Sneak Peek: The Final Chapter

14
Dec

Sneak Peek

The Final Chapter

How many of you have ever played candy crush?  For those of you who have not played this simple but challenging game, it involves matching colored candy gems into sets of 3 or more to clear the board.  And each level has a new objective.  Some levels are timed, others have move counts, some have pieces that are locked up that you have to free in order to beat the level.  A few years ago, this game swept across the nation  In fact, Candy Crush was such a huge game that as of 3 years ago it had over 500 million downloads.  This summer this game that was once only in the palm of your hand was turned into a multi-million dollar game show.  I have to admit that while I never played candy crush per say, I have played several games like it, frozen, and my vice of the past few weeks, toy blast.

I definitely wasted to much time on this game this past week.  But something about the game draws you in.  Each level of the saga has new twists and turns and specific objectives in order to complete the level.  And it is so frustrating when you can’t beat a stupid level…because If you don’t complete the objectives in the allotted number of moves you have to start over.  That can be incredibly frustrating.  Which of course is the moment that the game offers you for the low cost of .99 5 more moves to beat the level!  Ahhhh… So tempting!

As I was playing the game this week, I began to think about the church.  Yes, even when I am not thinking about you guys, I am still thinking about you guys!  You see sometimes on a level I would get distracted and fail to complete the objectives.  Sometimes I just ran out of moves.  Sometimes it was the dumb games fault, I hate when the game doesn’t give you the silly pieces you need to win, but other times, it was because I was chasing ice blocks when I was supposed to be getting rid of the blue blocks.  I was chasing the wrong objective.

In our story today John, the writer of the book, is going to get some final instructions.  And funny enough, right in the middle of the action and after seeing something absolutely incredibly, John finds himself chasing the wrong objective.

So if you have your bibles open them up to Rev. chapter 22.  This one is pretty easy to find, because it should be almost the final page of your bible depending on if you have some sort of maps or extras at the end of your Bible.

Revelation is not the book that I would recommend to go home and read this week, because Revelation is very hard to understand. Revelation is a book of prophecy.  That doesn’t mean that there is not truth and application for our lives in this book, and it doesn’t make the book less important, but unlike most of the prophecy of the Old Testament, most of Revelation has yet to happen. Secondly, Revelation is a vision.  Some have alluded to it likes a dream, that afterwards John is trying to figure out what it means, but that would be taking away from what a vision is.  Me personally, I have never had a vision, other than 20/20…so trying to explain what a vision, well it’s a little like reading Revelation in which John, the writer of the book, and most likely the same John who walked with Jesus, is shown the future and tries to record it.  Now I am sure that you can imagine that someone who was a fisherman from a small town in the 1st century seeing New York City today, let alone at some undisclosed time in the future would be slightly mind blowing.  And then trying to communicate what you saw would be incredibly difficult.   So it makes the book very difficult to understand.  And lots of people have lots of different ideas about what the prophecies mean.  The good thing for us today, is that we are skipping past to the end of the vision.  John has just described what it will be like at the very end, The New Heaven and The New Earth, with no more tears, no more death, the New Jerusalem, and an incredible River of life flowing from the throne and feeding the tree of life, and the radiance of God is so bright there is no need of a sun.

Pick up with me starting in verse 6.

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

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 desires take the water of life without price.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

God thank you so much for this incredible ending to the story.  Thank you that Lord Jesus is coming soon, and may that motivate us even more to stay to the objective and be true to the text of this book.

Today is the final of 3 messages that we are calling sneak peek.  These three services are designed to be a taste of what is to come, they are designed to give you a glimpse into what we believe the church is and should be all about.  In the first message, we talked about the word church.  And we gave a working definition of the church as:

A group of Jesus Followers committed to living out the mission and message of Jesus together.

In the second message we looked at the word Jesus Follower.  What it means to be a Jesus Follower.  Side note I am very excited that next fall we are going to come back to this idea and do a multi-week series on this concept.  But last time, we saw that Jesus is the initiator, the inviter, and intentional.

