Online Text Sermon - The Last Gospel Call, Revelation ch.22 v.17
|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||The Last Gospel Call|
|Text||Revelation ch.22 v.17|
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"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22, 17)
Here in this passage of Scripture, we have something which is rather touching and which might well give you nostalgia. Here in these words, we have the last Gospel call in the Word of God. Not until the trumpet sounds and the end of the world comes, will we have another word from God. God spoke in the Old Testament and He spoke in the New Testament. These are the two lips of God as someone has said. The Bible is God's Word and here in chapter 22, we come to the very end of all that God has to say to us in this life. If people will not listen to what God says in the Bible, they will never know what God is saying to them. To despise the Bible is to despise God. And to be ignorant of the Bible is also to be ignorant of God. And here in His Words, we come now to the very last Gospel call - the last time that God speaks to us, inviting us to come and enjoy the blessings of everlasting life.
Now, there are Christians here and they have been at the Lord's table this morning. And they have witnessed too the grace of Jesus Christ. They have proclaimed once more in the open sight of Heaven before angels, God and men that they are waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they believe in Him, that He is their saviour and Lord, that their hope of acceptance with God in life and death is in nothing and no one but in Christ and in Him crucified. The call of these words in verse 17 therefore is not to the Lord's people. The invitation is to those who are not yet the Lord's people. And I am perfectly certain there are those who are sitting here this evening, on the evening of this communion occasion and they are truly seeking after God. I'm sure there are those sitting here and they are saying in their hearts, 'I wish I could have been amongst the Lord's people today. I wish I could have made my profession openly before the world. But I am still unsure and I am still uncertain.' Well, to you this word comes this evening. The very last Gospel call. Listen to the words in the text. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (text)
Let's look at three things here. First, we have an invitation. And second, we have a gift. And third, we have a direction.
The invitation is in these words, "... let him that is athirst come...". And the gift is in these words, "... let him take the water of life freely." And the direction is in this word, " ... Come ... Come... Come...." (Revelation 22, 17)
1. THE INVITATION
Let's begin then with the invitation. All through the Bible, God invites men and women and children to come to Him. I think one of the earliest invitations is that we find in the books of Moses. Moses puts it like this. He says, "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life." (Deuteronomy 30, 19) And that's what God is wishing us to do. God desires everyone of you to choose life, to choose blessing, to choose the way that leads to heaven because after all as we very well know, heaven is not the only place. There is another place besides heaven. And there are other things besides good. There is a vast amount of evil all around us, not to say within us in this world. And there is something else besides the blessing of God. It is the curse of God. Therefore in the light of these things, said Moses in his preaching, in view of the fact that there is heaven and hell, blessing and cursing, life and death, therefore said Moses, I say to you choose life. Now that's the invitation given to us through the lips of Moses, and coming of course as ever from God Himself.
When you read a little further on in the Old Testament, you come to that wonderful man called Joshua. Now, he lived a little after Moses. They were contemporaries. But Joshua lived on after Moses' death. And you may remember that when Joshua was elderly and coming to the end of his life and ministry, he also gave a great Gospel invitation. And he put it like this. He said "... choose you this day whom ye will serve..." (Joshua 24, 15). "... choose you this day whom ye will serve...". You see there is God and heaven and glory and life and peace. But there are all these other things too. Now, you can't have both ways as we say in common everyday speech. You can't have your cake and eat it. You must either choose the one or the other. You can't have them both. You cannot serve two masters. You can't have God and mammon. You must make your choice. Everyone must do that, be he man or woman, boy or girl. And so, Joshua says, "... choose you this day whom ye will serve... but as for me and my house (or family) we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24, 15) Now that's the way Joshua puts it. And it is a Gospel call. And a very wonderful one and a very famous one.
And then you come down in the Old Testament a little bit further to that wonderful and mighty prophet whose name was Elijah. The one that caused fire from heaven you recall in the sight of all the people. And he too issued his great Gospel call. And he put it like this. He said, "... if the LORD be God, follow Him: but if Baal, (this other god) then follow him" (1 Kings 18, 21). So you can't again, he said, have it both ways. If the Lord is God, serve Him. How long do you halt between two opinions? How long do you hover and hesitate between two opinions? How long are you trying to have it both ways, he means? If the Lord is God then choose Him, serve Him, follow Him. But if some other god is God and if the world is a better god then go that way but don't hesitate between the two opinions, don't be faltering and confused in your mind. Be clear about the matter. Don't go on in this condition in which you are neither one nor the other. You know how some people are always shifting their grounds. They stand on their right foot and then they shift on to the left foot. And you never quite know which leg they are standing on. They move their ground and they are shifting. Well, said Elijah, don't be like that in the things of God. Choose you whom you will serve. If you think it is better for you to go with the world and to go with the crowd and to go with that which is of this world and its gods then go and all the best to you. But as for me and those who are truly the people of God, we know the Lord is the only God. We will serve Him. And that's how in the light of that he called upon God you remember and the fire came down and devoured the sacrifice and the water and the stone and the wood and everything. And the people fell down on the faces when they saw the miracles and they said, "The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God." (1 Kings 18, 39).
And then you come down a few more years until you come to the life of Isaiah, the great writing prophet, Isaiah. What a wonderful man of God he was! And you have the same thing. You have a Gospel invitation in these words, very famous words of the first chapter of Isaiah. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1, 18) And the Lord is offering this invitation. What a reasonable God He is! Even though your sins are dyed in the wool red, crimson, scarlet, purple. Though your sins are glaring, if you come and reason with me, says the Lord, I will make those sins to be so cleansed away, your life will be pure as snow, white as wool. Now that's the way Isaiah puts the same wonderful thing before the men of his generation and ours and offers to us the blessings of Christ and of Heaven and of God.
I could go on a long time of course with further illustrations, but I must just take one further one - the most wonderful of all, from the lips of none other than our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Himself. We all know these words I hope in which our Lord says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11, 28-30) He's offering them grace and peace, comfort and assurance, salvation and forgiveness to all who will come to Him and take His yoke upon themselves.
Well, there are many more Gospel invitations which you might well imagine in the Word of God but the one in my text, in Revelation 22, 17 is the last. And the last is therefore in a sense the most poignant and the most touching. Listen, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22, 17) Would you notice in a word or two who it is that's giving this Gospel invitation? It is the Spirit and the Bride. Who is this Spirit? It is none other than the Holy Spirit of God. The One Who is the third Person of the glorious everlasting Godhead. And the Holy Spirit before He tiptoes away and has nothing more to reveal in what we call the Bible, He turns back as it were to the poor dying world and says, I give you this one last call. This final invitation before I close my lips and seal my revelation and will speak no more till the end of time. Listen men, listen women, listen children, He says. I am the Spirit and my call to you is, come. And somebody else is speaking here; not only the Spirit, but the Bride. Now the Bride is the name we give to the church; the true church. There are many churches in this world and I'm afraid I have to say some of them are not true churches. How would you know a true church? A true church is one that preaches Christ, one that tells men the truth and one that lives a holy life. These are the true churches. And this church is the Bride of Christ: the one who is to be married to Him when the trumpet sounds and the dead are raised. There will be a marriage supper of the Lamb. And here is the Bride who will marry Christ, the Bridegroom. And what is this church saying to us? The same as the Spirit. She says, Come and everyone that hears, let them say, come. Who are these? Well, these surely are the Lord's people. They are the converts to Christ. Those who sit at the Lord's table; those who are baptized and believe in Him; those who believe the Bible; those who follow the Truth; and those who desire Heaven for themselves.
