Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, May 8, 2016
Come, Lord Jesus - May 8, 2016 - Seventh Sunday of Easter - Text: Revelation 22:1-6[7-11]12-20
How does the old saying go, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” It seems like just day before yesterday we celebrated Christmas and yesterday we celebrated Easter. This past Thursday we celebrated an important holiday in the church and I can image that no one even knew it passed. Thursday was exactly forty days after Easter and on that day we celebrated Jesus’ Ascension back into heaven. Yes, Thursday was the ever popular Christian Celebration of Ascension.
Today is a day of celebration as well, not a Biblical holiday so to speak, rather a social holiday, yet one that is Christian in its moorings, at least the concept is or once was in our culture. Today is the day we honor our mother’s as we celebrate Mother’s Day and God’s gift of the highest vocation of a woman and that of being a Godly mother. Popular culture might cringe at that statement today, yet as Christians we know that motherhood is a gift and calling from God. So we say, happy Mother’s Day to all our moms here this morning. Thank you for bringing your children to church with you today.
During this Easter Season we have been looking at heaven and even today we get one more look into heaven. This is our last glimpse into heaven, at least for a while and at least as far as our texts go, because this is the last Sunday that we will have a reading from the book of Revelation for a while. Today is the last Sunday in the Easter season. Next week we celebrate Pentecost and the sending of the Holy Spirit. The next week we will celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday, that our God is a triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then we will be in the season of Pentecost for twenty some odd weeks.
Our text begins with John continuing to give us a picture of heaven (v. 1-11). John’s words take us back to the Garden of Eden in Genesis. In the Garden of Eden we were introduced to two trees in particular, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. The difference here in John’s revelation is that there is not one tree of life, but there are trees of life which line the river of life. John’s vision and his words remind us of how wonderful heaven is and how our Lord provides for all our needs. The trees of life bear twelve kinds of fruit and they bear fruit twelve months out of the year. The leaves bring healing. So, this is spiritual food and spiritual healing.
John sees Jesus who is the light of the city, thus we are reminded as we were last week, that heaven has no need for any artificial light nor any temple or church, because Jesus is there with us. Jesus is God in flesh, He is the one we worship and because we are in heaven which is a place of complete perfection we will only need Jesus. And did you notice, that when John heard these things and fell down before the angels, he was reminded by the angels that we do not worship angels, but that we worship only our Lord.
Our text continues with Jesus testifying of Himself and His return (v. 12-13). Jesus says, “I am coming soon!” He is coming soon, sooner than we know, sooner than we expect. I say sooner than we expect because we tend to think of things from a human perspective. We know that God waited some three to four thousand years to fulfill His first promise to send a Savior. After Jesus came, suffered, and died and before He ascended into heaven He promised to come soon to take us to heaven. We have already waited about two thousand years. Will we have to wait another thousand or two thousand years? No one knows, only God the Father in heaven knows. Certainly there are many who do not believe Jesus will return during their lifetime, nor for another one or two thousand years. And we know this, not necessarily because they say so, but by the way they act, living life on earth giving no thought for Jesus’ return, today or tomorrow. What we are forgetting is that even if Jesus does not return during our lifetime, we will return to Him when we die and that could come at anytime, from the time of conception to the age of over a hundred. It will happen. We will see Jesus, sooner than we know and sooner than we might expect.
Along with His promise to return, Jesus also says that He will give us our reward. Our reward will be meted out as follows. Those who die in unbelief will earn hell. Those who die in faith will be given heaven earned for us by Jesus. And those are the only two options, heaven or hell.
And we can count on this happening, because Jesus says it will happen, remember, God said it and that settles it. Jesus can do what He says because He is God. He is the Alpha and Omega, that is, He is the first and the last. He is God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He was with the Father and the Spirit at the creation of the world. He was one with the Father and the Holy Spirit as He lived on this earth. And He continues to be one with the Father and the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit continues to give, strengthen and keep us in faith. He is always one God with the Father and the Spirit, undivided.
This morning we get a glimpse of those who are inside and those who are outside the kingdom of heaven (v.14-15) as well. Those who are inside the kingdom are those who have entered in because they have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. In other words, entrance into heaven is for believers, those who have been given faith by the Holy Spirit through the means of grace. These are the ones who wear Jesus’ robes of righteousness.
