Today is the Day of Salvation, Revelation 22:11-17
Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 22, and verse 11. The title of our message this morning is Today is the Day of Salvation. And here we are continuing on in the Book of Revelation, having completely and totally finished the vision that John saw on the Island of Patmos two thousand years ago. And what we’re into right as we conclude the book is the section called the epilogue, sort of concluding thoughts. There was a prologue that started the book, chapter 1, verses 1-8 so it’s fitting that there should be an epilogue, chapter 22:6-21, three parts to this epilogue, words of comfort, words of warning, and then a conclusion with a brief benediction.
We’ve been looking at, and I may finish this part of it today, I don’t think we’ll finish the whole Book of Revelation today, words of comfort. John here is reminded, going back to verse 6 that these are faithful words. These things will happen! Christ is coming soon, there is a blessing for the one who reads and heeds these words but make sure that you give glory completely only to God and take the vision that you have received John, and don’t hide it under a bushel, but unseal it and proclaim it because the time is at hand.
And so verse 10 we sort of concluded with an exhortation that the Holy Spirit gives John to unseal this book. Why? Because the time is at hand. And if the time is at hand, verse 11, the day is coming in human history where people’s destiny will be fixed. There won’t be an opportunity to decide for Christ any longer. Whatever decision that a person has made follows them into the eternal realm, particularly this eternal state that we have been studying, chapters 21 and 22.
The fact of the matter is there are some things that you can do right now that you will not be able to do in eternity and one of those things is evangelism. Evangelism is a privilege that we all have but it’s a very temporary privilege. The time in history is going to come where evangelism itself will not be needed. That’s why any decision that people make for or against Christ needs to be made now! Hence the title of this message, Today is the Day of Salvation. Where am I getting this from? You’ll see it there in verse 11. “ 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.”
Charles Ryrie, in his Ryrie Study Bible says this concerning verse 11, “When Christ comes there will be no more opportunity for a man to change his destiny. What he is, then he will be forever.” I remember hearing and watching the late Billy Graham in his evangelistic appeals, I think the title of some of his magazine, if I have it right, his radio program, was something along these lines—the day of decision. And it’s an interesting title and we think, because we hear the gospel so frequently as evangelicals and Bible believers and we summon people to faith, we think that that message is something that’s just going to go on and on forever and it’s not. Today is the day of decision, tomorrow… not necessarily. In the eternal realm, in the eternal state there are no decisions, there are no gospel tracts, there are no more appeals to come to Christ. That day is over! And this is why the Scripture exhorts us in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “Behold, now is the DAY OF SALVATION.”
[2 Corinthians 6:2, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION.”]
The mistake we make in our thinking is we assume that what was normal yesterday is going to be normal today, and what is normal today is going to be normal tomorrow. And we’re told very clearly in the Bible that’s a wrong way of thinking. You only have today, you only have the unique opportunity to believe in Christ in this brief mist that appears for a little while and then it disappears. And once humanity moves in the eternal realm whatever decision has been made is in cement for an awful long time; forever is a long, long time! And that’s why John is told, verse 10, to unseal the prophecy; warn people now while the opportunity to warn them is available because that opportunity will not exist forever.
Jesus gives another word of exhortation to John also concerning not just the urgency of the hour but the need to keep on keeping on, because as a Christian it’s very easy to become weary in well doing. And yet we’re reminded there in verse 12 not to be weary in well doing because Jesus says He’s keeping an eye on what we’re doing as Christians and He wants to reward us accordingly. He says in verse 12, ““Behold, I am coming quickly,” now “quickly” is a description of the manner in which He is coming. It’s a lot like saying it’s going to happen so quick and it’s going to happen so fast that the opportunity to repent won’t be available once this particular event here begins to transpire. So whatever repentance is going to happen in a person’s heart it needs to happen this side of that event because He’s coming quickly.
And notice what He says in verse 12, “and My reward” God is a rewarder, the Book of Hebrews tells us that. “God is a rewarder of those who” what? “diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 [“But without faith, no one can please God, for whoever is brought near to God must believe that he exists and that he is the rewarder of those who seek him.”] “Behold I am coming quickly and my reward is with Me to render to every man according to what he has done.” The doctrine of rewards for the Christian. In our future there is something following the rapture of the church as the events of the tribulation period are taking place on the earth below there is something called the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ where Christians will either be rewarded or not rewarded based on how they invested their earthly sojourn in Jesus Christ.
