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53) Of great interest in the text for Revelation 22:14. It is the fact that the two major offerings that have been transmitted are so vastly different that we have here a crux for contemplation. We show the rendering here, give the reasons at length.
One rendering, appearing in the NKJV and the AV (1), unlike the case in the NIV,
English Revised Version, Berkeley, the American Standard Version of 1901
and the New American Standard Version (2), is this:
§"Blessed are those who keep His commandments,
that they may have right to the tree of life,
and enter through the gates into the city" (1).
The case for those mentioned second above (2) results in the rendering:
"Blessed are those who wash their robes,
that they may have right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city."
The word for 'right' signifies AUTHORITY! It is an absolute mandate.
THAT is found ONLY in Christ as in Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1ff., Titus 3:5ff.,
Romans 5, John 10, 6:51ff., I Thess. 5:9-10. It is at HIS APPOINTMENT and not at
our provision. He ONLY is Saviour (Ephesians 1:1-12), and any endeavour
to synthesise this with the poor and imperfect efforts of the flesh is not so much
an error as a different religion (Isaiah 53-55, Psalm 51, Romans 5:9-11, 10).
It is interesting that the famed Dean Alford in his very conscientious textual apparatus for the New Testament, also chooses (2). He notes of this that Athanasius (the famed controversialist for the trinity, against Arianism in the 4th century), along with Vulgate and Ethiopian, with such mss. as A and a are here ranged against others supporting the reading he does not choose. These include such items such as the mss. B, the Coptic, Syriac, Tertullian, Cyprian.
Also we find that (2) also has a wide selection of Italian versions, varied of the early Church 'fathers', and various notable mss.. That discriminating translator, Weymouth, also has (2), rendering "who wash their robes clean", while the notable Amplified New Testament has "those who cleanse their garments" and J.B. Phillips has "who wash their robes." The Vulgate adds "in the blood of the lamb." The following additional early church notables are also cited as supporting (2): Athanasius (373 AD), Fulgentius (533 AD), Apringius (551 AD), Primasius (552 AD), a 6th century Ambrose and Haymo (841 AD).
This official UBS text also puts in (2) as the resolution, not (1), but indicates that Coptic testimony is from different sources, on both sides, whilst more than one Syriac, including the Harkleian is for (1), and with this the record of the famed 046.
This array is interesting, but not surprising when further criteria are regarded.
The considerations are mixed; but especially strongly in favour of (2) is the very MIXED and highly DIVERSIFIED sources of testimonies from many ages. It is to be confessed however that in this case, varied indeed is the alternative textual testimony as we see above, and not few are the 'fathers' who attest it.
To this must now be allied a further pair of considerations. The metaphor, spiritual pageant or in fact doctrinal declaration inscribed in the clause "wash their robes" which appears in essence both in Rev. 7 and Rev. 1, is strongly at peace with the normal phrasing and teaching therefore of the apostle. It is not only what he teaches; it is actually what HE SAYS!
It is more even than this. The alternative in (1) is not so much at variance with his doctrine: prima facie, it might even appear to be in stark and elaborate confutation of it. The redemption of the Lamb (5:9), the glory of Him whose blood allows washing, the clean and fine linen of the saints which knows no degree when they appear in HIS own presence (Rev. 19): all these are matters of the utmost simplicity.
HE washed us from our sins in His own blood as Rev. 1:5 expressly tells us and it is HE who has MADE us priests and kings. THIS FOLLOWS FROM THE WASHING, AND IS NOT ATTAINED, BUT DONATED (Rev. 1:5-6). The water of life, accordingly, in Rev. 22:17, up to the very end, is not sold but given as was the case from the first (Isaiah 55), where there is even EXPOSTULATION on the spending of wages for nought, when the free gift was available without money and without price. Eternal life is a gift (Romans 6:23). It is the blood which makes white; not the sweat. That is what this Book says!
To make war on this direct teaching, and make OBEDIENCE the ground for reaching heaven as a RIGHT is at war with John, with Revelation and with Paul, with Christ and with the prophets. It is not merely the folly of such a concept; it is the species of aggravation: it is by this as a RIGHT! Such is the plea of those in Matthew 7:21ff., and Romans 10 who go about to maintain and secure their own righteousness. This is a gift as we see in Romans 5:17. You receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness.
This is the total emphasis of John and Paul alike. Isaiah pours coals on the vagrant concept: "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Indeed, he declares, "All OUR righteousnesses are as filthy rages"! What then of himself ? He himself was cleansed by direct divine action (Isaiah 6), and it is He who writes, "with His stripes we are healed". It is not our aches but His stripes which give us authority to enter in (cf. John , , 10:9,27-28). While the ministers or servants of God burn like a flame of fire as the Psalmist tells us, it is not this which makes them so: it is because they are His servants that they so burn (cf. Matthew 7:18). They are made so, with the gift of righteousness, with the regeneration as new equipment (hardware if you will) and the Spirit of the living God upon them to drive and refine, while the blood covers (Romans 3:25).
Moreover Christ in Matthew 20:28, we find, gave Himself as providing the epitome of service, and the nature of the service was this: to RANSOM. Now a slave does not gain ground for his new, and free premises as a RIGHT from obedience! Someone washed in the very blood of another does not have right of redemption and reception in it, by his own OBEDIENCE!
It is thus clear that the text "wash their robes" is in agreement with the Johannine, Pauline and Isaianic; it is of the core and thrust of Revelation likewise in terms of access to Christ and authority to be His with all the spiritual graces and gifts involved in that simple fact (cf. I Cor. 3:21-23, Romans 8:32 in context 8:29-39). Its alternative in this function of authority to enter the kingdom "keeping the commandments" , as supplied, prima facie seems the precise contrary, like a student making a caricature of his teacher in a fit of outrageous humour.
These considerations, in the light of the enormous cleavage in meaning of the two texts (1) and (2) would appear to make the choice easy. What then might be thought ? Someone at some point corrupted the text. It is blatant and extreme, derelict of all consonance with the Bible, the apostle or the book of Revelation. It was a vast intrusion; but the alternative is strongly attested in church 'fathers', early versions, translations and decisively in the clash or consonance consideration.
It is war, like D-day, or it is peace. It is contradiction or it is normalcy. It is the teaching of the apostle or it is a riot!
Such is the appearance of the thing, and it is well to consider it carefully, and thus to express it in its natural warmth.
However, the reading of the Majority Text, as presented for example in the Second Edition of "The Greek New Testament according to the Majority Text", from Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad (1985) is NOT to this effect. It provides (1) and not (2), commandments and not robes.
It is a clear, categorical index to "keep His commandments". Hence the AV and the NKJV, not unusually as one, both in the interstices of the majority text in the Greek, likewise here both follow this finding. For them, it is (1).
Accordingly, one must consider afresh what may be the implication, a little more deeply.
One can see the stress that might have been felt by some, but must now look at some other elements in the word of God to enlighten us on this point. Has the contrast between these two matters been adequately presented above ? That is the question. Have two possible understandings been merged, and has the actual intent of the text been lost, so making it appear unacceptable when an alternative reading is at least available.
Has not the GROUND of salvation been conflated with the AUTHORITY FOR ENTRY ? No indication is given that this entry is what saves. Salvation precedes it and entry pass if you will, is the inalienable privilege of those who, being His, love His word.
Thus in Isaiah 26:2-3 we find this: "Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in peace, peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You." This provides gates. This has entry! This is parallel to Revelation 22:14. Indeed "the righteous nation which keeps the truth" is highly parallel to the keeping of commandments characterisation in Revelation!
Here in context the question is one of a refuge and emplacement, following the destruction of the wicked featured, in Isaiah 25; and the provisions are for the righteous, the people of God made righteous by HIM (Isaiah 25:7-8, 53:10-11, Jeremiah 23:6, Zechariah 3:9, Isaiah 28:16, Zechariah 3:4, Isaiah 61:10, Romans 5:17), those already His. It is not how you BECOME a child of God, but what BECOMES OF YOU when you are that is before us here! It is not evangelisation but placement which is in view. That then fits our present situation in Revelation 22:14, and in its negative side, 22:15, which is the precise opposing parallel, speaking of those immersed and immured in their sins, sovereign over them, defined in defiance, dead in trespasses, OUTSIDE.
To provide a REFUGE and emplacement for the people already those of God, and to give a ground for such transmutation, indeed conversion and salvation: these are two things wholly different. Here in Isaiah the entry into the city is in view, in terms of who is who: some are in fact sheep by this time, and some remain goats. So is the situation as in Matthew 25:31-46, of this kind, where all nations are seen gathered before Christ Jesus; and according to their already established nature, bred in Christ or outside Him, so is the RESULT.
That is precisely as in Revelation 22:14 in its context with 22:15, sheep and goats.
