The Time is Near

Title: The Time is Near

Bible Book: Revelation 22 : 6-11

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Christ, Return of



I was saved when I was twelve years old, called to the Gospel ministry when I was thirteen years old, licensed when I was seventeen, and ordained when I was nineteen years old. I served as a summer mission pastor in my teens, and supplied in churches in northwest Mississippi while I was still in high school. I was active in Sunday School, Training Union, Vacation Bible School, and numerous study courses. If there was an associational meeting, my mother and I were there: youth rallies, M-Night, mission emphasis, or evangelism program. I participated in church, associational, district, and state Memory Work Drills, and the Intermediate Sword Drills in the local church, association, district, and state competition. I told my advisor at Mississippi College my first time in his office that I wanted to major in Bible and he advised me to major in something else if I was going to seminary. I said, “I hope so.” That was the last time I ever said that. Dr. Pinson said, “If God wants you to go you can go.” I majored in Bible and Sociology. I then headed to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where I spend three years in a program that according to an actual comparison was harder than Tulane Medical School.

When I graduated, people would say, “I’ll bet you really know the Bible.” Several years later I began work on my doctorate. You would be surprised how many pastors and other ministers there are out there who could tell a similar story. The simple fact is, we do not really know the Bible! We are learning! We are students of the Word, continually searching for answers. For 35 years I have been writing verse by verse Bible studies, which I finally developed into THE BIBLE NOTEBOOK, which includes some 25 volumes (commentaries on various books of the Bible), with several more in various stages of development.

When I sat in a Sunday School room answering questions at the time of my ordination, someone asked me a question and I answered, “I don’t know for sure...” The questioner interrupted me with his laughter, and then others began laughing. I was about to what I thought I might do if the circumstances ever arose, bit I never had an opportunity. The man who had asked the question said, “If you can say, ‘I don’t know,’ I am all for you!” I have been saying, “I don’t know” ever since. I still don’t know where Cain got his wife - well, actually I do, but I find it amusing when someone is more concerned with Cain’s wife than his own.

Now I have a confession. I have probably said, “I don’t know” more often to questions about the Second Coming of Christ, the Rapture of the Church, the Great Tribulation, and other end-time events than any other subject. My professor for my intensive course in Revelation had earned two doctorates and when he taught our class he had just returned from a year in England where he studied under William Barclay. He was an interesting lecturer, but he did not answer all my questions. For one thing, he did not believe in a personal devil (Satan is merely the personification of evil). He did not believe in the Trinity (he held a unitary theory of God, one Person playing different roles). He taught what he called the apocalyptic approach to Revelation, which we finally figured out was another take on A-millennialism.

I studied the Matthew 24, read and re-read Revelation, and questioned a lot of more mature preachers, including Dr. Leo Eddleman, who had been president of New Orleans Seminary when I was there, and Dr. Wayne Ward, with whom I discussed the subject one summer at Ridgecrest. Even after all of that, I announced when I began this series from Revelation that would not answer all your questions about end-time events. I cannot answer all my questions.

For years, I have had people ask questions I could not answer about the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and the return of Christ. I have learned a little along the way, but there are still thing I do not know. I am absolutely sure of some things. For example, when Jesus began His discourse on the destruction of Jerusalem and His return, in Matthew 24, with the warning, “Let no one deceive you,” He knew we needed that warning. I have watched as many people have revised their predictions concerning the end of the age. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were wrong in 1919. Others have been wrong since then. One man heard me preach a series one the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor, and began criticizing me. When he could not get support he left the church, only to return two years later, confessing that some countries in the Middle East didn’t do what he expected them to do.