The Scripture as a whole portrays at least four future judgments and the one there that I have embolden is this judgment seat of Christ, one that every believer in Jesus Christ right now as I speak will be a participant in. Paul, the apostle in 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we, Paul included himself there, must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
Look at all these important words here: “we,” Paul says I’m a part of that group; “must” this is not something he could opt out of, you can’t throw out a sickly form and vacation form and get out of it. There’s an exam in our future. “All,” who is “All”? Everyone in the church age. “All must appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may be recompensed for the deeds done in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
One of the distinctives of the Judeo-Christian biblical world view is this life ends in judgment. There is a day of reckoning coming. It’s interesting that when you go back to the foundations of the United States of America and you look at the requirements that office holders in government were to hold before they were qualified to hold any office in the United States. As you go back into American history you see these various requirements—such and such an office holder must believe that God is a rewarder of the good and the punisher of evil.
You had to believe, I wish I’d brought in all the historical evidence, it’s there if you want to look. You had to believe that there’s a future judgment coming because the idea is if an office holder believed in a future judgment coming they were always under the awareness that someone greater than themselves was looking over their shoulder, and was going to hold them responsible and accountable for their conduct in office.
Now we’ve gotten away from that, haven’t we, where people think that they’re accountable to no one other than themselves and in the process they’re running afoul of what America was founded on and they’re running afoul of what the Bible teaches, that this life ends in judgment. Certainly for the unbeliever it does. The Book of Hebrews says, “It is appointed for men to die once” and then to face the judgment. [Hebrews 9:27, “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”] There is no recycling, or coming back in a different life form as reincarnation, Eastern mysticism teach. It’s a day of reckoning and accountability, a frightful day for the unbeliever!
And even for the Christian although our sins have been forgiven and we have been transferred from death unto life at the point of faith alone in Christ alone, the fact of the matter is God is still going to hold us account-able based on how we lived for Him,, how we allowed Him to express Himself through us as believers. This is not a judgment to punish sin, that issue has been taken care of at the cross of Christ. John19:30. [John 19:30, “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”] It’s not a judgment to determine salvation, that issue was taken care of the moment we trusted in Christ. John 5:24. [John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”]
Well then, why have this judgment for the believer? It is to either give or simply to withhold rewards based on how we invested our lives for Christ in the present age. At this coming judgment five crowns will either be given or not given to people. The incorruptible crown for the believer that gains mastery over the flesh, not a believer that is sinless but is sinning less under God’s resources. The crown of rejoicing for the soul winner. [1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “ Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;  but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”]
The crown of rejoicing for the soul winner. [1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?  For you are our glory and joy.”]
The crown of life for the believer that endures trials. [James 1:12, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” Revelation 2:10, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”]
The crown of glory for the believer that faithfully shepherds God’s people, [1 Peter 5:2-4, “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;  nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”]
And the crown of Righteousness for the believer that longs for the appearing of Christ and has not become so in love with the world that he’s no longer looking forward to the next world and the return of Christ. [2 Timothy 4:8, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”]
The Bible over and over again reminds us of this. 2 Peter 1:11 says, “ for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” You’ll notice there in verse 11 how God wants us to enter His kingdom and not just enter it but enter it “abundantly supplied.”
Charles Ryrie on this particular verse says, “A Christian life”, 2 Peter 1:11, “that can be rewarded will provide the abundance into heaven.
The reality is it’s completely possible as a Christian to enter eternity by God’s grace but smell the smoke on your garments, because we’ve spent so much time in the flesh wasting our lives.
1 Corinthians 3:15 says, “If any man’s work is burned up he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved,” look at that, “yet as through fire.” Entering eternity saved and yet the examination at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ as not us but our works are scrutinized, found to be of a selfish quality, a fleshly nature, are put through a fire and are dissolved and yet the person is still saved because salvation initially was never given on the basis of good works but grace.
How important it is for us as believers in the grace of God and the freeness of the grace of God, not lose sight of the fact that decisions in daily life still matter. They don’t affect salvation, that’s a done deal! But the do affect one’s standing before the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 9:27 says, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” Disqualified from what Paul? Salvation? NO! Paul always taught that salvation, justification is by grace so obviously one’s disciplining of their body does not make them more saved today than they were yesterday.
