Sermon: An Exhortation To Holy Living (Part 3): Revelation 22:6-21

Sermon Text: Revelation 22:6-21

“And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.’ ‘And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’ I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’ And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.’ ‘Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. ‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’ The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:6–21, ESV)

Introduction

Friends, this will be the last sermon in our study of the book of Revelation. I’ve very much enjoyed studying this book and preaching through it. Some of you have said, “it feels as if we’ve regained a book of the Bible”, and I couldn’t agree more. This book at one time seemed very confusing and impractical to me, but now I see it as clear and immensely helpful to the people of God.

The book grew more and more clear as I shed my pre-millennial and dispensational presuppositions. Those unbiblical systems of doctrine do not fit with what is revealed in this book, and so interpreting the book with those doctrinal presuppositions felt a bit like trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. Recognizing and shedding those prepositions was important.

The book of Revelation also grew more clear as I began to receive it on it’s own terms. It is apocalyptic literature which communicates truth via symbol. It is ordered, not chronologically, but it recapitulates (or repeats). And the book has to do, not only with the time of the end, but with  the time between Christ’s first and second comings. Again, we should receive the book on it’s own terms instead of trying to press it into a manmade mold.

And the book grew more clear as I began to see that the key to proper interpretation is the rest of scripture. How do we know what the symbolism of the book of Revelation means? We must look to the rest of scripture! How do we know that we are interpreting a particular passage in the book of Revelation right? By interpreting the individual passages in light of the rest of scripture, particularly the Old Testament.

Brothers and sisters, these are interpretive principles that we will need to take with us into our study of the book of Genesis, which will begin in late April, Lord willing. We must beware of our presuppositions. We must take care to interpret scripture passages according to their genre and on there own terms. And we must also interpret every individual scripture text in light of every other scripture text. For all scripture is inspired by God, therefore, we must allow scripture to interpret scripture always.

When all is said and done, I give thanks to God for this book. Indeed, it has proven to be “a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path” (Psalm 119:105, ESV).

I think it is appropriate that we conclude our study of the book of Revelation on Resurrection Sunday. It is on this day that our culture remembers the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters, you and I do this every Lord’s Day, for that is the tempo that God has set for our worship of him. According to his word we are to set apart one day out of seven as holy unto him. From the creation of the world to the resurrection of Christ that day was Saturday because of God’s original creation. And from the resurrection of Christ to the end of the world the day is Sunday because of the new creation. When Christ rose from the grave on Sunday he finished his work of new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV). And it is because of Christ’s finished work that “are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13, ESV). Christ, by his finished work has brought about a new creation. We gather, therefore, every Sunday, which is the Lord’s Day, or the Christian Sabbath, because Christ finished his new creation work when he rose from the dead on that day. We remember the central event of Christ’s resurrection each Lord’s Day, whereas our culture gives thought to it but once a year. How appropriate that we conclude our study of this glorious book – a book that has Christ and his finished work at the center of it – on Resurrection Sunday. Indeed, Christ is the focus of the text that is before us today.

As you know, the book of Revelation concludes with a series of five exhortation to holy living. We’ve considered three already in previous sermons, and they are these:

Blessed Is The One Who Keeps The Words Of The Prophesy Of This Book

One, in verse 7 blessing is pronounced on the one who keeps the words of the prophesy of this book. This book is to be kept. What is reveled here is to be obeyed. The Christian is to live according to the truths set forth in the book of Revelation.

Worship God Alone

Two, in verse 9 the Christian is exhorted to worship God alone. All who are not in Christ commit idolatry continually. They worship something, that is for sure. But they do not worship the one true God, Creator of heaven and earth. For the only way to come to him is through faith in Jesus the Christ who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). All who are not in Christ commit idolatry continually as they worship the some created thing instead of the Creator of all things. They bow down before something that they have made into a god, either materially or in their mind and heart. They are idolaters. But the Christian is also prone to commit idolatry. We too, though we be worshippers of the one true God as we come to him through faith in Christ Jesus,  are continuously tempted to bow down to things that are not God. This we must be careful not to do. We are to worship God alone.

