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Solemn Warnings and Joyful Expectations

Revelation 22:18-21
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen. (NIVUK)

What a sign off to Revelation and the whole Bible! It is a personal warning from Jesus (Revelation 22:16) to those who want to alter His Word, a personal reassurance that He will come again soon for His people, and meanwhile a promise to give them grace to withstand the troubles which will come. The Scriptures are God's living Word. They have a powerful effect: when God speaks, things happen. In Genesis 1:3 He spoke into nothing and created light for the world – His glory defeated the darkness even before the sun and moon were created (Genesis 1:14-19). In Revelation, Jesus warns that anyone who adds to His Word will experience the plagues He has described. If anybody removes anything that Jesus has authorised, they will be removed from accessing the new heaven and new earth, and the tree of life. They will be cursed (Galatians 1:8-9). 1 Corinthians 16:22 says, "If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord". People who tamper with God's Word practise falsehood (Revelation 22:15). Their destiny will be hell and not heaven (Revelation 21:8).

All the words in Revelation are from Jesus Christ, either directly or through His servants, the angels. It is His gracious gift to the church, explaining some of the events we or our successors will witness, encouraging those who come under harsh persecution, and strengthening our resolve to be faithful to Him whatever the cost. We live for Him because we love Him; and we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We, who belong to Him, have a relationship with Him. His Word is His communication to us; He tells us that He is looking forward to coming to earth again. The whole church, motivated by His Spirit, replies – Amen (let it be so) because we really want to meet Him face to face.

Until that day, what? The Lord Jesus Christ gives grace to His people. By His grace we are saved (Galatians 2:8-9) and by His grace we stand firm despite opposition because we are confident that our faith and service for Him is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:10). Even when the trouble does not go away, and our prayers receive the answer 'No', His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). He gives grace to serve Him (Ephesians 4:7), and He will give us the grace to stand unashamed in His presence when He returns (1 Peter 1:13). This is the Word of the Lord. Amen, it will happen! What joy!

If you know Jesus as Your Lord and Saviour: rejoice. If you have been reading through Revelation but do not love Jesus: quake, repent and receive Jesus. If you have stopped loving and serving Him because it seems too hard: repent and receive His grace. If you have been serving Him without loving Him: shudder, repent and ask Him for a new heart. If you are waiting for all His promises to be fulfilled: be encouraged, they will be, all of them. If you have freshly realised the eternal plight of those you love: pray for them and tell them about how much Christ loves them, what He has done to save them and how He stands at the door of their heart waiting to be welcomed in (www.crosscheck.org.uk). Quite possibly, like the writer of these devotionals, you will be in much greater awe of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of Lords - the Holy Son of God who has loved us and given Himself for us (Ephesians 5:2). Our response must be to repent of all that offends Him and commit ourselves to His service according to the grace He give us.

Eternal Father. Thank You for Your Word which rebukes and corrects, teaches and trains Your people in righteousness. Forgive me for failing to take You seriously. Please help me to repent of all that offends You and live with an eager anticipation of the return of Jesus, trusting Him for His grace day by day. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams