motive behind that work will determine whether or not there is a reward. Have you been true to the cause He left you? God has given you opportunity and ability. He has also held out eternal rewards as motivation for the work you do here and now. But the work is done when Christ returns!
3.3. Christ is speaking in 22.13. He describes Himself in terms that qualify Him to judge. He created all things, He redeemed all creation, and He is the consummation of all things. Since this is true, He demands obedience and loyalty. Christ is eternal and will judge impeccably. He is omniscient and will judge flawlessly.
3.4. Through the gates and into the city – the way is opened by faith and traversed in obedience (22.14). Faith without works is dead faith. Good works are evidence that a person has the right to eat from the tree of life. Our true character is judged by whether or not we obey. The wicked cannot enter the city (22.15). They don’t have the spiritual character needed; they are dogs. They are sorcerers, sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, and those who love and practice deceit. The works of the wicked prove their own spiritual character. The Judge of all the earth will do right.
4. Come, take the water of life freely (22.16-17).
4.1. How is that we are able to come in the first place? The Lord sent His angel to testify of the things written in the Revelation (22.16). The church must study and internalize the prophecy of this book. Jesus fulfills the OT prophecies. He is the Root and Offspring of David (see Isa 11.1). When Jesus return, a new day begins – an eternal day.
4.2. The Holy Spirit says, “Come!” (22.17). The bride of Christ says, “Come!” All who hear the words of this prophecy should respond and extend an invitation to still others. Whoever desires, let him come! Let him take the water of life freely!
4.3. All are extended the invitation to come. The thirsty and those who desire are being prepared by the Holy Spirit of God. This ought to excite evangelism in our lives. If our knowledge of Christ’s return does not compel us to invite others to come, then our knowledge of Christ’s return is vain. You may be in Heaven tonight. If so, all opportunity will be lost.
5. Adding and taking from the words of the prophecy of this book (22.18-19).
5.1. Those who add are those who twist and pervert Revelation.
5.2. Those who take are those will not know the blessings of the eternal city.
Hymn: Will Jesus Find Us Watching? (148)