Let The Righteous Do  Right

Three, in verse 11 the righteous are exhorted to do right, and the holy to be holy. Have you been might right with God through faith in Christ? Have you been made holy by his shed blood? Then do right and be holy. Live out what you already are in Christ Jesus. To use Paul’s language, “ having been set free from sin… [be] slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:18, ESV). Are you living right according to God’s law? Are seeing to live holy before him, having been made righteous and holy through faith in Jesus, who is the Christ.

Wash Your Robes

The forth exhortation to holiness is found in verses 13 through 17. This is new and is no longer review. Here in verses 13-17 a blessing is pronounced upon those who “wash their robes.”

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega [Christ says], the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. ‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’ The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Revelation 22:13–17, ESV).

Notice that Jesus refers to himself as “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

These are magnificent titles that Christ applies to himself.

God himself has been called the Alpha and Omega already in the book of Revelation.

In 1:8 we read, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8, ESV).

In 21:6 it was him who sat upon the heavenly throne who said, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega… (Revelation 21:6, ESV).

Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, Omega is the last. It is another way of saying that God is the first and last, the beginning and the end.

All of these titles – “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” – are also applied to God in the Old Testament, but here Christ picks them up and applies them to himself. These are magnificent titles that Christ applies to himself here.

Christ is here stating his deity. What is said of God can be said of Jesus the Christ, for he is God come in the flesh, the second person of the Triune God.

Christ is the Alpha, the first and the beginning of creation.

Jesus the Christ, who is the eternal Son of God come in the flesh, was in the beginning at creation. In Colossians 1:16 Pauls says this concerning Jesus the Christ: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16, ESV). It is appropriate, then, that Christ claims to be the Alpha, the first and the beginning, for all things were created through him, by him, and for him.

And Christ is the Omega, the last and the end of creation.

He is the one who will bring this created world to it’s God ordained end. When he returns, he will judge. When he retuned this world will be rendered with fire.

Christ is also the Alpha, the first and the beginning of the new creation.

When did Christ bring the new creation into existence? It was at his death, burial, and resurrection. When Christ rose from the grave God’s new creation did break in upon this old sin sick creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV). When Christ rose from the grave  he earned the new heavens and new earth. Though they are not here yet, they belong to him. “In these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:2, ESV). Therefore, “according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13, ESV).

The new creation began at Christ’s first coming, at his death, burial and resurrection. It is here now (you are a new creation in Christ), for it is his. He had earned it, having been made the heir of all thing. Christ is the Alpha, the first and the beginning of the new creation.

And Christ is the Omega, the last and the end of the new creation.

When he returns he will make all things new. When he returns he will establish “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13, ESV).

Truly Christ is “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13, ESV). Everything does start and end with him. And he is the Sovereign Lord of all from beginning to end, “all authority in heaven and on earth” having been given to him (Matthew 28:18, ESV).

As the Alpha Creator and the Omega Consummator Christ has the right to pronounce this seventh blessing of the book of Revelation: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.” (Revelation 22:14, ESV)

It is Christ who is able to grant entrance to the new heavens and new earth which he has earned by his obedient life and sacrificial death.

It is Christ who is able to grant access to the tree of life. The first Adam and all his descendent’s were barred from this tree having been given over to the curse of death, but the second Adam, Christ or Lord, has earned access to this tree for all who are in him.

But do you see that access will be granted only to those who have washed their robes. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates” (Revelation 22:14, ESV).

Friends, by nature your robes are filthy and sin stained. And no one who is clothed in filth will be permitted to enter the holy city to eat of the tree of life. You must be washed.

But how does one wash his robes? Here we are commanded to wash out robes and blessings are pronounced upon those who do! But how can our filthy robes be made clean?

A vision that we encountered earlier in this book helps us to know how. Back in Revelation 7:9 John “looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’ Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’”(Revelation 7:9–14, ESV).

The only way to wash your sin stained robes is to wash them in them crimson blood of Christ. His blood is the only detergent capable of washing the filth of our sin  away. We must acknowledge our sin, turn from it, and have faith in Jesus. To have faith in Jesus is to abandon all hope in self and to rely entirely upon him for our salvation.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18, ESV).

The old hymn, Nothing But The Blood of Jesus puts it well.

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon this I see:

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my cleansing this my plea:

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone:

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Naught of good that I have done:

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace:

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my righteousness:

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain:

O precious is the flow

that makes me white as snow;

no other fount I know;

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:14–15, ESV).