The REASON for the pardon and the change, it is the blood of Christ, never the keeping of commandments. However, are we TOLD that it is the basis of the redemption or the nature of the regeneration which makes each what and who he or she is ? or rather that we have an evidence or attestation for it ? Is this before us in Rev. 22, the way the righteous enter or the way they are redeemed ?
Certainly not the latter, any more than being a sheep in Matthew 25, is the GROUND for salvation, rather than its quite obvious expression. You are born again, a sheep, if you will, then with a ticket of truth in Christ, a gladsome bell about your neck, placed there in the fulness of His favour, you enter.
Consider a football match. Tickets are first bought, only then presented. The ticket is by no means the ground for your being able to enter, but its testimony. Well-planted orange trees of sound genetic structure ('born again' is the parallel, God IMPARTING this Himself at conversion as in Titus 3:3-7) provide the basis, and having eternal life is the CONSEQUENCE. Thus in the case of oranges, the nature of the fruit it is which attests what they are, but this does NOT provide for their acquisition of this new nature or before that, their initial planting! These fruits are mere results.
It is not, then, the case that evidence of fruit that is the ground of entry of the tree into the orange orchard; it is the consequence. Trees seen are tagged in terms of what they show themselves to be. HOW they became what they are, is the horticultural equivalent of regeneration, the planting of the Lord from His own stock.
When the trees are considered, it is not hard to see which have oranges, when you know what oranges LOOK like! (cf. Luke 6:46). To an orange tree, you do not continually cry in vain, BE an orange, look like an orange, possess juice! However poor an orange may be, and however few may be the fruit on some, orange trees HAVE this fruit BY NATURE. Never and in no way in any part of the Book of the Lord is there attested a type of tree that plants itself in this field, whether in Isaiah 61:3 where they are the PLANTING OF THE LORD, or in Romans 6, where we are planted with Him. It is not the oranges which plant the trees, but the planting of what are FIRST made into orange trees, which produces oranges. THAT change into the tree type, it is the work of God as in John 3, and no one else, for these are "born of the Spirit" who blows where He will.
Here likewise, it is not the keeping of commandments which is the ground of salvation, as John continually attests in Revelation as in 1:5, 6:11, 7:14-15 and so on, but the atonement of Christ. Notice in particular that in 7:14-15, NOT ONLY are those found in the blessed and eternal presence of the Lamb the ones who "have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb", for that is only half the story. The rest ? It is FOR THIS REASON, that they are before the throne of God in such a blessed condition. The washing was the ground of their condition, position and eternal life. Thus, in verse 15, we read: "THEREFORE are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night ... they shall hunger no more ..." It is in such sites as I John 3:9, normative living in sanctity, that we see the results; and in I John 1:7ff., that we see another, the absence of delusion that being in Christ is the same as being anything in danger of being confused with sinlessness.
Sin's sovereignty is one thing; its presence is another. Pandemonium is one thing; imperfection is another. For all that, rebellion as you see in Jonah's case is far from normative, and is sure to be challenged and chastened as in Hebrews 12.
The ground of being a child of God ? It is provision of blood (Romans 3:28, Galatians 6:14). The consequence ? you practice righteousness (I John 5:4, 3:10). The entry in Rev. 22:14 ? for those so endued.
Let us look at the latter:
- "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil:
whosoever does not practise righteousness is not of God,
neither he who does not love his brother."
Here, then, in conformity with this biblical teaching in general and that in the writings through John in particular, we find the sure result. Revelation 22:14 ? it is not the ground for BEING of this character that is stated, but the attestation of that nature. It is not the securing of salvation but its expression in recognisable results which is in view. These attest, but before this, the change is wrought when God invests the sinner to secure for him or her, the salvation which is free and functional.
This is in this overall context no more than saying that recognisable reality is required. Farcical fabrications are neither those of the redeemed, nor functional for fruit. Orange trees have oranges, not lemons; sheep have wool, not hair. Christians are producers of good fruit, not fraudulent substitutes. They are not all loaded, but none is an alien who produces a life of a divergent kind. If they sin, they repent; if they err, they are corrected, if they err greatly, they are disciplined as indeed was David, and if they are TOLD to confess, they do. In all this, they are as friends of God, children of the Almighty, brothers of Christ, acting in His kingdom by faith through grace, and installed not in solemn farce but transforming fact.
Goats have little beards; sheep do not. Goats are good at acting the goat; sheep do not naturally take to such antics. Their ways attest them; but as to the creatures themselves, God MAKES them. THAT is what makes them what they are, doing what they do. So here: God takes the sinner and makes the saint, the latter still far from perfect, but by NATURE aware of Him, awake to Him, girded by Him, educated in spirit by Him, surrounded with strength of spirit and wisdom of heart, by Him, led by Him (Romans 8:16). Indeed this last is a perfectly general proposition asserted of those who belong to Christ.
Let us stress that Revelation 22:15, the very next verse, on this perspective, fits to perfection, noting as if in due antithesis of the former statement in verse 14, that "outside are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murders, and idolaters; and whosoever loves and makes a lie."
Here the very profuseness of the itemisation of those outside, fits as a match in the negative, to those who do enter. That opposite category who have no place, it is enumerated as we see above, with zeal! Beyond this, is the "for" at the head of v. 15. BLESSED are those who are His, who in short have in character and in essence departed from iniquity as in II Timothy 2:19, and who enter; BECAUSE OUTSIDE are those whose hearts are torn in iniquity, not born into the truth. That is a compelling consideration.
Indeed, it is this very point which makes the comparison with Matthew 7:20-21 apt. There someone is wanting ENTRY and is DENIED it on the ground that such a person has not done the WILL OF GOD. Good trees have good fruit, said Christ in Matthew 7, Sermon on the Mount. What however, someone may ask, can this have to do with the issue: Does the keeping of the commandments allow ENTRY ?
To this the answer is already established: it is not the GROUND of salvation that is in view, but it is the occasion of entry which must be understood. Not here is the buying of the soul in redemption, but the badge that betokens that it is fitting for these ones, already redeemed, to enter. Sheep wool shows sheep, unlike the more wiry and sparse hair of goats. We are not here concerned with HOW they got to be what they are, but how they show it.
Certainly, I John 5:2 declares this: "By this we know that we love that children of God, that we love God and keep His commandments". Nor is this given as a substitute for such love, as if loving God and keeping His commandments were some kind of celestial substitute for life one earth; but it comes as the way of expression of what is divinely desired. Indeed, says John 5:3, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome." There is nothing hypothetical here.
CORRELATIONS IN JOHN
It appears timely now to pursue FURTHER the concept of correlations with this teaching in John.
Thus in I John 3:21-23 and 5:1-5 we have this:
"Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment."
"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
The emphasis is added here to depict the point in view more readily. The commandments in question are
a) not burdensome.
b) in essence to believe in the name of Christ and love one another
c) and as to believing, it is summable as "believe that Jesus is the Christ",
this being sufficient
to ensure the regeneration, new birth, categorical change of status,
as one of God's children, and of life,
as renewed according to the image of Him
who created us (Colossians 3:10).
To this is allied (I John 3), both assurance available
of such placement by grace, and the certainty of the blessed state to come.
In other words, believing in fact, and not in mere form, is an action-creating process, or better, an action correlative one (cf. SMR pp. 520 - 532, Deliverance from Disorientation Ch. 5), and the results are multiple, but the condition is one. In this sense, it is the exact correlative of washing your robes in the blood of Lamb, which you cannot do without faith in Him, and which as in Titus 3:3ff., results in being cleansed, regenerated and His. One textual version points it out directly, the other indirectly, but both bring up the point that the GOSPEL IS COMMANDED, CLEANSING and INDISPENSABLE.
In other words, the ultimate is to believe that Jesus is the Christ (not ponder, 'accept' or postulate! - faith is the sort you ACT on, and not the sort you use as a children's game of 'Let's pretend!'). From this comes victory over the world. This is obtained by those who believe that "Jesus is the Son of God", which is thus entirely parallel as an expression to "Jesus is the Christ".
Victory over this world is inseparably annexed to believing, just as believing is unable to be evacuated of results, those which accompany faith. The fact that some become so keen to wrap it all up, that they institute a Romanesque works additive, does nothing to alter the essential fact that this is CONTRARY to keeping His commandments (cf. Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1ff.), and an affront to His word, covenant and Lordship.
This DONATED victory (you can have a donation which is extremely hard in its energising and work within you, from God who works in you both to will and to do - as in Philippians 2) ensures that, with whatever David-style failure here or there, or Peter-like weakness at this point or that (they were honest, pardoned and cleansed) you do not indulge in the CONTRA-COMMANDMENT illusion of perfection (cf. Psalm 139:23-24). In fact, this is so important that we shall cite it:
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. "
As I John tells us, if you think that, you merely deceive yourself! Deception, so far from being the keeping of a commandment, is its BREACH! In other word, the gracious, salvation by grace through faith New Covenant is a COMMAND, and it cannot be broken. You are not free to invent your own means of pardon or imaginary results. They are characterisable, but anything approaching perfection is not one of the characteristics, any more than is wanton, wilful, disregard of His word. A child may err; but when the adoption is a PERSONAL thing, and not a generation matter in history among mankind, then there is a SORT of tree, fruit, child, result; and it has these two features, assimilability to the ways of God, and continual need of washing and pardon for the errors which occur, but need never accrue.
