THE FINAL MESSAGE OF THE BIBLE
GOD’S FINAL CALL
In the final chapter of the Bible the apostle John completes his commissioned task to “write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this (Rev. 1:19).” The past, the present, and the future. His visions come to a glorious end. The last few verses of Revelation seemed to be given as reinforcement that what John has seen will certainly come to pass. Revelation 22:6 indicates, “These words are faithful and true; and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.”
That the words recorded in Revelation are true are seen in that they are statements of fact given from the lips of God Himself. That they are faithful is evident in that they will surely come to pass. There is no question in John’s mind about this and there should be none in ours as well.
John’s Vision Reviewed
John has envisioned being caught up into heaven to view the opening of the seven-sealed scroll, the sounding of the seven trumpets, and the pouring out of the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the inhabitants of earth. He has seen the awful Tribulation period to come and in the middle of that period the rise of the Antichrist and the False Prophet. He has seen multitude slain for the testimony of the Gospel and other multitudes receive the mark of the beast. He has viewed the rise and destruction of the Antichrist’s capital city, symbolically known as Babylon the harlot. He has seen the ecumenical movement at its height and the collapse of the one-world apostate church. He has seen the alliance of nations which formed a common market economically destroyed at the hand of God. Then at the end of the Tribulation John has viewed the Second Coming of Christ to the earth. John saw the King of Kings and Lord of Lords ride out on His white horse as the heavens opened and has conquered the forces of Antichrist at the fierce battle of Armageddon. John watched as the Antichrist and the False Prophet were cast into the lake of fire.
Then John saw something truly amazing. He viewed Christ as the King of the earth, ruling in righteousness and peace for 1000 years. He saw a society more blissful than any of history during Christ’s millennial reign. Then at the end of the thousand-year reign he saw Satan, loosed from the bottomless pit, spearhead a thwarted coup of God’s kingdom, and then be cast into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night forever. Likewise, those who have rejected Christ as Savior were raised from the dead and judged at the Great White Throne Judgement. They too were cast into the lake of fire to be tormented forever and ever.
At this point John received his first glimpse of eternity. The heaven and earth were completely created new, and a new city of Jerusalem descended from God out of heaven. It was more beautiful than John could adequately describe. Time was now swallowed up in eternity and John’s vision was about to come to an end. Before it does he is assured that the vision is accurate and the Lord will quickly be returning to inaugurate these events (v.7).
God Alone is Worthy of Worship
John is in awe of what he has just witnessed and heard and falls down to worship before the feet of the angel who has shown him these things. The Angel rebukes him, however, saying that he is but John’s fellow servant and that John should only worship God (v.9). You know, this is good advice for all of us to heed. Quite frequently we tend to praise the man who brings us the gospel but neglect to praise the God who instituted the gospel. We may appreciate and favor certain pastors, radio or TV preachers, etc. but they must never become the object of our worship. God alone is worthy of our worship, and we must only give it to Him.
In verse 10, John is commanded not to seal the words of the prophecy of this book. The reason is clear. There is blessings for anyone who keeps the words of the prophecies given in Revelation. Besides, the time is near when the Lord will come quickly, and people need to understand what God is doing for them (cf. Dan. 12:4). The time period which will usher in the eternal state is very near and in John’s day as in ours the end is always impending because Christ could return at any moment, and the timeclock (book) of Revelation will start ticking away. Therefore, this book is to be opened, read, heeded as a source of blessing.
Verse 11 through 15 seems to be describing the sealing of one’s destiny when the Lord comes. At that time all who are unjust will remain so, all filthy will continue to be filthy, all that are righteous will still be righteous and all who live holy lives will continue to do so. When the Lord Jesus comes to snatch His bride away before the beginning of the Tribulation, He will then reward the saints according to their works. Salvation is a free gift that cannot be earned, but rewards are given in response to faithful service. At the Rapture not only will all opportunity for salvation be gone for unbelievers of this age, but also all opportunity for earthly service to the Lord will be gone for believers. Whatever you are going to do for the Lord must be done now. Your eternal reward(s) depend on your service to Him presently and He warns each of us that He is coming quickly – could return at any moment.
Alpha and Omega
Our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, identifies Himself saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last (v. 13).” Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In other words, Jesus is all and in all. He is the beginning of this revelation and the end of it. He is the complete One. What He says is truth and is to be believed.
Additional titles of the Alpha and Omega are given in verse 16. In His revelation to John, He says, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning star (v. 16).” What I think is significant here is that this is the first time the word “church” occurs in Revelation since the third chapter. All during the Tribulation, chapters 4 through 19 there is no mention of the Church since we as born-again believers are caught up to be with the Lord before the awful period of God’s judgement and wrath beginning at the start of the Tribulation period – 70th week of Daniel referred to in Scripture as “the time of Jacob’s distress (Jer. 30:7).”
