“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” (Revelation 22:16).
Jesus appears here as the speaker ratifying and confirming all that has been communicated through the entirety of this book. Angel here means “messenger." Consequently, the pastors, for that is to whom it refers, are to ratify these things in the churches. Jesus is the root and the offspring of David, which refers to the incarnation. He is, as well, the King who will sit on the Davidic throne. This also speaks of The Cross. Christ is also the Bright and Morning Star, meaning that satan is not! The short phrase, “I Jesus," is found only here in Scripture, emphasizing its importance. This means that Christ is here closing out the account of what has been said. But most of all, He is testifying to the truth of that which has been given. It is not merely a message or the confirmation of a message that we have but, rather, the root and pledge of hope to all. These words, given by Christ, authenticate all that has been said. Any method of interpreting these visions that blunts the application of the message does so over these words of Christ. The whole Book of Revelation is a message to the churches. Therefore, any method of interpreting Revelation that blunts the application of this message in its entirety to the present church does so in the spirit of apostasy.
The phrase, “have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches,” is meant to proclaim the fact that The Lord intends for all believers to know and understand this that is given. Consequently, even though it may take a little time, if we are ignorant of what is stated in these visions, then the ignorance is willful ignorance. The reason for the information given concerning the New Jerusalem is that we might know what the eternal future of the Redeemed might be. It’s a beautiful picture. If it is to be noticed, the word churches is used in the plural. It means that The Lord is going to deal with every church according to the way that it has allowed light to shine or has stifled that light. This means that each church will answer, and, in essence, each pastor will answer. Each one will answer to Christ and not some denominational hierarchy. Every preacher of the Gospel had best read these words very very carefully.
The Root of David
The phrase, “I am the root and the offspring of David,” is meant to project, as stated, the incarnation of Christ. The Lord is reminding us that He became man and suffered all the privations of man that we might be saved. As a man, the man Christ Jesus, He overcame satan, and He did so at The Cross. As a man full of The Holy Spirit, He healed the sick and cast out demons. As a man, He went to The Cross, where he poured out His life’s blood and, thereby, redeemed humanity. As a man, He was buried in a tomb, and as a man, He rose from the dead on the third day. As the man Christ Jesus, He, today, sits at the right hand of The Father making intercession for the saints (Hebrews 7:25). In 2 Samuel Chapter 7, The Lord told David that it would be through his family that the Messiah would come. To be sure, this was and is an honor of unprecedented proportions. I speak of it being an honor for David. Christ is David’s Lord and David’s son, possessing David’s throne (Matthew 22:42-45; Luke 1:32). Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel, but He is also the Savior of the world (John 3:16). Ironically enough, the name of David is the first human name mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 1:1) and the last human name mentioned in the New Testament (Revelation 22:16).
The Bright and Morning Star
The phrase, “and the bright and morning star,” refers to the fact that, in Christ, a new day is about to dawn. In this manner, He is the Morning Star. He said to the overcomer at Thyatira, “…I will give him the morning star” (Revelation 2:28). Back in Numbers 24:17, it says, “…there shall come a Star out of Jacob...” In a physical sense, the term applies to several of the planets but, more particularly, to Venus because of its superior luster. As morning stars, they shine brightest if and when the moon has set in the west, that is, when neither the sun nor moon is in the sky. At that time, the morning star appears. It is the star that precedes the rising of the sun and leads on the day. Perhaps the reference here is to that star as the harbinger of day and the meaning of the Savior is that He sustains a relation to a dark world similar to this beautiful star. He is also compared with the sun itself in giving light to the world. Here, He is compared with that morning star, rather, with reference to its beauty than its light.
A New Beginning
Concerning this star, it has been said, “May it not also have been one object in this comparison to lead us, when we look on that star, to think of the Savior. It is, perhaps, the most beautiful object in nature. It succeeds the darkness of the night. It brings on the day, and as it mingles with the first rays of the morning, it seems to be so joyous, cheerful, exulting, bright, but nothing can be better adapted to remind us of Him Who came to lead an eternal day.” As well and as should, by now, be obvious, “morning star” speaks of a new beginning. Mankind is mired in sin, with the life of the past leaning more toward waste than anything else. The “morning star” is telling man that, in Christ, one might begin again. One can have a brand new start, a brand new day, but it’s only in Christ that such can be. Greater yet, it doesn’t matter how bad the situation is, the Morning Star says, “I can help you begin again. I can make you what you ought to be.” O, dear reader, can you not sense the presence of God, even as you read these words? The message is to you. It is His love for you, regardless of the past or the present. He loves you, and He is telling you, “I am the bright and morning star,” and so He is.