Thus this FREE Gospel of grace (Ephesians 2:1-10, Romans 5:15) is one BY COMMAND, and in receiving HIM as commanded you acknowledge this. It is impossible for the devious creator of new christs, new gospels, new commandments and various oddities, since this is to defy the lordship of Christ who remonstrated as in Luke 6:46, WHY do you call Me Lord, Lord and NOT do the things that I say!
This "believe that... " is neither a matter of form nor one of burden. It is NOT grievous, burdensome. It is FAITH in HIM! It is not a matter of burdens placed on faith or additions to faith, which is characterisable as to its outcome, by God who tells us in Paul to judge nothing before the time (I Corinthians 4:1-4), and at the same time, when simple false doctrine is in view, false prophet material, adjoins us that we SHOULD know. What is indisputable relative to the word of God is not judging but application of that word, but in this, one must avoid presumption, which is as common as sand on this globe, and to be avoided as is that material in the eyes.
Thus, and in total accord in the writings accorded by the Lord to John, a regenerated heart is wrought by faith, so that believers in Him emphatically have eternal life (I John 5:11-12), and that is all there is to it, so long as you do not define faith anti-biblically as works, or symbol, or anything other than an active and assured trust in Him and in His integrity, and reliance on Him to do what He says and to be what He declares. In this faith, biblically defined, OF COURSE you act on it; and of course you are not perfect either, since it may be sullied or spoiled to some degree by fear or routine or other things, without - like your car which may get a bumper push somewhere - ceasing to be faith. In the end, you either do or do not trust Him, His word and His assurance. If you do, how do you trust someone else with something else! God is ONE!
So far then we have been considering the COVENANTAL approach to salvation, which inheres like a jewel in a casket, with the FAITH approach, since the faith is specified on the one hand for salvation, and the covenant specifies WHO HE IS in whom we are to believe, and what He has done. It is not some other Jesus (II Corinthians 11) or spirit or Gospel. It is this one, the COMMANDED one; it is this one, the FAITH operative one. It is this, the washing one; it is this, the directing to wash one. It is one.
Thus to doubt this eternal life through faith in Him is to doubt His assurances as in I John 5:11-12, 1:12, 5:24, John 10:9,27-28, Romans 5:1-11, and it comes back in the end to elemental acceptance of Him ass faithful who so assures. This is in no way to conclude that a sickness in this area is an absence of life; but it is to show that the normal life of faith is thus, and such is its inheritance.
Thus, in accord with all of this, John 1:12 tells us of the authority to become children of God, and it declares this to those who receive Him, the One just defined and declared, the Eternal God (there is one, not more cf. Psalm 82, 89:7), and as to the One there is, NONE IS LIKE HIM in character and power, none is comparable. To doubt this authority, or to defy His self-definition is the axe that removes all coming together. John 1:12 declares to the contrary, that there is not mere opening but AUTHORITY to become children of God where such faith in Him is to be found.
Accordingly those who so believe have AUTHORITY, in terms of Revelation 22:14, to enter the gate. They have kept the one all-sufficient command which leads to Him, to washing, to pardon, to adoption, to redemption, to assurance, to BELIEVE that He is the Christ, that He is the Son of God, and to believe IN HIM. There is ONE channel for saving faith, and it is to HIM! There is ONE such Saviour and it is HE who came and is as declared to be, not another. There is one word of God, neither jot nor tittle BY HIS OWN WORD, can escape fulfilment, and this is the Bible as confirmed in the past and authorised in the future at the day of Jesus Christ.
Moreover, as I John 1 tells us, if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. "AND JUST ..." Indeed, Romans 3 tells us the very same thing, that the redemption that is in Christ Jesus is provided that God might be just and the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus. In both these two additional scriptures, we find that the JUSTICE being covered, it is by being JUST that He authorises our entry, who believe, into heaven. Payment is made, faith has received it, it is applied by the Holy Spirit, and the result cannot be otherwise BECAUSE He is just, and therein is the authority, the right to enter the gates. Jesus having paid, it is BY RIGHT, by the divine right of the Saviour that the believer enters in.
Man is to live by EVERY WORD which proceeds out of the mouth of God, and this is part of faith, to accept what He has said. It is rebellion against what He desires, not failure, it is removal of His will which makes it a fraud. In the end, many say this and that, but they seek Him and His word, to follow it as it is, and not as people would mangle it, which matters. It is not perfection but faith which is in view, and faith does not make perfect, but for submission to HIM, and not to men! (cf. Galatians 1:6-9). The commandments of the Lord (I Cor. 14:37), and the scriptures of the Lord (II Peter 3:16) are not for fun but for faith.
You cannot ADD to it, nor could you remove it, since it is His. Even a letter is what is given, and not some conflation with your own inspiration. Much more so is this with the word of the Lord, and with the book of the Lord (Isaiah 34:16). Small wonder that this same apostle John is so emphatic that you cannot take away from the WORDS he has given, or add to the THINGS! THIS is the end! Christ came, the word came and the word is closed. Precisely as in Deuteronomy 4 and 12, there is a beginning and an END. THIS Gospel and not some other is to circulate the globe till the end of HISTORY follows the END of the writing of the BOOK of the Lord! (Matthew 24:12).
Thus authority and washing are everywhere to be found: AUTHORITY in telling you in what to believe, and who He is, and washing, because you believe, which changes what you are, so that as His, though far from perfect, you know your way about ... His house! You respond to this in faith, obeying the command to repent and believe by the power and grace of God.
It is personal FAITH (I John 2:27) so that you do not confuse men with God! It is loving faith, so that you seek fellowship with those of like precious faith (Jude). You are able to KNOW that He is able to keep you from falling, for this is part of the COMMANDED word, and that He will not let you be tested too far, for this is another part (I Corinthians 10:13). You are aware that you will never perish since the Good Shepherd (if you are a Christian) is yours (John 10:9,27-28), and this is HIS COMMANDED WORD, that so it shall be. You trust Him.
You believe in Him as God incarnate, ransom of your life, bodily resurrected (Luke 24, I Cor. 15), conferring His eternal life on you (cf. I John 1:1-4, Romans 6:23), God eternal, given of grace and of eternal redemption, salvation, not in some variable entity of your or some other person's or body's creation! Christ is NOT and never WAS created, being God from the first, and in His very own, unique FORM as such (Philippians 2). HE is to be regarded to make His WORD and His GOSPEL clear; and this is precisely what He has done. He may test us with concerns which force us to think, and to understand more deeply, and what good teacher does not do this! It is good, and we grow, as Peter prescribed in II Peter 3:18! yes in grace and in knowledge.
THE TREE OF LIFE
Let us even add to all of this. The AUTHORITY in Revelation 22:14 is this: to have access to the tree of life. This tree is seen in Rev. 22:2, and it is MEANS and METHOD and GROUND for eternal life. As such it is Jesus Christ.
HOW do you have authority to the take PRODUCT of this tree, namely eternal life ("lest he should put out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, live for ever" - Genesis 3:22) ?
It was EXCLUDED to Adam because of his breach of fellowship and failure in the test of innocence; but it is NOW accorded to MANY (Matthew 26:28, Isaiah 53:9ff.), and to ANY who should, so to speak, stretch out his faith and take and eat (John 6:50ff., in the new ransom mode of access by sacrifice), the sin offering of Christ.
The authority is gained by obeying the joint commands, to repent (if not, nothing - Luke 13:1-13), so giving appetite and stomach to TAKE and receive the gift, by faith, and so have Christ as Redeemer, so living for ever. It is found by receiving the COMMAND not to substitute works of your own for His (Matthew 7:21ff., Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-10), in whole or in part, of this or that 'part' of you, since it is ALL YOU, and any work of yours is excluded! and by taking the gift of grace THROUGH grace (Romans 5:15), so that neither in its substance nor in its mode of giving is there ANYTHING of merit or superiority or contribution of relevance to distinguish you whatsoever. It is NOT of the will of the flesh, period! (John 1:12 cf. Marvels of Predestination ... Ch. 3).
Thus and not in some autonomous way, you EAT the sin sacrifice by faith, and so have eternal life.
SO you enter the city, since by THEN you are HIS, and are COVERED, and it is a citizenship which of course is conferred by belonging to the King of the City.
