Series: Revelation

Passage: Revelation 22:1-21

Speaker: Jeff Thompson

Our study through the Book of Revelation concludes with a few more glimpses of the glorious New Jerusalem, followed by closing comments from John and Jesus.

Transcription (automatically-generated):

I don't want to alarm anyone but I just noticed the word Gullible is written on the ceiling and I really hope that you didn't look wherever you're watching this because if you did, there's no telling what other fictions you might fall for. You might even believe something as ridiculous as the claim that the book of Revelation is hard to understand. So let me just tell you right here and right now that if someone ever tells you that you need to look them in the eyes and say to them... nonsense; no worries; baloney; that's preposterous; balderdash; chicanery; lies, lies, terrible lies; you can't handle the truth; poppycock; stop the madness; #FAIL; folly; subterfuge; mendacity; we call cap; hogwash; columniation; hokum; gobbledygook; fake news; twaddle; stultiloquence; absurdity; drivel; fatuity; codswallop; asininity; daftness, bunk; flimflam; and babble!

For you see the word itself, Revelation, means something has been revealed. And the first words of this book tell us exactly who it is that's being revealed. It's the revelation of Jesus Christ. And God wanted us to read this book so much that he promised those who take the time to read and respond to it a special blessing. And we find that in Revelation, chapter one, verse three, let's read it together for the last time in this study series. Blessed is he or she who reads, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near. But God knew there would still be those who would try and claim that the book of Revelation is hard to understand. So to help us out, he also included a simple and easy to follow outline. And we find that in Revelation, chapter one, verse 19, Jesus gives John three things to write about. He says, John, I want you to write the things which you have seen. And up to that point, John had seen the resurrected and glorified Jesus in chapter one.

Secondly, Jesus says, John, I want you to write the things which are that's a reference to the Church age which began at the feast of Pentecost around 32 Ad in the city of Jerusalem in Israel, is documented in Acts chapter two and continues to this day. It's laid out in chapters two and three, prophetically in chronological order. It's the Church age. And then Thirdly, Jesus says, John, I want you to write about the things which will take place after this. After what? Things? After the Church age comes to an end. Now, when does the Church age end? That happens in Revelation, chapter four, verse one. Let me read it to you. John writes, after these things I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard, that was the voice of Jesus in chapter one was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here and I will show you things which must take place after this. And up John goes, serving as a picture of the Church who will be raptured to be with the Lord. And Jesus takes all of chapters four and five to make sure we don't miss the fact that the Church is safe and secure with him in heaven before he begins pouring out his wrath on the Earth that has rejected him.

And as that wrath is being poured out, verses like Revelation 6:16 tell us that those on the Earth will understand exactly what is happening. In fact, they'll identify it as the wrath of the Lamb. And in scripture, who is the Lamb? It's Jesus. So, chapter one introduces the focus of Revelation Jesus Christ. Chapters two and three take us through the Church age up to the present day. The Church goes up in chapter four, verse one, we see her safe and secure with the Lord in heaven for chapters four and five before wrath comes down on the Earth in chapter six. That wrath will continue for a period of seven years, known as the Tribulation, and it's documented in chapters six through 19, after which Jesus returns to the Earth with his Saints in the event famously known as the Second Coming. Jesus will then rule and reign on the Earth for the thousand years known as the Millennial Kingdom, a golden age when the Earth will be restored to an Eden-like state and everything wrong with the world will be undone. After those thousand years, our universe will be destroyed, and Jesus will create new heavens and a new Earth free from every source of sorrow.

Heaven itself. The city of God called New Jerusalem, the eternal Holy of Holies, will descend to the new Earth, where it will verse is our home and the Lord will dwell among us for the ages to come. Though you may not understand all the details just yet, I can tell you this. If you love Jesus, then your story is destined to end with the words, and they live happily ever after. Last week we finished chapter 21. This week we are in chapter 22, the final chapter of the Book of Revelation. Can you believe it? We're going to see a little bit more about what it's like inside the New Jerusalem, and we're going to read some closing comments from John and the Lord Jesus. Let's read verse one together. It says, and he showed me a pure river of water, of life, clear as Crystal. Proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb, John sees this beautiful river of living water flowing from the throne of the Father and Jesus. It's literal water, but it's also the water of life, the living water that speaks of the Spirit and Salvation. It's both a real thing, but simultaneously, figurative, simultaneously a picture of something.

In this instance, it's a picture of how abundant and free flowing the life that exists only in Jesus will be in his new creation. It'll just be everywhere. As we mentioned last time, there will be no striving, no focus or effort needed to abide in Christ. The presence of God will saturate the atmosphere in the new creation. If you're sitting on the banks of a perfectly clean and flowing river and you're thirsty, you need only scoop up some water and drink because it's right in front of you. That's the idea this scene is intended to convey regarding the availability of God's presence in the new creation. Verse two in the middle of the street and on either side of the river was the tree of life. A better translation would be in the middle of its path, referring to the path the river took. Now there are obvious parallels between the new creation and Eden in the Book of Genesis, and this tree of life is the heavenly counterpart to the tree of life. The Lord placed in Eden when Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.