The Great Invitation
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). The phrase, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come,” presents the cry of The Holy Spirit to a hurting, lost, and dying world and, as well, the cry of all the Redeemed who make up the bride. The message is simple, so simple, in fact, that even a child can understand what is being said, “Come.” That is the Great Invitation. The wonderful thing about this is that it has no qualifiers. There is no discrimination. As it opens the door wide to any sinner, it opens the door wide to the vilest of sinners. This is the plea from the heart of God, “Come!” It is that men may come to the Savior, they may come and partake of the blessings of the Gospel, and they may come and be saved. Nothing is more appropriate to this book than to announce in the clearest and most concise way that salvation is free to all and that whosoever will may come and be saved. If it is to be noticed, the Holy Spirit and the Redeemed are joined here. This means, at least presently, that if the church is in tune with The Holy Spirit and is properly hearing what The Spirit is saying to the churches, the emphasis will be on the presentation of the Gospel message to a hurting world. Everything else must be secondary. This is at least one of the reasons that my heart bleeds at much of the church today, which chases a gospel that is not really the Gospel. In other words, it could be construed as blasphemy. If we, the Redeemed, do not have the words of life, then who does? I can assure you that the politicians don’t and neither do the educators, the psychologists, sociologist, or anyone else, for that matter. It’s only those who have been redeemed by the blood of The Lamb who can tell others of Jesus and what He has done for all of us by the giving of His life on The Cross. There is no one else in the world saying, “Come,” at least as it refers to The Savior. That means that it’s our task as the Redeemed to get this job done. This is what the Spirit is saying, and it is what we must be saying.
We must make certain that the Jesus we are preaching is not another Jesus, projected by another spirit, which presents another gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4). While it must be Jesus we bring to a hurting world, we must make doubly certain that the Jesus we hold up and present is, in fact, “Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” (1 Corinthians 2:2). If it is to be noticed, Paul said, “But we preach Christ crucified…” (1 Corinthians 1:23). He did not merely say, “We preach Christ,” but rather, “we preach Christ crucified.” There is a vast difference in the two statements. The apostle also said, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching (preaching The Cross) to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). So, when we say, “Come to Jesus,” we must understand that it is His Cross that makes it possible for man to be saved. In other words, every single thing the human being receives from God comes exclusively through The Cross, which means that this is where our faith must be anchored (Romans 6:3-14; Romans 8:1-2, 11). There are some who claim that the phrase, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come,” refers to the return of Christ and is not meant to be an evangelical appeal. While it is undoubtedly the cry of the Spirit and the bride for the imminent return of Our Lord, still, the tenor of the verse leans heavily toward an evangelistic appeal. It appeals to the one who is thirsty, which, of course, speaks of a spiritual thirst. It tells him to take of the water of life freely. Nothing could be clearer or plainer. Pure and simple, this is an evangelistic appeal and, in fact, the greatest evangelistic appeal found in the entirety of the Word of God. How fitting and appropriate it is to close out the cannon of scripture.
To Hear the Gospel
The phrase, “And let him that heareth say, Come,” refers to the soul who hears the Gospel. Paul said, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). Anyone who hears the Gospel can say, “Come,” because that is exactly what The Holy Spirit is saying. It means that, if they can hear, they can come. It is the business of all the Redeemed, symbolized by the bride, to see to it that all have an opportunity to hear. The Holy Spirit places great emphasis on that. God has already done everything that Heaven can do as it regards the salvation of mankind. He has sent His only begotten Son to this world to die on a Cross, making it possible for man to be saved. It is now the business of The Church, referred to as The Great Commission, to take this great message to the world. It truly is the greatest story ever told; however, it is great only to those who have the privilege of hearing it. Regrettably, there are many who do not have that privilege. It is the responsibility of all the Redeemed, i.e., the bride, to see to it that all do have that privilege. That’s the reason that we preach all over the world. That’s the reason we ask you to pray for us and to support us financially. It is so that we can take this grand story, this eternal message, and this for which such a price has been paid to those who so desperately need it.
The phrase, “And let him that is athirst come,” speaks of spiritual thirst, the cry for God in the soul of man. There is a void in unredeemed man. It is certainly true that all unredeemed are spiritually dead, which means that they have no desire for God or spiritual things. At least, they have no desire for those things that are truly spiritual. Still, the void cries out to be filled. Unredeemed man doesn’t know what it is and tries to fill it with the things of the world, which never satisfy, irrespective of what they might be. The reason is simple, material things cannot satisfy a spiritual thirst, and that is what the void is. It is actually a thirst for that which is of God. The creation cannot know fulfillment without the Creator. That’s the reason that Jesus clearly said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly (innermost being) shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). As someone has well said, “The soul of a man is so big that only God can fill it up.” Outside of Christ, that thirst can never be slaked. Outside of Christ, there is no satisfaction. Outside of Christ, the void can never be filled.
The Water of Life
The phrase, “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” opens the door to every single individual in the world. Jesus died for all (John 3:16), and, therefore, all can be saved, if they will only come. This one phrase completely shoots down the unscriptural doctrine of predestination, at least in the sense that it is commonly interpreted. I speak of the idea, as claimed by some, that God has already predestined every individual. They say that some are predestined for heaven and some for hell, and they have no choice in the matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. The clarion cry of the entirety of the Word of God, all the way from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, in effect, is the cry of The Holy Spirit. It is, “whosoever will.” The water of life is available to all. As the Scripture plainly says, it is free. This echoes the words of Christ, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The words, “the water of life,” are a symbolism of salvation offered by Christ and Christ alone.
It all pertains to eternal life, but it carries even greater connotations than that. The very word life speaks of all things that are true, honest, right, and straight. Consequently, it’s the only thing that will satisfy the cry of the human heart. Until a person truly finds Christ, that person does not know what living actually is. That is true, irrespective of who he might be or how wealthy he might be, and, yet, because of the unredeemed being spiritually dead, they have absolutely no inkling of what the Christ life actually affords. It’s blank to them. In fact, from their vantage point, living for Jesus seems to be the most boring thing that one could ever experience. With that being the case, how could anyone come to Christ?
The unredeemed must hear the Gospel. When the Gospel is preached, the Holy Spirit anoints the Word that is sent out and, at the same time, convicts the unredeemed of his or her lost condition. At that moment, he begins to realize that his state is not what it ought to be. As The Holy Spirit convicts him, he now has an opportunity to accept Christ. Those who do find a world open to them that they never really knew existed. For the first time, they find a purpose and reason for living. Christ becomes all in all, with life taking on a brand new meaning. They now see everything differently. That’s what Paul was talking about when The Holy Spirit said through him, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new " (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Charles Spurgeon was one of the great preachers of the Gospel in the 19th century. His church in London touched that city, plus, in a measure, the entirety of England. He came from a family that was quite well to do; therefore, he was well educated as a young man. During that time, he became very concerned about his soul. He joined several churches but to no avail. The hunger, the thirst, and the longing were not satisfied. In other words, the emptiness and the void were not filled. As the months went by, he became more and more concerned and more and more perturbed, which he attempted to alleviate in various ways but with no success. One particular night, greatly agitated of soul, he was walking the streets of London. It began to rain, and he sought shelter. He saw a light ahead, and thinking it was some type of public place, he hurried there to get out of the rain. To his surprise, it was a small mission, a small church. He walked inside out of the rain, and there were only a few people present. There was a man behind the pulpit preaching, but after a few moments, it was obvious that he was, at the same time, very uneducated, which grated the nerves of Spurgeon. The bad grammar and the halting English did not endear itself to this educated young man.