Then, being born again of Christ
(as in John 3, by the power of the Spirit, as also in John 16,
and through His conviction dynamic),
you are given a new nature (as WHAT, being born again, is born of GOD),
so that while still decidedly imperfect (I John 1),
the recognition of which is also by COMMAND there,
you are equally decidedly NOT, as a matter of fact -
by your new heredity and new connection to "Christ in you, the hope of glory" - Col. 1:27) -
under the domineering dominance of sin
but set free (John 8:31-36, Romans 6).
Then, so constrained by the command which makes the altered and UNALTERABLE GOSPEL (Galatians 1:6-9, 3, 5), and not imagining that having started in the power of the Spirit you may continue somehow to wrest something from the 'law' of your own works, as Paul so clearly shows in Galatians 3, 5, you proceed as a son of the house, in the house, abiding in spirit and in principle, and in essential character in the rules of the house which holiness becomes.
If you DO fall into any sin, at any time, then you have now an ADVOCATE, Jesus Christ the righteous as your Barrister (I John 2:1ff.), and you are acquitted; for having heeded His word and believed in Him who sent Him, you HAVE eternal life (if it finished, you would never have had it, for it is one which is resulting in His acting, saying, "He will live forever", even for one of whom it is said, he ate of the body, with no statement of continuity as in John 6:50-51.
Moreover, such a one is such that he "will not die" for he "does not come into condemnation" and "has passed from death to life" (John 5:24). Naturally (John 6:53), the one who receives Him in sacrificial atonement draws always on His provision; but equally, he who once eats of this, will live for ever. Such is faith, and the faith.
Thus the commands about BELIEVING, and receiving by faith, the sacrificial Lamb, and doing so in repentance, so that His is the life within, the thing being not ostensible but actual; and about the absence of one's own works of ANY kind being relevant: these are constrictions on the STRAIT or constrained way in (Matthew 7:15ff.). You HAVE to enter that way, and there is NO AUTHORITY for any other way! and the faith does not alter. Yet if you enter in that way, you have GRAND AUTHORITY, the authority that God did this for you that He might be JUST, and being justified, there is this stark, vicarious but victorious, graciously conferred but entirely operatively perfect right of entry!
So does all scripture sit together, and does its authority say the Gospel in all its liberty, assurance and perfection, stressing now this, not that aspect, now using symbol, now being direct, so that any and all concerned may come, whether this way or that, to the POINT, of which there is but one, of the Gospel. It is thus that coming in HIS OFFER (as in Isaiah 55), to Himself as Saviour and Lord, and without deviation to false gospel or another Jesus or another spirit, or another alliance, or another command or another authority, believing what is offered and Him who offers it, that the tree of life, eternal life its fruit, is granted at last to fallen man.
If anyone sin, then there is a constraint on that too, to confess it and be cleansed from it altogether. If anyone is on the highway of holiness, even if he err, yet he will be led; for it is of this kind, and the new nature is inseparable from the One who gave it, so that as Christ said, the one who enters by Him will be saved and go in and out and find pasture, and SHALL NOT PERISH (John 10:9,27-28), and DOES NOT come into condemnation, having PASSED from death to life.
THE CHARACTER OF THE CASE
Here, then, is John in another book with the same immense and intense emphasis on the free gift of eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ, with no pluses (I John 1:7-2:2, 3:1-3, 4:1418, 5:10, 5:11-12), together with the same combination of considerations.
First is the free way to be saved, and then there is the natural and supernaturally charged expression of it; and this, it is not a handle for man's manipulation (I John 2:27), but a testimony of divine power. JUDGE not! thunders as securely as ever (Matthew 7:1ff.); and fruit appears as a ground to seek in discriminatory watchfulness when false prophets ply their wares. One obviously missing fruit, in such cases, in humble and contrite reception of redemption (cf. Things Old and New Chs. 9, 10, Epilogue and Appendix) from deity in flesh, is marked like the mushroom cloud. One freely confessing the reality of Christ within, only Saviour and living God, freely conferring salvation without works is likewise to all visible sight, in concord with the truth, as Christ conducts the life on the paths of eternity.
It is therefore the word of God which must at all times be applied chastely, neither with intrusive self-righteousness, far less assessive skill (I Corinthians 4:1-5), as if man were the judge, but with watchful alertness. When it comes to secret judgments, the DAY WILL SHOW IT, the actuality, here says Paul. Schismatic freakishness is as far astray as is careless indifference to what is required.
Keep the commandments ? After all, ONE commandment that resonates in Revelation, and indeed in
I John and Isaiah 1, is WASH! It is only pure rebellion which will refuse that; and what then happens ? Then one is made clean by imputed righteousness, crowned with imparted righteousness, not as a ground of justification but as an expression of it (Romans 8:10), and lifted into the relish of righteousness, in the company of the Supreme Righteousness, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9-11). Redolent with His presence, made keen in His joy, there is for His people the token of the perfection that is His, in the portrayal of OBEDIENCE to His LORDSHIP. His commandments are not hard! No, (I John 5:3-4). Wash ? This is not onerous!
The mother's call to her children before breakfast, Wash! is not a ground for distress, but a natural operation in a household that walks in wisdom. It is not ground for virtue that one washes, but attestation of being one of the family. It is a washing family: that is how it is constituted in the case in our view.
Wash ? Indeed, it is He who cleanses! (Hebrews 10:14). How would he whose heart is changed refuse to be washed ? Would wheels not turn ? would water not wash ? would Christ's blood then not cleanse ? Only denial has impact on such an issue, and denial is not the affirmation which we study!
It would here be apt to note that the great Matthew Poole in his Commentary on the Bible, points out that in Revelation 22, the tree that imparts life is obviously Christ, and just as it is introduced in verse 2, so its access in v. 14 provides access to Christ; and that the great Gospel commandment is to believe in Christ, so that in believing, one is obeying; and this is the more obvious in Acts 4:11-12*.
One must add that this excludes another Christ, another Gospel or another Spirit, the Spirit of God evidently, as in Ezekiel 47 and John 7 being seen as a life-imparting stream, in figure. It does however indicate saving faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour, all additives excluded (Mark 7:7ff.), all alternatives deposited in the pit (II Cor. 11), all changes abhorred (Galatians 1 - the word is scarcely too strong to cover Paul's declarations here).
He who has HIM, has life, says I John 5, and he who lacks Him does not have life: it is exclusive (of unbelief) and inclusive (of belief, and hence on acting on it, and receiving Him as in John 1:12). To those, says the Gospel at this point, He gave AUTHORITY to become the children of God. This authority stays with the believer for ever according to the promise (John 3:16, 6:50-54, 10:9,27-28, 5:24); so that in having obeyed the command to believe in Him, the believer has already all authority to Him for ever, by grace, through that faith by which he first entered the first door, which is the Lord Himself (John 10:9 with 27-28).
Whether it be washing the robes or believing and so in effect encompassing all commands in one, it is one: the one leads to the other and the other to the one.
Thus in John 12:35 you have the command, "While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be children of light" (bold added); and in 9:5, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world," and again in 8:12, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life." To believe in Him is to obey that one command which embraces in its grace and mercy all commands, for what lacks He covers, and Christians are accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6), by grace, their deficiencies accounted for in the great accounting (II Cor. 5:19-21), and their efficiencies graciously valued (Matthew 25, as of the sheep).
In Rev. 22:17 the freedom of the drinking which according to the Lord Jesus Christ, in John 4, imparts life forever (and it is aorist, not a process in that verse, as for the parallel in John 6:50ff.), is maintained straight after our text in 22:14, making it even clearer, if possible, that the keeping of the commandments in 22:14, means what I John 5 tells us, believing that Jesus is the Christ. In that setting however, it makes it obvious that this is no mere wafting of a verbal wand, a casual dripping from the devious lip, but biblically defined faith, which means a trust that activates as in James, an assurance that constrains, and anything but feeble formality alone.
Now before we go further, let us pause. Having said these things, it is clear that we must be sober in understanding Revelation 22:14. This is by NO means to imply that ANY form of our own righteousness or works is even RELEVANT to salvation. Far removed is all such cant from the GROUND for that blessed pardon, transmutation and transformation, of depths and of heart, of spirit and of life, of thought and of procedure. As above noted for Revelation, for I John as for Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-10, it is always the same. He saves freely (cf. Isaiah 55), and you are then arrested, invested and conducted in the paths.
Your works change you then ? your works make you a Christian ? That too is ludicrous, a ground for boasting, says Paul. Oranges don't make orange trees, but orange trees attest their origins by their oranges! It is calumny of Christ, making havoc of His word, indeed by tradition of thought from philosophy, making the word of God of none effect as Christ put it in Mark 7:7ff..
No, instead here in Revelation 22:14, it is to indicate, along with Matthew 7's stress on the will of God, that there is a token that betokens, a result that indicates, an index that agrees, and it is not on this as ground of salvation in the very least degree, but as an expression of what is that ground, that entry is given.
The fees, again, are first paid for; but it is the cap and blazer which identify at the gate.
