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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
 www.bethelurc.org
 
Title:Behold, I am Coming Soon!
Text:Revelation 22 (View)
Occasion:New Years Eve
Topic:The Second Coming
 
Preached:1-1-23
Added:2023-01-03
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Welcome & Silent Prayer
* Call to Worship
* Declaration of our Dependence upon God
* God’s Greeting

Service of Praise & Profession

* Song of Praise: “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” # 222
* Profession of Faith - Apostle's Creed (recite in unison) p. 851
* Gloria Patri: “Holy, Holy, Holy!” # 230:4
Congregational Prayer
* Song of Preparation: “Thee We Adore, Eternal Lord!” # 223

Service of God’s Holy Word

Scripture Reading: Revelation 22: 6-21
Sermon: “Behold, I Am Coming Soon!”
Prayer of Application
* Song of Response: “Christ Is Coming!” # 390
Offering:
* Benediction
* Doxology: “By the Sea of Crystal” # 473:3
“Unto God Almighty, sitting on the throne, and the Lamb, victorious, be the praise alone.
God has wrought salvation, he did wondrous things; who shall not extol you, holy King
of kings?”
* Reverent Reflection
* Postlude

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Behold, I Am Coming Soon!

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, William Hendrickson wrote an excellent commentary on the Book of Revelation. The title he chose for his commentary was: More than Conquerors. You may recognize that title as coming from the book of Romans.  

 

In Romans 8: 35 and following Paul wrote: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we face death all day long we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

When we look at the book of Revelation in light of those verses in Romans 8, we can see why Hendriksen would choose that verse for his title. In the first place, it’s because the book of Revelation reveals that life for the church on earth, in these final days, is not going to be easy.

 

Ever since our Lord’s ascension into heaven, the church of Jesus Christ has been living in the last days. These are the last days. These are the times of tribulation. Christ’s church has faced and will continue to face the exact strife and struggles as described by the Apostle Paul: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and sword.      

 

And even though Christ’s church in the western world has enjoyed relative peace from persecution, we face other dangers and hardships. We face the dangers of wealth, lives of ease, distraction, and diversion. We are living in a time of apostacy, a falling away from the church of our young people and young adults – many others who have grown up in the church, but have no idea what they really believe anymore. Many have left the church. Young adult members have grown complacent, we’ve lost our zeal. We resemble the lukewarm church of Laodicea, where we are neither hot nor cold about the things of Christ. So we, too, are under spiritual attack, make no mistake about that.

 

There’s a second reason that the title More than Conquerors is a perfect title. It is not only because of the strife that we will encounter in this world. It is also because of the comfort that we have living in the midst of this strife. Yes, there are many frightening and mysterious visions and images revealed in the pages of this book. I just read through most of the book of Revelation this past week, and I must say that the vision of locusts looking like horses which sting like scorpions, and beasts coming up out of the seas, and all the plagues and death and destruction on earth – it can be extremely alarming. Our imagination can run wild as we wonder what all this means.    

 

Yet, the purpose of this book is not to paralyze us with fear or make us anxious or paranoid about what is coming next. No. the purpose of this book is to comfort us, to encourage us, to inspire us to stand strong in the face of hardship. It’s meant to embolden Christ’s waiting church – to remind us of the Gospel truth, the rich promises of God – that come what may, nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Nothing can jeopardize our eternal inheritance in Christ.

 

Because of Christ’s finished work, we are more than conquerors, we have won an overwhelming victory, and now we are sons and daughters of the Most High God -- and nothing and no one can take that away.

 

Tonight, we receive this encouragement from the mouth of Jesus our Savior. Here, Jesus Encourages His Waiting Church with the Promise of His Immanent Return.  Notice from our text, Christ’s Promise is accompanied by these three things:   

  1. His Wise Instruction
  2. His Urgent Appeal
  3. His Gracious Benediction 

 

1.  His Wise Instruction

People of God, no less than three times within this passage Jesus declares Behold, I am coming soon (vv. 7, 12, and vs. 20).  I think it’s fair to say that here, in the final words of Holy Scripture, at the end of this book where the risen and exalted Christ shows John what must soon take place, that this is the message that Jesus wants to impress upon us, his waiting church. I am coming soon.

 

By repeating this three times, Jesus intends to raise our awareness; to shake us out of our slumber; to reassure us that in spite of his apparent delay, he is indeed coming again – but we know not when. This has been a consistent message since the opening chapter of this book. In chapter one, verses 7-8 we’re told: Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.  "I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

 

This promise rings forth again in Christ’s letter to the 7 churches (especially to the church in Philadelphia). In Revelation 3: 11 Christ declares: I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

 

We see that the book of Revelation begins and ends with the same promise, with the same hope. And then everything we read in between -- of the trials and troubles and tribulations to come – all of that is to be read against the backdrop of this great promise! We are reminded of what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5: 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

 

Peter says, in spite of all that you are suffering, God is faithful; He who called you to eternal glory will even now empower you to persevere to the end. That’s the essence of Christ’s message to the church in this book. Don’t despair. Don’t lose heart. I am coming soon. Be of good courage.