God expelled them from the garden specifically to prevent them from eating from the tree of life, because if they had, they would have lived forever in their fallen, sinful fleshly state, separated from God. The tree of life, in some mystical way that I don't really understand, had the ability to grant eternal earthly life to those who ate its fruit. The tree of life in the New Jerusalem is not what gives us eternal life. Jesus does that. Like the River, John is seeing real literal trees that also have figurative significance in this context. They speak of the glorious truth that we will be in such a blessed, righteous and harmonious relationship with God that if we were to be locked into that state forever, if we were to eat from the tree of life and be trapped in that forever, it would be a wonderful and good thing. And of course, we will be kept in eternity in such a wonderful relationship with the Lord. The things John is seeing, such as trees and a river, reveal that the new creation will be amazing and beyond our current comprehension, but will also include elements familiar to us.

When God made the Earth, he looked upon his creation and declared that it was good. Therefore, we should not be surprised to encounter many of those good elements in his new creation. Verse is continues and tells us more about the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations every month of the year. The tree or trees of life produce different fruit. This again is literal and figurative, and it speaks of the infinite variety of blessings and good things that will flourish in the new creation. The mention of months causes some to wonder if there will be time in heaven. Personally, I don't see anything in the Bible that suggests we will exist outside of time. We know that the Lord exists outside of time and also in all of time simultaneously. He must exist outside of it because time, as we currently experience it, functions in relation to properties of our universe, such as the speed of light and gravity. And the Lord had to be outside of our universe in order to create it simultaneously.

The Lord is omnipresent in all of time. He is in the past, he's in the future. That's why when he speaks to us about the future, he's not talking about what he hopes will happen. He's already seen it happen. He's already been there, as incredible as that sounds. And if I'm blowing your mind, that's okay, because God is bigger than we can imagine, and there's going to be aspects of him that our brains can't really comprehend. So personally, I don't see any reason to believe that we will exist outside of time, though the basis of time will change in the new creation. And any further discussion on this subject really gets too deep into the realm of theoretical physics for me to swim. Now here's another fun question. Will we eat in heaven? We can't know for sure, but I like to think so. I am convinced that part of the curse our sin brought on the Earth is that the best tasting food is the worst food for your health. Fried food, white breads, fatty red meat, sugar. It's all bad for you. What's good for you? Kale, spinach, broccoli. There's no question in my mind that as we eat, the food our doctors tell us is best for us, we should be weeping and lamenting over what our sin has wrought in heaven.

I believe that the best food for you will also be the best tasting food. And there won't be recommended serving sizes. Or if there are recommended serving sizes, they'll actually function in reality. You know, like now if you look at a pack of Oreos, they'll say recommended serving size, like two cookies. But in heaven you'll get a pack of Oreos, flip it over, look at the recommended serving size, and it'll finally say something good, like one sleeve is the recommended serving size. You'll get a tub of ice cream and the serving size will say, when your spoon hits the bottom of the bucket and you'll be able to enjoy it with a clear conscience. I'm speculating, of course, but I am speculating in faith. We do know that our resurrected bodies will be able to eat food, because when Jesus appeared to his disciples following his resurrection, he ate some fish to prove that he had a real physical body and was not a ghost. Therefore, just as my Lord ate food following his resurrection, I believe I shall too. Then we read this about the tree of life. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

The word healing in the original Greek is the word therapyA. From where we derive our English word therapy. A clearer translation in this context would be the term life giving. So the verse would read, the leaves of the tree were life giving to the nations. The verse is not implying that there are ailments in heaven that need to be remedied. Rather, it's telling us that in the new creation there is continuous health and life in the environment itself. There's no sickness, no loss, no entropy, no decay, no deterioration, only health and blessings from everything, everywhere, for everyone, all the time. The design of God's word is amazing. It's beautiful. Humanity traces its beginning to a garden and humanity will reach its conclusion in a garden. Now, what I'm about to share is profound, and I don't want you to miss it. The ages of our Earth, the millennia that have passed the entire story of humanity was all to get us to the place where we are fully with the Lord and he is with us. Revelation 21 and 22 was the goal. Before the universe was created, God knew that the cost of bringing us into his family would be the life of Jesus.

But here's the amazing part. He knew that before our world was made. That's why Scripture calls him the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world. And yet, knowing that God created us so that with the life and blood of Jesus, he could love us and adopt us into his family as his children. It's astonishing. The new creation is a type of Eden again. But this time we will not fall into sin and sever our relationship with God because we will be remade in his image to an even greater degree than Adam and Eve were made in his image. And in order to create this new beginning, everything that has happened, everything that will happen in this age has to happen. It's necessary. The first Eden, the Fall, the curse, the Law, the Incarnation, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Church, the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Second coming, the millennial Kingdom. All of it is necessary to get us to a new beginning in a new creation where we will enjoy the Lord forever. Make a note of this. This is the incredible part. Everything that happens between Eden and the New Jerusalem is about creating a new beginning where the sons and daughters of God enjoy, serve and worship Him faithfully forever.