It is an inexhaustible account of righteousness (II Cor. 5:17-21), with a fathomless depth of pardon, paid in Christ's sacrificial death, which is the GROUND OF SALVATION, with its crux that cross of Christ in which alone is one to glory; but here, in Revelation 22, it is the testimony of that righteousness which is the indisputable notation of Him who saves and to whose kingdom the Christian comes, which characterises the entrant. The topic of redemption in Revelation 22:14 indeed, is not even MENTIONED! Because of other scriptures, it cannot even be here entertained any more than in Isaiah 22, as shown above.
Abysmally would any fail, if this were ground of salvation; but as expression of the washed heart and Lord-run life, it is incalculably different from what is not. The light of Christ shines in the once stricken
but now secured soul, and this, it is unmistakable! (John 8:12). Similarly, from such redeemed and
Christ-inhabited souls, we are told that the Spirit of God pours forth like a stream (John 7:37). Who can fail to notice a stream, least of all, the Lord!
Indeed, there is a certain savour in the path and calling of the Christian, which is a testimony of life to the living and of death to the dying, as Paul declares it (II Corinthians 2:14-17).
The STENCH of sin is covered; the GUILT of sin is covered; and consequently the WORK of righteousness is REAL, so that the testimony it gives, like a ticket paid for elsewhere, but honoured on presentation, is indefeasible, just as its ground in Christ Himself, is indefectible.
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments;
and His commandments are not burdensome!
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world,
and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith"
(I John 5:3-4).
Yet one may say, COULD anything be remotely near enough to attest Christ, even as an index, in such as that chief of sinners, Paul ? Yes, it could, not as a ransom, but as an expression of the realisation and reality of that ransom. The peculiarly individual sap of the vine in the limb attests its place! Such a divine sap is this that not to realise it would be more than congenital blindness, it would be to shut the eyes; and remember, it is God who sees! and through whom is entry for these, His own. Does a mother not know the ways of her own children ? and in this case, rebellion is worse than witchcraft! Change is here not psychological or cultural, political or ideational merely, but personal, spiritual and eternal (I John 3:9). These necessary consequences of such divine action are divinely visible, in terms of construction, as much as were the ruins of Hiroshima in destruction. You need no microscope to see such things.
Why even the lips will be strengthened in godly testimony (Luke 21:15)! Without His Spirit you are no Christian at all (Romans 8:9), and with it, the body is dead because of sin, and you are LED by the Spirit (Romans 8:10,16), being no more characterisable as in the flesh, but in the spirit (Romans 8:9). Indeed, without this transmutation, you CANNOT please God (Romans 8:8). With it, you are rendered ENGRACED in the beloved, or accepted in Christ (Ephesians 1:6).
What then ? Ransom is legal, pardon is profound; and it is not without results. It is time to be clear in this generation that the greatest work in human personality ever made since creation (cf. Colossians 3:10), is not vacuous but virtuous, not evanescent but evangelical, not merely emotional and notional but actual. Realisation is practical in life quality for the children of God. Being born again does not fail to make you a new creation, utterly diverse from its earlier model.
If CHRIST is in you (Colossians 1:27 -'the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles'), there is indeed no automatic perfection or anything remotely like it; but there IS a Spirit, the Holy Spirit, which is in such a person (Romans 8:9), and those that are Christ's HAVE crucified the flesh with its lusts (Galatians 5:24), so that to LIVE is CHRIST! (Philippians 1:21). His shepherding is one function, His first making you SHEEP is another; His Spirit in you is a third and His zeal over you is a fourth (II Corinthians 3:18). Love of His word is a fifth, as He Himself attests (John 14:21-23), and is inseparable from love of Himself. Love, it never fails! Love constrains, remains; it does not entertain but enables; and when it is love of God, in a nature made susceptible by God, then rebellion is not the reality in view. It may come for a moment as a mist in the morning; but departs at noon. Regeneration is not a new front for the store, but a new store for the front.
To suggest that this has no practical bearing on anything is mere contradiction; just as to maintain that it could serve as a ground, rather than a mere index, for admission would be as anti-scriptural a point as anyone could wish. It is therefore, perhaps, in the end here, a matter of rightly dividing the word of God. Authority to enter is a vast and imposing reality inseparable from the presence of the Spirit who enables in the heart of the believer; but it is not the same as the PAYMENT for entry or its GROUND. Even the priests took note of Peter and John that they had been with Jesus. IF you have been with Him, it is as impossible to hide as is the reek of rebellion!
On this, the reader is strongly recommended to see the Sermon No. 43, in The Site.
Hence John's constant stress on washing throughout the book of Revelation may have been a reason why some wanted to change the text here to what, in the Greek, involves very little change, though in the English it is vastly different. It is the Greek, however, which was transcribed and it is here that changes occurred. Needed to move from keeping the 'commandments' to 'clothes' was chiefly the dropping of two letters before the Greek for commandments and adding one letter, to turn it into clothes. There was a net reduction, a net omission. That is readily done in transcription. It is not quite so easy to add what is not there at all. Possibly operative also is motive, and the extreme ease with which this may appear another Gospel, would be testimony to that (cf. 43 above). The other change in the text has no net numerical effect, and is precisely the sort of error, when the cases are inspected, which could well be imagined!
This harmonises well with the Majority Text which has those extra letters at this point; and it is to this that one looks in providential grace, where there is no masterful ground to the contrary. Not little must be the impetus to depart from that objective reality. Again, there is a wide spread on both sides, in this textual doublet: Tertullian versus Athanasius for example. The former, with the Majority Text as it is now, had one advantage, that his time was substantially nearer to that of the originals, since he was born at the end of the second century, far earlier than Athanasius, and is joined in his testimony to what is now the Majority text, by Cyprian, and of course Codex B with neighbouring Syrian as well as Coptic companionship.
It is true that you do not alter the everlasting gospel which none of the writers stresses more constantly than John, and none more than Christ for that matter: because of confusion. That leads only to illusion, as if different aspects of the same truth were beyond contemplation. Indeed, as Paul says, even if HE should preach another gospel, he would be accursed (Galatians 1).
What then ? You do not, emphatically NOT, follow orders in order to be accepted, except in this, that without the Gospel, you CANNOT be accepted, and you are COMMANDED (Acts 4:11-12) to REPENT and to believe in the Saviour (John 8:24). We have seen this in great detail above. Indeed, you DO follow the command, so non-burdensome, to find Christ so that with Him, you for ever will be, with God your Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11, Acts 4:11-12, Revelation 2:9, 21:22, 22:3); and so you look for His return with real expectation (I John 3:1ff., Hebrews 9:25ff.).
It is not just that the Greek here rendered "in order that" can have, as Thayer's dictionary*1 points out, the sense of purport rather than purpose; but it is also that the commandment in question is to BELIEVE in Him, to believe that HE is the Christ, the Son of God, and if these are several, yet in essence they are all one. It is to believe in Him as your continual and eternal Saviour, so that it is NEVER you or your performance at all, that is the question, you being blessed for your good works, while those who REFUSE salvation, as in Matthew 25, are cursed for their bad ones. That is the difference between being covered and not covered. Even a somewhat blundering man in a covering that excluded radiation would live, while the most agile without it, might be assigned assuredly to death!
What then, you KEEP the commandment, first of all, to repent before the living God and of what more than this, that you had not trusted His word, His ways, His works of salvation and power to sanctify, for yourself! Moreover, there are not only sins of ignorance to repent of, but of commission and omission and of stature, non-growth in spiritual things, or in perverse substitutes, of your own estimation, while HIS command, character and call were neglected. KEEP that, in the sense of being appalled by it, and turning to the Lord in penitence, being pardoned and commissioned for better things. KEEP the commandment to believe in Him (for if you do not, He indicated, you will die in your sins), believe in Him as in the Father, with whom He does all things as the Father does, and thus to find in Him the eternal God (John 8:58).
Moreover, as I John 2:7, there is a commandment, not new, to love his brother. This is taken as an OUTCOME (John 3:14) of "passing from death to life" as in John 5:24, where we are told that he who hears His word and believes in Him who sent Him, has eternal life, does not pass into judgment, and has passed from a state of death to one of life! With the words through John, there is always this combination: faith brings life, but it is faith in the One who in the beginning both was God and was with God, the eternal I AM, and in Him as He says, who is able to bring sin in subjection (John 8:29-32), BECAUSE one depends on Him who acts for the one who waits for Him (Isaiah 63). The gift is gratis, the results are sure, the skirmishes may be many, but the victory also is a gift (I John 5, Galatians 5).
Again, in believing in Him, we do not have a sharing of His authority (Matthew 23:8-10), about not being called father or master, because ONE is your Master, even Jesus the Christ. This too is a command. The commandments define the issue, but what they supply is access to the actual Christ, so that He cannot be mistaken, and so one finds and enters through the door, having as in Revelation 22, authority of access since HE calls to all, and being lifted up, draws all men to Himself.
