The Gospel in Revelation: The Last Warning

We often hear, “God created everything from nothing.” The truth is, everything was created by His Word and we simply consider it in awe. After the stars have fallen from the sky and creation is folded up like a shirt, God’s Word will still be the same. We cannot add to it nor erase it. Scripture’s final warning is a reminder of the great tragedy which awaits anyone using either end of a pencil against the Word of God. The warning is stated as follows: “If anyone adds to them (the words of this book), 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” (Rev 22:18-19, ESV).

God’s word was settled forever in heaven long before it was etched in stone or printed (Psa 119:89). The consequences of the final warning of Revelation echo the first place someone tampered with God’s Word: Eden and the tree of life. The warning also takes us to the final place for those relying on the Word of God, the Holy city. Yet it encourages us to take our place as listeners (“anyone who hears”), because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17).

Many have argued that the warning of Revelation 22:18-19 is only for the book itself. Yet the book is titled “the Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Its contents not only describe a person, but also the completion of His plan. To change any of the previous 65 books is to alter the ending. If you add or subtract from the prose, you do the same to the person it reveals. Why would we take anything away from a Man who has taken away our sins? Why add to the text which tells us He has done all to save us?

The final warning is spoken by the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Since He is God’s final message to man, it is no surprise He uses the phrase, “this book,” four times in this last warning. Our confidence in our salvation must be based on “this book,” the Bible. Many stop short of being 100% confident of salvation, but if Scripture is 100% sure of its contents, we can be also.

When God made man, He breathed out and gave him life (Gen 2). When Christ died for mans’ sins, He breathed out and gave us life eternal (Luke 23). And when God desired to assure us of all this and more, He breathed out Scripture (2Tim 3:16). The Word of God is living and life-giving to those who hear and accept its good news as is. To add a 23rd chapter to Revelation or a 67th book to the Bible leaves us with our words, not God’s. Eternity won’t tamper with the message of this Book. Why would we?

The Author reveals Himself in Scripture, becoming part of His own narrative. The Lord entered the pages of His story so that we might know Him. Christ extends an offer to everyone who will hear His words, entreating us to take God at His word. The crucifixion, resurrection, and return of Christ – and indeed our own salvation – are all assured by the same word which assures us that He loves us. “The Bible tells me so.”