I'll say it again. Everything that happens between Eden and the New Jerusalem is about creating a new beginning where the sons and daughters of God enjoy, serve and worship Him faithfully forever. All of that is to get us to the real beginning, which is in the new creation. The New Jerusalem. When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, when they rebelled against God and rejected His Lordship over their lives, the result was a sin nature. The ability to know good and evil instead of your whole being desiring what is good and desiring to honor God. You now had a dual nature, a spirit that desired to please God, but a flesh and a body that wanted to do something evil. And Adam and Eve chose to listen to that part of their nature that desired to rebel against the Lord. They listened to their fleshly body, and the result of their sin was death, physical death and spiritual death. This is what we call the curse in Christian theology. When Jesus died on the cross in our place and rose again, he lifted the curse of spiritual death from you and me.

If we accept them as our Lord and Savior, we are delivered from the eternal Kingdom of darkness into the eternal Kingdom of light. However, we are presently still under the curse of physical death. How do I know? Because we're still dying every day. When Adam and Eve sinned, death entered the universe on every level. Their sin ushered in the second law of thermodynamics, which observes that everything in the universe is decaying and moving from order to disorder. Like my teenagers bedrooms. Do you realize that the death is still, for the most part, a mystery to science? The cells in our bodies are constantly replenishing themselves to the degree that biologists tell us that every seven years our bodies are essentially brand new. In other words, there's nothing in your body on a cellular level today that is older than seven years. And yet every seven years I can't help but notice that while my body may be cellularly new, I'm somehow seven years older. I'm being physically regenerated, but I'm still breaking down. And science doesn't really know why. Sure, they can tell that this part of your genetics is getting shorter and these things are not regenerating and strong, but they don't know or understand why that happens.

We know why because the word of God tells us it's because the universe, including our bodies, is broken. We were made to live forever, and then we fell under the curse, and the evidence of that is scientifically observable. We're still under the curse of physical death. We're still trapped in fleshly bodies that war against the spirit every day. If you're a believer, your spirit longs to please the Lord, but your body longs to please itself. Have you noticed this? Paul famously talked about this in Romans chapter seven, and he wrote, we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal sold under sin for what I am doing. I do not understand for what I will to do, that I do not practice, but what I hate that I do. If then I do what I will not to do. I agree with the law that it is good. The law of God is right. In other words, when it tells me that my sin is sin. Paul keeps writing and he says, but now it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me that is in my flesh nothing good dwells, for to well is present with me.

I've got the desire to do what is right but how to perform what is good. I do not find I just can't make myself do it. For the good that I will to do, I do not do but the evil I will not to do, that I practice now if I do what I will not to do, it's no longer I who do it but the sin that dwells in me. Paul is just describing this conflict that we all feel within ourselves. Right. If then I find a law that evil is present with me, the one who Wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members in my body warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members in my body. Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? Relatable relatable. Right. Even the great Apostle Paul lived under the curse of physical death and found himself trapped in a body that waged war against the Spirit of God within him who will deliver me from this body of death?

The answer? The same one who has delivered us from spiritual death. Paul says, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And then Paul perfectly sums up the problem. So then with the mind, I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh, I'm serving the law of sin. You and I are going to be at war with our flesh until we die or are raptured. That's just the truth. I don't know about you, but I am so tired of living in this fleshly body. My spirit belongs completely to the Lord Jesus. He's what I want more than anything. He's who I want to please more than anyone. And yet I find myself trapped in flesh that is constantly working against who I longed to be as a follower of Jesus. My body never seems to grow tired, never seems to grow weary of resisting the Spirit. And that reality is so frustrating. It's so exhausting. That's why verse three is so precious to me. And there shall be no more curse. One day. The war I experience every day between God's Spirit and my flesh will be over. There won't be a voice in my head I have to try and tune out or refute with scripture.

There won't always be something lurking in the corners of my soul that desires to sin. The day is coveting when the Spirit within me will be in perfect unity with the body it resides in. Both will have the singular desire to love and serve the Lord. Both will be fully submitted to Jesus. The war between the spirit and the flesh will be over. And when I think about that, I imagine exhaling a long breath and just soaking in the fact that for the first time in my life, there's nothing in my mind, spirit or body that I have to resist. There's no tension, there's no willpower needed. I can't imagine what that kind of peace, what that kind of rest will feel like. And I know that we look forward to external peace being the norm in eternity, but I am even more excited about the internal piece that's waiting for me in eternity. We're going to know what rest is like for the first time because we've never really experienced it on the Earth. I can't wait to finally love the way I'm sorry. I can't wait to finally love the Lord the way I want to.

