by Mike Ratliff
Many of you have contacted me and expressed your frustration and weariness with the battle. Our enemy is relentless and if we look too long and hard at what apostasy and outright heresies are being embraced by the visible church, we can become quite discouraged. Never forget my brethren, our enemy could do nothing without the permission of God. Therefore, let us not be discouraged with the battle. Instead, we must resolve to continue to fight the good fight, never giving in to those who are attempting to change Christianity into something else. Yes, God may allow them to appear to succeed, but be assured that what awaits them is anything but what they have been deceived into believing. I believe it is time for a bit of encouragement for those of you who so desperately need some.
The following passages are from Revelation 22:6-21. I pray that God will lift you up in Him as you read the glorious truth of who is truly sovereign and that our enemies have only defeat and eternal separation from Him awaiting them.
And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:6-7 ESV)
Here is v7 in Greek:
7και ιδου ερχομαι ταχυ μακαριος ο τηρων τους λογους της προφητειας του βιβλιου τουτου (Revelation 22:7 WHNU)
The words “behold, I am coming soon” in Greek are ιδου ερχομαι ταχυ, which literally says, “Behold, I come quickly.” The word ταχυ, quickly, can also mean “without delay” or “by surprise” or “suddenly.” If we look at the context, we see that this part of Revelation follows the central visionary section of the book. From v6 on, we see promise, exhortation, and confirmation all with the goal of stirring up hope for the coming of the Lord Jesus. However we translate ταχυ, we must remember that our Lord spoke these words and He meant them to be an encouragement to us. Therefore, as we look at the hostile takeover of the visible church by the wicked, instead of being discouraged, we should look to the soon return of our Lord, who will settle all accounts. Therefore, our part must be to remain faithful regardless of what these evil people are doing. Even if every church in our town goes hard after these new “missional” and “spiritual formation” teachings, we do not have to be part of that nor can we. We must not follow after these things even if we become quite lonely and separate from the crowd. God knows all about this and will sustain us.
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:8-13 ESV)
The part in bold are vv11-13. I love reading this because it is so concrete and absolute. The new form of Christianity is anything but. It has caused many of us to become cut off from a solid shepherd of the flock. Many of us are isolated and discouraged because of this, but when we look at this passage we see that God is not surprised about any of it. The evil and wicked will simply continue doing what they are doing, filling up the cup of wrath that will be poured out on them in God’s timing. Our part is to still do right and still be holy. The words, “Behold, I am coming soon” are the very same ones we looked at in v7, ιδου ερχομαι ταχυ. This reiterates for us that the solution to dealing with this rampant apostasy is not to give up and hide our heads in the sand, but to remain faithful because our Lord is coming soon and He will bring his recompense with Him to repay everyone for what he had done. Then our Lord emphasizes who He is.
13εγω το αλφα και το ω ο πρωτος και ο εσχατος η αρχη και το τελος (Revelation 22:13 WHNU)
I (εγω) the (το) alpha (αλφα) and (και) the (το) omega (ω), the (ο) first (πρωτος) and (και) the (ο) last (εσχατος), the (η) beginning (αρχη) and (και) the (το) completion (τελος). (Revelation 22:13 word-for-word translation from Koine Greek to English)
In Revelation 1:8 our Lord told John, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” God is Alpha (creator) and Omega (the One who ushers in the new heaven and new earth). He is Lord of all—past, present, and future—He is sovereign in creation and this guarantees the fulfillment of His purposes in re-creation (Romans 8:18-25). Our Lord is God and is in Sovereign control of all things. Let us not despair as the evil and wicked continue to do evil, filthy things to the visible church for this has no effect on the true Church, those whom God sustains by His grace. Yes, we may suffer at their hands. Yes, we may lose our churches. Yes, they may even persecute us unto death, but it is eternity that matters my brethren.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (Revelation 22:14-21 ESV)
Who are these who have washed their robes and have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates? These are true Christians with genuine saving faith for they have believed the Gospel and have received Christ as both Lord and Saviour to the repentance of their sins. These are the genuine Church. Everyone else, including these false prophets and their followers are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. Do you see the contrast? God surely does and when He looks at those to whom He has imputed the Righteousness of Christ, He sees His true children.
These true children of God, the true Church are the ones who obey Him as they come when called. They hear God and come to Him. These drink deeply of Him. They take the water of life without price. No one else does. These who are taking the visible church deeper and deeper into apostasy are not in this group and neither are their followers. Those who are true leaders and prophets in the Church are loyal to God’s Word. They are subject to Sola Scriptura while the apostates are anything but. God sees the difference very clearly as do those He has given the sight to see by His gracious light of truth. I pray that all reading this will be given this sight to see and ears to hear and will know the truth and will forever more turn from these who are defiling themselves and those who follow them as they reject Sola Scriptura as God allows them to go deeper and deeper into spiritual blindness.
Soli Deo Gloria!