Look to Him
The man’s subject that night as he was preaching was, “Look to Him.” He didn’t have much body to his sermon, so he repeated the phrase over and over, “Look to Him.” Of course, his theme was Christ, and his petition was that people should come to Christ, and if they did, the thirst of their souls would be satisfied. “Look to Him.” These words seized the soul of Spurgeon. Holy Spirit conviction set in. In a few moments, he forgot the bad grammar and the halting English. The uneducated accent ceased to trouble him, with the words, “Look to Him,” looming large in his heart. That night, Charles Haddon Spurgeon found Christ. In that little mission where he said yes to Jesus, the thirst of his soul was completely satisfied, even as it has been satisfied in the hearts and lives of untold millions. At a moment’s time, every question was answered, the void was filled, he was born again. The water of life had been offered to him freely, and he had taken it. Let the reader understand that this man had joined several churches before now but to no avail. This shows that the church cannot satisfy the longing of the human heart, and neither can anything else. In fact, if the church does not preach Jesus and Him Crucified and do so as the constant theme of its existence, then the church is of no consequence. It is Jesus and Jesus alone Who can give the water of life. The question becomes, how does He do this grand and glorious thing?
Paul said ,and as previously stated, “But we preach Christ crucified,” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Why did the great Apostle use this term in this fashion? He did it because The Holy Spirit directed him accordingly. Someone asked once, “Is salvation afforded by Who Jesus is, or what Jesus has done?” signifying The Cross. Perhaps it is a moot question because it is only Christ Who could have done this thing, and we speak of affording salvation because man certainly could not do such for himself. However, the greater emphasis must always lay on the fact of what Christ did, referring to The Cross. Jesus Christ is God. As God, He had no beginning, which means that He always was and, in fact, always is. As God, He is unformed, unmade, uncreated, has always been and always will be, but the simple fact of Him being God, as wonderful, glorious, and necessary as that is, did not save anyone. If that alone could save, then Jesus did not need to leave the throne of glory and take upon Himself the frailty of humanity.
To effect salvation of mankind, The Cross was an absolute necessity. Due to the fact that God cannot die, God would have to become man. So, let the reader always remember the following, Jesus, as God, by that mere fact alone, did not save anyone. Jesus the Miracle Worker did not save anyone, Jesus the Healer did not save anyone. It was Jesus the Savior Who redeemed lost humanity, and He did so “…by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby,” (Ephesians 2:16). In that way and that way alone could man be reconciled to God. He had to go to The Cross and there shed His life’s blood, which atoned for all sin, past, present, and future, at least for all who will believe. This is what made it possible for man to be saved. That is why Paul said, “we preach Christ crucified.” If the church does not preach The Cross (1 Corinthians 1:21), then the church is not preaching the Gospel, which means that no water of life is offered. Sadly, most churches, and I exaggerate not, are offering everything in the world except the water of life. I say that because they are not preaching Christ and Him crucified, so that means that, no matter what else they preach, no lives will be changed. However, if we preach The Cross, glorious and wonderful things happen. Lives are changed, bondages of darkness are broken, the sick are healed. These things are done only as we preach The Cross (1 Corinthians 1:17-18; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Colossians 2:10-15).
The Prophecy of This Book
“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” (Revelation 22:18). The phrase, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book,” proclaims the inerrancy of these messages. In other words, John testifies that it is The Word of God. As well, it is a book of prophecy. Four times it is called that (Revelation 1:3; 22:10; 22:18-19). Concerning this prophecy, it begins by saying, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy…” (Revelation 1:3). Of the seven beatitudes of this book, this is the first one. The book of Revelation comprises God’s answer to the questions of the ages. It tells us what is happening and what shall happen. In fact, it takes man into the unending future. Chapter 1 of the Book of Revelation proclaims the Revelation of Christ as He appeared to John. Chapters 2 and 3 proclaim the Church Age, in which we are still living. In fact, this is the Laodicean period of the church, which speaks of its apostasy. The Ephesian period of the church is referred to as the apostolic church. It was the time of the apostles and ended at about AD 100. Then, the Smyrnaean period began, which is referred to as the martyr church. It ended in about AD 300. Many lost their lives under the iron heel of the Roman empire of that day. Then, we have the Permgamumian time of the church, which is referred to as the state church. It was when the church was married to the state, so to speak. This period ended in about AD 500. Then, we have the Thyatiran period, referred to as the papal church, which continues unto this hour. Then, we have the Sardinian period, which is the reformation period beginning in about the year 1400. At this time, we have the great names such as Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Knox, John Calvin, etc. They were calling the people back to the true faith. In a sense, this period continues, as well, unto this hour. Then, we have the Philadelphian period in the church, the church of the wide open door, referred to as the missionary church. It began about the year 1800 and, as well, continues unto this hour. Then, finally, as stated, we have the Laodicean period of the church, referred to as the apostate church, in which we are now living.