With all my heart, all my soul, and all my strength. I can't wait to finally be the kind of worshiper that God deserves. Can't wait. Write this down. In eternity, we will be delivered from this body of death into resurrected bodies. Our desires will be in alignment with the spirit, in alignment with the spirit. Verse three. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall serve him. What does it mean that his servants will serve Him? We don't know specifically. What we do know is that it implies activity and purpose. There are going to be things for us to do in eternity. Remember, the new creation is not just the end of our current universe. It's the beginning of a new age. And we are not just going to lounge around on clouds for the ages to come. We've talked before about how we'll all sorry. We've talked before about how we all have passions from God that we have not been able to fulfill in this life. And we know we're never going to be able to fulfill them in this life because of challenges like time, work, family, and just life.

But we talked before about how I believe that we're going to be able to fulfill those passions in eternity. That's why God put them in our soul so that we could fulfill them before him in eternity. Now, I also believe that eternity is where our passions and abilities will finally line up. Perhaps you love music, but you have absolutely no musical talent, and you've always thought, Lord, what's up with that in heaven? I believe you're going to sing out. You're going to shred that solo, and it's going to be glorious because your passions and your abilities will line up in the ages to come. Now, there may be some awkward moments. There will undoubtedly be some whom the Lord will gently place his hand upon and say with a smile, Beloved, now you are finally a gifted singer. And that person will respond, what are you talking about? Lord. I've always been a gifted singer and the Lord will say, hey, look, the river of life in this lifetime. Some of us have desires that don't line up with our giftings. I don't think God gave us those desires to frustrate us eternally. I think he gave us those desires to fulfill them in eternity.

We're destined to rule with Christ and we are destined to serve Christ. We're destined to be sovereigns and servants. Why? Because we're destined to become like Jesus, our servant King. Incredibly, this is what Jesus told his disciples in Luke Twelve. Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning and you yourselves be like men who wait for their Master when he will return from the wedding. That when he comes and knocks, they may open to Him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the Master when he comes will find watching. Now, here's the crazy part. Assuredly. I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat and will come and serve them. This is another one of those truths that are so scandalous that it sounds blasphemous, but it's in the Bible. Part of the mystery of the Trinity is that Jesus is above all things, yet he's also submitted to the Father, and yet he's also equal to the Father. All I can tell you is that in the Kingdom of God, things and concepts like authority and submission function in ways that are far beyond our current comprehension.

We glimpsed some of these mysteries in the earthly life of Jesus, and we will experience them for ourselves in eternity with Him. How do you wrap your mind around a King who is also a servant or a master who verse is servants? When I contemplate such things, I'm struck by how different the Kingdom of God is from the kingdoms of this world. When sin is out of the picture, when ego and insecurity and selfishness and greed and pride are banished, and the gape love just abounds in all things, it will result in a reality so much higher than anything we can imagine right now. Parenthetically, I should mention that God has built his type of leadership into his design for the family men. This is how we are supposed to lead our families. We're the lead as the head of the family, but that role includes girding ourselves and serving our families. Serving our wives and children and parents. Husband and wife are to be one as the Church in Jesus will be one in eternity. Jesus rules, but we rule with Him. We serve Jesus, but he serves us as well, and it's his joy to do so.

Marriage is intended to model that. The problem is that we're not in redeemed and resurrected bodies just yet, so we have to battle our flesh that considers the Word serve to be an expletive. At least we can look forward to heaven. We're behaving like Jesus will finally come naturally to us. I want to suggest something else that sounds blasphemous. I mean, since I'm doing it anyway, it sounds blasphemous. But again, until you read the words of Jesus in the Bible, I believe that in eternity we will be invited into the type of love and fellowship with God that the Trinity enjoys within itself. In his great High Priestly prayer, John 17, Jesus prayed these scandalous words. I do not pray for these alone. So in other words, Lord Father, I'm not only praying for the disciples that are with me right now, but also for those who will believe in me through their word that's you and me, that they all may be one as you, Father, are in me and I in you. That they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. This stuff is crazy.

And the glory which you gave me, I have given them that they may be one, just as we are one. I and them and you and me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know. Here's the crazy thing again, that you have sent me and have covet them as you have loved me. That's unbelievable. I am not saying we will become God. I'm not claiming that we will have equal status with God or standing at all. He'll always be distinct and supreme and uncontested over all things. But I am suggesting that we will be invited into the fellowship that is enjoyed between the Trinity. I'm suggesting that we will be closer to God in every way, in a greater way than we would dare to believe. We know that God needs nothing because he's fully satisfied with himself, because of the fellowship he enjoys within the Trinity. I'm suggesting that we will be invited to participate in that fellowship and we will be fully satisfied by our fellowship with God, just as God is fully satisfied within the Trinity. If we can grasp just a little bit of what Jesus prays in John 17, just a little bit of what we're discussing.

If we can grasp a little bit of it, we'll understand why our future with God will never be at risk, why we will never rebel or leave the Lord in the ages to come. Is it possible that the Holy Spirit could go rogue and leave the Trinity? Is it possible that Jesus could just go off on his own? Of course not. But why? There are two main reasons. Number one, it's not in his nature. He's only righteous and pure and good. Secondly, there's nothing outside of the Trinity to tempt him because there's nothing better than the perfect relationship he enjoys within it. There is nothing that can even appear for a second to be better. It's not even like for a second. Jesus ever looks outside the Trinity and says, oh, that looks pretty good. It doesn't happen ever. The same will be true of us in eternity. The desire to rebel will simply not be in our nature anymore. The Lord will make us completely righteous and pure and good. And nothing outside of our fellowship with God will be able to tempt us because nothing will be able to compare to the fellowship we will enjoy with the Lord.

Praise God for what he's going to do for us in eternity. It's going to be incredible. It's scandalous. It's so amazing. Verses Four they shall see his face. We're going to see the face of God. We're going to see Him, and his name shall be on their foreheads. God has marked us as his property. There shall be no night there. They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. We won't have to do anything to be full of joy and peace and eternity. Right now, I know that we all love to talk about how accessible God is. I preach it all the time. But the truth is, in order to experience God's joy and peace right now, we still have to appropriate it. We still have to seek the Lord, dig into his word, meditate, and focus on his promises. Pray. But in heaven we'll be illuminated by the glory of God. Joy, peace, and love will wash over us constantly as God's glory illuminates the new creation like the rays of the sun. And they that's you and me shall reign forever and ever. Unbelievable. There's that mystery of the Kingdom again.

We will be servants who rule and reign. We will follow the example of our Lord and brother. There's another Kingdom mystery, Jesus. And that concludes the description of the New Jerusalem and what a place it's going to be. The rest of the chapter is devoted to closing thoughts and comments. Verse six then he the angel who was introduced in chapter 21, verse nine. The angel said to me, These words are faithful and true. Jesus twice used the phrase faithful and true as a title for himself in the Book of Revelation. The point being that these words are as faithful and true and trustworthy as the Lord Himself. This is really interesting to me. This next part and the Lord God of the Holy prophets underline that the Lord God of the Holy Prophet sent His Angel to show his servants the things which must shortly underline shortly take place. Now here's why this is so interesting to me. John intentionally references the Holy prophets to make the claim that the revelation he has recorded in this book should be viewed the same way as the Old Testament prophets. Just as those prophets literally prophesied about things like the Babylonian exile and the Incarnation, John is claiming that he is prophesying about things that will literally happen, things that must shortly take place, John himself is telling us, I'm not writing poetry.

I'm writing prophecy. The word shortly is one of our favorite Greek words because it sounds like an item on the menu, a Taco Bell. It's the word in Tacos from which we derive our English word Tacoma. Your Taco meter is the Rpm gauge in your vehicle, and the concept of the word is exponential acceleration. So when the angel says these things must shortly take place, he's saying that once the end time signs described in the Book of Revelations start showing up, events are going to accelerate exponentially. They're not going to be evenly spaced apart, are're going to happen closer and closer together, like a woman's contractions in labor. Now Jesus speaks to John and he declares, verse seven, Behold, I am coming quickly, underline quickly. The Greek word there is Taku, and it means quickly. Without delay. Jesus immediately reiterates the Angel's statement that end times events are going to unfold quickly. They're going to accelerate once they begin. I pray that by now you have eyes to see and ears to hear that things are in motion and are accelerating in our world before our very eyes. I pray that you're watching and longing for his appearing Church.

We are so close. We are so close. The Lord Jesus says, Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. Here at the book's closing, Jesus repeats what he told John to write all the way back in Revelation chapter one, which reads, Blessed is he who reads, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near. Now we're at the end of the book, so we've obviously read it. So the Lord just simply says, Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. He says, now that you've heard it, keep it. In the original Greek, that word for keep is Terrell. It means to guard, to observe. In other words, live your life in light of what has been revealed in this book. Live as though you believe it. Observe this book by not saying, Well, I've studied that. Now I'm done with it. Keep going back to it. Keep filtering everything going on in your world through the lens of what Jesus has shared with you in this book. Let it continually realign the priorities of your life.

You and I are not finished with the Book of Revelation. We've just had our eyes and ears and hearts opened, and by the Grace of God, we will be affected profoundly by this book daily until we go to be with the Lord one way or another and guard this book by making sure that it doesn't get played down, dismissed, falsely, discredited, relegated, undermined, or ignored. I'm going to ask you to write a little number one in your Bible next to the phrase this book, because we're going to find that Jesus really wants here at the end of Revelation to underscore the importance of this book. In fact, the book of Revelation is referred to seven times in this final chapter, and you can write that down. The Book of Revelation is referred to seven times in this final chapter. I underlined in my Bible the phrase the prophecy. We've talked about this before, but this is so important. There are other books in the Bible that contain prophecies, many of them. In fact, Revelation is unique because it's the only book in the Bible that contains one massive single prophecy from beginning to end. And that's why it's so important that you learn.

This book is not called Revelations. It's Revelation singular. And Jesus himself refers to it as the prophecy a singular prophecy. And if you don't understand that, it's all one big prophecy, your understanding of this book is going to end up off track. It's really important that we recognize this book as a singular prophecy. Revelation begins by telling you you'll be blessed if you read and keep it. And Revelation ends by telling you you'll be blessed again if you keep it. Do you think Jesus wants us to remember what's in this book? Me to verse eight. Now, I John saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Even John, the great Apostle. John makes the same mistake twice. He bowed down to an angel back in chapter 19 as well. And John is so overwhelmed by the greatness of the message that he makes the mistake again of worshiping the messenger. And people still do this today. Instead of appreciating Godly preachers, some Christians idolize them, and they do the same with gifted writers, teachers, pastors, even dead pastors.

You know, when people try to idolize me as a preacher, I do the same thing this angel does. I set them straight and I firmly tell them, Mom, I'm just a man. I'm just a man. In this earthly life, we will never outgrow our need to hear the word and allow it to sanctify us. Even at the end of his life and Ministry, John could not fully trust his emotions. That's sobering for me. When you find yourself thinking, "I really thought I would be more spiritually mature by now." As I often do, just remember John. I'm sure he felt the same way about himself, but God still loved him. God didn't say, "That's it. You're out of the Apostles." This is a big deal. John accidentally worshiped someone other than Jesus twice, and the Lord's response both times is, let's not do that, John. There's no lightning from heaven. 'You know why? Because John is saved. He's covered by the blood of Jesus, and he's doing his best to serve the Lord. But like you and I, he can sometimes do something foolish, and our heavenly Father knows that. Do you know and understand that the Lord knew every sin you would ever commit before you were even born?

The dumb ones, the wicked ones, the intentional ones, the accidental ones, the carefully planned ones, the ones that you would do intentionally, even after you learn that he died for you to have that sin forgiven. Jesus knew them all, and Jesus died for you, knowing every sin you would ever commit. So if you still struggle with the thought, there's no way he loves me. I've screwed up way too many times. I need to be firm here. Stop it. Stop calling God a liar. If he says he loves you, then he loves you. If he says the cross covered all your sins, then the cross has covered all your sins. And if he says you're forgiven, then you're forgiven. God is not a liar. He loves you. Yes, still. And the same will be true tomorrow and next week and next month and next year until the day arrives when you're with him face to face. The Lord loves you, and you're just going to have to learn to deal with that. Now. The angel responds to John's worship in verse is. And then he said to me, See that you do not do that, for I am your fellow servant and of your brethren, the prophets.

There's that reminder again that John is a Prophet as he's writing the Book of Revelation and of those who keep the words of this book, write a little number two next to this book, worship God. And he said to me, underline this, do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book. There's a number three for you, for the time is at hand. Underline at hand, do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book in the original language. The idea is sealing up a document, marking it as secret, and taking it away somewhere hidden and out of view, sealing it inside a wall or something like that. How would someone in our day and age seal up the Book of Revelation? Well, I don't know if you know this, but there are some who are going around the global Church claiming that the Book of Revelation is hard to understand. We joke about it at the beginning of each message in this series, but it's true. You know the churches you've been to; you know the churches that some of you grew up in. And you know that most churches do not study the Book of Revelation, especially verse by verse.

And if you ever asked why that was the case, you were probably told that it wasn't important or it wasn't a good book to reach people with, or it was too divisive and controversial or too difficult to understand, or had no life application and wasn't useful, or were told that the only thing you needed to know is that us and Jesus win in the end. And for one or more of those reasons, nearly all of us who grew up in the Church grew up in churches where the Book of Revelation was sealed up. Some of you have told me about the shocked reactions you've received when you've shared with someone that your Church is going through the Book of Revelation. As a pastor, I know that many well-intentioned believers look at what our Church is doing and say you are never going to grow a Church by teaching books like Revelation. Perhaps that's why Jesus felt the need to make this the only book in the Bible with its own special blessing. Perhaps that's why Jesus didn't conclude any other book with a warning to the reader to not seal it up. It's not like you get to the end of Galatians and the Lord has Paul write whatever you do, don't seal up the letter to the Galatians.

The Lord knew that people would naturally want to seal this book up because he knew Satan would desperately want to seal this book up. And so, Jesus said, Pastors churches, I want you to study the Book of Revelation and I'll go even further. I believe it's a sin for a Church to fail to teach the Book of Revelation. Jesus is clear that he blesses those who study it and he wants his Church to study it. So, thank you for being here. Thank you for loving God's Word and thank you for loving this book, which Jesus says is vitally important. We didn't choose this book to study because it's a great way to grow a Church. We chose to study this book because Jesus tells us plainly that he wants us to. And if Jesus is pleased with what we're doing at this Church, then we're a success. That drives the whole ethos of what we do at Gospel City. Our goal is really simple. We want to be everything Jesus says. He wants his Church to be in His Word. That drives everything we do at Gospel City. That's the mission, that's the vision. Those are the values.

