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God's Last Invitation, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 26, 2023 3:00 am

God's Last Invitation, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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But in verses 13 to 21, you have the Lord's final call. You have the pleading, urging invitation, begging people to come to Jesus Christ and receive the gift of eternal life before it is forever too late. This is God's final plea.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Well, here we are, the last week of 2023, and so perhaps it's only appropriate that today we would consider the last words of Christ recorded in Scripture. It's a compelling study from Revelation titled, Final Call, God's Last Invitation, and we'll get to the lesson in just a minute. But first, John, with Christmas now behind us, we have reached that time of year that arguably has a building sense of anticipation for a lot of people, a feeling that we're getting closer to some big or dramatic event as we step into the new year. And of course, that could be more true than most people actually realize. Yeah, I was asked a question by someone yesterday, and the question—and I get asked this quite a bit—was, do you think Christ is coming soon?

Well, he's always been coming soon in God's timeless world, because the day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. But then the question was posed to me. This was from a lady who's 106 years old.

Wow. And we were visiting her. Patricia and I were visiting her, and she's as alert as she can be. And she says, you know, I've been here 106 years. Please tell me Jesus is coming. And I said, well, he's coming. And she said, wouldn't it be wonderful—this is really sweet—she said, wouldn't it be wonderful if while we're just sitting here, he came and took us all to glory? Well, you can understand if you're 106, you're definitely ready.

You think about that all the time. Yeah, you're ready to go. But it is true. We are drawing closer to Christ's return. She asked me if there's anything that has to happen prophetically before the rapture of the Church, and I said absolutely not.

Nothing needs to happen. It is the next event, and it could come at any time. We're going to be discussing the fact that we are drawing closer to Christ's return as a way of introducing our last study of the year. Today we're launching a short series, but one that you will find very compelling, the title Final Call, subtitled God's Last Invitation. And this is a precise title, as we'll be looking at the last nine verses of the entire Bible, Revelation 22, 13 to 21. You're going to see God's final words, his last plea to a world headed for destruction. What does God have to say to men and women who are about to step into 2024 without knowing the Lord?

People who, if they died today, would step into a terrifying eternity forever separated from God. How certain does your future look? Your response to the invitation we're about to look at makes all the difference. So this study takes us straight through to New Year's Eve. Don't miss God's final call. Your response to his invitation is a matter of life and death and eternity.

Yes, it is. Friends, stay here for each lesson in this series. As John said, it's vital that you are ready for Christ's return.

Now, to begin his study, titled Final Call, here again is John MacArthur. We turn in our Bibles to the 22nd chapter of Revelation, verses 13 and following, under the title God's Last Invitation. By the time we have reached this point, the voices from heaven have spoken, the visions are complete, the message has been delivered, the sermons have been preached, the most powerful and compelling sermons they were.

The preacher was the divine, omnipotent God of glory. We have swept through the end of the world, through this present age to the rapture of the church, then through the tribulation judgments and seals and trumpets and bowls. We have seen the day of the Lord, the return of Jesus Christ in judgment, power, and authority. We have been escorted through the visions of the millennial kingdom to the great white throne, and after that into the eternal state for the ungodly, the lake of fire, and for the godly, the new Jerusalem in the new heavens and the new earth. And at the conclusion of all of this sweeping panorama of prophecy, and in light of its absolute certainty, the book of Revelation closes with invitations.

It demands right responses. First of all, from Christians in verses 6 through 12, four things were requested in the light of the coming of Christ, immediate obedience, immediate worship, immediate proclamation, and immediate service. And now as we come to verse 13, we come to an invitation for non-Christians. Obviously since this great apocalypse was written for the church, to be given to the church, to be read in the church, to be taught to the church, these are invitations that the godly must pass on to the ungodly. But in verses 13 to 21, you have the Lord's final call. You have the pleading, urging invitation, begging people to come to Jesus Christ and receive the gift of eternal life before it is forever too late. This is God's final plea.

Follow as I read. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. 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 the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices lying. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches.

I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star. 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. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book.

If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming quickly. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.