I remember the discussions about what Jesus meant by “this generation.” Some have applied it to the destruction of Jerusalem. Others started the count-down in 1946 when Jews began returning to Israel. They predicted that Jesus would return and rapture His church within the current generation, which they finally expanded to 40 years, meaning that He would have had to return by 1986. Then they moved it to 1963. I will make no such predictions today, but this much I will say: I believe the end is drawing near, and I reject any system that denies that the time is near. I reject any interpretation that says Jesus cannot return until nations are realigned in the Europe or the Middle East. I believe there is one sign we must bear in mind. Before He returns, the Gospel will have been preached unto all the world. I also am convinced that the Gospel can be received by short-wave, or by satellite broadcast anywhere in the world today. Muslims monitor our news around the world every day. They could hear the Gospel if the wanted to hear it.

This much I do know: in 1:3, we are promised a blessing if we read the Revelation, or hear it read. I have been blessed as I have prepared these messages. This is the 46th message I have prepared, all of them full manuscripts. I have probably preached 75 or more sermons from Revelation from this pulpit, but there are still many things I do not know. There are, however, many things we can all know, and as we look at our text today, I think you will agree that we have been blessed. The beauty of it all is that the greatest blessings are awaiting us. I trust Jesus explicitly and completely. There is a reason for that.


“Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His servants what must quickly take place.”

A. The Words of Our Lord Are Faithful and True, 6a.

It has been observed that this verse begins the epilogue to the Book. It contains three prominent themes: (1) the authenticity of the document’s visions (22:6, 7, 16-19); (2) the imminence of Christ’s return (22:6, 7, 10-12); and (3) the demand for holiness (22:10-15). That these sayings are faithful and true is underscored in that they are repeated three times (here, and in 19:9 and 21:5).

No word of God is to be taken lightly. When we find repetition in the Bible we should pay close attention. Repetition affirms the truth of the Word. In Psalm 16:10, He is the faithful one. In Psalm 18:25, David writes, “With the faithful You prove Yourself faithful; with the blameless man You prove Yourself blameless.” Again, David writes, “All the Lord’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees” (Psalms 25:10). Again, he writes, “God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings” (Psalms 36:7). In 1 John 1:9, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins when we confess them to Him. Many, many verse affirm that our God is a faithful God.

Faithful and true go together. How could he be faithful if He is not true. Moses wrote, “The Rock—His work is perfect; all His ways are entirely just. A faithful God, without prejudice, He is righteous and true” (Deut 32:4). Jesus Himself declared, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).

Here, our Lord’s words are proclaimed faithful and true. If He is faithful and true, His words must be faithful and true. I may not be able to fathom the depth of His words, but I am absolutely convinced that they are faithful and true, and that applies to every word of the Word of God. I had been invited to lead a conference in one of the most liberal churches in the state. They had women deacons. They had a pastor who came out for the meal before sessions and then left before I spoke. A former pastor had fought against any effort by his convention to take a stand against seating messengers from churches that affirmed homosexual marriages. I discussed the importance of sound doctrine with those present, and I might add that they were very courteous, very gracious. They also had a few conservative members present - silenced members, I might add. When I came to the Scripture, I said, “The Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God, the perfect Word of the Perfect God.” I looked at them, realizing that they probably had not heard what I was about to say in recent years in that church, and then added, “If God could not have produced a perfect Word, why call Him God; and if He could have done it but would not, what kind of God is He?” I may not be able to understand everything He says in the Revelation, and if I understood it, I could never explain it all, but of this one thing I am absolutely convinced, it is faithful and true.

B. The Words of This Prophecy Must Quickly Take Place, 6b.

John writes that God “sent His angel to show His servants what must quickly take place.” Preachers and commentaries have sought to teach us the difference between soon, suddenly, and quickly. One Commentary states:

“Though some interpreters and translators attempt to translate the term “suddenly,” the word translated “quickly” means precisely that. Torrance explains the NT language of imminence in this manner: “The New Testament does not think of the difference between the presence of Christ here and now and His Second Advent so much in terms of a passage of time as the difference between the veiled and the unveiled. That is why the whole New Testament by an inner necessity of personal faith thinks of that day as imminent” [New Commentary on the Whole Bible].