As the offspring of David, the Lord Jesus shows His divine right to sit upon the throne as King of Kings and Lord of Lords for all eternity. As the Bright and Morning Star He shall be our light in the new heaven and new earth for “there shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign for ever and ever (v. 5).”
God’s Final Call
At this point, realizing that although what John is recording is in the future it will be read in our present age, God issues a final call for the lost and unsaved to receive Him. “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely (v.17).”
Yes, everyone of us will someday hear or have heard God’s final call. If you received Christ Jesus as Savior and accept His sacrifice on the cross as payment for your sins, then you have a home in heaven with God throughout eternity. If you reject Him, you will be assured of the eternal torment which is in the lake of fire. Won’t you heed His call? Won’t you ask Christ Jesus to forgive you of your sin and come into your life and cleanse it? You will never regret seriously considering and answering God’s call to eternal life.
Some of you may be surprised by this question: “Have you been duped by religion?” Religion doesn’t save anyone. Seriously! In Revelation, a surprising group standing under the judgement includes those who have been duped by religion. These are church members. They have religion, but they don’t have Jesus Christ. They have been baptized. They may have been members of a Bible-preaching, Bible-believing church. The devil would just as soon send these people to hell from the pew as he would the gutter; it makes no difference to Satan. There are many people who get their names on the church roll but never have their names written in the “Lambs Book of Life.” I believe in the church, but the church is not the way to heaven – the church is a sign that points to heaven and this signpost is saying, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and put your total faith and trust in Him – He is the only way to heaven.” There is a great difference between putting your faith in a church and putting your faith in Christ.
There are a number of so-called Christian groups that put their faith in the church or in their religion. It is the church that saves or infant baptism by their churches holy water that saves. Look, salvation cannot be earned by our own good works – is a gift from God. It’s not about buildings (churches), sacraments, rules, priests, ceremonies, or traditions. It’s all about an intimate love relationship we have with our Creator and it’s not a religion. The Lord Jesus warns against people who falsely profess to acknowledge Him as Savior but have never been converted. Jesus clearly stated that “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! (Matthew 7:21-22).”
Yes, clearly, only born-again believers who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them and who do the will of God will enter God’s kingdom. On judgement day when unbelievers stand before Christ in the Great White Throne Judgement (Rev. 20:11-15), many will remind Christ that they prophesied, or cast out demons, or performed many wonders – all in His name. But their protestation will be in vain. Jesus will declare to them that He never knew them or acknowledge them as His own. Yes, they were religious but lost – they had their churches, they had their religion, but they never had a relationship with Christ Jesus. They were not born again with the Spirit of God dwelling in them. They were not children of God. There are well over a billion churchgoers who claim to be Christians who will find out on judgement day that they were duped by religion. Yes, Satan is a master of deception and uses religion to condemn people to hell. Don’t fall for Satan’s lie – don’t be deceived.
God’s Final Warning
Verses 18 and 19 of Revelation 22 contain a stern warning about adding to or taking away from the words of the prophecy of this book. Anyone who changes these words or their meanings, anyone who claims they are not the words of God or that they are just myth, anyone who attempts to add to them is promised the plagues written in this book will afflict them. God shall take away their part from the tree of life and the holy city. Only an unregenerate sinner would attempt to deny the Word or add to the Word of God. Remember this: Anyone who comes to your door and says you need their book or their study guide in addition to the Bible is a person contemptible to God and condemned in these verses. The Bible alone is the Word of God. You need nothing in addition to the Bible for it to be a guide for your life. No additions or deletions are desirable or acceptable.
Even So, Come
Finally, in verse 20 John concludes the record of the Revelation by repeating the words of Jesus Christ – “Surely, I am coming quickly. Amen.” This is similar to the expressions found in verses 7 and 12 but with the notable addition of the word “surely.” This is the final testimony of Christ to us. His return for us is imminent.
This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ telling us of events which must shortly come to pass. Yes, we have come to the close of the Book of Revelation, but our study has brought us to the beginning of eternal life with God. We haven’t ended, we’ve only just begun. History has ended but our life with Jesus Christ our Lord has not. We have nothing to look forward to but endless ages of joy in the presence of our Savior Christ Jesus, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
For the faithful, the book of Revelation is itself a taste of the river of life, for it refreshes hope in the coming of Christ and gives certain knowledge of the overthrow of evil and the ultimate restoration of all things. For the faithless, the book pushes him further in his hardened rejection of God.
Revelation and the Bible ends with an invitation to come to Him. To watch, wait, and witness (despise the suffering) until He returns to take us home to the New Heaven and Earth. Of all the ways He could end the Revelation, He chooses to end the letter with an invitation to come to Him now. The question is, will you accept His invitation?