Those who are outside, those who have no entrance are those who have rejected and continue to reject Jesus. Those who refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord and God. John’s list begins by saying that those outside the city are the dogs, that is, those who are sorcerers, that is those who do such despicable things as “practice magic arts,” read their horoscopes, visit fortune tellers and psychic friends hotline, and so on; also, those who practice deviant acts of sexual immorality, giving up natural relations for unnatural as Paul calls it, or homosexual sins, and so on; those who murder, not only those that commit the actual sin of killing, but those who murder by hurting, harming, or defaming another; those who are idolaters, and in our world today idolatry includes: people chasing after images and statues that change and move, people busying themselves with the things of this world today, so much so that we do not have time for God and the things of God; and finally, those who love and practice falsehoods. We are living in a post-modern, a post-Christian world which is exemplified by the fact that truth has become relative, or so it is thought. Truth is whatever you want it to be at the present time, thus we have become ever changing people depending on the facts that we want to present at that time, not that we would call them falsehoods, just different forms of the truth. Our text tells us that these are those who are outside the kingdom of heaven and instead inhabit the kingdom of hell.
Continuing on in our text, we get the testimony of the second witness, the angel (v. 16). What is interesting about this is that from Deuteronomy forward and even in the New Testament, something legal had to have two or three witnesses. Now we have Jesus’ second witness. God’s angel speaks to John. His testimony is in complete agreement with Jesus’ words. Jesus is the Son of David. Jesus is the promised Messiah. Jesus is royalty, truly King. Jesus is the Light of the World.
Finally we have the invitation (v. 17, 20). The invitation is from the Spirit and the Bride. We have the invitation to the marriage feast from God and His Holy Bride, the Church, all believers in Jesus. The invitation is to come and thirst no more. Heaven is a place where we will eat eternal manna and drink of the river of pleasure forever. Heaven is a place of perfection where there will be no physical, bodily, or spiritual needs. Everything will be supplied.
Our invitation is to come and have perfect fellowship with Jesus. We will have no more worries or cares. We will not need to worry about our relationship with Jesus, because we will be in perfect communion and fellowship with Him.
Our RSVP, our response is to say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” In the Lord’s prayer we pray “Thy kingdom come,” this is another way of saying, “Come, Lord Jesus!” We want God’s kingdom to come. And in the Lord’s prayer we are praying for God’s Kingdom to come. We are praying for His Kingdom of grace, the church on earth, the church militant as we call it, that is that God would continue to work through us as individuals and as His local congregation to reach out into our community and the world to bring people to the means of grace so they too might be given faith, forgiveness, life and salvation. We are also praying for His Kingdom of glory, heaven. We want God to take us from this vale of tears to be with Himself forever in eternity. We want to be in heaven. We know that heaven is a much better place and so we desire God to come quickly and so we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” even, “come, quickly!”
Six weeks ago we celebrated Easter. We celebrated Jesus rising from the dead. Three days before Easter we celebrated Good Friday. We celebrated Jesus’ death on the cross. Maybe celebrate is not the best word, but we did celebrate. We celebrated that because Jesus died we are no longer sentenced to death. I would suggest that we do not celebrate the fact that Jesus died, but we do celebrate that He gave His life for ours. We are born in sin, spiritually blind, spiritually dead, enemies of God. When we are conceived we are conceived deserving death and hell. Yet, that is not what we will get, because Jesus gave His life for ours.
As we have been looking into heaven following the readings in the book of Revelation, we are reminded once again that we are not getting what we deserve, rather we are getting what Jesus deserves, what He earned for us by His giving His life for ours. We are reminded that heaven is a free gift.
We have been looking into heaven. We have seen Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father in all His glory. We have seen what a wonderful and joy filled place of perfection heaven is and now we eagerly await Jesus return. We eagerly await Jesus coming to take us to be with Himself forever in heaven.
You might say there are two ways of “encouraging” people to believe. One way is to show people what hell is like and scare them enough so that they do not want to go to hell. The other way is the approach that we have in the book of Revelation, that is, to show people what heaven is like and to encourage them to understand that this is where they want to go. So how do we get there? By God’s grace through faith. Heaven is a free gift. Heaven is not earned or deserved. To try to earn or deserve heaven takes it away as a gift and then it is lost. Heaven is a free gift, given to us by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. Faith is also a gift, given to us by the Holy Spirit through the means of grace. Faith is also an instrument. Faith is the instrument which reaches out and takes hold of all the gifts God has to give, the gifts earned for us by Jesus death and resurrection. What part do we play? We are the one’s who are given to. God gives and we are given to. Now, as we see the wonders of heaven, we know that this is the place where we want to go and we want to go soon, so we pray, “come Lord Jesus, come quickly.” To God be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.