Others stress that the promise in the first chapter and again here, did not mean that Jesus would return in the first century, but that when these things began to unfold they would unfold quickly. I have a theory I would like to run by you. I will not blame anyone else for this one, it came to me many years ago as I listened to various people ask, “Don’t you think the end near?” Or, “ Don’t you think the signs are being fulfilled?” I cannot quote Scripture or cite references, but I would like to try this theory on you. We are all aware of the three tenses we use all the time in English: past, present, and future. In the Greek, there is another tense, the Aorist tense, which shows snapshot action, completed action. I have a new tense (of course I am being facetious here). I am not sure what to call it, but let me float a term by you: the continuous anticipatory tense. This is the watch and pray tense! I believe prophecies concerning end-time events are so constructed as to have every serious student of the Word of God in every age anticipating His imminent return. God wants us to look to the return of our Savior to claim His bride in their lifetime, and this spirit of anticipation will do two things: (1) it will provide motivation to faithful obedience to God, and (2) it will give us hope for good times and bad. I don’t buy any position that precluded the promise Jesus made. He will come as a thief in the night, we do not know the day or the hour, but we know He is coming. That promise is the blessed hope that will keep us looking to its fulfillment all the days of our life. He would have us pray with John, “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!”


“Look, I am coming quickly! Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic words of this book.”

A. Jesus Promises to Come Quickly, 7a.

I wish I had kept count of all the signs to which various people have pointed and asked, “Don’t you believe that is a sign that the Lord’s coming is very near?” Someone looks at the war in Iraq and says, “The end is near, because the Bible says there will be wars and rumors of wars before the Jesus comes again.” You point out that what Jesus actually said was, “There will be wars and rumors of wars, but the end is not yet.” During Desert Storm, we were reminded that modern day Iraq is occupies ancient Babylon. There were those who predicted we would be over there one hundred years. Others were convinced that the countdown was on.

In verse 6, He sent His angel to make this announcement. Here, Jesus is speaking Himself. We find these words three times in this final chapter (22:7, 12, 20). There is little doubt in my mind that those first century saints in Ephesus, Sardis, Smyrna, Philadelphia, and all the other churches believed they would see His return. When I was a small child, there were believers who believed they would be alive when He returned. When I became a student pastor, there were people who asked me about the “signs” pointing to his return. Throughout my entire ministry I have heard people express their sincere conviction that they would be alive when Jesus returned. I am not into signs at this point, I am listening for the shout! Yes, I believe He may well return in the very near future. I believe my Lord wants me to anticipate His return, and I do know that when the end-time events mentioned in this book begin to unfold, they will unfold quickly.

B. Blessed Is the One Who Keeps the Prophetic Words of This Book, 7b.

Let me remind you again of the promised blessing in 1:3. All those who read this book, or hear it read will be blessed. Here, we see what may be considered the last beatitude: “Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic words of this book.” I see what He says, and I understand what He says. The question is, how do we do that? How do we keep the prophetic words of this book? I am not trying to be facetious here. Let’s think about it. When you look at the entire book, a book filled with prophetic words, how can I keep them? Only God can keep the great prophecies of this book! I cannot defeat the beast out of the sea or the beast out of the earth. I cannot cast the dragon into the bottomless pit. I cannot defeat the enemies of God with the sword of my mouth. I cannot prepare a place in heaven for the redeemed. I cannot rapture the church. I cannot establish a millennial reign. I cannot construct the new Jerusalem. What can I do to keep the prophetic words of this book?

We can trust God. We can trust what Jesus says. We can trust the Holy Spirit, Who indwells the heart of each believer. What was your role in Creation? God did the all the creating - you were the beneficiary. What was your role in redemption? God did all the saving, I humbled myself before Him. I submitted to Him. I trusted Him. We are saved by grace through faith - God’s grace, my faith - or is it? Paul wrote that this faith is a gift from God, not something I can generate.