Some do not come anyway; they refuse His call. So be it. Grace is evacuated by making, defining, renewing a new god, just as in Deuteronomy 32, or new gods newly coming up on the spiritual screen, based on nothing, sent from nowhere, providing no salvation, giving no authority of access to grace. Thus this aspect of Revelation's teaching is also precious, ruling out all the foolish fevers of what one would call transformationism, emergent or emerging churches, Vineyard type practice of fondling bringing in this and that in the construction of some combination or synthetic god of preference, created by man; but how ludicrous. In the beginning, MAN WAS NOT, and he was NOT with God, and he was NOT the word, any more than he now is. To treat mankind to such sumptuous spirituality not only demeans him (as whenever you refuse the due use of something, and so evacuate from its lustre), but misdirects to what very simply is not the case, and so does not help, just like placebos. They might taste nice, but bitter in the bowels is their resultant!
It is all a gift, when you take it at the command of the Giver, by faith, the whole thing not of yourself, but the provision of God as in Ephesians 2:1-10. The whole thing is HIS work done by HIS grace, and received at HIS call, which coming from foreknowledge in His love in all issuance, all provision, is dowered in devotion; for it is His stated will that all might come, and nothing in HIM prevents it. It is ORDERED in the result, but FOUND in the foreknowledge. It is not the preference of sin, but the one which God finds before time or sin, so that the difference stated in John 3, it is the DIFFERENTIAL preference for darkness in the very face of the saving light of Christ which matters. Nothing is to be set at God's door: has He not done ALL that one might even conceive in personal sacrifice in humility, humiliation and constant holiness, an example, a ransom, a release to peace in pardon!
Thus there is AUTHORITY just as, alike with Revelation 22:14, in John 1:12, where to those who receive Him (as there defined and depicted) are given AUTHORITY to become the children of God. Access to the tree, to eternal life, to being children of God, whichever, all and each, these come freely to faith. There is nothing free about the wages of sin, for these are duly paid (or paid out, where Christ is received as the sin-bearer - Matthew 20:28, Galatians 3); but the GIFT of eternal life is entirely free, where faith receives it in the name of Christ and His work of salvation (Romans 5:17-18): free to us, but not to Him!
WHATEVER the excuse for not believing, it is always the ground of exclusion; and there is no mistake about the foreknowledge of the fact of His act of love and this relative to everyone (John 3:15-16, Colossians 1:19ff.). It is then predestined in logical order, in terms of the originating love, and the foreknowledge of each person (not of works, since the soul is not then in existence and this is denied as relevant at all in Romans 9). Next in logical order is the predestination in security of what is thus known, followed by the call, the justification (Romans 5:1), and the glory which follows as in Romans 8:30ff..
There is no room for new commandments, set-ups, situations, arrivals; it is all categorical. Blessed are those who simply believe in Him so presented, and receive both Him and His word, which depicts who He is, His will and His ways.
John stresses this realism about the truth, along with the glory of the loving and free gift of eternal life. It is take it or leave it; with no controls, no changes and no special pleadings. It is the same in physiological life, when it comes to the crisis point. If you have cancer, and an excision will remove it in time, good. But you can't substitute new drugs, such as aspirin or some concoction of your own. If you do, you freely court death, which in such a case, can be very yielding!
Thus it is not at all your performance which is here in view, but your following the covenantal faith to the Covenanted Conqueror, King and Lord, and so being regenerated being His. Thus, as in John 1:12 do you have right to enter in, and as to working your passage or whole or in part, such a thing is not anywhere in the entire word of God ever asserted. It is ridiculed, rubbished (Romans 10:1ff.). You do it because a good tree cannot do otherwise. It is endemic, irresistible, natural to the new nature which, however blighted at times by the scorching fire of temptation, as with Jonah or David, Peter or Thomas, yet like a citadel under siege, not only stands but sallies forth with spirit, to overcome the enemy by the power of the Spirit, the promise of the word and the transformation wrought and fostered by the Lord, within (cf. II Corinthians 3:18).
Any concept of seeking performance rather than Christ alone as guarantor and guide, ground and entry right is ridiculed, rubbished (Romans 10:1ff., I John 4:9-10,18-19). You act in godly style because in the end, a good tree cannot do otherwise. It is endemic, irresistible, natural to the new nature which, however blighted at times by the scorching fire of temptation, as with Jonah or David, Peter or Thomas, yet like a citadel under siege, not only stands but sallies forth with spirit, to overcome the enemy by the power of the Spirit, the promise of the word and the transformation wrought and fostered by the Lord, within (cf. II Corinthians 3:18).
That indeed now becomes the point: if you do have this characterisable attitude of keeping the commandments, this thrust, this generic mode, not in the imagination of perfection, but with humility and contrition, with the power of the pardon in the blood of Christ continually operative (I John 1:7-9 saying precisely this), then this is visible to the invisible God. You are alien. Aliens lack authority in the land! They need first to be brought near by the blood of Christ, which through faith changes their very ‘genes’ (I John 3:9). New genes are generative of new beings, children of God.
He knows, because He Himself declares that NO ONE can have in the flesh, anything but enmity with God; but YOU are NOT in the flesh, says Paul (Romans 8:5ff.), but in the Spirit; and if anyone does not have the Spirit, that one is none of Christ's! That is the word of the Lord. Indeed, if Christ be in you, the apostle declares from the mind of Christ, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Infinite payment was not made for infinitesimal result.
What a marvel we have then here! Sin brings death, borne by Christ for every believer (II Cor. 5:20-21), and the Spirit freely enters and moves in the covered soul, in the life with Christ, so that the righteousness appointed in legal cover, is also that active in dynamic lift. It is not the DEGREE of lift which is in point, but the dynamic of it, the reality of it, the NEW CREATION aspect and the savour of His own Spirit in the converted soul and life of the Christian. God does not ignore Himself!
Moreover, it is a case of transformation, of entire change, at birth into spiritual life (John 3). Could anyone confuse an egg with a chicken! So it is with the new life, not attributing any sort of perfection to chickens, but rather discernible wings!
|Let us turn from the biological to the botanical: In Christ, those who are planted are kept and bear fruit (Romans 6). But leaving all figure, let us be direct.|
inextinguishable righteousness of Christ, a gift to the pardoned saint
(cf. Romans 1:1, Romans16-17), it is this which resides undimmable,
unfading, unflecked and unspotted in purity,
the cover for cancelled sin, the condition of reception into fellowship with God;
and it is this from the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep,
which alone keeps faith with God, alone up to the infinite standards of His acceptation.
|Here lies their anchor
(Hebrews 6:17-20, 9:11-12,10:10,14),
for the change of name and entry into life (John 1:12).
But the life
so donated in such liberality and effectuality,
this attests itself and is known to God.
The former gives redemption status, regenerated reality; the
latter gives recognisability of the born,
as borne by and in Himself. You cannot really mistake the ways of a kitten with those of a pig.
ONE of the criteria of such a life is the fact that CHRIST is Lord, and is CONFESSED as such (Romans 10:9), not merely mouthed. Another is this, that that name above every name is a very hub and centre of action between God and His ransomed children. It is like a car: not in the garage but on the road, with continual calls to headquarters. These may be of distress, of joy, of sharing, of drawing on the funds of strength for function.
Such a spirit is profoundly obvious to the Father of spirits, and it is but one aspect of the new life in Christ.
It does not posit any more ascription of praise to those so changed, than did the rebellious moment of Jonah; but the prophet remained what he was, a man of God, even offering to be thrown overboard to seek for peace for OTHERS on board, whatever became of him. So Cranmer, excellent archbishop, having in temporary sojourn from spirituality, signed a document of renunciation, of recantation concerning the very truth, muddled in his thought and muddied in his mind, yet in detestation of his sin, BURNT that same right hand FIRST in the fire, where he went after recanting his recantation, having first with conspicuous gallantry, preached again the true Gospel of free grace in the very midst of his foes.
Thus, what literally are the having-been-saved-by-grace-through-faith people (Ephesians 2:8), as the Greek expresses it, come into life with the testimony of Christ undivorceable from their faces of faith. They seek a city which has foundations, and go as seeing Him who is invisible, and He who is invisible descries their beloved form, as the father in the parable saw his returning son; and here how much more does He know those who abide with Him at last, His very own come in finality into the premises to which they have long looked, to share with Him whom long have they known and in whom they have dwelt. Thus in Romans 8:30ff., it is even those whom He FOREKNEW that He predestined; and He who would have ALL (Colossians 1:19ff.), knows those who are His, the redemption costly, the accomplishment glorious.
What Christ bought is their ransom in the Cross; what Christ wrought is the symptom that shows. Oranges grow on good orange trees, and good trees bring forth good fruit. You can tell them by that; and even though men may malign and misunderstand, GOD DOES NOT DO SO. You see that in Matthew 25 relative to the sheep and goats. The sheep are commended for their right actions, the goats condemned for their failures. Since they refused to have them covered, they are discovered, uncovered and loaded with guilt.
