AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
February 29, 2004
Examination Time and Rest
Test, then rest: that is the order. The TRIAL of your faith, says Peter, is more precious than gold (I Peter 1:18-19), just as Proverbs assures us that wisdom is more to be desired than rubies (Proverbs 8). What IS faith MUST come forth as gold! What is not, but only a form, a psychological fidget or a hope, CANNOT pass the test. Thus if you had a stolen car, how could it possibly pass the test to be authentically yours!
If however you trust in God, in the name of Christ as your Lord and only Saviour, through His redemption, and believe in His power as shown in the resurrection of His own body, gladly receiving Him as Lord of your life, His word your guide, His Spirit your help: then as in Romans 10:9, Luke 24, then your faith is sure. Its object is Christ. Its guarantor is God.
Time passes, the END COMES, THE TIME ENDS. Let us see in Revelation 22 some of the features as this approaches.
1. THE TIME ENDS
22:17 Notice that UNTIL the very end, the offer is rich, reliable and wonderful: IF ANY WILL, let that person drink of the water of life FREELY (Rev. 22:17). If you desire it, drink it. If not, then there is other advice, to be seen shortly. If you want it, remember: IT IS FREE! (cf. Isaiah 55). This drink refreshes, is of the Spirit, gives reality from Christ, changes the heart and appetite.
22:14 It has results. Thus in 22:14, some texts read NOT “who keep His commandments” but “who wash their robes” here. Fascinating is the fact that though these two renderings differ greatly in English, they are very similar in Greek so that in that language, only a slight error in transcribing is needed to go from one to the other! The English Revised Version, the American Revised and the New American Revised, the Berkeley and others therefore translate in terms of “wash their robes” along with the famous Athanasius, whose creed is so well known. However, decisively the majority family of texts has most clearly “keep His commandments,” which appears in the Greek text of the volume of that testimony, in the AV and the New KJV, along with the witness of Tertullian who lived from late second century for a long and scholarly life, in Cyprian and in Syriac witness. We will look at this meaning.
Literally, it reads, Blessed are those who do His commandments [or are engaged in the keeping of His commandments, giving the idea of characteristic and progressive action}, so that their permission is (there) to the tree of life and that by the gate they might go into the city.” Those born of God are not the same as those not so born! You do not get a new car and find it the same as the old. That is, they are not shown to be frauds! Put differently, a good tree does have good fruit (Matthew7:17). Its fruit is its testimony, not its ground. Grace saves; obedience attests.
This is as in I John 3:9, where it states that he who is born of God does not MAKE A PRACTICE of sinning. After all, he who has My commandments and keeps them, said Christ, he it is who LOVES ME! and the one who does not keep My word, does not love Me. Those who do not love Him, says Paul, are accursed (I Corinthians 16:22). Exclusions on the practice of idolatry, covetousness, sexual laxity and perversion, drunkenness, theft and the like are to be noted in I Corinthians 6:9, relative to the kingdom of heaven; and although it is NOT BECAUSE of keeping of commandments that one gains the kingdom, yet it is with it, so that where test shows a lack of genuineness, there is default, and so some are excluded here, their examination failed because of lack of genuineness. Yet obedience is an index to your life, not its ground but a test result: it is not the source of grace but the evidence of it. Life tests, it examines your heart! If you are going to be holy, BE IT! We see this very emphasis in Revelation 22:11. This follows from that.
Hence what is here is not a new Gospel but a reminder that the Gospel of grace has the power of God to keep you from falling, that if you do slip, you are lifted up and cleansed, as by a mother, as in Proverbs 24:16 – “For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” Thus the new life in Christ is maintained by the gracious kindness of God, and it is quite incompatible with sleazy spirituality.
Accordingly, just as Revelation stresses purity in the truth, so it founds life in Christ on His blood and the washing through it; and it is encouraging to remember that WASHING is one of the COMMANDMENTS (Isaiah 1:18) that one should keep, and this makes you CLEAN! The lad who comes home after a fall is one thing: he takes a bath. The one who comes to dinner like that, is quite another! He simply does not care. Margaret recently fell in the Park, and was covered on one side in MUD! Did you stay that way ? Of course, not: home James and wash, carefully!
In fact, in Revelation 1:5, we read of “Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood”, as in 7:14, where we are told of some rescued from the Great Tribulation, that they are those who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” It proceeds: “Therefore they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night.”
WHY are they there ? What is written ? It is BECAUSE they washed their robes and made them white. HOW ? In the blood of the Lamb. Mercy smiles in the face of judgment (James 2:13).