 

Along with that encouragement, the angel of the Lord provides wise instruction for us. In vs. 10 we read, Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near.  This verse ties in very closely with what Daniel was told in chapter 12:4. In that passage, Daniel had a vision also and he was told: But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end.

 

Daniel was told to seal up the words, whereas John was told not to. Why is that? It’s because in the Apostle John’s day the history of redemption has reached its high point. The OT prophecies have been fulfilled in Christ – in His crucifixion, death, and resurrection. And now the time has come to open the seal!  

 

We considered that this morning in Revelation 5. John wept and wept because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and break the seven seals. But then he saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne; he took the scroll in his hand while the four living creatures and the 24 elders sang you are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals.  

 

Christ has been exalted as heaven’s high King, and there from His throne in Heaven, Christ rules in sovereign might over the nations (all power and authority has been given to Him). It is He who opens the seals and carries out God’s judgments, God’s perfect plan, the prophecy of this book.  

 

So, when the angel states that the seals are to remain open, he’s saying to John, and more broadly to the New Testament Church that the this book, the prophecy of Revelation and the Gospel in general, is to be preached continuously, widely, indiscriminately so that everyone can know that the end is near, that Christ is coming, that the Just Judge and Conquering King is going to return.

 

That carries over to verse 11 which says: Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”

 

This exhortation catches us by surprise. We’d think it would say, Let him who does wrong cease to do wrong; let him who is vile cease to be vile. That’s been the pattern of the book of Revelation thus far. We’ve heard the common refrain: Let him who has an ear let him hear, which is to say: if you’re wise, you’ll listen to this word of warning and change your ways before it’s too late.

 

Well, this verse has the same meaning and intent, but it’s just written in a way that highlights the two ethical alternatives in this world: there is wrong and there is right. There is unholiness and wickedness and vileness, and there is holiness and righteousness and godliness. One will be punished, while the other will be rewarded.

 

Perhaps we could say this is the equivalent to what Joshua said to the people of Israel after the conquered the Promised Land. Choose you this day whom you will serve! Will you serve the pagan, vile, lifeless gods of our forefathers? Or will you choose the living God, the Lord God who delivered you and saved you?

 

The choice would seem to be obvious, but the power of sin and deception is such that it blinds us to see what is right and what is wrong. And that is why so many in the world, and even in Christ’s church, choose to continue to live in sin and wickedness. Here this passage is saying – so be it. Let the sinner reap his reward. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong because in the end, Christ will judge. Christ will bring God’s wrath and judgment on all who reject His gospel.         

 

May this be a word of warning to all of us. We’re going to hear more about this in the second point, but the message of Christ’s immanent return and the Final Judgment ought to, at the very least, prompt each one of us to examine our hearts, so search for fruit, to test the foundation of our faith – to see if it is built on Solid Rock or on the sinking sand.  

 

2.  His Urgent Appeal

Secondly, we see that Christ’s Promise of His imminent return is accompanied by His urgent appeal. Christ announces His coming far and near so that all those who hear may prepare themselves for his coming – that they may be ready to meet the Bridegroom when he comes.

 

Jesus made this same urgent appeal in Matthew 25 in the parable of the ten virgins/maidens who were waiting for the coming of the bridegroom. You boys and girls may recall that parable. When the bridegroom finally came (at midnight), he called upon the virgins to come out and accompany him to the wedding feast. But of the ten, only five maidens were wise and ready and had their filled with oil.    

 

The other five, Jesus said, were foolish. They were unprepared for the bridegroom’s coming—in spite of all the warnings, in spite of all the advance notice. And as a result, they were locked out of the wedding hall. Instead of feasting in heaven, they would be burning in hell.

 

So the message there was: Be ready! Be prepared! Live your life with a sense of urgency and piety, bearing fruit for the Master, making the most of every day in your service to Christ. That message of urgency and faithful living is communicated here as well in vs. 12-14. Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

 

Then in vs. 14, Christ declares: Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

 

Here’s a promise from Christ’s own lips that all who look to Him for forgiveness of sins, all who trust in His precious blood and are dressed in His perfect righteousness, they have the right to enter into the kingdom of God, to the Paradise of Eden, to drink from the river of living water and to eat from the tree of everlasting life.    

