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God's Last Invitation, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 29, 2021 3:00 am

God's Last Invitation, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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December 29, 2021 3:00 am

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The whole book of Revelation, of course, is the prophecy of the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is the final statement on the unveiling of the glory of the Son of God when He returns and every knee bows and every tongue confesses that He is Lord. And this book ends with a final invitation in the light of that reality. Have you ever considered what you want your last words to be? Maybe you'd hope to express thanks to God for your life and to exhort family members to follow Christ. A person's last words carry a lot of weight, and the same is true of our Savior's last words in Scripture. The message He gave could not be more important. Those words are John MacArthur's focus today on grace to you. So stay here for his study from Revelation chapter 22 titled, Final Call.

And now with the lesson, here's John. Well, let's open our Bibles to the final chapter of the Bible, the 22nd chapter of Revelation. Revelation chapter 22, God's last invitation. The Bible opened with a promise, the promise of a coming Savior, the promise of a coming Deliverer who would rescue people from their sin. That promise came in the third chapter of Genesis and the fifteenth verse.

He shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise Him on the heel. That is a promise of a Deliverer. That is the promise of a Savior, one who would come and rescue men by destroying the enemy Satan himself. The Bible then begins with the promise of a Savior, and that is how it ends. Verse 20 of this last chapter, Yes, I am coming quickly. Only this is the promise of His second coming, whereas Genesis 3 was the promise of His first coming.

W.A. Criswell wrote this, First the Savior is to come that He might be crushed, bruised, crucified, and made an offering for sin. He is to come to die as the Redeemer for the souls of men. After God made that promise in Eden, hundreds of years passed, millenniums passed, and the Lord did not come. When finally He did arrive, He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.

The thousands of humanity had forgotten the promise, or else they scoffed at its fulfillment. When finally announcement came that He had arrived, the learned scribes pointed out the place where He was to be born, but never took the time to journey the five miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to welcome the promised Savior of the world. But however long He delayed, and however men forgot and scoffed, and however few of a faithful band waited for the consolation of Israel as old Simeon, yet He came in keeping with the holy, faithful promise of God, the Lord Jesus came. It is thus, says Criswell, in the text that God speaks in closing His Bible, surely I come quickly.

Here a second time, however infidels may scoff, however others may reject, and however the centuries may grow into the millenniums, this is the immutable word and promise of the Lord God, surely I come. And it is all throughout Scripture reiterated. In the Old Testament there are many prophecies of His first and second coming. In the New Testament, many prophecies of His second coming.

In Jude 14, for example, it says, Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way. He is coming not as a Savior, but next time as a judge. And thus you have at the end of the book of Revelation not so much a promise as a warning.

We have been looking at this tremendous closing invitation. The whole book of Revelation, of course, is the prophecy of the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is the apocalypsis. It is the apocalypse, the revealing, the manifestation of Jesus Christ. It is the final statement on the unveiling of the glory of the Son of God when He returns and every knee bows and every tongue confesses that He is Lord. And this book, which is all about His second coming, ends with a final invitation in the light of that reality. As the Revelation reaches its end and the certainty of Christ's return is now clear, the Holy Spirit calls for a response. First of all, in verses 6 through 12, a response from Christians, the response of immediate obedience, immediate worship, immediate proclamation and immediate service. But secondly, beginning in verse 13 and down to the end, a response from non-Christians.

God's final plea is given to those who are still rejecting. This final section we can divide into simply two points, the invitation and the incentives to respond. The invitation comes in verse 17. The invitation comes right in the middle of this passage from verse 13 to 21, surrounded by the incentives.

But we have to start with the invitation. Verse 17, and the Spirit and the bride say, come, and let the one who hears say, come, and let the one who is thirsty come, let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. We suggest to you there are two parts to this verse. The first half is the plea for the Lord to come. The second half is the plea for sinners to come to the Lord and join the plea for Him to come.

First of all, in verse 17, the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and then the bride, which is the church, they desire the Lord to come because they want to see the end of sin. They want to see the exaltation of righteousness. They want to see the glory of the kingdom. They want to see the majesty of Jesus Christ.

They want to see the enemy Satan destroyed, sin dealt with, and the eternal glory of God manifest throughout the universe. So the Holy Spirit and the church are crying, come. The striving, convicting, grieved, quenched, and blasphemed Holy Spirit says, come. And the struggling, burdened, troubled, sinful, weak church says, come. The Holy Spirit wants Christ to come because He wants the work of redemption completed, the enemies of hell banished. The church wants to be a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing but holy and without blemish. And so the Spirit and the bride say to Christ, come, come, come.

And then the verse shifts in the middle. And others are invited to say, come. Anybody who hears the message of the gospel and joins the church and joins the Spirit can say, come, Lord Jesus. And then comes the call to sinners, let the one who is thirsty come, let the one who wishes to take the water of life without cost. There is the call for sinners to come to recognize their need, to see the source of help for that need in Jesus Christ, and to take of the water of life without cost. Salvation comes to those who recognize their desperate threatening condition in sin, which is here pictured as thirst. Salvation comes to those who understand the provision God has made in Christ, who see Him as the living water, and who repent and believe, taking and drinking what is provided for them. So there is the invitation to sinners. Come, come, come. Join the Spirit and join the bride eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus Christ. You don't need to look at the return of Christ as a frightening reality.

If you'll come to Christ, you can love His appearing. You can anticipate it. So first of all, we looked in at the invitation. Secondly, and what occupies the surrounding text is the incentives to respond. There is the invitation to come and the incentives to come.

And there are a number of incentives. We began to look at them last time, and let me remind you of the first one. We are to come, sinners are to come because of Christ's person, because of Christ's person. Remember verse 13, He said, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. And down in verse 16, He says, I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star. What is the significance of that?

It is this. It is not just anyone who is calling the sinners to come. It is none other than the Alpha, the Omega, the first, the last, the beginning, the end, the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star. And those are all titles for Christ, Jesus, the Son of God, the living Lord, the eternal, infinite, transcendent One. He is the source and end of all. He is the goal and consummation of all. He is the root of David. That is, He is the source of David. That is to say, He is deity. He is God. He is also the offspring of David. That is to say, He is a child of the line of David that speaks of His humanity. He is the God-man. And then He is called the bright morning star. I told you the Jews use the term star to describe a hero.

He is the hero of heroes, the brightest star, the morning star that shines brightly to shatter the darkness just before the herald of the dawn. It's not just anybody who is inviting the sinner to come. It is the majestic living Lord of heaven. The preacher is not the inviter, he is. He is the one who has sent the invitation.

We just deliver it. Oh, what a majestic one calls you to eternal life, calls me to eternal life, calls every sinner to eternal life. To turn down the invitation is to spurn the supreme being in the universe and such an affront to Him comes with an immense cost. Secondly, the incentive to come is because of Christ's person and secondly, because of heaven's exclusivity, because of heaven's exclusivity.

There's another compelling reason to come to Christ, another compelling reason to believe in the One who died and rose again to repent of your sin and embrace Him as Savior and Lord, and that is because of what verse 14 and 15 says. "'Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices lying.'" What that tells us is about the exclusivity of heaven. It is not a place for everyone.

Everyone doesn't go there. There are some people in verse 14 who are inside participating in the tree of life. There are others who are outside, shut out, according to verse 15.

It is likely that in verses 14 and 15, Jesus is still speaking and if I had been the editor on a red-letter Bible, I would have made sure that all the words from verse 12 clear through verse 16 were in red, because I think there's no reason to assume our Lord is not continuing to speak right here. Look again at verse 14. "'Blessed are those who wash their robes.'" This refers to the idea of removing sin by purging, by cleansing, such as we saw in Psalm 51 verse 7, Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18 and other places in Scripture. And we noted that the only agency by which such clenching can be accomplished is by the blood of Jesus Christ. First Peter 1, very, very familiar and very important Scripture says, "'You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life, inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless.'" The blood of Christ. It is the blood of Jesus Christ. It is the death of Christ as atoning work that alone can wash away our sins.

This is again repeated in the book of Hebrews, in fact many times. I think of just one verse, Hebrews 9, 14, how that the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God cleanses us from dead works to serve the living God. It is only those then who have been washed, it is only those who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ who have the right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city. Only the cleansed have the right to enter.

Only the cleansed have the right to eat. The new Jerusalem and as well the new heaven and the new earth is only for those who are cleansed of sin. So forgiveness is the requirement for anyone who would enter into heaven. That's why the gospel promise includes forgiveness.