Well why discipline your body and make it your slave? Because it affects one’s standing for a prize. Paul, in the beginning there of those verses, verse 9:24 says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run but only one receives the prize. Run in such a way that may win.” What prize is he talking about? Not salvation, but one’s standing at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.
2 John 8 says, “Watch yourselves, that you do not lose” lose what? Salvation! NO, that’s eternally guaranteed, it’s not speaking of salvation here, “Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full” what? “reward.”
Revelation 3:11, Jesus says, “I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” What a word of exhortation to these struggling churches in Asia Minor who were the original addressees of the Book of Revelation. This is the original audience. These churches, as we have studied that material, Revelation 2 and 3, are having difficult times. The world itself seems like it’s stacked against them. The powers of Rome are coming down on them; we know historically, by this time. Nero is on the throne and after him Domitian and how Nero, a mad man began to light Christians on fire to illuminate his garden parties. The coliseum where Christians are thrown to the wild beasts is in full swing now. The nation of Israel, having rejected their own Messiah hates these people.
And Satan himself has even wormed his way into many of these churches and they’re struggling in every area you can struggle in. And what a warning, or what a word of affirmation I should say would come to them when Jesus says keep on keeping on because my reward is with me. It’s not all in vain, it’s not for naught, Jesus is keeping a record and He wants to fully reward that believer at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. And how easy it is in the midst of life adversities, and there are plenty, to just sort of quit on God, just sort of conclude that well, service in the local church is for others but it’s not for me. And Christian works for other people, it doesn’t work for me. Our prayer life can dissipate, taking seriously the things of God can begin to dissipate because life, quite frankly just becomes too strenuous. And there are so many distractions.
And we have been taught that we’re saved by grace so what does it matter how I live? It matters here, verse 12, because Jesus speaks to that issue, He says, “I’m coming quickly, My reward is with Me, and I will render to every man according to what He has done.” I’m reminded of the Book of Galatians, chapter 6 and verse 9, which says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” And how easy it is to grow weary in life and the things of God and just quit when victory could very well be right around the corner.
One of my basketball heroes growing up was Larry Byrd. I watched a lot of documentaries on Larry Byrd. Most people know a lot there is to know about Larry Byrd but when you research his background you’ll find he had a father who became just despondent over finances and decided that through his military service and some things that would come to his family if his life ended that he would just take his own life, which he did. And you wonder how things could have been different for him if he had just hung on a little more. I mean, he, no way in his mind, fathomed that his own son was Justine to become an NBA superstar and have more money for the family that he could ever hope for or spend in several lifetimes. But he just left, he checked out via suicide too early, before that tree could blossom properly. And he missed out on what his son would become.
And I think that many of us are like that, we just sort of quit, we check out, we quit our marriage, we quit our family, we quit raising our children in godliness, quit our church, not fully understanding that victory could be just around the corner. And if it’s not right around the corner it certainly will be on full display at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. What a word this is to be struggling Christians.
He goes on, verse 13, and he describes how Jesus is qualified as this great rewarder. I mean, how do you really know Jesus is keeping a record of things? How do we really know His reward is with Him? Look at verse 13, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Are you kidding, you think Jesus is unqualified to keep a record of things? He is the first, He is the last, He is the beginning, He is the end, He is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, alpha, He’s the last letter in the Greek alphabet, omega. He is the one that’s outside of time that sees perfectly everything, the end from the beginning.
It’s a lot like in some of my crazier youth, the fiery days of my youth, I used to… and I didn’t do this often, but I would go down there to the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, stay out all night long, now I’m not going to do that anytime soon unless God coerces me into it, just to see the Rose Parade. And you kind of stay out there and you get this really good seat there on Colorado Boulevard and you watch the parade and the floats come by one at a time. That’s the human perspective. And finally you get smart and you say well, next year I’m just going to watch the whole thing on television. And on television they give you the aerial shot where you can see almost the very first float in the parade and the last float in the parade from the helicopter. And you no longer are combined to Colorado Boulevard seeing one float after another go by. And that’s the difference in human perspective. Our perspective is the Colorado Boulevard perspective; that’s all we can see. Vision is finite. That’s why we question whether God actually has a record of what’s going on in our lives. But God’s perspective is the aerial shot that you see on television from the helicopter.