We want to be everything Jesus says he wants his Church to be in His Word. Man, if a million people want to join us on that journey, praise God. If ten people want to join us on that journey, praise God. We are in this to please and honor Jesus. That's it. The Church exists for Jesus. Her destiny is to be the bride of Christ. And we are obsessed at Gospel City with building and becoming the most beautiful bride that we possibly can for Jesus. By being what he has told us, he wants us to be in His Word. Verse Eleven he who is unjust, let him be unjust still. He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. He who is righteous, let him be righteous still.

He who is Holy.

Let him be Holy still. Here's what that means. When your earthly life ends, the state your soul is in will continue for eternity. If you're walking with the Lord, you'll walk with him forever. If you're an enemy, of God. You'll be an enemy of God forever. There's no purgatory, there's no next life where you can work out your Karma. It is not possible to graduate from Hades in the Lake of Fire. This verse may also be a reference to this point. If you're reading this at the end of Revelation, after the Lord has pulled back the curtain and revealed the true nature of reality to you where everything is headed, why there's pain and suffering in the world. Who's pulling the strings in world politics? If you've read through this book and heard all that and still don't believe, then just do what you're going to do because you're never going to get it. If you refuse to believe after the Lord shows you all this, then he may choose in his mercy to make you unable to believe. Either this book will spur you to a more passionate walk with Jesus and cement your faith, or it will cement your unbelief and rebellion against God.

We saw that in the tribulation, didn't we? We saw miracles taking place all over the Earth, undeniable signs and wonders.

And we saw people.

For the most part, cursing God instead of repenting. Revelation closes with the Bible's final call to repent and turn to Jesus. Now Jesus speaks and he repeats what he said back in verse seven, almost as if he really wants us to get this. "And behold, I am coming quickly..." Underline "quickly". "...and my reward is with me to give to everyone..." And then underline this: "...according to his work." Should the world fear Jesus coming for his Church? Absolutely. The tribulation is going to be horrific for them. Should the followers of Jesus fear him coming for his Church? Absolutely not. Because for us he is coming with rewards and to take us to his father's house. He is coming with the one accolade that I desire more than any other. Hearing the Lord Jesus say to me, well done, good and faithful servant. I want to hear that more than anything else. I want to make sure we all understand this. We do not have a works-based faith. We're not saved by anything we do, and there's nothing we can do to earn Salvation. It's a gift from God. However, the Bible clearly teaches works-based rewards.

What does Jesus say in the verses we just read? My reward is with me to give to everyone according to his work. And not just any works, but the works our master has asked us to do. We can't just be like, I'm just going to try and accumulate good works. There's somebody I don't mind showing love, not them so much. There's someone I can put up with. I can serve them for a little bit. There's an active service I don't mind doing. It's not too inconvenient, it's not "Choose Your Own Adventure" good works. If a master asks his servants to paint the inside of his house while he's away and he comes back to find that they've renovated the garden instead. Are they going to be rewarded? Of course not. We are rewarded for the work we do that our pastor has asked us to do. That's it. We will not be rewarded for doing whatever good works we choose to do. We will be rewarded for doing the good works that our Master has called us to do. He sets the agenda. He gives the commands that's what it means for Jesus to be our Lord.

So make a note of this. Our future rewards will be determined by our present faithfulness. Our future rewards will be determined by our present faithfulness. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Jesus was before the universe, and Jesus will be after the universe. Jesus created the heavens and the Earth, and Jesus will destroy the heavens and the Earth and make new ones. Ages begin with him and ages end with him. Verse 14 - Blessed are those who do underline who do his Commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. The Bible teaches that we're not saved by any works we do as we just said. At the same time, the Bible also teaches that the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person's life naturally produces good works because the Spirit is always working to sanctify us, to make us more like Jesus. The idea of verses 14 and 15 is that in eternity there are only those who are inside God's new creation and those who are outside in the Lake of fire.

There is no third option. Everybody will spend eternity in one of those two places. Suffice to say you want to be inside with the family of God and the only way to do that is to give your life to Jesus. When you do that, he places his Spirit within you, giving you the right to spend eternity with him and his family. Some have pointed out that verse 15 seems to settle the dogs versus cats debate as there is no mention of cats being outside the Kingdom of God. Now, I would never say something so divisive and controversial. I don't see how pointing that out would be helpful in any way. If you're curious, at this time in history, dogs were not the beloved domestic animals they are today. They were scavengers. And to call a person a dog was just another way to call them an immoral person. That's how the term is being used here. Verse 16: "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches." Underline "in the churches". "I am the root and the offspring of David the bright and morning star." Everything in the book of Revelation is to be testified in the churches.