Listen to it in the words of Paul. It says in Ephesians 1, 7, in Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses. If our sins are not washed away, cleansed away, absolutely and totally forgiven, we cannot enter into heaven. And the world is full of people who assume they're going to get to heaven apart from that, but they're not. One sin shuts you out.

This is a compelling exclusivity. The only way to heaven is to have your sins forgiven by faith in Jesus Christ and in His death and resurrection. That is the only way. Then verse 15 on the other hand says, outside, outside the new Jerusalem, the new heaven and the new earth are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices lying outside. Look at chapter 21 verse 27, the last verse of that chapter. You remember that chapter described for us the new Jerusalem, describes for us the eternal heaven, the new heaven and the new earth. And in verse 27 it says, nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Heaven is exclusively for those who have been cleansed, those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Now where are these people that are outside? Verse 15 of chapter 20 tells you, if anyone's name was not found written in the Book of Life, here's where he was. He was thrown into the lake of fire. Heaven is exclusively for those who are forgiven. And it is abundantly clear from verse 15 of chapter 22 that if there's any sin to be held against your count, you're going to end up in the lake of fire. Verse 15 gives you a list of sins, a list of descriptive sins. Mark this, it is not exhaustive. Somebody might read it and say, well, let's see, I'm not a dog, a sorcerer, an immoral person, a murderer, an idolater or one who loves and practices lying. I'm just a thief, so I'm not included.

That's not the idea. These are not exhaustive, but these are representative. Over in chapter 21 verse 8, the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death. So again we know that being outside means to be in the lake of fire. And the list there is a little bit different indicating to us that this is a representative list and not an exhaustive one.

These are people who will still bear their sins and the punishment for them. Now I want you to look at this list because while it is very apparent what he's talking about in most cases, there is at least one word here that might baffle you a little bit and that is the first one. Outside are the dogs. We have domesticated the dog pretty much in our culture, so we might not understand that. In fact, you might have a little dog that is more friendly to you than other members of your family.

That seems to be true in some cases. You may look at your dog almost as if your dog had a personality and something more than just instinctive behavior. You might cherish your little dog, taking very fine care of it. That was not how dogs were treated in the ancient world. They were often called kers.

They were scrounges. They milled around the garbage of the city and they were despicable creatures for the most part. And calling someone a dog was referring to the person of the most low character. Dogs were not particular about what they did in view of everyone.

They had no desire to hide the less desirable functions and you well know that. Dogs will leave their mark anywhere and everywhere. And they were synonymous with the lowest, the scum. Such indications are found even in the Old Testament as well as in the New.

For example, and I won't read a lot of them, but just a couple to give you the idea. Second Kings chapter 8 and verse 13, then Hazeel said, But what is your servant who is but a dog that he should do this great thing? To call someone a dog was the lowest. In fact, the Jews would call the Gentiles dogs and that was an epithet that infuriated them and demeaned them.

In Isaiah 56, 10, talking about unfaithful men who were supposed to be in spiritual leadership, it says to them, All of them are dumb dogs unable to bark. It is used as well in the New Testament with similar kinds of significance. It is used, I guess we could say, and I was looking for some words to describe it as simply as I could, it is used to describe the impudently impure. It is used to describe those who were blatantly impure. Now, this may really surprise you. The first reference where dogs are used to describe humans because of their impudently impure behavior is Deuteronomy 23.18.

You can write it down if you want to look it up. Deuteronomy 23.18, and it refers to homosexual prostitutes, male prostitutes for homosexuals. They were the lowest of the low, the lowest of the low. They're going to be outside the kingdom. And so are sorcerers. That refers to people engaged in magic, drugs, pharmakeia is the word from which we get pharmacy.

Magic was associated with drugs supposedly to induce some euphoria and some assent to the deities. It engaged them also in demon activity. Outside are immoral persons, pornos from which we get pornography, those who commit immoral sexual acts. Outside are murderers.

That's pretty clear. Outside are idolaters, those who worship other than the true God. Outside is everyone who loves and practices lying. And here we have then another representative list like the one I mentioned earlier in chapter 21 and verse 8, a representative list very much like 1 Corinthians chapter 6. The New Testament is full of these, neither fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, swindlers shall inherit the kingdom of God.