He sees the whole thing. He’s not bound by the limitations that we are bound by. He’s the first and the last. He’s the beginning and the end. He’s the Alpha and the Omega. He has a complete knowledge of history past and history future. Isn’t that what history is, after all at the end of the day, His story? Isn’t He the one at the end of the day created all things? John 1:3, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Hebrews 1:2, not only is He the heir of all things but “He made the world.” [Hebrews 1:2, “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”]
Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Not only does He see the orchestrated end of everything but He sees how it came into existence and He is actually the one holding everything together as we speak. I mean, what keeps the heart beating and the respiratory system working so I can even have enough strength this morning to get up and shut off my alarm clock, which came one hour earlier… did you notice that?
I mean, what gave me the energy to get out of bed? The Lord did! A lot of people didn’t get out of bed this morning, they died in their sleep last night. But you got out of bed, I got out of bed; it was the orchestrating hand of God that allowed that. And because He is the One that holds all things together and He is the one that started all things and He is the One that is bringing everything to an orchestrated conclusion, He is completely competent as a record keeper and He wants to reward you. And consequently we’re told to not grow weary of well doing for we will reap if we do not grow weary because He is coming quickly and His reward is with Him.
And then in verses 14 and 15 He begins to talk about the blessings to the redeemed. Notice what He says there in verse 14, “Blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to eat from the tree of life and may enter the gate into the city.” Now this word “blessed” is something we have been keeping track of; it’s the word makarios, and if you track that word through the Book of Revelation what you’ll discover is there are seven beatitudes, just like you have beatitudes of blessings pronounced in the Sermon on the Mount, seven of these in Revelation.
The first one was in Revelation 1, a blessing upon the reader and heeder of the Book of Revelation. The second one was in Revelation 14, a blessing upon the tribulation martyr. The third one was in Revelation 16, a blessing pronounced on the spiritually prepared. The fourth one is in Revelation 19, there is a blessing pronounced on being invited to something called the marriage supper. Then there’s a blessing, number five, Revelation 20, on those that participate in the first resurrection. And then there’s another blessing that we saw last week, Revelation 22, on the one that heeds and reads the Book of Revelation.
And then we come to our seventh and final makarios, beatitude where we have a blessing upon the citizens of the eternal city. What eternal city? The one we’ve been studying. The one that exists right now in time and space but is unfit, cannot come down to this earth because the earth is in a state of sin. But the day will come when we will have a new heaven and a new earth where it’s the earth as God intended it before sin entered and this city, which exists now in heaven, will come down to the earth, a new earth, and we will be participants in it. This is the seventh and final blessing spoken of in the Book of Revelation.
Why are the redeemed here called “blessed”? Because they’re citizens of that coming kingdom. See, the kingdom that you’re destined for is not a kingdom that can be voted out of power. It’s not a kingdom or a city run by grafts and corruption and self-serving people. It’s a perfect environment and a perfect city. In fact, the city is so perfect it’s made out of pure glass; there’s nothing to hide in other words. No sin is in it! It can’t be eradicated through violent revolutions, voting people out of power, it’s a city whose builder and maker is God. In fact, the Book of Philippians, chapter 3, verse 20, tells us that our citizenship is where? It’s in heaven. [Philippians 3:20, “ For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.]
And you look at all of the struggles on the earth and the strains on the earth and the catastrophe of world history, and we can just consider ourselves blessed that this world is not our home. I, quite frankly, don’t know, and I’ve thought about this for a long time, ever since coming to Christ as a teenager, I don’t understand how people can even make it through the day without promises like this. The only thing you’re stuck with is the nasty now and now and the stock market is up and then it’s down, and is that my hope? NO, our hope is in a city whose builder and maker is God, a city of immovable foundations. And if you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ your citizenship is in that city and for that you’re blessed in addition to all of these other blessings that we have been studying in the Book of Revelation.
You’ll notice that the redeemed are blessed because they have had their robes washed. Well how do I get my robes washed and who does the washing exactly. You’ll find the answer in the Book of Ephesians, chapter 5 and verse 26 describing Christ’s relationship to His church. Concerning the church He says, “ so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” You’re washed in the blood of Christ because of the word of Christ. And faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. The moment you trust in that message, which we call the gospel, is the moment your robes are washed. I hope you’re not sort of planning on beautifying yourself before you appear before a holy God. I have absolutely no intention of standing before a holy God in my own robes of righteousness because I know at the end of the day they’re not going to get me very far anyway. I plan on standing in the robes that He provides me, not having a righteousness of my own but a transferred righteousness at the point of faith alone in Christ alone.