It is a revelation for the Church. The phrase "I am the root and the offspring of David" means David came from me because I created him, but I also came from David because I was born on the Earth in a human body. In the family line that traces back to David, it's a statement that captures the mystical dual nature of Jesus, who is fully God and yet also fully man. Verse 17 and the Spirit and the Bride say, Come and let him who hears say, Come and let him who thirsts come. Underline these two words, I love them so much. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely in light of everything that has been recorded in the Book of Revelation in light of what the Lord has planned for those who love him, the Spirit that indwells the Church, the same Spirit that cries out Abba Father also cries out, Come, Lord Jesus, come, Lord Jesus. And it has been the prayer of the Church since Jesus returned to heaven. It is a prayer millions of believers are praying today, literally today. And the book of Revelation reveals God's plan to answer those prayers.

Jesus called his first disciples with the words Come and see. He cried out to the crowd, if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. His Kingdom is an invitation not to the chosen few, not to the best and the brightest, not to the most righteous, but to whoever desires the gospel cries out to the world, Come and be part of the family of God. Come. I am not the best, I am not the brightest, I am certainly not the most righteous. But I do desire Jesus. And I am so thankful that his response to me is, I can work with that. I can work with that. Verse 18 for I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, that's number four. If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. That's number five. And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, that's number six, God shall take away from his part. Sorry, God shall take away his part, from the book of life, from the Holy city, and from the things which are written in this book, that's number seven.

Did you catch the seriousness of what Jesus just said regarding modifying the contents and message of this book? Let me read it to you again. If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away from him his part, from the book of life, from the Holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Wow. The message is this, don't mess with this book, even if you find its contents disturbing or difficult or culturally offensive or fantastic or unbelievable. Don't mess with this book. Jesus is telling us that the way it is written is the way he wanted it written. Jesus says, if you mess with the contents of this book, you will be proving that you're not saved. Am I saying that the pastor who is telling his Church that Revelation is hard to understand is in danger of hell? No, I don't think that's what Jesus is talking about. But do I think what that pastor and Church are doing is far more serious than they realize?

Yeah, I do. The bottom line is this take this book seriously because Jesus sure does. Write this down. Jesus commands his Church to read, teach and respond to the Book of Revelation. Jesus commands his Church to read, teach, and respond to the Book of Revelation. Don't seal up this book. Don't hide this book. Don't be ashamed of this book. Don't lose focus on this book. Verse 20 he who testifies to these things says, Surely underline this, I am coming quickly. He who testifies to these things says, Surely, I am coming quickly. Jesus mentions that he's coming quickly in verses 712 and 20. I want to suggest you that what he's trying to communicate to us is that he is coming quickly. Are you getting that vibe too? I hope so. What should our response be to everything we've learned from this amazing book? Amen. So be it. Even so. Come, Lord Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus, the Bible, the word of God. His message to humanity ends with these words. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be with you all. Amen. Amen. We're in the family of God because he called out to us and he said, Come and join my family.

Come and join my family. And now we are all called to extend that same invitation to the world around us. Who are you praying for? Who are you asking the Lord to save? Specifically? Who are you investing in? Is there someone you have a relationship with that you know is ready to hear the gospel? Maybe you need to ask them out for coffee and ask if you're going to have 15 minutes to share with them. The most important thing in your life is there someone you need to plan that coffee with this week man, there's power. There's power in just speaking the gospel. There are seven Beatitudes in the Book of Revelation, and they serve as a good summary. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works. Follow them. Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches and keeps his garments lest he walk naked and they see his shame.

Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Blessed and Holy is he who has part in the first resurrection over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. Blessed are those who do His Commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. And thus concludes the Book of Revelation. Thank you again for loving God's Word enough to study along with us. It's been a joy for me. And I trust that God's Word has richly blessed you, too. Amen. Even so. Come, Lord Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus. The Grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen. Let's pray. Would you buy your head and close your eyes wherever you're at, Jesus, thank you for Your word and thank you for the Book of Revelation. Thank you that you share your future plans with us because you love us. It's an expression of love from you to Your children to share your future plans with us.

Thank you for loving us. Thank you that you have loved us and you love us as you love your Son, Jesus. As unbelievable as that sounds. And we know that whatever is waiting for us in eternity in the ages to come is so much scandalously better than anything we would dare think or even say out loud. Because Your Grace and kindness and goodness is absolutely scandalous. You lavish it upon us from Your endless and abundant supply. We cannot wait to fellowship with you face-to-face in eternity. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, we love you so much and we can't wait to be with you. But until that moment comes, would you empower us by your spirit afresh with boldness to send out your invitation to the world around us and invite others to join your family? Lord, just remind us of the power of having your spirit in us and give us your heart for the lost that many more may join us at the marriage supper of the Lamb. We love you, Jesus. We bless you. All the glory, all the honor, all the power, all the praise. All Dominion belongs to you and is destined to return to you.

And we've can't wait to be there and watch it all happen. We bless you in Your name. We pray. Amen.

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