This is the time when the church says of itself, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” (Revelation 3:17). That is what the church thinks of itself, but what did Jesus say? “[K]nowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). What an indictment! I realize that my words will not be eagerly received. However, what we say is truth. There is apostasy everywhere, in the chairs of theology, in the pulpits, and in the unconcern and indifference of the people. Most of the denominational world had denied The Holy Spirit, so they are left with nothing but religious machinery, which means there is nothing being done for God in those sectors. Sadly, the pentacostal world, which, in fact, claims the baptism with The Holy Spirit, for the most part, has abandoned The Holy Spirit. It, along with its denominational counterparts, has embraced humanistic psychology, which, in fact, is a vote of no confidence as it regards The Cross. There are some few exceptions in these ranks but not many. When I was a boy, the attack against the Cross of Christ was carried out by the modernists. Today, it is coming from those who claim to be Spirit-filled. The truth is, they are spirit-filled, but it is not with The Holy Spirit. It is with evil spirits, i.e., angels of light. I bring to your remembrance that which the apostle Paul said, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers (satan’s ministers) also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
The Rapture of the Church
The Rapture of the Church could take place at any moment, but the church world, as a whole, does not even believe there will be a Rapture. In fact, they have little regard for Heaven because this present world is their heaven. The denominational world, as well, little looks for the Rapture, with most having no knowledge of that doctrine whatsoever. To be sure, the Baptists and the Methodists of several decades definitely believed in the Rapture but no more. In fact, for the most part, their churches are filled with people who really are not born again. Regrettably, that is getting to be the same way as it regards the pentecostal world. The charismatics fall into the same category. Once again, I emphasize the fact that this is the Laodicean period, the period of apostasy.
The Cross of Christ
I firmly believe that The Cross of Christ is going to be and, in fact, already is the dividing line between the true church and the apostate church. As I’ve said countless times, this has always been the case. However, I believe The Holy Spirit is going to so emphasize The Cross, at this present time, that there will be no doubt as to what that dividing line actually is. In Revelation Chapters 4 and 5, we have the great vision given to John as it regards the throne of God. It is the portrayal of Jesus taking the book out of the hand of God The Father and opening the seven seals thereof, which begins the Great Tribulation. Chapters 6 through 18 proclaims the Great Tribulation period, which is immediately ahead as it regards the time factor. Chapter 19 records the great Second Coming. Chapter 20 proclaims the coming Kingdom Age, along with the loosing of satan from the bottomless pit at the end of that age, with him lasting only for a short period of time. Then, he will be placed into the lake of fire, there to remain forever and forever. At the close of the Kingdom Age, the Great White Throne Judgment will be conducted, along with the renovation of the heaven and the earth. Chapters 21 and 22 proclaim the Perfect Age, which will have no end. These are “the words of the prophecy of this book.”
In Revelation 22:18, the phrase, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book,” proclaims the fact that the changing of the meaning of the prophecies of this book can bring upon one the judgment of God. The mention of plagues and of God using such, which He most definitely does, opens the door for all types of such things to come upon those who tamper with the Word of God in the realm of unbelief. The idea is that God, in some way, will send plagues, even at this very hour. In other words, these things are not reserved only for the coming Great Tribulation period. On a smaller scale, many and varied things can take place presently and, in fact, do take place presently. For instance, it is my personal belief that the disease of AIDS is one of these great plagues now being sent on the earth because of the great sins of homosexuality, witchcraft, and idolatry practiced presently by so many people. As well, individuals can cut their lives short or can bring upon themselves various different judgments by ignoring the Word of God. Along with this word given by John as it regards the Book of Revelation, Our Lord has said the same thing, “…the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Moses said, “Ye shall not add unto the word…, neither shall ye diminish ought from it…” (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32). Solomon said, “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:6).
John is not speaking here of interpreting the Book of Revelation, for many may have different thoughts regarding interpretation, and, in fact, many do. He is primarily speaking of unbelief. The object is to guard this book against being corrupted by any interpolation or change. Against this danger, John would guard this work in the most solemn manner. Perhaps he felt that, as this book would be necessarily regarded as obscure from the fact that symbols were used so much, there was great danger that changes would be made by individuals with a view to making it appear more easily understood, etc. The Book of Revelation, which, of course, proclaims the coming New Jerusalem, was given exactly as The Holy Spirit wanted it to be given. He means for us to study its contents and ask The Lord to help us understand what is being said. It is a picture of the present and the future, and it will not be changed. Consequently, I would pray that our efforts of explanation and manner of interpretation will help you to better understand this prophecy. It closes out the cannon of Scripture. If this is the case, then we give The Lord all of the praise and all of the glory.