Today we are going to look at how we should live.  This is the very question that John was asking and that the messenger was answering here at the end of the book.  John wanted to know with all of this information what are we supposed to do now.  What should I tell the church, the groups of Jesus Followers to do?

And I think we see three things that we are supposed to do:

  1. We are to live in the promise of His coming.

Look back with me at the text:

Verse 7: “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Verse 12: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.

Verse 20: “Surely I am coming soon.”

Three times the message is given, Jesus is coming soon.  Now before continuing on with this, I want to pause to notice something in the text.  Some Bibles try to help us, and perhaps make it more confusing, because some of this text is in red.  When text is in red in the editor is attempting to communicate that Jesus is speaking.  Most of the red in the Bible occurs in the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but we have words in red here.  But then in verse 8 we see John fall down to worship and he is told that is not supposed to worship this person.  They are just a messenger like him and like me.  So what is going on here?  Is this person talking Jesus and are we not supposed to worship him?

No.  This is not Jesus talking.  The words spoken in the red letters are Jesus’ words that were given to the messenger. Think of it like a singing telegram.  The person has a message to deliver that is not their own.  So we have this message 3 times from Jesus, I am coming.  But why?  What does this matter to the early churches and why does this matter to us.

How many of you have kids?  Have you ever left your kids with someone else, maybe just your spouse as you take a business trip or maybe even a personal trip/ getaway?

I am not gone a tremendous amount.  But inevitably when I am about to leave I have this conversation with my kids.

You be good for mommy while I am gone.  And If you are when I get home I will bring you a surprise.

Anyone?  Exactly, and then during the week, I will have at least one conversation if not more, and I will ask the question.  Are you being good?  And sometimes I will even qualify, are you being a helper, are you listening and obeying, is that what Mommy will tell me.  Okay good, because I am coming home soon…And it results in a few things, 1 her doing what she is supposed to be doing, 2. An excited girl that tells even her friends that I am coming home soon and will have a present for her.

Listen, the worst thing that could happen for my little girl would be that the moment that I arrive which should be a glorious and exciting moment with love and hugs, finds her in trouble or brooding about a conflict with her mommy.  That doesn’t go well.

So how are we supposed to live our lives?  In the confidence of knowing that Jesus is coming soon, and we don’t want to be found in the muck and the mire when he arrives.  We want to be found holy and good!  Celebrating his return.  Now this is not a legalistic plea.  As a father I do not run a checklist with my wife to see if my daughter was good.  I don’t ask how many times she made her bed, I don’t ask if she brushed her teeth every day, why?  Not because I don’t care if she did these things, but my return and the promise of my gift is not predicated upon these things.  She is my daughter whom I love, and I am warning about my return so that we can snuggle for a few minutes…I can judge quickly if she is in good standing with her mother by her interactions, and I desire to see the joy on her face as I give her whatever small trinket I picked up.

Just like a dad who goes away for a while, and is promising his return to his children, Jesus is promising His return, and that should affect how we live our lives.  And we should ever be living in that reality and look forward to that recompense or reward which is judged based on a right relationship, not legalistic rules.

So the first things we see is that we should live our lives in the promise of His coming.

  1. We should live our lives in the provision of His cross.

Look at verse 14.  Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

This verse is interesting.  it is the final of seven beatitude statements in Revelation.  Similar to the statements recorded by Matthew, one of the original 12 Jesus Followers in his book, these statements give an instruction for how to live our lives.  Now before jumping into the meaning of this statement, I want to acknowledge that there is actually an alternate version that exists in some manuscripts that says Blessed are those we keep the commandments and they have the right to the tree of life and may freely enter the city gates.  This would be an easy thing to read.  Especially when we consider that both the gospel of John and the letters of John tell us that those that Love Jesus keep his commandments, or a version of that.  However, this understanding of the verse is not what most scholars is what was written.  Instead and after lots of researching I agree that this saying was more likely those who wash their robe, and that contains a reference back to Rev. 7:14, which talks about those coming out of the tribulation into heaven are those who washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.

But here is the important distinction between the two different versions.  In the first our ability to receive the right to the tree of life and enter into the holy city comes from our ability to keep the entirety of the law.  I had an uncle that was a practicing Jew.  He would jokingly say that difference between him and me was 663 laws.  Yikes 663 laws.  And if you asked my uncle if he was able to keep the 663, he would respond “Hell No, and then go off to smoke a cigarette.”  God knew that we can’t keep the law.  In fact, he designed to point to our need for something else.  Jesus.  The greater purpose of Jesus was for him to die.  He died to fulfill the law.  God has been very clear about the penalty of sin.  He said it in Genesis, he said it in Romans, the penalty of sin is death.  So Jesus died.  He did not deserve it, but the blessing of Jesus’ death is that those of us who accept it, who live in it, are granted access to the tree of life, the same tree that in Genesis became forbidden when sin entered into the world.  Granted access into the Holy city which is the dwelling place of the Lord, who will be its sun.

And so Today we should live not as people bound and kept by 663 laws that we cannot possibly keep, but if you have “washed your robe in Jesus” then you should live as one that has been made clean in Jesus and because of Jesus.  We should not live as one trying to keep the law so as to be found blameless, but we get to live as blameless because we know the Jesus and He made us blameless.

Finally, not only should we live in the promise of his coming, and not only should we live in the provision of the cross, but we should live in the prescription of His commandments.

Look back with me at verses, 9,18,-9

but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Now listen that last point may have sounded like Jesus is my get out of jail free card and I can do whatever what I want.  Wrong!  This does not mean that we should continue to live against what God has commanded of us, why would we want to cheapen his grace and his love and the expensive price he paid to free us.  We are not trying to get a discount rate on our sin.  But rather because of such extravagant love we should strive to live up to what Jesus has done for us.  And this love relationship drives us to want to know more about Jesus, and how to live a life that is pleasing to him and consequently to the father.  We should be keepers of the book. It contains the prescription to live life to the fullest.  Jesus said this,

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  The Bible has appropriately been called the words of Life.  It contains the prescription and description of everything that God desires for us to know and do.  It is a foundation that we are supposed to build our lives on.

Jesus told a story about this…

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”  Listen everyone faces storms.  The prescription to survive the storm is not only to hear the words, but to do them.

As Jesus Followers we should be learning what the Bible says and what it means for our lives.  We should ask the Holy Spirit to expose the sin in our life that we may rid ourselves of it because of what Jesus did for us.  Jesus changed me.  And I do not want to go back to who I was before Jesus.  I want to be like those in verse 8 who continue to do right and continue to be holy, because they are compelled.  They must do it because they refuse to do anything else.  That’s how I want to be found.

Do I still mess up, daily!  I have dumb stupid fights with my wife.  This week it happened while a baby was crying and she did not respond as fast as I thought she should have.  So I huffed at her.  I was totally in the wrong.  I am so glad that Jesus did not come in that moment.  But you know what this text tells me, fix it.  And do it quickly.  Don’t live in the sin, because Jesus is coming.  And he has already paid for all sin with his cross, so live in the love and grace of his commandments!

What a message John had for the church.  It was a message about how to live.  And to be honest, that is what I pray for:  A living church.  A group of Jesus Followers who are living in the promise of his coming, the provision of his cross and the prescription of his commandments..

Before I close I want to go back to Verses 14 and 15.  It talked about who was in and who was out.  Look there was only way in.  Jesus is the only way into eternity.  I don’t want to walk away from here with anyone on the outside.

Let me lay out clearly, God is perfect.  And He is holy.  That means that not only can he not sin, but he also cannot be around sin.  And You and I are filled with sin.  You might look through this list and say well I am not as bad as one of those listed, but listen carefully, only those that have Jesus get in…no one else.  Don’t walk away without Jesus.

Text JesusFollower to 84576.

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