That's 1 Corinthians 6. Galatians chapter 5 has another such list. It talks about those people who will be outside the kingdom, immoral, impure, sensual. It talks about their sin of idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these.

You have a similar list in Ephesians 5, 5. Now the point that I want to make out of verses 14 and 15 is simply this. Here are the invitation, my friend, because heaven is exclusively for people whose sins have been cleansed.

It isn't that none of us have ever done those things. It is that we have been forgiven. Who doesn't want to be forgiven?

The one who cherishes that sin. That if it is unforgiven, if you do not come to the foot of the cross and embrace Jesus Christ, you will die in your sin, Jesus said in John 7. And where I go, you cannot come. You will not go to heaven. You will burn forever in the lake of fire. And so the invitation is let the one who is thirsty come and let him take the water of life without cost.

There's no charge. Just come and drink. Receive eternal life. Receive forgiveness. And you should be compelled to do that because of the person who asked you and because of the exclusivity of heaven. You will be left out if you are not forgiven, and you will not be forgiven unless you come to Christ who alone grants forgiveness. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for tuning in today. John has titled his current study Final Call. It's a look at Christ's last words in Scripture and an urgent warning to every generation. John, the profound warning of God's judgment that we are seeing in this study. While it's been an important subject to consider in every generation, I think you recently have said that this issue of coming judgment is something that God's people especially need to be focusing on in an even more concerted way nowadays.

Maybe you could talk about that for a minute. Really in my mind, it is true to say that this society in which we live is under judgment. Western society is under judgment. America is under judgment.

How do I know that? Because the first chapter of Romans lays out the fact that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness. So when you have a culture that has the truth and possesses the truth and rejects the truth and becomes unrighteous, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against that always. Isaiah goes beyond that. And Isaiah says, I will give you weak, incompetent rulers. And I think we're experiencing that pretty clearly now.

Hosea put it this way. When God judges a nation, he gives them rulers in his anger. So the very fact that we have the kind of rulers we have now is another symptom of judgment. Clearly all these indications are that God is judging a nation who has had the truth and has held the truth but rejected it and living in unrighteousness has been turned over to the consequence of its own sin. That should mean that churches now step up to declare judgment.

I'm always reminded of the words of Paul, Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. We ought to be shouting from the housetops that judgment is coming. We ought to be like Isaiah.

We ought to be like Jeremiah. We ought to be declaring judgment has arrived. Judgment has arrived.

Repent, repent, repent. But that's not happening in this pragmatic kind of evangelicalism. They're still wanting to say what unbelievers want to hear, to make a church into what unbelievers want, and there's no sense in which they take the responsibility, as Paul put it, for judgment to begin at the house of God. And that doesn't mean merely that judgment starts there in the fact that God purges his church, but that judgment comes from there. I think the church is the voice of God for judgment in the world.

We have failed to pronounce that judgment, and that's a dire, dire act of unfaithfulness. We need to warn people, and it is true that we're closer to the return of Christ, as we've been saying, than we've ever been, and all the indications are that he could come any moment and then all heaven breaks loose and then all hell breaks loose in the final judgment. So the church needs to be the voice of God, which is the voice of judgment and warning of what is to come. And friend, to be a voice of warning means being saturated with God's Word. Along that line, the MacArthur Daily Bible is a great tool to keep you on track with a daily intake of biblical truth. This resource will take you through all of Scripture in 2022.

It explains difficult passages, and it will help you apply biblical truth to your life. To place your order, contact us today. You can get the MacArthur Daily Bible for a reasonable price, and shipping is free. Our staff are currently enjoying time off with friends and family, but you can place your order by visiting gty.org.

That's our web address one more time, gty.org. And while you're at the website, gty.org, make sure you tap into the thousands of Bible-related resources that are available free of charge. You can read the Grace To You blog and find out what John and the staff say about topics like spiritual growth, evangelism, and much more. You can also catch episodes of this broadcast that you may have missed or download any of John's 3,500 sermons free in MP3 or transcript format. John has a lesson covering every verse in the New Testament and many in the Old. Our web address one more time, gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to take some time with your family and watch Grace To You television. It airs Sundays on DirecTV channel 378, or check your local listings for Channel and Times. And be here tomorrow when John continues his look at God's final call to the world with another half hour of unleashing God's grace truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-03 19:58:44 / 2023-07-03 20:08:50 / 10

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