This is quite a list of sins. The sins listed here seem to have been chosen to discourage the one who professes faith in Christ from compromising in their profession. This verse is a reminder that it is only those who have been washed white who will enter the new heavens and earth. And those who have been washed will not go on to live in unrepentant sin. Those who practice secrecy, who live sexually immoral lives, who commit murder, either in the heart or in reality, and who are idolaters should not expect to enter the city gates to eat of the tree of life, but should expect to be barred from the city, that, is to suffer the pains of hell.

Brothers and sisters, it is true that your salvation is received by the grace of God alone, through faith in Christ alone. You cannot earn your salvation, not at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. When you sin you do not loose your salvation, as if salvation were by grace at the beginning but is to be finished by your works. If your faith is true then it is secure! it cannot be lost for it does not depend upon you, but upon the finished work of Christ! You did not earn your salvation. Christ did! And he will keep you to the end.

But if you profess faith in Christ and you are living in sin you should not expect to enjoy the assurance of your salvation. By assurance I mean that sense of peace and inner confidence that says, I know that I have been forgiven! I know that I am right with God. I know that I know him!

Indeed, if you have salvation in Christ then your salvation is secure. It cannot be shaken at all for it is rooted, not in you, but in the decree of God and in the finished work of Christ on the cross. But your sense of assurance may be shaken. When you indulge in sin and live in it for some time do not be surprised when your sense of assurance runs from you. Do not be surprised to read, “outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:14–15, ESV), and to think, I wonder if this is speaking of me? “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments”, John says in 1 John 2:3.

In verses 16 we learn that these are the words of Jesus who is “the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” He is the Christ King who was promised from long ago, the son of Adam, of Abraham, and of David.

And then in verse 17 we hear this invitation: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

Friend, do you hear God calling you to come to him through faith in Christ? Three times he says “come!” The Spirit of God and his bride, that is, the church, say “come!” Come to Christ. Believe upon him and have your sins washed away. Those who have heard the call themselves and have responded in faith say “come”! Are you thirsty? Do you recognize your need? Then come to Christ and drink “the water of life without price”. It is free. It costs you nothing because Christ did pay for it with his life. Do you hear the call? I know that you hear it with your natural ear, but that is not my question. My question is, do you hear it with your spiritual ears? Is the Holy Spirit at work within you calling effectually unto Christ. If so, then you are to repent and believe upon Christ, professing your faith in the waters of baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

The invitation is to come to Christ, to be washed in his blood, and to eat and drink unto life eternal. No one who responds to this call with faith in the heart  will go away empty handed.

Avoid False Teaching Which Leads to Wrong Living

The final exhortation to holy living comes in the form of a warning. And it is a waning to avoid false teaching which inevitably will lead to wrong living.

In verse 18 we read these words: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book (Revelation 22:18–20a, ESV).

What does it mean to “add to” or “take away from the words of the prophesy of this book”?

The meaning becomes clear when we read this text in light of Deuteronomy 4:1-2 where Moses says, “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 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” (Deuteronomy 4:1–2, ESV). Here again the ides is that the book of Revelation, like the law of Moses, is to be kept. It is be received, believed, and lived by.

You and I, friends, are not free to pick and choose what from God’s word we will receive and what we will disregard. And yet this is what false teachers do. They stand above the word of God and they add to it and take away from it as they please. But a true child of God would never take such liberties. God’s people stand, not over and above the word, but beneath it and in full submission to it. God’s people receive his word, believe it, and live according to it. The one who claims to belong to God and yet makes a practice of adding to or taking away from the word of God should not expect to eat from the tree of life, but will have instead the plagues described in this book as his inheritance. This is a warning against false teaching within the church, which leads to all manner of immorality.

Brothers and sisters, we are to pursue holiness both in doctrine and in life. This involves submitting to the word of God to live by it.

Conclusion

The book of Revelation concludes with this word: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (Revelation 22:20–21, ESV).

Friends, are you ready for the return of Christ? Does the thought of his return cause you to say, “Amen! Let it be so!” Or does it fill your heart with fear. The one who is in Christ will look forward to his coming as bride anticipates her wedding day.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! God, give us more of your grace to keep your word as we sojourn in this would. Amen.

Comments are closed.


"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

© 2011-2018 Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church