THIS is the consistent teaching of the Bible. Christ speaks in this way in John 6:50ff., where the person who once eats His flesh and drinks His blood (takes His sacrifice as a ransom for sin, personally) shall live for ever. Faith in Him brings you in and He keeps you in; but it also drives you and enables you to walk with Him. This washing is not only at first, but to the last as in I John 1:7ff.. We are thus reminded here to KEEP CLEAN, and as required, to WASH! Those who know the comedy, The Plank! remember how the one who fell into garbage was left alone, even in the bus, and spoke to the policeman through glass, by telephone! Where you love Christ, even if you fall, you WASH and wash fast! You do not linger longer in the garbage, when you walk with Him!
If you are His (Ephesians 1:6), then He is your Saviour for ever, and AT ONCE HE is your Guarantor and the Holy Spirit your guarantee, according to His own promise and word. “IN HIM,” says Paul in Ephesians 1:11, “WE HAVE GAINED AN INHERITANCE” (cf. Ephesians 1:5,13-14). If you live in a laundry, only rebellion could make you stay dirty! Then you wash as you wash your face, not monthly, but continually. When you are washed with the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5-7), then not only are you cleansed for ever, but being His, you repeatedly wash with delight that He is there, and His cleansing is from all unrighteousness as I John 1:7ff. declares.
22:15 The barrier is up. Revelation 21:8 makes the same point in another way. There is an OUTSIDE then, just as there is a cleavage now. Life has its bidden ways, as does death those forbidden. You do not drive a car on a ploughed field, even if at times, you wander this way or that.
22:9-10 The worship of God is always direct, and no intermediaries are required. The ONLY MEDIATOR between man and God, O most blessedly, is God the Son (I Timothy 2), so that we are NEVER relegated to the secretarial ash heap! GOD deals with us direct (Psalm 84:6-7, Hebrews 4:14-16, 8:6, 7:25-26, Eph. 2:17-18). His word is ALWAYS to be consulted and from this, no revolt is ever in order. HE is to be found, and sought with all the heart (Matthew 4:4).
2. THE DIE IS CAST
22:11 The response becomes apparent in the end! This is what we saw in 22:14.
If you want to be unrighteous, continue with it; if not, continue with that. The time comes when like Lot’s wife, or like Stephen, you are for Him or against Him, and there is time no more.
22:18-19 The GOSPEL is God’s WILL and the WAY OF GRACE to His face! You cannot meddle in the least degree (even human insurance can be difficult if you want to mush it about!). Pardon is mercy; change is presumption from which the Lord preserve us all! (Psalm 19:13-14). The THINGS, we read here, given must have NO ADDITION, and the WORDS no subtraction! That covers it all. This is the end of the word of God written to us (cf. Galatians 1:6-9), and all command and opportunity for man, is as here written in the Bible. It starts, stops!
The Speaker is GOD! (Revelation 22:12-13). If you want Him, as in the baptism and the transfiguration, LISTEN. “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear Him!”
3. THE PICTURE CHANGES
22:1-5 I love the river of water CLEAR AS CRYSTAL, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Notice it is one THRONE just as it is ONE GOD! (Ephesians 4:4), Christ though in the very form of God, and thus His equal (Philippians 2), having humbled Himself to stoop low enough to reach us, even taking human form to do it. “They shall see His face…” and reign forever. What more do you want than knowing God with this amazing closeness, as if having long seen surf and beauty on pictures, at last you go to the great coastline yourself and taste it with your own senses!
22:5 As the Lamb is the Light (Rev. 21:23), and the Lamb and the Father the Temple (Rev. 21:22), the throne of God and the Lamb being there, there is one throne, one God, one majesty, one divinity, one worship through one Mediator to the Trinity, the Godhead, in all His glory.
A point for you here and now ? Romans 5:17 makes it clear that by the power of the Holy Spirit and the mercy and grace of God, you should be REIGNING IN LIFE! It takes courage, action, power and purpose, mercy and reviving but it is so! Remember Mark 11:23ff.. Finally reflect on the sheer wonder that after all the foul empires and frauds, the rich self-enriching masters there have been, here is the KINGDOM that DOES NOT END (Daniel 7:25, Revelation 22:3-5, 7:15-17, 12:10, 21:1-4, Ephesians 1:10). That the LAST will thus be FIRST, and those made as if last, at glorious peace with the very Creator and Redeemer as His friends, is joy unspeakable! Praise God HE has spoken it as only He can!