So you see, you have these three witnesses. It is a well publicised call. A well advertised invitation. You know how these days if you want to sell some commodity, a new brand of soap or coffee, what they say in the advert is, 'as advertised on television or as seen in this newspaper' and so on. Well, my friends, this invitation is as given by God the Spirit. This invitation is as issued by the Church of Christ. It is the invitation which is shown to the world by every convert from the first day of history until now. No small invitation. No paltry call to you tonight. So I say, I hope you are listening to this call. I hope you will take to heart this call from God to you because this call could have your name written on it. How do I know? Well, because it tells us that whosoever will let him come. This is not just simply to men or women or old men or young men or children. It's not simply to people of one country or another. Whosoever will!
You know you get these companies and they send little advertisements through the post and they say, you can have a free pen or pencil and you can have your name written on it. We call it, personalising. And they will do that for you. They will personalise your pen or your pencil. They write your name and address and telephone number on it. Or you can have headed stationary. You get blank paper and you post the blank paper and they personalize it with your name, address and telephone number and your other professional details and so forth. They personalise it. Well, here is a text which can be personalised to you. You can have this invitation as yours with your name on it. You, John, you, Mary or whatever your name is you can have this call and invitation sent to you, to your house, to your address, to your telephone, to your soul, to your heart, to your life, whatever. Whosoever will, let him come! From God, the Father this letter comes. From the Bride of Christ this call comes. And from everyone who has believed having heard the message. Well, now that's the invitation.
2. THE GIFT
Let me move secondly now to consider with you the gift. What is this gift which is offered in the call? Well, we have this at the end of the verse. "... whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22, 17) And, that is the gift - the water of life. Well, now you may say to me, 'I don't understand what that means.' Well, I will tell you what it means. That's why I read of course from John's Gospel chapter four. We don't need to guess what our Lord means, what this text means, by the water of life. We don't need to rack our imaginations in order to work out some complicated explanation as to what this water of life is. Jesus tells us in that marvellous story in which he has an interview and a conversation with the woman of Samaria. And He offers to her this very thing and He says to her, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it was that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." (John 4, 10) She didn't know what He was talking about. She thought it was some wonderful way of quenching your thirst without having the inconvenience of having to take a bucket to the well. "O, Sir", she said, "please give me this water so that I never thirst again and won't have to come to this well." (John 4, 15) She was interested. Now our Lord was referring to a spiritual lesson. And the water mentioned here is God Himself and all the blessings that God gives.
How do I know that that's the meaning? I want to prove it. Don't take my word for anything. You should always check it from this blessed Book. You mustn't listen to what anybody says unless it's according to this blessed Book. I'll prove to you that the water referred to is God. This water, says Jesus, will quench your thirst so that you'll never thirst again. Now, then, that must be God because nothing can satisfy the heart of any man but only God. You remember how the great Saint Augustine put it years and years ago, in very famous words. He said to God, 'Thou has made us for Thyself, O God, and our heart is restless, restless till we find our rest in Thee.' And as soon as you find God for yourself and as soon as you come to know God for yourself, the restlessness is over and the peace begins. "Be still", said God, "and know that I am God." (Psalm 46, 10) And that stillness of heart is what only God can give. Somebody put it rather quaintly and said the human heart is like a triangle. It has to be filled by these three Persons, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
My dear friend, nothing can satisfy the human heart but only God. And when Jesus tells this woman at Samaria that if she drinks of this living water, she will never thirst again, there can only be one meaning - to know God the Father, to know God the Son, and to have God the Holy Spirit in our souls and in our heart. Yes, that is the living water. And indeed we see this at the very beginning of this chapter where the text is at Chapter 22. If you have a glance down, you will see it there. "He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." (Revelation 22, 1) All the blessings of eternal life. All the mercies of which God is so full. He will fill our hearts with all joy and peace in believing. He will satisfy us with His own gracious image renewed in the heart. He will grant unto us a sense of His love - the love of Christ that passeth knowledge in His length and breadth and depth and height. He will cause us to know what it is to have a joy unspeakable and full of glory, to have a good hope through grace, to know that our sins are forgiven and that He loves us and will take us to Heaven at last. And if we have trusted in God, that is the water that we drink and are never thirsty again. You ask any Christian, they will all say the same thing. When they found God, they have nothing else to search for. You know, people go on searching here and there to find happiness. And they don't find it because they are looking at the wrong direction. They are looking at the wrong place. Some people think that if only they have more money, their life will be complete. If only they were rich and famous, they would be complete. I assure you, my dear friend, it's not true. It's a pure mirage and illusion. Let me show you how.
Our own beloved royal family. How we should honour them and love them. Our dear beloved queen. But a few years ago, that same dear lady had to say this, 'O', she said, 'this will be my annus horribilis'; my 'awful year'. You remember it? Lots of divorces, sad things happened, calamities in the royal family, one upon another. No wonder somebody once said, uneasy life ahead that wears a crown. No wonder good Queen Beth four hundred years ago one of the greatest queen of all history, Elizabeth I said this, 'O', she said, 'I wish I had been born a milk maid.' Why did she say that? Well, she was looking through the palace window and she saw there a happy young girl, poor as a church mouse and she had on her shoulders that old fashion wooden yoke with the two buckets full of milk which she was carrying along. The girl was singing merrily without a care in the world. And here was the queen Elizabeth I with all the cares of state heavy upon her head. The conspiracies of Spain, the conspiracy of the Catholics, the conspiracy of other continents of Europe. So many hated her, so many wanted to see her off the throne. 'O', said she, 'I wish I had been born a milk maid.'
My friend, don't you imagine the rich people are satisfied or happy. You will find them in Hollywood, they are not happy. You will find them in all walks of life, they're not happy. Nothing can make you or me happy but only this water of life. Now, that's what we see in the chapter we read. I didn't go on to read the whole of that chapter because it was rather long and our time is short. But in chapter four, when you get home, you read the rest of that chapter and see what this woman does. She had come, if you please, with a pail or bucket to get water from the well. When she found Christ and the blessing of eternal life, she forgot all about the water and the well. She left her bucket there. And she run back home. And what did she said to her friends? "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" (John 4, 29) And they came to see for themselves. And they believe that she has believed. You forget about the trouble of this life when you find the water of life. When you find the water of life, your heart is filled, satisfied and you have the joy unspeakable and full of glory. The Lord's people have got it. And the Spirit and the Bride are saying to you all, are you wanting it for yourself? Whosoever will, may come. Whosoever will, may have it. O, you may have been at a hundred church services and a thousand church services but if you haven't got this, you haven't got the secret. Years and years ago, people used to go looking for El Dorado. That's a Spanish expression meaning the place of gold, or the golden place, the golden country, the perfect paradise. And so they got their sailing boat and they sailed this way and that way, round about. Up and down, to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west. They sailed about looking for this place - El Dorado. They never got it. El Dorado is in my text. El Dorado is God. He is the country of gold. When a man finds God, he doesn't search any further.
Let me tell you about a woman I knew. She was converted years ago. But before she was converted, she was trying to make herself truly fully happy without God. She didn't know any better that time. So she was going to make her life complete. What was necessary to make her life complete? Well, she thought it was a nice side board. So she went to the shop, she saw the most perfect side board she had ever seen. It has this glass windows and spaces for lights and there you would put your crockery on display and you would have it just in the perfect position to the room. And everybody would come into the house and they would gasp and they would say, 'What a wonderful piece of furniture!' So she saved up and bought it and had it transported to her own home. And then she put it in position. And she took back to admire what was going to make her life complete and her heart sighed, 'What a boring thing it was! How unsatisfactory!' A few days later, somebody came to her house and told her about the water of life. She said, 'That's been missing in my life. I never knew that.' she said, 'Tell me more'. She believed and she drank from the fountain of the water of life. She found God and all the blessings of God gives to those that seek Him and find Him. That's the gift and the invitation is to anyone who wants it. O, don't go away tonight and say, I am not naturally a religious person. I say to you that this verse is inclined, it's clearly telling you whosoever will, let him come. You may be religious or you may be non-religious. But if you want this, you can have it. O, don't say to me, I will have it some time in the future. The time to seek it is right now while you still have health and strength to come to the house of God. Who knows whether you and I will ever see one another's faces again.
