Revelation 22:17 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.
This is so absolutely glorious! I want to break into a doxology every time I read it. The devil and those deceived by him accuse the Church of being exclusionary, but nothing could be further from the truth. There is really only one condition: repentance. Those who accuse either honestly misunderstand, or they love darkness rather than light, just as Jesus said. (John 3:16-21) Every verse in this last chapter of the Bible references or echoes things that have already been said earlier in the Bible. The description of the river of the water of life from verse one is an exact confirmation of Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 47. The glorious thing is that the invitation is open to all who will come, to drink and receive eternal life. The emphasis is on the word, “will”; volition is involved. We have to choose to believe and receive. As the proverb says, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. The sad reality is that there are those who have in a sense grown up on the banks of the river but who have never drunk. Knowing about Jesus isn’t enough: you have to repent of your rebellion and acknowledge Him as your Lord. The evangelistic imperative is as Paul expressed it: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14) Communicating the Gospel is speaking along with the Holy Spirit, as it says here. The Bride is of course the Church, and any church that isn’t calling people to life in Christ is a travesty. Once we have heard the invitation, we need to be repeating it, just as it says here.
I am challenged by this verse even as I glory in it. How well, how consistently, am I communicating God’s invitation? I genuinely desire everyone to accept and respond to that invitation, but am I expressing it in ways they can understand and receive it? Verse 11 of this chapter seems to indicate that there will always be those who stubbornly refuse, but my heart aches at that. I have had people whom I loved dearly, with whom I had shared the Gospel in various ways, die without ever publicly saying yes to Jesus. That breaks my heart. I’ve got to release everything into God’s hands, allowing Him to be God and to use me however He will, so that as many as possible may be united with Him in eternity.
Father, I can’t think about this without remembering some dear friends. Help me not accuse myself when You don’t accuse me, but help me be faithful to be and say and do all that You desire, so that I may not hinder but rather encourage as many as will to respond affirmatively to Your gracious invitation, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!