“‘Surely, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” -Revelation 22:20
I frequently begin a new non-fiction book by first reading the last few paragraphs. Of course, I would never do that with a fictional novel; it might ruin the story! Reading the last few paragraphs of a non-fiction work tells you a lot about the author and the final summary of the premise for his book. A good beginning needs a good ending. Final words say a great deal, and Revelation 22 of the Bible is no exception. Jesus’ final words in the closing of God’s Word, the canon of Scripture concluding with the book of Revelation, are vital words for your consumption.
Whether the Book of Revelation is the actual final written words of the canon of Scripture is not absolutely certain. The Gospel of John, with its unique material “added” according to the influence of its post-Patmos inspiration, as well as the Epistles of John could be the final words written by the last living apostle; but Revelation is clearly the proper concluding bookend of the whole Bible along with its beginning, Genesis, as determined by the church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
How better to reveal and inspire a “last will and testament” to His beloved than to describe what is gloriously ahead for His bride along with Jesus’ final promise, “Behold, I am coming soon!”? In the last few paragraphs of the entire 66 books, Jesus provides a personal warning attached to a promise: “Wash your robes,” He says, for “I will soon return!” (Revelation 22:14 and 20).
Jesus also emphatically warns that no one should add or take away from the words of this book – a warning we find repeated twice in Deuteronomy. Finally, He commands that readers and hearers of the Bible strive with everything in them to “keep His words.”
But how can you yourself know if anything is added or subtracted unless you are well aware of what is in it? What does this require? A knowledgeable, studious awareness of the whole! You must be a reader and hearer of the whole Bible on a fairly consistent basis.
For you see, from observation of the Church’s history, additions or subtractions always lead to devastating heresies. Heresy leads to death and destruction. It also leads to guiding “little ones” astray with the resulting declared judgment of Jesus of hanging a millstone around the necks of those who do and being thrown into the depth of the sea.
“Little ones” are not just youth or children; they are immature Christians, seekers of every age, those who are but “infants” in the Word, unable to discern heresy and its consequences. There are many “little ones” who too often have a naive ignorance of Scripture. This is no trivial matter, but one of life and death, not to be merely shrugged off. Persevere to know the Word!
Jesus tells you personally in His letter to Laodicea, “If anyone hears My voice,” that is, you must be reading and hearing Him, “and opens the door,” that is, opens a conversation with Him, seeking His heart and mind in fellowship, He then promises, “I will come into him and eat with him and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
Remember the meal that a risen Jesus enjoyed with two disciples He met on the Emmaus road (Luke 24). Remember the breakfast He had on the beach of the Sea of Tiberius with a number of His disciples (John 21). This is not impossible for Him to do with you as well. He said, after all, “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Hebrews 13). This is obeying a relevant everyday command: initiating and maintaining intimate fellowship with Jesus in His Word.
This is the only way to maintain your love for Jesus, abiding with Him in His Word. Jesus warned perhaps the healthiest church among the seven, Ephesus, of losing their first and most devoted love for Him (Revelation 2). He says essentially, “Return to me! Capture again the passion of your first love. Love me completely with everything in you; in turn you will be blessed beyond measure.”
“O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee; I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.”
(First verse of George Matheson’s hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go,” 1882)
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