Amen. God's final call, God's last invitation. Now there are two features to be considered as we look at this text. First there is the invitation and then there is the incentive to respond to the invitation. The invitation itself in verse 17 and then all around it the incentives to drive folks to make the right response. Now the invitation then actually comes in the middle of the passage. As you can imagine at the end of a book like this and beyond that at the end of all of the revelation of God, the 66th book, the final chapter, the final part of that chapter, you can imagine that there is a gathering together of a number of things.

And indeed that is the case. But in the middle of these final words there is a clear invitation and it is the heart of the text. We find it in verse 17. Let's go back to that verse. 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. Now the emphasis of that verse is come. We have to understand, however, that there are some distinctions to be made in this verse because the term come has two distinct meanings. The first part of the verse is a prayer.

The second part is an invitation. The first part of the verse is addressed to Christ. The second part is addressed to sinners. The two halves then do not refer to the same persons or the same coming.

And that is a distinction that you need to make very carefully. The first part is the Spirit and the bride calling for Christ to come. The second part is calling unbelievers to come to Christ.

Now look at it with that in mind. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. That's fairly clear, the Holy Spirit and the church. The church has already been identified repeatedly as the bride as far back as chapter 19 where the church was identified in verse 7 as the bride who made herself ready was clothed in fine linen, bright and clean, which is the righteous acts of the saints. So the bride is the church and the Spirit is, of course, the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.

And to whom are they saying that? Well, go back to verse 7. Blessed is He...pardon me, the first part of verse 7, Behold, I am coming quickly. Then verse 12, Behold, I am coming quickly. And then as we read a moment ago, verse 20, Yes, I am coming quickly.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. And so what we have here is the Spirit and the church answering the promise of the soon coming by saying, Come, Lord Jesus. They want the Lord to come. It is the desire of the Holy Spirit, it is the desire of the church that Jesus come. Now, first of all, why does the Holy Spirit desire Jesus to come? Why would the Holy Spirit be saying, Come, come, come? Well, the text doesn't tell us, but it doesn't take much to stretch our minds beyond this one text and understand why the Holy Spirit wants Jesus to come.

There would be both a negative and a positive reason. The negative reason would be that throughout the years of the age of grace, throughout the time up until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, men and women of the world have continued to reject Christ, ignore Christ, deny Christ. They've even mocked and blasphemed the work of the Holy Spirit whose task it is to point them to Christ. And even before that in the Old Testament, you remember that the Spirit of God was striving with men to lead them to the truth before the Flood that exhausted the patience of the Holy Spirit who will not always strive with man. And then there were the forty years of wandering in the wilderness while Scripture says Israel provoked the Spirit of God, according to Hebrews chapter 3, verses 7 and 8. And so the Spirit has labored long to bring about conviction and repentance and has been striving and fighting and agonizing over sinful men while they have been provoking Him throughout the centuries.

But nothing, I'm sure, nothing in the Old Testament era, even before the Flood, certainly after, nothing through the church age as we know it today, nothing has reached the apex of blasphemy that has been true of the time described in the great tribulation in the book of Revelation. And all along the Holy Spirit through the struggle would be wishing that Jesus would come. So when the Lord says, I come, the striving, grieved, quenched, blasphemed, agonizing Holy Spirit echoes, come. Subdue your enemies and mine, judge sinners, end this long battle to produce conviction.

But then there's a positive side as well. It is the desire, it is the work of the Spirit, as you know, to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. He shows us Christ. He points to Christ.

And obviously the last time the world saw Jesus lifted up, it was on a cross and He died in shame between two criminals, rejected, despised, mocked and murdered. And the Holy Spirit desires to see His fellow member of the Trinity exalted in beauty and splendor and power and majesty and triumph. So it's no wonder that He says, come, come and take the glory, do Your name.

This is a good indication that the purposes of God are the purposes of the Trinity of God. The Lord Jesus says, I'm coming. The Spirit says, come.

The Father has laid out the plan. What about the bride? Why does the bride...why does the church, the bride of Christ, the bridegroom say, come?