Planting is by grace;
transformation is by grace (cf. II Corinthians 3:18);
salvation is by grace through faith;
and fruit is found in the heart to which God looks, that changed heart, which humble and contrite, and trembling at His word (Isaiah 66:2) is loved and cherished by Him, known from before the foundation of the world (cf. Romans 8:30ff., Ephesians 1:4), paternally guarded, eternally secure. In all things, in the end, these seek to be close to God.
To this man, says Isaiah, will God look; though the way he was bought that he might be God's, and the way in which grace wrought that he might be changed, and the ground for the very entry of the Holy Spirit, that he might have the attestation that he is Christ's (Romans 8:16), and yield his members as instruments of righteousness, with whatever lapses or errors: these are the preliminaries of which such spiritual fruit is the assured attestation. Leave a ditch which you have dug from the unyielding earth, in the open skies, and when it rains, it will assuredly have water.
Far is this from validating that horrible approach that men judge other men's fruits to see if they are yet Christians, fruit inspectors as if to accord spiritual status to the would-be Christian, without presumption! Passing on this information, their findings, would they then allow those assessed to think that at last now they are Christians, now they have faith ? That distortion of righteousness is self-contradictory. It would mean that you do not believe until you are told you are a Christian, that you really are one. Hence in such a twisting of truth, faith is not working in you till then; hence fruit is not forming while it is being looked for, that it might be accredited; hence it is not to be seen, since without faith you cannot even please God, and salvation after all, is BY FAITH.
If then any such method as this were followed, the results would be frustrated and the fruit precluded. It is God who sees the heart, and invalidates spiritual error, not accepting mere performances, such as those of the Pharisees for instance (cf. Matthew 23). It is faith which grasps His life, the vitalisation and the victory, His own. This faith is in no more authentication in reality, than is the birth of a child. A doctor may inscribe the certificate; he cannot deny the birth. If he does, it is not he who is medically fit!
In such an approach of fruit-inspectors among men, therefore, there is horrendous confusion, and this in profusion. It has not been uncommon in the past, nor is it in the present; and it has many close companions in seeking to super-add our puny performances to the infinite quality of Christ and His acceptable work, like putting the babble of infants into the select mathematics of some genius of senior years. Indeed, it is worse still: for that is relative, but this is absolute, the infinity of divinity relative to the finitude of man's imperfections.
Assurance comes from faith and faith from God; it is not the permitted product of human intervention. Works to permit faith ? it is like a marriage certificate to permit love.
The reality is intrinsic, not extrinsic.
All such things are indeed quite different from the belief that the word of God is true when it declares,
He who born of God does not make a practice of sin (I John 3:9).
You may err as King David did with Bathsheba, and repent as he is shown to have done in Psalm 51, that marvellous cup of kindness for the fallen; for though the righteous fall seven times (Proverbs 24:16), yet the Lord sustains him. That is what He does to the one reconstructed, regenerated, pardoned and indwelt by His Spirit. God knows His own, and this aspect is like a portrait, the reception of pardon, the contrition of horror at sin, the relish of the rectitude of Christ, the cleansing by His inveterate love covering with that reservoir of merit in His work which went to the death, yes and through it to the resurrection that would not give death dominion, but rather shattered it. THIS is the righteousness that counts in redemption.
What attests it is the savour of His Spirit in the ransomed life, the outcome of His regeneration in the new heart, crying - Father! the willingness to be led, the wonder of His own indwelling, the close intimacy of fellowship, the touch of the Master.
God recognises His own who being His, endued by Him both in nature and in dynamic, through love and in mercy, are swept in the current of His life, and drawn at length in love where death does not dwell, to join the spirits of just people made perfect, where in the Father's house, through Christ, they are to be found.
He KNEW them as His own before the world was founded;
DREW them as His own when their time in history came;
DELIVERED them through His blood, and then
AUTHORISES them as His own when the portals of eternity are open;
for they ARE His own, find in Him their sanction and resource,
look TO Him in prayer, walk FROM Him in faith, to finish His work.
Seen through the eyes of love, they look like His sheep, their wool pure through the washing of pardon, their ways understood, their fealty recognised with the eyes of truth as His procurement, the due result of His work for those whom He has endued with inseparable spiritual life.
Called, they know Him and He pays for them;
enthralled, they know Him and by His hand He leads them in the right way.
At a glance, they are known, and given authority; for were they not already authorised as in John 1:12, to become the children of God ?
Now that authority extends to their collective Christian uniform of love and truth, and of course, love of His commands who is their Lord. His children are ALWAYS authorised to enter all spiritual gates in the very interstices of His kingdom. As then, so now.
When you distinguish thus different things, all fits into place with massive biblical support. Thus conscious of the elements in view, let us return to the text of Revelation 22:14.
Thus the mere reliance on relative ease of interpretation cannot be allowed, in the last analysis, to suspend the testimony of the carefully considered and construed Majority Text; and this the more when its testimony as here, is unclouded and clear in itself. One would not dare allow a disputed text to change doctrine from clear crowds of textual confirmation, for that would be folly; one could not well depart from this Majority text without peculiar warrant, since one leaves to the providence of God, what is to be taken. Hence in this case, possibly the most thorny textual one, one is forced to see that what is not saying that entry is PAID for by obedience, but granted to those of such a kind, is not excluded at once.
Instead, it needs the closest examination; but when we see such allied texts as Matthew 7:21-23, which are really saying the same thing, and realises the import of Jeremiah 13:27 - that magnificent testimony of divine love, then one it becomes plain that one must leave to its own objective reality, the Majority text, rightly interpreted as it MUST be because of all other scriptures; and follow it.
DOING THE WILL OF GOD is seen in Matthew 7:21ff. to be the inalienable product of the child of God. What may not thus be characterised is from this scripture, seen to be simply not His! Err he/she may; astounding may be the lack of vision at times, the foolishness; but the child of God is bred by God, inhabited by God, known to God, walks with God, and has the irremovable spiritual genes inbred that come only from God. God is his proclivity, God his resource, recourse and desire, as is that of a horse galloping, for water.
HE makes children of His own, not another; and children of His, they are, and not of another. Their final fuel is from Him; their dynamic is His movement, their target His side, their perils His concern, their deliverance His delight. Deliverance is not always from pain, from suffering, or even death; but from lassitude that does not love, from confusion that does not see and from wandering that does not cease. The Good Shepherd goes and fetches what wanders in His fold.
Let us look then for a moment at Jeremiah 13:27. Confronting the innate sin that dominated in the array of rebellious hearts of that day, that thus DID have dominion over these to whom the prophet speaks, Jeremiah from the Lord makes this declaration, and asks this question:
"Woe to you, O Jerusalem! Will you not be made clean ?
When shall it once be ?"
To this writer, this is one of the most poignant of the verses of the Book of the Lord! There you see
1) a divine yearning, as from a mother.
2) a fatherly caution, crisp with realistic concern.
3) an interrogation, as from a surgeon, foreseeing inoperable lung cancer,
and speaking to an uncontrolled tobacco addict.
4) an implicit attestation of long continued abuse.
Being clean is NOT a matter of drawing near with the lips while the heart is afar off (Isaiah 29:13); it is a matter of WASH and BE CLEAN! (Isaiah 1:16, I John 1). When you respond, you obey, and when you confess in due faith, you are covered. Cleansed and covered you are accorded authority to become the children of God, and these, as His, have the paternal authority always at hand, for their welfare and as adopted, for their confirmation.
What then do we find in all of this ?
Operationally, when you are first so cleansed, you are also regenerated, and when you are regenerated, you are fundamentally changed, and when Christ lives in you, the carnal nature, at war with God, though still a trial and source for Satan, is NOT in control. The washing of regeneration (Titus 3:3-7) is followed by the washing of each working day. The one creates a new relationship with the Father of all, and His Redeemer. The other exhibits its dynamic warranty, and its working of its power. Not for nothing does Deity so yearn; and not in nothing is its culmination to be found!
As a child of God, we see from Matthew 7:21ff., you DO the will of God, though it be ever so poorly. You are His and as Lord He is not a mere verbal ascription, but the living God dominating and dynamising, directing and correcting you. You are HIS: and nothing can change either that or the testimony of the change (Romans 8:30ff.); for it is known from of old, and sustained for ever (John 10:27-28, Ephesians 1:11). God knows YOU and He leads you in His presence (Galatians 5), so that you are indeed LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, as Paul declares in Romans 8:16, in the very context of morality and divergence from the old life.
Is God then blind to who you are ?
and is He who brought you to the birth, not in order that you be not born, but as borne by Him to this place, not to bring you to the light of day as a child of God ?
and if a child of God, do you act as if your old genes were still operational and it is not a regeneration at all (I John 3:9) ?