Unbelief of The Word of God
“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:19). The phrase, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy,” proclaims the opposite of the previous verse, which speaks of adding to the words of the prophecy. As should be overly obvious, the idea is that the words of the prophecy should not be changed in any manner, whether addition or deletion. This efficiency of The Holy Scriptures as a full and final Revelation from God is here asserted in verses 18 and 19 by The Lord Jesus Himself, and the doom of eternal judgment is announced upon all who shall add to or subtract from them. While this book means the apocalypse, the warning applies to all Scripture as given by inspiration of God. Every facet of The Word of God must be taken most seriously. In as much as it is The Word of God, and we speak of the entirety of the cannon of Scripture, we must realize that even every single word is important. This is the reason that Jesus said in His answer to satan, “…It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). However, when we speak of every word, this does not preclude the changing of words that have grown obsolete to that which is presently used and means the same thing. Let it be understood that if any believer will sincerely ask The Lord to help him understand the Scriptures, to be sure, The Holy Spirit will guarantee the answer to such a prayer. As well, we should constantly ask The Lord for Him to help us that we not be led astray by our own inclinations and emotions of the flesh. He will answer that prayer also.
The Book of Life
The phrase, “God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book,” presents a solemn warning. The unredeemed do not bother to study the Book of Revelation or any part of the Bible, for that matter, so it is to be understood that The Holy Spirit here, through John, is speaking to those who claim Christ. The solemn warning is given that if men add to this prophecy or take away from this prophecy, God will remove their names from the Book of Life. This means that they are no longer a part of the Redeemed and, consequently, have no part in the Holy City. One cannot have one’s name removed from the Book when it’s not there to begin with. So, this statement completely shoots down the unscriptural doctrine of unconditional eternal security. We should remember that. Man has no choice about coming into the world, but after he is here and old enough to be responsible, he is held accountable for his salvation or damnation. The words choose and will are used in hundreds of Scriptures, and not one suggests that God forces any man to accept Him and to do His will. Man’s relationship with God is entirely on a voluntary basis.
Free Moral Agency
No man, recognizing that endless decisions are necessary to daily life, can deny the fact of free acts and conduct. To a degree, man has freedom of action, moral action concerning right and wrong. He is responsible to God for his every act. It is by his free will that he makes decisions to come to Christ, with, of course, the moving and operation of The Holy Spirit upon his soul. Without the moving and the operation of The Holy Spirit, he is unable to favorably respond. However, he is, at the same time, free to respond unfavorably, which many, if not most, actually do. After salvation, one’s free moral agency is certainly not restricted and, in fact, if possible, is strengthened. So, if a person desires to add or take away from the words of this prophecy, even though the Holy Spirt will deal with him not to do so, he still can carry out such an action, and, in fact, many have. With that being the case, and if the individual remains in that state, then God shall take away his part out of the book of life. In fact, the entirety of the book of Hebrews was written in regard to this very thing.
An Evil Doctrine
Many Jews, who had definitely come to Christ, had been born again, and even baptized with the Holy Spirit, had now become disconcerted and were either going back into temple worship or seriously considering doing so. To do so, even though thy had definitely been saved, would have been a denial of Christ and all that He had done at The Cross. This would cause such a person to be eternally lost, that is, if he did this thing and stayed in that particular position of rebellion, denial, and unbelief (Hebrew 6:4-6; 10:26-29). The doctrine of unconditional eternal security is an evil doctrine. It makes millions of people believe that they are saved when, in reality, they aren’t. In fact, there are millions in hell right now who are there simply because somebody told them that, irrespective of the life they lived, they couldn’t lose their salvation. They found, to their bitter dismay, that those words were not true.