For obvious reasons. We too are weary of the battle against sin, as is the Holy Spirit. We too long for the exaltation of Jesus Christ. We who are the church, who belong to Christ, His sheep, who love Him, who long for Him to bring us to Himself, we have been waiting and praying and hoping and watching and longing for the coming of the Lord. God's people have always longed for this. They've always longed for the day when the serpent's head would be bruised, crushed and he would be destroyed. God's people ever since in the very beginning when God announced redemption that there would be someone who would come and bruise the head of the serpent, God's people have longed for that destruction to come so that righteousness could prevail and sin be destroyed. So here you have then the Holy Spirit and the church, the people of God, the bride in harmony together longing for the return of Jesus Christ.

They too want no more sorrow, no more tears, no more crying, no more pain, no more death, no more rebellion, all glory to God, all glory to the Lamb, a dwelling place for God's people in the Father's house, immortality, Christlikeness, the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and God dwelling among His people, the glorious new Jerusalem, eternal riches, all of that. It's no wonder that the church and the Holy Spirit long for the return of Christ. It's what Paul talks about in 2 Timothy 4.8 when he says we love His appearing.

In fact, I would suggest that it's incongruous for a person to be a Christian and to say they are a lover of Jesus and not to look and long for His return. We are destined for fellowship with Him and it should be that our anticipation of that fellowship is our chief joy. The church would never be satisfied until it is presented a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So the church and the Holy Spirit cry, come. Then the second half of the verse, 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. Now we have a change. This is an invitation not to Christ to come, but to the sinners to come to Christ.

Notice it carefully. The first one says, the first phrase says, and let the one who hears say come. To whom does this refer? It's somewhat difficult, admittedly, but the simplest and best explanation is the one who hears the message, the one who's listening and believing, the one who's hearing with understanding, the one who hears the Spirit and the bride say come, the one who hears Jesus say, I'm coming. Let that one say come. Let that one join in. Let that one chime in and say come, and he can't chime in and say come until he's come to Christ.

That's the implication. The Bible frequently pictures unbelievers who have no ears to hear. But on the other hand, there are those who do have ears to hear, and they are the ones who become redeemed. A man must desire to hear. He must want to hear the voice of God, to believe the Word of God. And when he has his ears tuned to hear the voice of God, he can hear with faith and believe.

That's what he's talking about. Let the one who is hearing with the ears of understanding and the ears of faith join in with the church and the Spirit. It's all those who are not yet saved and not yet in the church. Let them join and say come.

And they're kind of the transition group. They'll say come with the Spirit and the church, but they can't say it until they have come as those in the second half of the verse are invited to do. You can't say come until you've come. No unsaved man is going to say come, Lord Jesus, come, Lord Jesus. They're going to scoff and mock as they did in 2 Peter chapter 3. They're going to say, oh, where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. They're going to mock the return of Christ.

They're going to mock the fact that Jesus is coming. But the one who hears, who is that? Hearing is associated with obeying. Hearing is associated with obeying.

In fact, often in the New Testament, hearing is synonymous with obeying. Those who obey the gospel and come will join with the church and they will join with the Spirit in longing for the return of Jesus Christ. And if you apply that, for example, to people today, it fits. If you apply it to people during the time of the tribulation, it fits. All of those of you who are outside the church and who are outside the ministry of the Spirit of God, you come and you join and say, come.

It's kind of a play on words. Before you can say come, you have to come. And so the end of the verse, let the one who is thirsty come. The one He's talking to, the one who has ears to hear, now listen, is the one who is thirsty. Let the one who's thirsty come.

Let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. And so he turns to that reality that before you can say come, you have to come. But before you're going to come, you have to want to come. And that's all about spiritual thirst.

Here then is the invitation to sinners made clear. What does thirst indicate? It indicates a recognition of need. When you say you're thirsty, you are identifying your need. It is only when the sinner feels the dryness of his soul.

It is only when he knows his heart is parched and barren that he's interested in coming to drink. Here you have then the prerequisite of repentance, understanding one's need. And it was this that Jesus started really His ministry with. In Matthew chapter 5, very familiar words, verse 6, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. It all starts with a spiritual hunger, a spiritual thirst. In John chapter 6 and verse 35, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. And in the seventh chapter of John and verse 37, if any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.

