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The Finale: Come!

Revelation 22:17-21
September 9, 2007

Earlier this summer, book outlets built anticipation for J.K. Rowling's last book
in the Harry Potter series. Stores sported large posters that counted the days until
the book could be purchased. Harry Potter banners slid across Internet sites.
Everywhere we turned, we were reminded of the last book. I spoke to one worker
at a local bookstore the day before the last Harry Potter book sale began. She told
me that her store alone had 1000 copies of the book to sell. All of the fuss
focused on how Rowling would end the story of the characters she developed in
the previous books. The last book promised a surprising end. So fans stood in
line at midnight to grab their copy and discover the end.

The last in a series of books finishes the story line. Whether The Chronicles of
Narnia or Lord of the Ring or Father Brown or Harry Potter series, the last book
completes the story. It brings finality to things that have captured the imagination
and senses.

We have come this morning, not only to the Bible's last book, but also to the last
verses of the last chapter of the last book. What began some 1500 years before
John penned Revelation in the last decade of the 1st century, with contributions
from about 40 more authors from varied backgrounds, comes to a close in these
final verses of the Revelation. However, unlike the novels that I just mentioned,
the story doesn't end here. The God-inspired, authoritative, and inerrant words of
Scripture do not end here. For in the Bible we have a living word. It gives life
wherever it is read or proclaimed or heard, as hearers open their minds and hearts
by faith to it as truth. It builds anticipation—eternal hope—in our hearts for
seeing the face of Christ and living with Him eternally. Many wonderful books
about Christ and the gospel have been added over the centuries from Ignatius,
Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Bunyan, Edwards, Lloyd-Jones, and our own Piper,
Sproul, MacArthur, and Packer, but no other books are on par with the 66 books
of the Bible. Many books can be classified as inspiring yet only the 66 books of
Holy Scripture are inspired in their totality, and therefore, profitable for life and

And here we've come to the end of this last, majestic book of the Bible to hear
the last words of authoritative, Holy Spirit-uttered revelation. That sobers my
mind as I hear these concluding words of Scripture.

Writing a conclusion to a story or an essay often proves to be the most daunting
chore of writing. Anyone that has done much writing knows the struggle of

rather than seeing it as the call of Christ in the gospel. The last invitation The idea of "invitation" is prominent in evangelical vocabularies. The clearest example of this is found in verse 17. "The Spirit and the bride say. Yet the Bible knows nothing of such a practice. staring at the last page in hope that a bit of inspiration will strike! The whole body of work culminates in an economy of words in the conclusion. it is declared whenever the gospel is rightly spoken. We must hear them with a readiness to obey because God has spoken with finality in Jesus Christ. Instead. more weight is placed on this as an invitation to come to Christ. However. So too." . the aim of the Church throughout the ages must join with the Spirit by His power in pointing people to Christ. instructed. and you will testify also. the Spirit and the bride call upon those who will hear. "Come. as evidenced by John's prayer in v. Proclaiming Christ's worthiness and sufficiency. the real invitation is found in the gospel.sitting at a desk. The reason is found in the balance of this verse. "Come". We must give heed to the last words of biblical revelation. warned." Here we find the Holy Spirit and the Church—(shown to be the bride in 19:7-9. Consider that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness to Jesus Christ. Revival and Revivalism and The OLD Evangelicalism]. The last words challenge and instruct us. 20b. Interpreters wrestle with whether the Spirit and the bride are calling for Christ to come or whether they are calling people to Christ. as it clearly points to calling anyone who is thirsty and desirous to come to Christ. "the invitation" implies re-arranging one's geographic position at the end of a service. it was added in the 19th century to accommodate revivalism that swept churches in the northeast [cf. and revealed. commanded. Such is the case with Revelation's concluding words. it seems that contextually. 1. These last words offer something for each of us. promised. How does the Lord God conclude biblical revelation? I want to look at this text under five simple points of last issues in the Bible. Jesus spoke to His disciples concerning the Spirit's ministry as well as their own in concert with the Spirit: "He will testify about Me. invitation has become a portion of a worship service right after the sermon where interested people can indicate a decision for Christ or whatever the preacher may call for. Iain Murray. In this case. because you have been with Me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27). calling sinners to Christ. The Spirit's aim is to point people to Christ. While there is a sense that both are true. Now He brings His book to its grand culmination in the promise of the New Heaven and New Earth. In the Upper Room Discourse. 21:9-21)—in concert by calling sinners to Christ. God has declared.