 

In that declaration there is an interesting word picture. Christ says: they shall wash their garments, their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Normally boys and girls, we don’t think of blood as a detergent used to wash our clothing.  Normally blood is the stain that needs to be washed out of our clothing. But here Christ is revealing the cleansing power of his blood to remove all our sinful and guilty stains.

 

Christ’s precious and atoning blood washes us clean and makes us holy and opens the doors to Paradise. We are reminded once more that (just as John wrote in his gospel) Jesus Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Jesus the Son!

 

Here again is the clear call of the Gospel, the call to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved! And while I don’t want to cause anyone undo anxiety, or to cause anyone to doubt the surety of their salvation; but I also do not want any of us to ever take it for granted, to assume that we’re saved because we’ve come to church all our life or because we know the doctrines of grace.

 

The only question that matters, the only knowledge that counts is whether you have trusted fully in Jesus Christ for your salvation; whether you have come to him in your sin stained garments and asked him to wash you whiter than snow!      

 

In addition, this is something that we should be testing everyday our lives, looking for the good fruit of a living faith; seeing if we bear a resemblance to our Savior in our humility, if we truly hate sin and love to do that which is right. It should be seen in our zeal and devotion to worship God, to love our neighbor, in our willingness to admit our wrongs, to seek and to grant forgiveness, and to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.      

 

While no one possess gifts in full measure or without sin, we do know that those who strive after Christ and yearn for holiness, will demonstrate an ever growing faith and maturity in the Lord. So pray about that. Seek after these spiritual gifts. And ask the Lord to sanctify you day by day, to transform you more and more after the image of Christ himself.

 

Going on, we come to the other side of the equation. In vs 15 Jesus declares: Outside (in other words, outside the gate, those who are cut off from the tree of life) are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

 

That verse is referring to all unbelievers, to any and all who have hardened their hearts against Christ or who simply lost their love and devotion and fervor for Christ and have wandered away. It’s referring to unbelievers both in the world as well as in the church.

 

How do we know that? We know that based on the connection to Revelation chapter 2 and 3. Jesus directed very strong words to the 7 churches in Asia Minor, exposing their sin, their faults, and admonishing them, warning them to repent and turn away from their sins and be saved.

  

There were those in the church who had taken part in sexual immorality (temple prostitution) at the local temple; others mixed-in the magic arts with their Christian faith; others practiced idolatry as their work guilds coerced them to participate in the pagan rituals and sacrifices to false gods.

 

So here Jesus is addressing also hypocrites and pretenders in the church, those who have a form of godliness, an appearance of godliness, but in their heart they are far from God. They are trees which bear no fruit, they are white washed grave-stones that look pristine on the outside but they are full of death and decay on the inside.       

 

This too is something for us to ponder – as obviously there were many in Jesus day who assumed they were saved, who assumed they were numbered among God’s people. But what did Jesus say? In Matthew 7: 22-23 he warned Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

 

You see, even as Christ announces the nearness of his coming, he also makes this urgent appeal. To borrow from what 2 Peter 1:10 says: Brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,

 

What things is Peter talking about? In the verses immediately preceding that he writes this: For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

 

In light of this, we should remember to pray the prayer of Psalm 19: Search me of God and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!  

 

3.  His Gracious Benediction 

Thirdly we see that Christ’s Promise of His imminent return is accompanied by His gracious benediction. The last words of the Bible contain the promise that Christ is coming soon, followed by John’s response: Amen, (even so) Come Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 

 

Although we’ve heard these words -- this benediction – many times, these words were never more beautiful than in this context. For here John reminds us that even though Christ has not yet returned, even though He is absent from us physically, He -- by His Spirit and through His grace -- is always near, He is always present, He is always imparting his blessings to us.

 

Christ’s grace is his ever present, ever sustaining power that equips us, enables us, empowers us to live a Godly life, to resist sin, to persevere (hold up) under tests and trials, to endure afflictions and persecutions, to cling firmly to the living hope that we have in Christ. It is his grace that strengthens and fortifies our faith so that we might stand, even when it seems we will fall.

 

It is Christ’s grace that gives us the confidence to come back to him again and again after we have fallen into sin, after we have failed, it is his grace that picks us up out of our shame and despair and embarrassment and calls us to seek his face yet again and plead for his forgiveness!

 

It is his grace that gives us the confidence to know and confess that we are than conquerors. I want to close this first Lord’s Day of 2023 with the invitation recorded here in verse 17. The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. 

 

God holds out to you and me the free gift of eternal life -- that living water – and in his grace he bids us sinners to come and drink, to come and drink and live. Beloved, let us come. Let all who are thirsty accept the invitation now given and come to Christ – so that when Christ returns – and He is coming soon – that we may be ready and waiting to meet him!

 

Amen.               




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 1-1-, Pastor Keith Davis

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