If you’re a citizen of that city and your robes have been washed how blessed are you? And what are some of the things we’re going to be doing in that eternal city? Verse 14, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.” You can walk in the city and walk out at will. And anytime you want to go to the tree of life you have full access to it. And that’s not a privilege that has been afforded to the human race ever since the fall in Eden.
Remember what happened with the fall in Genesis 2:22-24, how humanity was barred from the tree of life with the presence of cherubim and flaming swords after the fall of man preventing man from re-entering Eden and eating from the tree of life.? [Genesis 2:22-24, “The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.  The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”]
Remember what it says? “Then the Lord God said,” Genesis 3:22-24, Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us,” now who’s the “us”? It seems to me it’s a pretty early inference of the Triunity of God. “the man has become like one of us knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—“ God didn’t want people to live forever in their fallen state.  “therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.  So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.”
We don’t even know where the Garden of Eden was today; I mean, where was it and how do I get into it? It’s an impossibility. And those that fell immediately knew where it was but they couldn’t get back in. See, that’s the nature of sin; sin will bring consequences and the consequences involve a change of something that can’t be reversed. This is why the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”]
There are some friendship and relationships that I personally can’t get back into today. Why? Because I did something wrong or ill-tempered or too quick without thinking? And yet people will extend an olive branch, etc. But it’s not the same; I can’t reverse what has been done. That’s how sin works. And think of a time period where all of the ramifications for all of our bad choices are removed and you just do what humanity has been barred from doing for all of these millennia, entrance into the city at will. It’s not locked, it’s not closed, there are no cherubim or flaming swords.
And you partake at the tree of life at will because what Jesus is speaking here when He says all things have become new. It’s a world, not only with sin not in it but all of the consequences for sin have been taken away. I sadly, like you, have spent a lot of my life as a simple person, living with the consequences of my own choice. Think of a time period where the consequences are removed and things get back to how they’re supposed to be. That’s what’s being described here, that’s why you’re blessed if you’re part of this city, having trusted in Christ.
Now you go to verse 15 where you see the contrast; the contrast here I think is being incorrectly taught by many people. It’s not a Christian struggling with sin. What it is, is a person that has never been regenerated, they’ve never believed. Why do I say that? Because they are outside, not where the believers are, they are outside where the domain of non-believers exists. In fact, there’s a list here of what characterizes such unbelievers and we saw an identical list in Revelation 21:8, just one chapter earlier, and there it’s told that such people are in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. [Revelation 21:8, “But for 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.”]
John doesn’t repeat that phrase because he expects us to carry over into chapter 22 what we learned in chapter 21. This is a description not of a Christian that sins or struggles with sin, it’s a description of someone that has never trusted in Christ. In contrast to the blessings of the redeemed, verse 14 is an open description of the lack of blessings that accrue to those who have never trusted in the grace of God. [Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.”]
What exactly is their destiny outside of the dogs, the sorcerers, the immoral persons, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. Who are the dogs? I’ve heard a lot of interesting commentaries on this, there’s not going to be animals in heaven and all these kinds of things. No! Who are the dogs? The dogs are not animals, Charles Ryrie says in his Study Bible but people of low character. When Paul was describing people of low character in Philippians 3:2 he says “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision,” those that were prorogating false doctrine, false teaching, false living, people living obviously beneath the moral standards of God. That’s the unbelievers. That’s what they’re like experiencing their lack of blessings as God’s people inside the city are experiencing all of those blessings.
What else characterizes these people? They are sorcerers. Now we’ve run into that word sorcerer many times in the book of Revelation; pharmachos there, where we get the word pharmacy. What do you get in a pharmacy? Drugs! The same sin was described in Revelation 9:21 as pharmakeia, the same word. [Revelation 9:21, “ and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”] Persons who, for whatever reason, are not depending upon the Holy Spirit for their source of power but have tapped into foreign substances. And without even understanding it they have opened their mind up to spiritual realities of the negative source.
It is somewhat alarming to me to know in the United States how certain drugs that used to be considered taboo are now culturally accepted. Countless states, I think the number was 15, the last time I checked, it could be more, have legalized the use of marijuana which as we know is a gateway drug into something more experiential, because when Satan gives someone an experience the interesting thing about that experience is the experience, all of a sudden you reach a point where it no longer totally satisfies, so you’ve got to go deeper and find another experience of a more intense nature. We see that in the area of sexual perversion. We certainly see that in the area of pharmakeia, and when someone is involved with pharmakeia they’re opening themselves up to doors that they don’t understand.
Another basketball player, you can watch this online, just google basketball junky, Chris Herron, probably one of the best high school basketball players that the state of Massachusetts has ever produced. And he went away to college and if you watched the documentary he says he went into a dorm and he was offered drugs, cocaine, he said like most do, I’ll just do this once, and according to his own words, this is almost a direct quote, he says” it opened a door I couldn’t shut for eleven years.” How he, with all of his talent and all of his money threw away, literally, a stunning collegiate career that he could have had, a stunning career in the NBA, and he was actually highly successful as an NBA basketball player with this particular handicap or disability, or better said weakness. What could he have been without all of that stuff? That’s the nature of pharmakeia. And his story of how he came out of that and how he is touring youth groups, high schools, etc. warning the youth not to open the door that he opened, and by his own words couldn’t close.
Those outside the city are wrapped up in this sorcery or this pharmakeia. What else? They are immoral persons. These are people who really no longer care about God’s standards of sexuality. We’re living in a time period where everybody wants to invent their own sexuality… if it feels good do it!
Genesis 2:24 lays down the standard. “F For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” I’m not here to harangue anybody that’s fallen short of this standard because the grace of God is always available. But it doesn’t change the fact that there’s a standard. And isn’t it interesting that almost anything and everything is expected today in the way of sexuality except this? The person that wants to promote this is a hate monger, or the bigot, or the closed minded person.
You start talking like this and you’re going to get a lot of vitriolic emails in response, particularly if your ministry happens to be online. And my response to this vitriolic e-mails is don’t get mad at me, I didn’t invent the standard. This is God, this is God’s world, this is God’s gift, sexuality, these are God’s rules. The Book of Hebrews, chapter 13 and verse 4 says, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all,” that’s not what’s happening in the United States, it’s not being honored. “… and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” He certainly is here, that’s why they’re outside the city, immoral persons.
What else are these unbelievers like? They’re murderers! Outside of the gods, the sorcerers, the immoral persons and the murderers! Proverbs 6:16-17 says, “There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:  Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.” If you want to know how God feels about “hands that shed innocent blood” study the life of David because that’s what David did. He took the life of a man to cover his own sins, not fully understanding that he was actually betraying innocent blood. And how the Lord dwelt with David! And how the Lord deals with anybody that puts themselves into some kind of a position where they are slaying the hands of the innocent.
I don’t want to necessarily go down this road, it’s trite and over used but if you look at what is happening in the United States via abortions, and you look at what God said to Cain in Genesis 4, where God said the blood of your brother cries out from the ground.” [Genesis 4:10, “ He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.’”]
You think of all of the innocent blood that has been spilled in this country and you think of that crying out to the ears of God; that’s what’s happening. And it’s always a risk to talk like this because within the sound of your voice are those that have been involved in abortions, or pushed someone to have an abortion, or had an abortion, and they immediately fall into condemnation and the answer to that condemnation is the grace of God. The grace of God being so deep and so rich that it even covers a sin like that. I’ll remind you that three of God’s choicest servants had blood on their hands. Moses, Paul and David, and yet God gave all grace and used all mightily. The grace of God doesn’t change the fact that there’s a standard of God.
What else are these unbelievers like? They are idolaters, now if you become an idolater you’ve missed it because you’re missing or violating the first two commandments in the Decalogue. No graven images, not gods before Me, and yet how many people wake up every single day worshipping other gods, whether it be an icon, a statue, a retirement account, not that retirement accounts are wrong, but you’re looking to for your security for the future when God is saying look to Me, I am the living God. A job that brings you a certain amount of prestige, when God is saying I’m your prestige.
