Elon, North Carolina
We have gone through the whole Book of Revelation chapter by chapter. Today, we come to the final message on the book, as we look at the last chapter.
Revelation is one of the most important books of the Bible. It is also one of the most neglected books of the Bible. Many never preach from this book.
It the only book of the Bible that promises a special blessing. I trust, as you have been with me through this study, that you have received a blessing.
Revelation 22 brings us, not just to the end of the Book of Revelation. It brings us to the end of the Bible. If you don’t know where it is, go to the last book of the Bible and turn to the last page.
Today, we are going to look at the last words of this incredible revelation.
Last words are always important. How well do you know Bible trivia? I want to test your knowledge. What were the last words before Jesus died? His last words were a prayer.
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46 NIV)
What were the last words before Jesus ascended into heaven? His last words were a prediction.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. (Acts 1:8-9 NIV).
Today, we see what are the last words of Jesus in the Bible. They are found in the Book of Revelation. His last words are “I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:20 NIV). Adrian Rogers calls that “the Bible’s last prophecy.”
Revelation 22 gives us the last words of the Word of God. They give us the final words of God to man.
The last two weeks we have been looking at heaven. We talked about what heaven will be like, but John does not end his book describing the glories of heaven.
He could have done that, but he didn’t. The last part of the Book of Revelation is application.
We have seen some incredible prophecies and visions found in this book. We have seen visions of angels and demons.
We have seen visions of Satan, the great red dragon with the long tail, who tried to eat a pregnant woman’s baby and then went after her other children.
We have seen monstrous politicians on earth who persecute and slaughter believers on the earth.
We have seen terrifying visions of judgment falling on the earth and all kinds of different plagues on the land, on the sea, in the sky and on people themselves.
We have seen Jesus returning triumphantly as King of kings and Lord of lords with the armies of heaven. We have seen Him ruling on the earth for a thousand years with his saints.
We have seen a final rebellion and fire falling from heaven. We have seen a terrifying scene of the Great White Throne Judgment, as God sits on his throne, opens the books and decides the eternal destiny of sinful people.
We have seen the earth passing away and a new heaven and earth created. We discussed what life will be like in heaven with God for all eternity. Now, it is time for some applications.
How should we respond in light of the truths of this book? How should it change our lives? What impact should this book have on us personally?
How should believers respond to this revelation? How should unbelievers respond to it? That is all addressed in Revelation 22. Today, I want to look at five final applications, as we conclude our study of this book.
Five Final Applications
1) BELIEVE these prophetic words, because they are absolutely trustworthy.
The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” (Revelation 22:6 NIV)
Jesus is called “faithful and true” (Revelation 19:11 KJV). This book is also called “faithful and true” (Revelation 22:6). What is true of the Living Word is also true of the Written Word. It is the same words in Greek.
We are told that this book is “trustworthy and true” (NIV) and we are told that from an angel. What it says is true. You can believe it.
Everything in the book is true. It is going to happen. Some things are described symbolically but they are all going to take place. What is true of the Book of Revelation is true of the rest of the Bible. It will all be fulfilled.
When it says that Jesus is coming back soon and it says it three times in this chapter, it means He is coming back soon.
You say, “It has been two thousand years. That does not seem soon.” God’s timetable is different from ours (cf. II Peter 3:8-10) but it will happen.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but MY WORDS will never pass away. (Matthew 24:35 NIV) and these are His words. Behold I am coming soon (Revelation 22:7, 12).
2) RESPECT these prophetic words, because they are inspired by God.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. (Revelation 22:18-19 NIV)
This book ends with a serious warning. The Bible contains many warnings. The one in Revelation 22 is the last warning found in Scripture. It is one of the strongest warnings found in Scripture. It is a warning against doing two things.
It is a warning against ADDING WORDS to the book (Revelation 22:18). It is a warning against TAKING AWAY WORDS from the book (Revelation 22:19). It is a double warning. Some might be tempted to add words. Some might be tempted to take away words.
It is specifically talking about the Book of Revelation (the words of the prophecy of THIS BOOK) but the same principle applies to every book of Scripture. It is interesting that the Bible begins and ends with this topic.
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must NOT eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it YOU WILL CERTAINLY DIE.” (Gene3sis 2:16-17 NIV)
You will NOT CERTAINLY DIE,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5 NIV)
Satan contradicted what God says. God said, “you will certainly die.” Satan said, “You will not certainly die.” So, let’s talk about these two sins today.