Some may argue that we are promoting works. No. We are, rather, promoting grace, but it’s the type of grace that changes one’s life. The gospel that effects no change in a person is really not the Gospel. The grace of God changes people. That’s the reason that John clearly wrote, “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 22:15). That’s the reason that Paul said, even after naming many particular types of sins, “…of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21). Paul is not saying, and neither is John, that those guilty of these sins cannot be forgiven, cleansed, and made new creations in Christ. In fact, that’s the very heart of the Gospel. However, these two apostles are definitely saying that the Christian must not think that he can practice a lifestyle of such sins and continue to retain his relationship with Christ. Everything in the Gospel mitigates against such thinking and action. The Bible does not teach sinless perfection, but it definitely does teach victory over sin (Romans 6:14).
The Cross of Christ
Let the reader carefully consider the following; there is a way to live for God and, in fact, only one way. It is as follows:
What we have just given you is the way and manner in which the believer is to live for God. If we try to do such any other way, we will fail.
The Word of God and Unbelief
As it regards the Christian, every wrong direction, all unbelief, and every disobedience and rebellion against God in any way or manner can be traced back every single time to a misunderstanding or willful misinterpretation of the Word of God. In other words, if we fail, we are misusing the Word in some manner. If one will look back over his life, one will see this played out in totality. The greatest problem with the child of God is a failure to understand the sanctification process and the manner in which The Cross of Christ plays into that process. Perhaps it would be better to say that the sanctification process plays into The Cross of Christ. Most Christians have an understanding of The Cross as it refers to the initial salvation experience. However, as it regards sanctification, most don’t have the foggiest idea about what we are speaking. This is sad when we consider that there is nothing more important for the child of God. In fact, it is impossible for the Christian to live a victorious, overcoming Christian life without understanding The Cross of Christ as it regards his everyday walk before The Lord. Not understanding The Cross, such a Christian will attempt to live this life by his own efforts, strength, and machinations, which, without fail, brings failure. He will do this every single time. If we don’t understand this part of the Word, which, in fact, makes up all of Paul’s 14 epistles, then it is for certain that the sin nature is going to rule us and cause all types of problems for the believer. The Cross is the only answer to this dilemma. It is not one of several answers, it is the only answer.
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). The phrase, “He which testifieth these things,” proclaims the fact that the office of the Messiah as Savior is repeated again and again throughout the prophecy. The Messiah is the Lamb that was slain, and His blood washes from sin and alone makes fit for the entrance into the eternal city. In essence, the entire book of Revelation is regarded as the Revelation of Jesus Christ to mankind; consequently, He bears witness to the truth of all these things. He speaks here of Himself and vouches for the truth and reality of all that is said by saying that He testifies of them and bears witness to them. The fact that Jesus Christ Himself vouches to the truth of what is revealed here shows the propriety of what John had said in the previous verses about adding to these prophecies or taking from them.
The Second Coming
The phrase, “saith, Surely I come quickly,” leaves the promise to come as the last message from The Lord Jesus to the believer’s heart, and on this sweet note, the prophecy ends. The great theme of the New Testament at its opening is the First Advent, and its great theme at the close is the Second Advent. Jesus is coming again! He will ultimately rule this world, sitting on the throne of David and will do so forever. The eternal permanence of restored paradise is assured by the title of Alpha and Omega of verse 13, for it declares that the Messiah is the One and Only God, and there will never be another. The world sees and can see nothing of these coming glories, but, to faith, the dawn is there, and Christ is the Morning Star and more, the Bright and Morning Star to all who love His appearing. His promise to come is the delight and joy of the heart that watches for Him. The world will never know Him as the Bright and Morning Star. All on earth is failure and corruption, but the promise of His coming sustains the faith and strengthens the courage of His people and animates them to urge whosoever will to take of the water of life freely.
Come Lord Jesus
The phrase, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” proclaims the answer of the true church to the promise of Christ regarding the Second Coming. The words, as given by John, present the utterance of desire and the precise language that the Savior had used, heart responding to heart. Wrapped up in this one word come, as uttered by John, is the exclamation, in a sense, of all that is wrong with this world and that Jesus Christ alone is its cure and its only cure. How so true that is! There will be no solution to the problem of poverty over much of this world until Jesus comes. There will be no solution of the problems of disease that run rampant, decimating entire countries, until Jesus comes. There will be no solution to the race problems until Jesus comes. There will be no solution to the economic crisis that seems to affect the majority of the world time and time again until Jesus comes. There will be no solution to the problem of war and rumors of war until Jesus comes. There will be no solution to the crime problem until Jesus comes. There certainly will be no solution to the problem of sin, which is the cause of all these problems mentioned, until Jesus comes. As the Rapture of the Church is the hope of the church, likewise, the Second Coming is the hope of the world.
