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August 12, 2020

7/8/2020 2:24:00 PM
God's Final Words
Bro. Ricky Persons

Before my grandmother passed, my mom asked her if there were any Bible verses she would like included in her funeral service. Grandmother answered, "The last verse in the Bible." Revelation 22:21 (NKJV) reads, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."
Three words in this verse prompt our reflection. The first is the word "grace." Simply, grace is God's kindness and goodness. Grace is a word which should woo our hearts, because at the heart of the word grace is the reality that God does not owe any of us anything! Every breath and every blessing accompanying that breath is a gift of the Almighty God of heaven to us. We are owed nothing by this God.
If we were to conceive of earning something favorable from God, what is required of us? Jesus answers, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). The moral quality required is the moral quality of God the Father. The Scriptures repeatedly confront every human with his/her sin: "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:19-20; see also Romans 3:23 & Galatians 2:16).
Instead, what have we earned from God the Father? The Scriptures answer soberly: "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23; see also Genesis 2:16-17 & James 1:14-15). Death here is more than physical death; it is being separated from God who is the only source of life, resulting first in physical and then spiritual death (hell). However, we must read the rest of Romans 6:23: ". . . but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." In the verse's first half, we learn that the God of the Bible owes us nothing any of us would consider good. In the verse's second half, we learn that in contrast to failing to earn something favorable from God and instead earning from God what we do not want to receive, God presents eternal life (salvation) as a gift (see also Ephesians 2:8-9 & Romans 4:1-5).
What is a gift? Something is a gift when the cost is born by the giver rather than by the receiver. Jesus paid the cost of our salvation with His death on the cross as a substitute for sinners (see Romans 5:6 & 8, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, and 1 Peter 2:24 & 3:18). Gripped by the magnitude of heavenly generosity, Paul asks, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)
Our second reflection is on the earthly name of the Son of God, "Jesus." An angel announced to Joseph, "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). God's grace is most clearly shown and keenly felt when a person understands that Jesus took the place on the cross I deserved because I am a sinner, so that I might take my place with Jesus in the company of God the Father in heaven.
Our third reflection is on the title applied to Jesus in the Scripture's closing verse. Jesus is Lord. The historical background of Revelation is emperor worship. Many Christians were challenged to either burn incense to the Roman Caesar and say that Caesar is Lord or face torture unto death. Revelation ends Holy Scripture declaring Jesus is Lord (see also Matthew 28:18 & Romans 10:9).
So, has the God who owes me nothing favorable at all, from whom I have earned death and hell, instead offered up His Son Jesus for me and my salvation? Yes. That is Grace. When I understand this, I consider His Son my rightful Lord. In other words, I know I owe Him my all and my everything, even my whole self! No wonder Revelation 22:21 are God's final words.

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