But notice as well that in coming to Christ. They have heard from God through His Word." Come to Jesus Christ. and Lord. We see this beautifully illustrated in the first conversions under Christ's gospel ministry. let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. that His followers become fishers of men. Do not come to an institution or an imagination or a religious mantra. buy and eat. Come to Christ! Further. Come. In other words. buy wine and milk without money and without cost" (55:1). Come to Jesus Christ. But there is a great difference in those who have ears to hear. Just like Peter and Andrew. Coming to Christ implies following Him as His disciple. "Come"." Jesus declared to Peter and Andrew. we heard the refrain. "And let the one who is thirsty come." Seven times in chapters 2-3. Those who have responded to the gospel invitation now make the same gospel invitation for others. then the call to sinners is "Come. The second half of this verse aims more directly. and you who have no money come. Isaiah calls for those who recognize their need for the Lord to come to Him "without money and without cost. "He who has an ear. Using metaphors of thirst and hunger. come to the waters. They have heard—and the message has penetrated their hearts with transforming grace. following Him. unto the individual believer that has heard the gospel. "Ho! Everyone who thirsts. it implies that you believe Him to be both God and man. what He offers you cannot afford or buy. The great Old Testament gospel book. Come to Jesus Christ. "Follow Me. They have a reason to appeal to others to "Come!" They know the gospel experientially as well as intellectually. cast yourself upon His mercies. coming to Christ means leaving everything else. Isaiah. as well as your only Savior and Lord." Those who don't hear give vivid evidence of unregenerate hearts. "and I will make you become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17). what He offers He has already . is one foundation for this text. Now they call their relatives and friends to come to Jesus Christ where they will find forgiveness and life. As Jesus Christ has been proclaimed as the Lamb of God slain to redeem sinners. They show the stoniness of their minds and coldness of their affections toward the Creator and Lord. mediator. laying aside one's first loves.There is no simpler invitation than what we find in this text." In other words. "And let the one who hears say. let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. The gospel has become the sweetest music in their ears and the song of their hearts. the sin-bearer. those who come to Christ now call others to come to Christ. the Lamb of God slain for you. John moves from the Spirit and the bride as the corporate body of Christ issuing the gospel invitation to come to Christ." The one who feels his need for Christ—"the one who is thirsty"—let him come to Christ. depend upon His sacrificial death and life-giving resurrection. and embracing Christ as the chief of his affections.

You who feel the need. your food is too good for my palate. Do you realize that many treat Christ in the same way? Christ has prepared a gospel feast for us. When Christ calls us to come to Him. who recognize your sinfulness. what He offers will give you more satisfaction than you can even imagine. Some think that surely Christ will pull the food from the table when they arrive. I know that you invited me to dinner but I just cannot believe that you really mean for me to eat at your table.' You tell me that you have already paid for the dinner and prepared it—that there's no cost to me. He is the perfect host that satisfies our deepest hungering and thirsting for life. and that you have prepared dinner for me. He does so with the certainty that He has already secured what you need. Some think that Christ welcomes others but not them. your emptiness. "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me. my friend. "If anyone is thirsty. And again you welcome me to your table. 7:13-17. He has borne away your sins and satisfied God's judgment." Christ has promised. 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'"" (John 7:37-38). pastor. it cost His lifeblood at the cross. saying. Hear the gospel invitation." By the sacrifice of Himself at the cross. as the scripture said. and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (John 6:37). your thirsting to be satisfied by Christ. 'But I cannot afford your dinner. the great day of the feast. But suppose you don't have intense feelings regarding your need for Christ. A second biblical text is background for this invitation. "Now on the last day. 10:10-12). then Jesus tells you to come to Him. You just simply recognize by the preaching of God's .purchased on your behalf. Suppose that you were to invite me to your home for dinner." When I arrive. And you've also labored to make sure that the dinner is something that will intensely satisfy my desires. Jesus stood and cried out. "Let the one who is thirsty come. let him come to Me and drink. Yet some prefer to bring their own pathetic food that can never satisfy the soul's hunger. He who believes in Me. That's the message found throughout Revelation (cf. You have no feelings at all. 5:9-10. You remind me that you invited me to dinner. I retort. so I'll have to eat my own food. you welcome me in but immediately recognize that I brought my own dinner with me. so it is "without cost. come for dinner. your spiritual bankruptcy. He spreads His table before us and welcomes us to the gospel feast. "Come tonight. it demanded that He battle all the powers of darkness on our behalf and face eternal judgment for us. I've brought my own dinner that I've made for myself.