Can you leave them behind, your new spiritual genes, evidence of birth and its necessary concomitant ? No more can you do this, than be perfect; but God, HE KNOWS the difference between imaginary perfection and ravaging impurity, between temporary setback, as in sickness, and the morbidity of necrosis (John 6:70). Implanted, these your new genes, the actualisation of the birth, are inseparable as in ordinary life. Indeed, if you are and become a child of God, you may stumble, and need correction, training and help from your Father; but is to stumble to fail, or to learn to be lost (Hosea 11:1ff.) ? rather is it growth in the domain of vitality, the Lord the presence, the word the witness.
Let those, says Paul, who are the Lord's, depart from iniquity. Why ? The reason given for such departure is this: "for the Lord KNOWS who are His" (II Timothy 2:19, blocks added). Departure from iniquity is not unakin to keeping the commandments! Nor is it grievous, to wash, and to love and to relate to your Father when your whole nature is so changed that HE IS your Father, by adoption through Jesus Christ.
In this way, confronted with such a challenge to understanding, we are kept on our toes, forced to examine ourselves and all the evidence, the very fundamental principles profuse in the word of God, lest we should somnolently allow ourselves to stray.
Indeed, look what thought this has provoked, and what self-examination! God has not asked us to de-craniate but to evaluate and test all things (I Thessalonians 5:21). Here then He has presented textual evidence, and we are not free to exclude it where the division is between the easy option on the one hand, and the objectively and forcibly present Majority Text on the other.
Thus the AV and the NKJV are to be valued in their testimony here, for the family, the Majority text, to which they relate. On the other hand, I John 5:7 in the AV is a blatant error, that as we have seen should never even have been considered. To be sure, this was not a different doctrine, this verse in I John, but untenable because of almost TOTAL lack of textual evidence! Its presence is a warning NEVER to follow ANY version, where the mind of man becomes the criterion, but the LORD whose word is for any, and for all centuries, to be found, itself rested on, not the work of man. In His mercy, doctrine is not here in view, but textual fidelity; but the latter has caused us to relish minutely the glorious consistency of doctrine, and the seemingly effortless readiness with which these things are surveyed. Truth has liberty, and this is what here we find.
In view of this text, let us consider anew the AV and the NKJV in their own authority.
In terms of translation, earlier work, just as in the case of Calvin in theology, is to be greatly valued where it excels, without becoming a shibboleth (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 1, *1 and Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 2, *1), as if its errors, when they occur, were in some way sacred. Does a builder imitate a crack in some master-builder's work ?
If we are wedded to the evidence of all kinds, and to the COMMAND test ALL things in I Thessalonians 5, then the AV like all the rest, is a provision. It is in this case an exceedingly good one. It is not however en bloc a substitute for the commandment to TEST! Test, indeed "all things"! (5:21). Thus the AV in Matthew 11:27 is not only misleading, but positively wrong. The Greek is "wills to reveal Him", not "will reveal Him" as the New King James version rightly shows. This is important.
There is then, liberty to examine, but not licence to wander. Many have rightly sought to follow FIRST and foremost the actual objective textual testimony, and neither vain theories of men contrary to evidence both of history and of statistics, as in the case of Westcott and Hort (q.v. above) and their bevy of related "modern" translations, on the one hand, nor capricious textual emendation or the other can stand such test. Here in this present case, we find as so often, the importance of not following tradition. If here, it was a nineteenth century tradition which arose to tower itself on sand, so be it. Every tradition tends, in the flesh, to exalt itself, if not in one way, then in another, if not in the conservative quest not to alter anything, then in the radical desire to sweep away anything! It is only the word of God which has unfathomable fidelity to truth, being truth.
The danger is always present, then, to follow, follow men, not the Lord.
He prohibits this (Mark 7:7ff., Galatians 1:10, I Corinthians 3:5ff), so that any preference for tradition relative to the word of God is abomination. It is likewise presumption and even absurd (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 - 7, SMR pp. 99ff., TMR Ch. 5). In the case of the Pharisees, tradition seemed so sacred that it appeared to them sacrilegious to question it, including THEIR OWN AUTHORITARIAN ESTIMATE of Christ! (cf. Matthew 23, Mark 7, Matthew 26:63-67). THEY were the people, and tradition made them gurus immune to the good, lassoed by the evil quest for self-preservation for the Jew, for the nation (John 11:49ff.), and doubtless for themselves or at the very least their "leaven" as Christ put it, telling His disciples to beware of it!
At once we are reminded of Matthew 16:11-12:
"How is it you do not understand
that I did not speak to you concerning bread? -
but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
"Then they understood that He did not tell them
to beware of the leaven of bread,
but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
Tradition CAN be helpful; but relative to the word of God, it is intrusive if not invasive and is on no account rationally to be allowed.
The word of God is given attestation, and while a given vehicle cannot alone determine the issue, lest as Tennyson put it, 'one good custom corrupt the world', yet when this is the extant Majority Greek Text, carefully construed and considered, an inescapable warrant itself based on the word of God, must be found for any departure, which in turn reminds us that nothing is in any doubt, only the addiction to carelessness! In this case, no doctrine is in question, as always in matters that need extreme care; but understanding is a heavy requisite as have just seen.
The word of God is in all things exceedingly clear in all doctrine, and because God is God, on a topic of divine speech, the objective testimony must always be put above the subjective, and the clear above the implications which may seem to arise on another. In this way, nothing of His teaching is unsure, and His word stands in its priceless integrity. Meanwhile is fulfilled also this, that it is to the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the honour of kings to find it out (Proverbs 25:2). Teachers will realise that some of the best work comes when the student is left immersed in wonder at some topic, where searching brings content.
Thayer, with careful argument, assesses the usage of the relevant word 'ina, in terms of either purpose or result, but with this provision. If it is to fit with the concept of 'result' then it must be in a context allowing for the sense of being in accord with the purpose and approach of the Lord. This being in a context wholly given up to just such an atmosphere, the result concept is suitable. The result of this obedience is the freely opened gate, this by authority of the Lamb. This means that those who find, repent, trust and follow the challenge to receive the Lord, for the commands are not grievous, in reality, have right to the tree, for HE has secured this right! This gives them access to what is the last item leading to certainty, and having obeyed in entering in faith, they now have no further impediment, for HIS right is then their own.
Blessed then are those who keep the commandments, not grievous as in the Gospel they are, since this state of affairs has so blessed a result. As to the commandments not being grievous, as in I John 5:3, we are given a reason why this is so in I John 5:4-5. It is this:
"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.
And this is the victory that has overcomes the world - our faith.
Who is he who overcomes the world,
but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God."
* NOTE: To believe in Christ, you accept His Gospel. Hence you must repent (Luke 13:1-3), believe in faith and not mere form (John 6:47, Acts 4:11-12, II Timothy 3:5) and receive Him as your sacrificial Lamb (John 6:50-54), amazingly but actually physically raised from the physical death (John 20:25-29, Romans 10:9ff.) See scriptural references, SMR pp. 520ff.. You are commanded to believe (Acts 16:31).
It must be HE and not another (John 6:40, II Corinthians 11, Matthew 16:13-17, Ephesians 4:4, Matthew 23:8-10) in whom one believes: in Him, not another Jesus, in His biblical Gospel and not another (Galatians 6:14, 1:6-9), receiving not another Spirit but the Spirit of truth sent by Christ from the Father (John 15:26, II Cor. 11:4). It is all decisive and inveterate.
Wrought by God, this Gospel of Christ must be received by man, as commanded (John 1:12, Acts 4:11-12), according to the New Covenant likewise commanded (Matthew 26:28) for the remission of sins. It is by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God that man is to live (Matthew 4:4) as his guide in grace, and not in some other way, with some other authority or some other control (Matthew 23:8-10, I John 2:27). In obeying the command to WASH, one must recognise the authority of the Lord, the Person of the Lord and believe in the power of the Lord.
This covenant of repentance, ransom and redemption through faith in the living Lord, provides uncountermandable authority, because commanded by God (John 10:9,27--28, 5:24, 3:16, 4:14, I John 5:11-12, Luke 24:47) for those without God to become imperishable children of God by His free gift (Romans 5:15-16, I Peter 1:1-5), once drinking of this water, and never thirsting again (John 4:14).
This is to be received, both in authority and as a draught! The whole apparatus of redemption by grace through faith is commanded (Matthew 20:28, Ephesians 2:8-10, Hebrews 9:12, Romans 3:23ff.), and its provisions are unalterable. Nothing can be added, not even making fruit to be root, and imagining that oranges make the tree, and not the tree oranges, which is planted with the spiritual genes of God’s free gift (Isaiah 61:3, Romans 5:15, 6, Matthew 7, I John 3:9). Results attest; faith invests. God's people delight in Him as Lord, who sent grace, finds place and redeems a race of special people, to whose hearts He is motivation, to whose lives He is quest, to whose security He is guarantor.