3. THE DIRECTION
But now, I come to my third point. Not simply that we have an invitation here, and not simply do we have a gift here, but we also have direction. A person may say to me, 'What am I to do? Granted that there is this gift and this invitation, how am I to get it? Where am I to go to get this blessings?' And I say to you, we are given the direction. And here it is, "... Come ... whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22, 17) "... the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. ... And whosoever will, let him take it" (Revelation 22, 17) So, we have two directions. First, we have Come and then we have Take. And those words are so simple even a little child can understand it. Don't let anyone say the Gospel is complicated. Is there anyone here who doesn't understand the meaning of these two words, Come and Take? Why even a child as high as this table and no more, could easily understand what's meant by Come and by Take. This is nursery language. And God is making it as simple as simple can be so that no one will miss the blessing. No, not the youngest child. So let's look at these two things in our sermon before we close.
First of all, I say, we are to come. Now that means we are to take a little journey. Not a journey with our feet. You can't find God by walking about. I can't show you God by coming to the front or making you kneel down. That's not the way to get God. To way to get God is to come with your mind and to think about what He tells us concerning ourselves and concerning Himself. I am going to take you to certain places, not with your body but in your mind and in your thoughts. And the first place I am going to take you to is your own heart. I want to take you there. Come for a moment to your own heart. Now, if I could show you what is in your heart it would kill you. You have no idea what kind of a heart you've got. The heart of man is wicked and deceitful and corrupt. And if you are an honest person, you know that that's the way you are. And that's the first place we must go to. When God says Come, we must come in our minds to think of what sort of creatures we are.
Now, why must we do that? We must do it because we must realize how great is our need of mercy. Jesus takes the woman of Samaria on that journey. Do you remember when she began to say I wish I could have this water, Sir? What does Jesus do? He takes her on a journey of the mind. He says to her, "Go call thy husband." Then she pauses rather nervously and embarrassingly. She says, "I have no husband." "Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband" "Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet". (John 4, 16-19) He took her to have a look at her own heart. Now, not everybody has five husbands or anything like that. We're not all involved in that way as she was, but we are all sinners, aren't we? We're all wicked, aren't we? We are all unfit for God or for His blessing; or for Heaven. That's where we must begin - our sense of need. Have you any sense of need? Do you realize, my dear friend, how great your need is?
Well, let me take you on another journey of the mind. Come, come, says this text. Come, where do we go to next? I am going to take you to a hospital next. It could be Raigmore or it could be any hospital you like to name. And I am going to show you a person in bed. And there they are gasping for air. And they are wired up with all these clever things and through their nose they are being fed because they are too frail to eat ordinary food. And they haven't long to live. And you say to me, 'Who is that person in the bed?' I say to you, 'It's you! You haven't long to go in this world, have you?' You say, 'I am quite young.' Ah, yes, however young you are, you haven't long to go. Supposing you are the youngest person here, you can't be sure that you are going to have a long life to live. Our life is over in a moment. My hair is no longer black as you see but I feel like a teenager. I remember my teenage years as though it was last week. Ask the old people here, they feel like life just vanished in a moment. It'll be the same with you if God spares you. Our life is going out of this existence so very quickly. Therefore, I say, Come and remember that very soon you and I must stand before God in the judgement day. How will you do? How will you get on?
And let me take you on a third journey quickly. I want to take you to the place where Jesus Christ was dying for sin. We talked of this, this morning. That's what the Lord's Supper is all about. Stand in your imagination. Remember how greatly our Lord suffered. See the way they nailed Him to the cross. See the way they spat in His face and cursed Him and hated Him. The way they wagged their heads, taunting Him, saying, ah, if you're the Son of God, come off the cross and prove it. Then see the blood flowing down from His head and His hands and His feet. And ask yourself why did He suffer these things? He was the Son of God. He was the Messiah as He said Himself to the woman of Samaria. Why then did the Messiah, the Son of God suffer in that way? Why did He not come down from the cross and destroy His enemies as He could so easily have done? The answer you know already. He couldn't both save Himself and us. If He was to save us, He Himself must suffer and die. He died the just for the unjust to bring us to God. It was for us He hung and suffered there. The judgement of God fell upon Him for our sakes. He was cut off out the land of the living for the transgression of God's people. It was the love and mercy of God to bruise Him that you and I might have a bleeding sacrifice to trust in; that He might be our Saviour and our Lord. Had there been no crucifixion, there would have been no living water for you to drink tonight.
My friends, have you been on this journey with me? Do you realize the state of your own heart? Do you realize the shortness of your own life? Do you realize the need you have of Christ to wash you by His blood, the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all sin? It is for these reasons that this verse was written, to give unto us this gracious invitation. To show us this wondrous gift and to take us on the journey and to say to us, Come.
But there is one further thing before we close. You must do more than come. You must take. You must take. You must get it for yourself. What do you think of a person who is going to the post office for a giro cheque and came to the counter and said I'm due my giro cheque. And then when the person behind the counter put it in front of them to remove, they turn their back and walk out of the shop without taking it. What a waste of time! There's no good in coming anywhere if you don't get the good of going. What's the good of going to the dentist if you turn your back and don't get the treatment? What's the good of going to the doctor if you walk into the reception room and then walk out again without being treated? A waste of time! O, don't waste your lifetime by simply coming to hear the Gospel preached, which is good. But take the blessing of it which is God in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. And has committed unto us the Word of reconciliation that God made Christ to be sin for us Who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. And He offers it freely. Notice that word. You don't have to earn it. You don't have to buy it. You don't have to work for it. O, poor Roman Catholics. They do. At least that's what their church tells them. If they want to earn, to get salvation and to receive it, according to their wretched teaching, you have to merit it. You have to earn it. You have to pay for it. So you give money to the church. And you are buying it. And you have masses said for you. And that gets you out of purgatory for several thousand years. And then you go to Rome and you kiss these statues and you go round the virgin Marys and you ask each virgin Mary for the blessings and that gives you so many years out of purgatory. O that is blasphemous and superstitious. It is free, gratis and for nothing. You can have Christ right now, what's to stop you? Absolutely nothing. God will give you the gift right now if you wish it. And that's what I wish for you. Come, and get this blessing.
Come and take it home with you. And take it to your family. And to your children and to your friends, and to your work associates. Take Christ from the Gospel wherever you go. They won't be slow in finding out. They will be saying to you before long, 'My dear friend, you are a different man. I know you were always religious but you are different. There is something about you that I can't understand. You are not the man you were. What's happened to you?' 'O', you say, 'I have had a drink.' 'You have had a what?' 'Yes, I have had a drink, the water of life.' 'O, you mean whiskey?' That's the Gaelic for whiskey, 'the water of life'. O, no, no, no, my friend, it's not whiskey. That's the water of death! The water of life is Christ and it is God, and it is Truth! The fountain of life is with God! I have drunk! I am satisfied! I am intoxicated with the love of Christ that passeth knowledge. I have tasted of this glorious draft of water of which is said, if a man should drink thereof he shall never thirst again. I ask you, my friends, isn't that something worth having? Isn't that something worth taking, taking home tonight on this communion Sabbath evening? Is not that something which you will never be ashamed of? O, you will be ashamed of many things when you come to the end of life. So will we all. We have been very imperfect in our life. But if you take a drink of this fountain, you will never be ashamed. And when you come to that death bed I mentioned earlier, it will give you no regrets that tonight on this communion evening, you humbly say in your heart to God, 'O, my blessed God. I have been too slow in coming and too late but not too late to come now. Lord, put the cup of blessing to my lips that I may drink and sin against Thee no more.'
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