46. Adam was warned not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Here is the testimony of Jesus Christ set in . For that kind of mindset. trumpets. 356]. he was warned that in the day he sinned he would die. I point this out because while my particular Bible identifies verses 16 and 20 as statements of Christ. they found the warnings of this book to be fairy tales. They had better ideas than what John penned under the inspiration of the Spirit in the Revelation. drink deeply from the wells of salvation. "When your will is brought to accept the Saviour." It is yours. John warns of the judgment in the seals. it is the subjective opinion of the publisher as to what Jesus said. vol. Come! Come! Come to Jesus Christ—take the water of life without cost! Come and drink and live! 2. identifying the words of Christ in red. It is found only in Christ. Spurgeon commented on this verse. Come and take. when this is done. you do want to know Him. Christ offers you this living water. and bowls. 'Yes. Hear the word of Christ. Yet verse twenty's opening phrase connects the confession of Christ's coming with the testimony in verses 18-19. The one who wishes or the one who desires or the one who wills. He warns of the beast and the great harlot. But so does the rest of Scripture. While you don't have it you do have a will to be a Christian yet you are afraid that God will not accept you. drink of the water of life. you do want the life that only God can give. I am coming quickly'. He warns of deception by the dragon and his minions. something that you've imagined is necessary before you can be saved. it is God's will that you should have him" [MTP. "take the water of life without cost. It may be that your edition of the New Testament is red-lettered. Cain was warned that sin was crouching at the door of his heart.Word that you are a sinner and have need for Christ. They were idolaters and sought to lead the churches of Asia Minor down a path that intertwined something of Christianity with idolatry. "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book…He who testifies to these things says. unnecessary religious jargon. Christ gives the last warning of Revelation. Yet some scoffed at these warnings. They also considered its instruction and exhortation to be faithful until death as hyperbole. Because their hearts were inclined toward idolatry. Then the balance of this verse is for you: "let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. You cannot find it in the polluted wells of this world. it points to verses 18-19 as words of John. Wicked King Ahab was warned of God's judgment on his family for their idolatrous ways. you do want forgiveness of sins and a relationship to God. You have been waiting for a certain feeling of neediness." The feelings are not there but the desire for Christ is. However. then depend upon it. The last warning We know by this point that the book of Revelation has ample warnings.

4:3-4). 1151. Recall chapters 2-3. "if anyone adds to them. the call to live distinctly as Christians in the midst of the world." Throughout Revelation we have recognized that it is a book for the churches—its even addressed to the seven churches in Asia Minor (1:4). In other words. he warned about adding to or taking away from the word that he had given them. 12:32-13:18 that bears out the same interpretation]. called "the teaching of Balam. of persevering even in persecution." Then he reminds them of what happened at Baal-peor. The church at Thyatira had some that followed a prophetess that taught that immorality and eating things sacrificed to idols were part of their responsibility as Christians. The stakes are high. the book of Revelation has not shifted theological gears to promote losing salvation! Throughout the book we've noted the underlying surety of Christ bringing His elect through . Though unsuccessful. He intensifies the warning of these verses. The indication is that the warning was for particular people in the churches who had thought of either adding to or deleting portions of this prophetic word. Here was precisely the problem facing the churches of Asia Minor and of our own day—that of thinking that idolatry in any form might be acceptable to the Christian faith. the Nicolaitans waged their unbiblical influence in Ephesus. which are written in this book." They also had adherents of the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Some in Pergamum held to idolatrous teachings. of laying down your life for the gospel didn't fit into the doctrinal framework of these false teachers! They may have acknowledged some of the teachings of the gospel while adding their own particulars or deleting a few things that didn't suit them. nor take away from it. and then John affirms that Christ is the one giving this testimony. "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you. As Moses reiterates the Law. NIGTC: Revelation. divine justice will be required of those violating this warning. God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book. The deceitful strategy employed was "that idolatry was not inconsistent with faith in the God of Israel" [Greg Beale. God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city. cf. In doing so. The basis of this interpretation is found in the warnings in Deuteronomy 4:2. which was the occasion when the teaching of Balaam slipped into the camp of Israel so that God's people fell into idolatry (Deut. and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy. The Laodiceans had made an idol of their great success. Deut. Jesus gives this legal declaration in verses 18-19." Certainly. So our Lord warns. calling on Israel to follow the Lord faithfully. that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command language. To whom does Jesus speak in this warning? Note that He addresses "everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book.