We’re so prone as human beings to idolatry and that’s what these unbelievers are like and beyond that they’re liars, they’re lying which violates commandment number nine, is it? To misrepresent, to just kind of roll the odometer back a little bit in the car sale. To misrepresent your standard of living, pastors do this a lot, they misrepresent the size of their churches. I call that evangelastically speaking. I just found out, fudged today that no, maybe I don’t need this, fill out the vacation form the way I should, it’s a small thing. No it’s not! God watches, God has standards.
You’ll notice that these people are not just lying, and this is what pushes me in the direction that these are unregenerate people is because they love and practice lying. You say well pastor, are you saying that you can love your sins? You bet your bottom dollar you can love them Why is that? Because sin brings a window of pleasure; it id didn’t bring the window of pleasure we wouldn’t do it! Moses, having forsaken the household of Israel, lived among the Hebrews. Hebrews 11:25, “Having forsaken the passing pleasures of sin” because of the brief window of excitement or whatever that it gives us we love sin.
In fact, Jesus, in John’s other book, John 3:19-21 says, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world,” now you would think that the world would just run to Christ, wouldn’t you? “Light has come into the world,” but that’s not what the world does. Why? “men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
There are sins that we commit of such a caliber that we will never bring to God in our depravity because sin, there’s something in it that I love. There’s something in it that I’m drawn to. And I don’t want to get too close to Christ, and I don’t want to get too close to the word of Christ, and I don’t want to get too close to the church of Christ and I don’t want to get too close to the things of Christ because the closer I get the brighter the light. The brighter the light the greater the exposure.
So rather than going to a church that preaches the Bible from Genesis to Revelation I’m comfortable getting my spiritual nibble for the day from some guy that has perfect white teeth, but will never say a single word about hell, Satan, sin or holiness. Now that’s a church that will pack out! In fact, that church could become so big we might have to get an athletic stadium and turn it into a church. I mean, why is that?
Why do people flock to a place like that? It has to do with this issue right here; I don’t want to get too close to truth, I don’t want to get too close to the light because it’s condemning me. And yet when you come to the light so that your deeds may be fully wrought in God and you yield certain things in our lives to God, you know what you discover? You discover Satan’s best kept secret, a secret I should say that he doesn’t want anybody to know.
The secret divulged is this: Jesus will give you the power to turn away from everything of a negative verity in your life. And you know what? You may suffer a little bit of loss but here’s the deal: God will put into your hands something better. Instead of sexual perversion He’ll put into your hands a marriage that honors God, and a family that honors God. Now the devil doesn’t want you to know that, he just wants you to focus on what you’re missing because of our love for sin. Did not Jesus say in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Jesus did not come into the world to destroy the lives of people. That’s what Satan wants you to think. In fact, what’s destroying you is what you’re involved in right now, because the devil on the front end never gives you the price tag. And yet there’s always a price tag “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 6:23]
We come to verses 16 and 17 and what a wonderful way for this section to conclude by talking about the grace of God. Charles Ryrie summarizes this section as follows: Jesus is gracious because: (1) He gave the Book of Revelation to the churches. (2) As the Son of David He will fulfill Israel’s promises. (3) He is the morning star, the precursor of the new day. And (4) Jesus Christ offers the waters of life freely.
Look at verse 16 if you could. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The first reason, Jesus is gracious, He gave us the Book of Revelation. He is the revealer, which by the way is what the title of the Book is; the Apokalopsis, which means the unveiling. Henry Morris writes, “It must be stressed that Revelation means unveiling and not veiling. He even sent it through His angel as the vision went from the Father to the Son to an angel, to John, to a book, to a preacher, to a listener in the seven churches there in Asia Minor.
Did you catch verse 16 where it says “for the churches.” “I, Jesus have sent My angel to testify to you these things” for the seminaries. It doesn’t say that. “…for the academic elite.” It doesn’t say that! It says “to the churches.” The Book of Revelation, its intent was not to be dissected by scholars for the last two thousand years; there’s nothing wrong with being a scholar rightly directed but it was sent “to the churches.” It was sent to the rank and file. It was sent to the ordinary Christian, and yet how many Christians think we can’t study that book, it’s too complex. Yet the very book itself is for the Christian, it’s for the churches.