First, there is the sin of ADDING to Scripture. This is still happening today. Some add tradition and say it is just as important as Scripture. The Bible is not enough.
Genesis describes a marriage between a man and a woman. That is really clear. Some want to add the marriage of a man and a man or a woman and a woman.
Genesis says that God created everyone male and female. Today, we are told that there are many more genders. There is a joke that says, “God created man and woman. Democrats created all of the other genders.”
The Bible says that if you believe in Jesus, you have eternal life. Many will add, if you believe in Buddha or Muhammad, you will also be saved.
Some don’t just add doctrines but whole books of the Bible. Mormons add Another Testament of Jesus Christ (the Book of Mormon) or The Pearl of Great Price. That is what cultists do. They add false scriptures to true scriptures.
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar (Proverbs 30:5-6 NIV).
Second, there is also the sin of TAKING AWAY from Scripture. That is what Satan did in Genesis 3. He said to Eve, “I know God said you would die if you eat from the fruit of the tree but don’t believe Him. It is not true.”
Liberals take away from what God says all of the time. They say that the Bible is unscientific. One preacher said that pencils come with erasers, but the Bible does not come with an eraser.
We can’t erase the parts of it that we don’t like or that offend us. All of it is inspired by God. We can’t edit out certain things or try to modernize the Bible. That is what some denominations have done (Methodist Church)
By the way, this verse is proof that the Bible is inerrant. If there are errors in it, you could take them out, but nothing is to be taken out or removed from the Word of God.
Here is the shocker. Did you know that how you treat the Bible determines your eternal destiny? How you treat God’s Word affects where you will spend eternity. We we will see this in Revelation 22. What should our attitude to Scripture be?
“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who TREMBLE at my word. (Isaiah 66:2 NIV)
There are many different attitudes toward the Bible. Some love it. Some hate it. Some are apathetic. Some mock it but very few actually fear it.
Who does that these days? I don’t see people in church doing this. When was the last time that you trembled at God’s Word? That is the type of person that God favors and blesses.
There is a good example in Scripture of mistreated God’s Word. He was an OT king. His name was Jehoiakim. You can read about what he did in Jeremiah 36. It is a fascinating story.
The word of the Lord came to the Prophet Jeremiah and God commanded him to write it down, so Jeremiah dictated it to a scribe named Baruch. What did it say? The country is sinful. God is angry. Judgment is coming. The nation needs to repent.
Someone took it to the king. The king had someone read it to him. After he heard it, he was angry. He cut it up with a knife and threw it into a fire. His advisors told him not to burn it, but he did it anyway.
That is what we are told not to do in our passage in Revelation 22. Notice what the punishment is. The punishment fits the crime.
If anyone ADDS anything to the Revelation, God will ADD to that person the plagues described in this book. If anyone TAKES AWAY from this book, God will TAKE AWAY some things from him.
You will suffer in this life (plagues) and in the next life. You will miss out on future blessings (tree of life and the holy city). God warned that bad things would happen to Jehoiakim because of what he did.
He said, “his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night” (Jeremiah 36:30).
What Jehoiakim did to the Scriptures was done to him. He cut the Scriptures up and he was cut up by a sword and died.
He threw the Scriptures away. His body was thrown away. It was thrown over the city wall and he was not buried.
Is this sin unforgivable? No. Any sin can be forgiven through repentance. We saw that last week. Murderers, idolaters, sexually immoral, and liars are excluded from heaven but this is talking about an unrepentant lifestyle.
King David was both a murderer and immoral and he will be in heaven. Abraham was a liar and yet he will be in heaven. John worships an angel. He was an idolater and yet he will be in heaven
Can Salvation be Lost?
Revelation 22:18-19 raises an important question. Can Christians can lose their salvation? Arminians believe that you can lose your salvation. This is one of their proof texts. They would point out several things from this passage.
One, the book is addressed to Christians. It was not written to non-Christians. It was written to the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 1:4).
Two, it is a warning of loss of salvation. It mentions losing their share in the tree of life and the holy city (Revelation 22:19 NIV). You can’t take away something that you never had to begin with.
The first point is correct. The book was written to Christians, but the warning is to EVERYONE who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll (Revelation 22:18 NIV).
Believers are not the only ones who hear and read the book. Both Christians and non-Christians read the Book of Revelation.
The second point is misleading. It is NOT necessarily talking about losing salvation but not making it to heaven (missing out on the blessings of heaven).
And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any SHARE in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll (Revelation 22:19 NIV).
Everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of the book would not have an actual share. Only believers would have that. This is talking about potential share, not actual share.
Unbelievers do not have an actual share in these blessings. They were never saved in the first place. Their part or share is in Hell.
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have THEIR PART in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8 NKJV)
A better question is this: Would a true believer commit this sin? Let’s compare this to another warning in Revelation.
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27 NIV).
Notice the contrast. There are the impure, the shameful and the deceitful. That is one group. That group will not enter the New Jerusalem. Then, there are those who are written in the Book of Life. They will enter the city.
What does this tell us? Those written in the Book of Life are not impure, shameful or deceitful. They are not sinless, but their life is not characterized by these activities.
Genuine born-again, Spirit-filled believers are also not characterized by tampering with the Word of God. They do not add or subtract from the Bible.
3) OBEY these prophetic words, because they guarantee a blessing.
Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll. (Revelation 22:7 NIV)
There is a special blessing promised to everyone who keeps the words of this book. What does it mean to be blessed? It doesn’t mean you will be healthy and wealthy, as some preachers say. It doesn’t always mean that good things will happen to you.
Some of these Christians were martyred. Jesus told some of them, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer… Be faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10 NIV). You can have bad things happen to you and still be blessed.
A special blessing is promised here but notice who gets the blessing. It is NOT a blessing just to everyone who reads the words of the book.
It is NOT a blessing just to everyone who hears the words of the book. It is a blessing to everyone who KEEPS the words of the book. We are told that twice (Revelation 1:3; 22:7).
Do you want to be blessed? Keep the words of this book. What does that mean? How do you do that?
To keep it means to follow it. It means to obey it. It means to do what it says. Apparently, Revelation is NOT a book that just gives us knowledge about future events.
Many look at Revelation that way. The only thing they get out of the book is information and ammunition to use against other Christians who have a different viewpoint on bible prophecy. Many just use it to debate other Christians. That is a misuse of the book.
There are commands in this book. There are some things we need to keep. What are they? I have never heard any preacher mention any. Let’s look at three of them. Three that stand out to me, although there are more.
One way to keep the words of this book is to REPENT. Believers who live in sin are COMMANDED to repent. Are you living in sin? Do you have unconfessed sin in your life? Then, this book is for you.
Jesus wrote letters to seven churches in John’s day. He told five out of seven churches to repent. He was not talking to pagans. He was talking to Christians.
Five out of seven is a high number. That is like telling 71% of American churches today that they are out of the will of God and need to repent? That would not go over too well.
Consider how far you have fallen! REPENT and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:5 NIV)
REPENT therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Revelation 2:16 NIV)
1 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they REPENT of her ways. (Revelation 2:21-23 NIV)
Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and REPENT. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Revelation 3:3 NIV)
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent (Revelation 3:19 NIV)
A second way to keep the words of this book is to PERSEVERE in the faith. There is a lot in the book about perseverance. Christians are defined by faithfulness. They are faithful to Jesus until the end.
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and REMAIN FAITHFUL TO JESUS. (Revelation 14:12 NIV). Enduring patiently is a command.
Jesus said, “Since you have kept my COMMAND to ENDURE PATIENTLY, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 3:10 NIV).
Jesus said, “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; HOLD IT FAST.” (Revelation 3:3 NIV). He said, “Hold On to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Revelation 3:11 NIV). He said, “HOLD FAST to what you have UNTIL I COME” (Revelation 2:25 NIV).
He said,” To the one who is victorious and does my will TO THE END, I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:26 NIV). Christians are defined in Revelation as those “who keep God’s commands and HOLD FAST their testimony about Jesus” (Revelation 12:17 NIV).
One of the big things to keep in the book is NOT denying Jesus’ name. Jesus said, “you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8 NIV).
A third way to keep the words of this book is to LISTEN to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Jesus says this seven times (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). Jesus also said it during his earthly ministry (Matthew 11:15; 13:9; 13:43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8; 14:45). Jesus said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” three times in Matthew, two times in Mark and two times in Luke.
It is the most repeated exhortation of Jesus in the Bible, and it is something that we desperately need to hear today in the church. We need to listen to what the Spirit says to us.
The Holy Spirit still speaks today. He did not just speak to people in Bible times. He speaks to people today. He has something to say. Are you listening?
Sadly, many Christians are not. Many churches are not. They are not open to hear what the Spirit is saying today. Instead, they follow what their denomination or church tradition says.
4) SHARE these prophetic words, because the events will take place soon.
Then he told me, “Do NOT seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near” (Revelation 22:10 NIV).
What does this mean? What does it mean not to seal up the book? Don’t seal up the book means to make it known. It means to reveal it. It means to proclaim it and not hide it.
It means to tell people about it, because the time is near. It means to share it. There are many churches today which do not even preach through the Book of Revelation. It is not shared. It is not studied.
Many act like the Book of Revelation is completely sealed. No one can understand it. No one can understand what the 666 means, so there is no use trying but John is told the book is not sealed and not to be sealed.
5) PREPARE for these prophetic events, because Jesus is coming back.
Jesus is coming back. He says that three times in this chapter. He says, “I am coming soon!” three times (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20 NIV). Jesus is coming back. How do you prepare for His return?
One way to prepare for these events is to get saved. There will be a final judgment. It is called the Great White Throne Judgment. If you are not in the Book of Life, you will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15)
There are two destinies. We will either end up in heaven or we will end up in hell. We will either end up in the New Jerusalem or we will end up in the Lake of Fire. People that end up there will be THE GREATEST LOSERS.
The time to get saved is now. Sinners need to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14 NIV)
When Jesus comes back, it will be too late and He is coming back soon.
Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy. (Revelation 22:11 NIV)
That is one of the strangest verses in the Bible. What does it mean? The end of the verse makes sense (let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy).
What does the first part mean? Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong. Why would God tell the wicked to keep being wicked? Why would He tell them to keep being evil?
When Jesus returns, whatever condition you are in, you will be in for all eternity. Your state will be irreversible. Change will be impossible. Repentance will be impossible. Your spiritual state will be fixed for all eternity. That is why you need to get saved now.
Change is possible now. Repentance is possible now. Salvation is possible now. In fact, The Book of Revelation ends with a gospel call. It is a final altar call.
John writes the Book of Revelation. Before he writes the last few verses, God says, “Wait a minute John. Don’t close the book yet. Don’t write the last ‘Amen’ until I give one more urgent invitation to sinners.” Revelation 22 gives us the last invitation to lost sinners in the Bible.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life (Revelation 22:17 NIV)
Who is invited to come? Thirsty sinners. The one who is thirsty can come and “whosoever will” (KJV) can come. This is a good verse on free will. Anyone who wants to can come.
There is no restriction. It does not matter how sinful you are. It doesn’t matter what kind of past you have had. It doesn’t matter what you have done.
Here is the shock. It is free. All you have to do is to take it. You don’t do anything to earn it. Let the one who wishes take the FREE GIFT of the water of life.
Another way to prepare for these events is to get to work. Be faithful to Christ. Not too many Christians today are faithful. Jesus is coming back. Are you ready to meet Him? Are you living for Him?
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. (Revelation 22:12 NIV). He is coming back with rewards. Will you be getting one?
Do you need to get right with Him? Do you have any sins to confess? Christians are not sinless. None of us are perfect. Even the Apostle John wasn’t perfect.
Let’s think about this. John was not only a Christian. He was a mature Christian. He had been a Christian for sixty years. He was in his nineties when he wrote Revelation.
He was not just a Christian; he was a first-century Christian. He saw the teaching and miracles of Jesus firsthand. He was an eyewitness of Christ.
He said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (I John 1:1 NIV)
John was not just a first century Christian; he was an actual apostle. He was one of the Twelve. In fact, he was not just one of the Twelve, he was part of the inner circle. He got to see some things that the other apostles did not.
In fact, he was not just an apostle; he was given an incredible revelation that no one else was given. He was raptured (taken up) into the very throne room of God.
He saw the future. He did not just predict what would happen. He saw it. He had visions of the future and yet even this mature seasoned apostle was not perfect.
In fact, John did not just fall into little sins. He fell into big sins. He fell into idolatry. That was a sin punishable by death in the Law of Moses.
8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me.
9 But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” (Revelation 22:8-9 NIV)
Now, it is very easy for us to criticize John here. Why is falling down before an angel but some of us might have done the same thing. How would we respond if some bright shiny angel appeared to us?
We might not be tempted to commit idolatry, but we might be tempted to do something else. Is God the center of our life or is something else the center and primary focus?
Notice how the book ends. It ends with a prayer and with a benediction. It ends with grace.
The OT ends with a curse. It ends with the words “lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6 NKJV). The NT ends with grace.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)
 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews X.6.3
 W. Herschel Ford, Simple Sermons on Conversion and Commitment, p. 50.