"He who testifies to these things. one taken in Christ's return and the other left for judgment." That kind of language is intentional—not for us to develop a chronological schematic—but to remind us that nothing stands between Christ's first and second coming. It is a certainty. Aune. clearly marked by the character of Christ. He calls for us to trust the sufficiency of His redemptive work and God's faithfulness to bring us through the fire into His presence. "Yes. "Quickly" dispels such notions. our Lord states it with austerity. While it can be said that Christ comes to us many times through the centuries. He warned the Pergamum church that He would come against them quickly unless they repented.every danger into His presence in the New Jerusalem. to reinforce the seriousness of the call to live as Christians. giving assurance that the one who would take away from this prophetic word or add to it is not Christian and therefore will face all of the judgments promised to unbelievers. and even in spite of leadership positions or places of prominence in the church. Now. "quickly" means immediately or right now. Yet the impetus of this text focuses on the final return of Jesus Christ. Rather in the warning. We dare not grow careless and complacent because we have lots of end-time-events that we think must come to pass before Jesus can return." He offers the "Yes" (vai) of affirmation. He does come in judgment. And what does He call for in Revelation? He calls for us to worship God not creatures and certainly not through idolatrous ways. As a number of scholars point out. persecution. the focus in this context is upon His ultimate return. 'Bring that cup to me quickly!' That means that there is to be no hesitation. ." It is Jesus Christ who bears witness to the message in Revelation. They may profess to be Christian "but their allegiance to other gods betrays their confession" [Beale. Yet to us. I am coming quickly. Sweet. and trials. Christ comes to us in both blessing and judgment through the Lord's Supper [Beale identifies Borkham. 1152]. our Lord reminds us. Come right now. 1155]. 3. The last promise Jesus Christ is not distanced from these words or disassociated from them. I am coming quickly. It also implies suddenness. He calls for us to persevere to the end even in the midst of suffering. None whose names are written in the book of life fail to enter. a reality that we dare not presume upon. In spite of their parading in the churches. He calls for us to live distinctly as Christians. "Yes. However. Krodel. if they distort the holy message of the gospel then they face severe judgment. They are His words. hence. John prefaces Christ's last promise with the introduction. two will be working in the field. Just as Jesus prefigured it.

Lord Jesus"? 5. God's kingdom will be fully established on the earth. If we are to persevere in faithfulness to Christ. So it ends with this pastoral blessing for grace. "Amen. The last prayer John's prayer echoes the last promise of Jesus Christ. since ultimately. 4. Grace informs our minds of the truth of God. The emphasis seems to be this: live as though today Christ might come. our ultimate need each day is for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ! If we are to worship rightly." Indeed. Amen. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Lord Jesus. . then we need grace to do so." (Matt. Lord Jesus. we pray for His kingdom to come in the present so that the evidence of God's kingly reign on earth may be seen—yet knowing that its fullness comes when Christ returns." When we pray." It is an agreement. I know that Christian students facing big exams have uttered this prayer amiss! But much more. Come. and who are unsatisfied with the things of the world to such a degree that they desire only Christ. if Jesus waits 1000 years or 2000 years or 3000 years or 5000 years before the Father sends Him back. Grace humbles us before God and enables us to set our affections upon Him. "Your kingdom come. it is the prayer of those whose hearts are filled with a consciousness of Christ. to worship God alone and not the idols of this world. 6:10) we're embracing something of this same prayer of John. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all. Grace gives us the attitude and words that comprise our worship of God. "Come." complemented with a prayer. Are we detached enough from this world so that we can pray with John. " light of eternity. Lord Jesus. That's because Revelation is an epistle or a letter to churches. when Christ returns. then we desperately need grace! How else can we overcome our own excuses or the barriers laid by the enemy or the temptations of the world? Grace implies that God is at work in our need. "Amen. who are rapt with the loveliness of Jesus Christ. then it's still but a blink of the eye in comparison to the infinite days ahead. Yes. The last blessing You notice that verse 21 has a rather Pauline ring to it. The reason is because this is a common epistolary ending—just like those we see in most of Paul's epistles." Why the anxiousness on John's part? For the same reasons that believers throughout the centuries have prayed this same prayer. "Come.

We're far too weak and helpless. Our fear of not having the right words to speak silences us. He gets the glory because He provides the grace. How can we call upon our friends to come to Christ. gentleness in times of opposition. Grace is needed. Conclusion Press on in faithfulness to Christ. "Come!" then we need much grace. Even so. because He reigns as Sovereign Lord so that all power belongs to Him. And He gives it over and over. None of us can keep pressing on in faithfulness in our native strengths. and love even for those that do not love us? Grace! If we are to proclaim the gospel boldly. being marked by the character of Christ. Our fear of what others may say or do to us paralyzes us. offering that gospel invitation." It's the whole church that needs grace—"with all. come. kindness in the face of ugliness. . Amen. Our man-fearing spirit overwhelms us. again and again to helpless believers like us." My brethren. then to Him we look for grace. If we are to live distinctly as Christians. No power of hell or threat of man can keep the grace of our Lord from prevailing in those He has redeemed. apart from grace to utter those words? Grace—we need grace to overcome so that we call others to Christ. and because He is the eternal Judge that gives to all men according to their works. because of what Jesus Christ has done in His death and resurrection. Lord Jesus. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all.providing just what is necessary for us to do His will. Our Lord comes quickly. then we need grace—much grace! How else can we practice patience in adversity.