And all that is doing is demonstrating the reality of need. You know your soul is dry, your heart is parched and barren. That's why you're listening.

That's why you're hearing. And then he adds another dimension to it in verse 17, and let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

That's ha-thelon. That translates whosoever will, whoever wants to, whoever desires to, whoever wishes to. You're thirsty and you wish to have your need met. That, by the way, is an unlimited invitation, typical of the gracious and wide offer of salvation that you see in Scripture. It is essentially what Jesus said in John 6, 37, where He said, all that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. If you're thirsty, it's because the Father has begun to move on your heart and you recognized your need. And if you come because you want to take the water, it's because you've been prompted to come and there's no way the Lord would ever turn you back. So whoever wants to come, he receives. In other terms, Matthew chapter 11 and verse 28, He said, come unto Me all you that labor under heavy laden and I'll give you rest.

He uses another metaphor to describe the same thing, not thirsty but weary, not needing water but needing rest. And all you have to do is come. If you sense the need and you're eager to come and you desire to come, then come.

It's not something that you have to find out about first, like are you qualified? Here is, by the way, human volition in salvation. I don't ever like to use the term free will because man has a will, it's just not free. But here is human volition. God saves but not apart from our desire. Salvation then is offered to those who know they are parched and barren and who desire to have that changed.

And then there's one final component. First is the recognition of need. Second is the desire to have the need met. And thirdly, He says, let the one who wishes or whosoever will take the water of life, take the water of life without cost.

That's appropriation. You recognize your need, you know where the supply is, and you take it by faith. That's what without cost means, free to you. The only prerequisite, a recognition of need and a desire and a willingness to take. Your heart is parched for forgiveness, your mind is thirsty for truth, your soul is thirsty for purpose, and the Lord Jesus waits to quench your thirst eternally, and the water that He gives you is so fulfilling that you'll never thirst again.

That's all it takes. It's without cost. As Isaiah said, come without money and without price, there's the invitation. You see your need, you see the supply, and you take it by faith and not by works.

The price has already been paid by Christ, very simple terms. And so the invitation is there in verse 17. The church, the Spirit say, come, anyone who's hearing with believing ears who has come joins in and says, come. And the invitation then is extended to everyone who is thirsty, who sees where the supply is to come and take the water of life freely. That's the invitation. Salvation is free because the price was paid. The invitation is from the Supreme One of the universe.

How can you turn it down? And heaven is exclusive. On the inside are those who've been washed.

On the outside are those who haven't. Let's bow together in prayer. Father, we acknowledge that we are not worthy to be considered as citizens of heaven because we don't deserve it.

You offer to any who will come to Christ, confess their sin, accept His sacrifice on their behalf, repent and submit all to Christ. May that be the response of many hearts. In the name of Christ, amen. It's Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary.

John has titled his current series Final Call. It's a compelling look at Christ's final call in Scripture, a call for you to repent and follow Him. Well, friend, as we head to the start of the new year and 2023 comes to a close, keep in mind that Grace to You is supported by friends like you.

About a quarter of our budget is met by gifts we receive at year's end. So if you've benefited from John's verse-by-verse teaching in 2023, consider helping us launch 2024 on strong footing. Get in touch with us today. You can mail your tax-deductible donation to Grace to You, P.O.

Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412. And by the way, to be tax-deductible for 2023, you need to make sure your gift is postmarked by December 31st. And if you're making an online donation, you need to make it before 1159 p.m. your time on December 31st. You can donate at our website, gty.org, and remember, your support helps keep faithful Bible teaching on the air in communities like yours around the world. And at gty.org, you'll also find thousands of free Bible study resources that will help you understand God's Word, and in particular, more than 3,600 sermons by John MacArthur available in MP3N transcript format. And if you're not sure where to start, you can check out GraceStream. That's a unique way to listen to John's teaching through the New Testament. It's a continuous flow of messages. We start in Matthew and go all the way through the book of Revelation in order. And then it all starts over again, and it plays continuously. So the sermon archive, GraceStream, and much more, all of this available at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Be here tomorrow when John shows you how you can help others respond to Christ's final call. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-26 05:46:51 / 2023-12-26 05:57:09 / 10

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