Number two, Jesus is the covenant keeper because He is the root and the descendant of David. Every jot and tittle of what the Old Testament speaks concerning Jesus ruling the Davidic Kingdom one day in millennial fashion will be fulfilled because Jesus has the right to do it, because He’s the right gemological pedigree. That’s why Matthew is so careful in his articulation of the genealogy of Christ. Most of us are bored with that, all those names, they don’t mean anything to us. Well, they’re a big deal in Matthew because He’s saying Jesus is the guy, and yeah, the nation rejected Him at His first coming but it won’t be that way in the second coming because He is the offspring, the offshoot of David He will inherit these Davidic promises. 2 Samuel 7:16, Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’ Why? He’s the right line coming from that promise.
Number three, I really like this one, He’s the morning star. You know, to be frank with you I’ve spent a lot of my life studying the Bible and when I looked at this carefully this week I had no idea what it meant? What does that mean, “the morning star”? He is, as “the morning star” the pre-cursor of the new day. Genesis 1:5 when it describes the first day says, “And there was evening and there was morning.” That’s what’s coming upon the earth. Evening, a time of darkness and despair that the world has never seen. But it’s followed by the morning, the glorious millennial kingdom.
And what tells you that you’re moving out of the evening into the morning? It’s something that appears in the black of night, called the morning star. It’s a signal that the sun or the day is right around the corner. This is why Jesus is called “the morning star,” Revelation 2:28. [Revelation 2:28, “and I will give him the morning star.”] Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things [a]for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The passage we just read. And Peter calls Him the morning star, 2 Peter 1:19. [2 Peter 1:19, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”]
But that star appears in the midst of blackness showing us that the evening is about to end and the morning is coming. That’s what transitions humanity from darkness, the tribulation period, to the kingdom of Jesus Christ, the return of Jesus who bridges the gap between the two. It’s just like a morning star does.
And then finally verse 17, he offers the water of life. Notice what it says in verse 17, “The Spirit and the bride say “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the water of life” watch this now, “without cost.” It’s an invitation to unbelievers to come and partake of this water through he will never get thirsty again. Jesus told the woman at the well if you drink from that water you’ll be thirsty again, why don’t you try My water?
I like how it says “Whosoever wants it,” a lot of Christians don’t believe that, well, that’s an invitation to some. No it isn’t! That’s an invitation to the whole world. I mean, anybody knows that who reads John 3:16. That “Whosoever believes. [John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”] If you want it come get it. Come take it.
And I love what it says here at the end of verse 17, it says the same thing in Revelation 21:6, “without cost. [Revelation 21:6, “Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”] You mean I don’t have to crawl through a bed of nails and broken glass to get this? Because the world of religion will tell you that you’ve got to do that. You’ve got to through a maze. The Bible doesn’t say that. It’s as simple as faith alone in Christ alone.
Romans 4:4-5 says, “But the one who does not work but” what? “believes. [Romans 4:4-5, “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”]
Lewis Sperry Chafer says this: “Upwards of 150 passages of Scripture condition salvation upon believing only.” Religion says Jesus did most; Jesus bought the lunch but you leave the tip. You do 10%. What am I supposed to do? Well, you’re supposed to do what everybody in religion does, you pay, pray, and obey! And you live the rest of your life wondering if you’ve left a tip, like you’re supposed to? Was the tip large enough? I mean, I left a 15% tip, now they want a 20% tip. What does Christianity say? “Jesus did it all.” 100%, in fact, the final words of Christ are on the cross, prior to His death, where “it is finished.” He doesn’t say it’s about 97% done. And so you receive it as a gift by faith alone which, according to Romans 4:5 is the only way that you can do something before God which is nonmeritorious. That’s the only thing He’ll accept. That’s why it’s so easy.
This is why people, when they hear this, they stumble right over it because it can’t be that simple, because our pride is such that I say well I need something to brag about. But God has designed salvation in such a way that there are not boasting rights. You have to receive it as a gift.
So our conclusion is have you received that gift? You can receive it right now as I am speaking. It’s not a matter of walking an aisle, joining a church, giving money. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where the Spirit convicts you and you respond to it by trusting in the message. And that gives you access to the water of life without cost. It’s something you can do even now as I’m speaking. If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service
Let’s pray. Father we’re grateful for this truth, this message, these words. We’re grateful for an opportunity to have gone through the Book of Revelation, almost completing it, most likely completing it next week. And I hope, Lord, as we have traveled that we have not just gone through the Book of Revelation but the Book of Revelation has gone through us. And I trust that the words taught here will be used in the life of many people. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!