Introduction & Review
These past several days have been devoted to unfolding the Eternal Heavenly Glory that we find in Revelation 21-22. In many ways as I write these posts, I feel like I am trying to describe the Grand Canyon by way of a simple post-card! Nevertheless the scriptures are sufficient and alone are the reliable source for grasping these truths by faith.1 Dr. Wayne Grudem has listed the following observations about the passages we have been exploring:
1. Heaven is a place, not a state of mind
2. The physical creation will be renewed and we will continue to exist and act in it.
3. Our resurrection bodies will be part of the renewed creation
4. The New creation will not be 'timeless' but will include an unending succession of moments
5. The doctrine of the New creation provides a great motivation for storing up treasures in heaven rather than on earth
6. The New Creation will be a place of great beauty and abundance and joy in the presence of God.1
We have thus far seen the description of everything that will be included (and not included) in the New Heavens and Earth, as well as how the New Jerusalem will be superior to the current place called "heaven" or "the third heaven". We also have looked at the details of the New Heavenly city of New Jerusalem and have commented on how it relates to us today. In today's post we want to see how The Triune God appeals to sinners to come by grace through faith so as to occupy this future place.
Final Invitation to Eternal Heavenly Glory 22:6-21
As we consider this final invitation by God in the Bible, we can note that the visions given to John by Jesus have concluded. Like a great evangelist, Jesus is drawing in the net and extending an invitation. We can see a three fold movement of this final invitation, with each part featuring a prophetic statement of appeal made by Jesus Himself.
A. Appeal to heed the invitation 22:6-9
In this first part of the invitation, Jesus is stating that every word that has been written in the Apocalypse is true and worthy of acceptation. Those who read and hear the book being read, taught or preached need to be sure they heed its words. Perhaps one of the finest statements of the Bible's inerrancy ("every word is true) and infallibility ("and faithful", incapable of failure) is made here in by Jesus in Revelation 22:6. Clearly this is an invitation that must be heeded, but also notice...
B. Warning to those who refuse the invitation 22:10-13
The wording of the Revelation 22:11 is worth noting: "Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” This part of the invitation is being communicated to those who refuse to pay heed and who choose to remain where they're at.
Throughout the prophetic scriptures we see God executing the worst form of judgment imaginable - giving people exactly what they want! This way of communication is what I call "let them alone" language. Passages such as Jeremiah 15:1-2; Ezekiel 3:27 and Daniel 12:3 uses such sentiments to communicate to unrepentant sinners: if you're going to be a sinner, be a good one, for whatsoever a man sows, thus will he reap! (compare Galatians 6:7)
Romans 1:24-28 is perhaps one of the clearest New Testament references that features this style of communication. After giving sinful man the light of general revelation and being gracious with him, when man continues to reject God's efforts in common grace, the worse form of judgment is to hand mankind over to his base desires. We may wonder why Jesus would use this form of communication in this final invitation of Revelation. In short, it is to escalate the urgency of the appeal. There is no such thing as apathy. Either people will remain as they are and perish (which would be their own fault) or respond to the appeal of Jesus (which can only be credit to the Spirit's drawing grace). So what happens if there is a listener or reader who says: "wait a minute, I don't want to keep doing wrong, being filthy and risk remaining in my sins, I want to be made right with God through Jesus Christ!" What does Jesus have to say to such persons? Notice the final part of this grand invitation...
C. Blessing for those who welcome the invitation 22:14-21
Notice how in this final part of the appeal, Jesus, the church and the Spirit Himself are all present. Truly the point is made- lest the Spirit is at work in the sinner's heart, there will be no response, no faith, no repentance. The final verse of Revelation 22 speaks: "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen". Grace is what draws us, persuades us to genuinely express faith and repentance and keeps us in Jesus. For all who by grace through faith respond to this final invitation, it is a blessed and glorious salvation that is received!
1. Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. Zonndervan. Pages 1159-1164
1. No silly books on the market today that feature visions and post-mortem scenes of people who have gone to heaven and come back can ever replace, supplement or even complement the scriptures.