What about the Present Message of the Church?
I will begin the answer to the question of this subheading by stating what the message of the church ought to be. Jesus Christ said, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). What is the Spirit saying to the churches? The Holy Spirit is proclaiming to the churches all over the world the message of The Cross. The church came in on The Cross, and the church will go out on The Cross, and I speak of the true church. The question becomes, is the message of The Cross that which the modern church is preaching? Regrettably and sadly, that is not what the modern church is preaching. All of this has to do with the Second Coming. As stated, the church came in on The Cross and will leave out on The Cross. And that time is very very near. One self-anointed prophet (so called) said the other day that Jesus is not coming back for 200 or 300 more years simply because his children are having such a good time down here. What utter nonsense! What gross stupidity! It’s prattle, such as that which is aired over much of what is called Christian television. God help us. Anyone who is truly saved and, above all, truly Spirit-filled expresses the same cry that John the Beloved expressed so long ago: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Of course, I am talking about being filled with The Holy Spirit and not spirits. That person knows and understands that the problems of this world are not going to be resolved until Jesus comes back. That person also knows that it’s not the purpose of the church in this world to have a good time but, rather, to take the glorious message of Redemption to a hurting and dying world. When the Spirit and the bride say “Come,” how can we do less? If we have heard ourselves, how can we do less than tell those who have not heard to come? We must tell the thirsty that Jesus alone can slake that thirst. We must hold the banner high and say, “Whosever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” That is our burden, our mission, our calling, and our purpose. When we leave that, which means that we are no longer abiding in Christ, we are cast forth as a branch and are withered. Men gather such and cast such into the fire, and they are burned (John 15:6).
Come Back to The Cross
The only solution for the church, as it has always been the solution, is to come back to The Cross. Only then can we find our moorings, our destiny, our place, who we are, and what we are to do. Without The Cross of Christ as a foundation of all that we believe, we do not know where we have been, where we are, or where we are going. There will be some, Thank God, who will come back to The Cross. It’s beginning to happen already. Sadly and regrettably, most will not, but some will, and they will point the way, simply because they know the way.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21). The phrase, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” presents John using the very words of Paul in his closing salutation. Paul uses it in all of his epistles in accordance with his declaration in 2 Thessalonians 3:17. As should be obvious, The Holy Spirit could have ended the cannon of Scripture in any manner he desired. However, He chose to end the giving the Word of God to this world in written form by lifting up the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. What a blessing! It could have ended with judgment, but, instead, it ended with grace. It could have ended with hell, but, instead, it ended with heaven. It could have ended with sin, but, instead, it ended with salvation, for there is no other way for poor mortal man to be saved than by the redemptive grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The simple definition of grace is that it is “unmerited favor.” That is certainly correct. However, perhaps it would be better defined by saying, “The grace of God is simply the goodness of God extended to undeserving believers.” Of course, grace extends to unbelievers as well. However, it cannot find its full force except in the heart of faith, as should be obvious.
The short phrase, “be with you all,” proclaims the fact that it is the same message for all and is available to all. Let the reader understand that grace comes to us by the means of The Cross. In fact, grace cannot come any other way. So, for the believer to understand the grace of God and, thereby, be a constant recipient of the grace of God, he must have an understanding of The Cross or else he will frustrate the Grace of God, which leads to untold difficulties (Galatians 2:21). Let us say it again, the law came by Moses, “but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Then, the final word to the great plan of God. What else could it be? It has to be the word that will give a claim to the finished work of Christ. It is done. It is finished. And, thereby, all of heaven, along with all of the Redeemed, must say, “Amen.”
The world is not my home;
I’m just a’passing through;
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home
In this world any more.
The written Word of God
For me is final say,
And, in it, I have read
Of that bright, coming day.
When with the holy ones
My Savior for me comes,
And I can’t feel at home
In this world any more
They’re all expecting me,
And that’s one thing I know;
My Savior washed my sins away
And now I onward go.
I know He’ll take me through,
Though I am weak and poor,
And I can’t feel at home
In this world any more.
The Bright and Morning Star