Now, how can I keep the prophetic words of this book? I can believe Him. I can humble myself before Him. What can I do? I can obey Him. There is more, I can join the saints who shout “Hallelujah, my Lord reigns!” What can I do? I can watch and pray. I can look to the one who is sanctifying me to glorify me and prepare me to reign with Him.


A. John Testified, I “Am the One Who Heard and Saw These Things, vs. 8.

“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

1) The highly respected Apostle John adds his personal testimony (8a). It is interesting that in the Gospel that bears his name, he does not identify himself by name. He simply calls himself the disciple Jesus loved. I agree with those who believe that after he had seen the risen Lord (the first to believe in the Resurrection), witnessed the Ascension, and experienced Pentecost, his heart was no longer filled with the kind of pride and worldly ambition that enraged the other disciples. He was no longer seeking personal glory, honors, and position.

Here, he is inspired by the Holy Spirit to include his name and his personal testimony. The churches of Asia would recognize his name and know that he would not add his testimony to a book filled with all these strange images, symbols and prophesies. All the other apostles are dead. The churches understood that John is the final apostle of the apostolic age. There were pastors in some of these churches who had been students of John. His personal testimony would encourage the churches to take this prophecy seriously.

2) John writes, “When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown them to me” (8b). How could he do that? How could he fall down before an angel to worship him? Was that not what pagans were doing when they tried to worship Paul and Barnabas?
Before you condemn John try to remember certain things. First, the revelation he received was from Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the Alpha and Omega, though at times He sent an angel with a message, or to perform some task, like pouring out the seven last bowls of judgment upon the earth.
Remember also that he is in the Spirit, and he has seen images of the risen Lord and heard His voice.
The revelation he has received has been more amazing than anything he had ever seen before. John confessed what he had done. Do we confess our sins when we are guilty of false worship today? I did not say when you worship a false god - I mean when we are guilty of the false worship of the true God. What about those who preach that there is no hell (just annihilation), there is no Trinity (Just role playing by God), That the Bible is not inerrant (it is inspired in spots), that there was no virgin birth (just a natural birth, possibly under less than desirable circumstances). What about those who worship through ritual, ceremony, and images rather than in truth and spirit. What about those who sing, “Standing on the Promises”, when in reality all they are doing is sitting on the premises.
What about those who come to the house of God but their mind is else where. What about churches that invite divorced people to come to a singles class and encouraged lost people to a prospective spouse - or encourage divorced persons to enter relationships without regards to God or to their children!

Not surprisingly, the Lord’s angel stopped John immediately: ““Don’t do that! I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” The angel identified himself as a fellow slave.

We are not to worship angels or any other spiritual being, either heavenly angels or satanic angels. America has had an obsession with angels for a whole generation. There was a very clean and descent television program on for a number of year. You remember TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL. Every so often someone would send a petitions around asking Christians to sign it and send it to the FCC, protesting rumored plans to take the program off their the air. Little did many people realize that the angels portrayed, though moral and descent, were New Age angels, not biblical angels. In the New Testament, emphasis is placed on obedience to and attention to the Holy Spirit - who never attracts attention to Himself, but always points us to Jesus. If you will study the Word of God and pray without ceasing, the Holy Spirit will focus your attention on the Son. The Third Person of the Trinity will enable us and empower us to go to the Father through the Son. We do not worship angels - we don’t even look for angels. The Holy Spirit will bless you when you study the Scripture and when you pray as He leads.

B. The Time Is Near, 22:10-11.

“He also said to me, “Don’t seal the prophetic words of this book, because the time is near. Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness; let the filthy go on being made filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; and let the holy go on being made holy.”

1) First, He is told, ““Don’t seal the prophetic words of this book,” 22:10. It is interesting that Daniel was told that his prophecies would be “sealed until the time of the end” (Dan. 12:9), but John was told not to seal up the words of these prophetic words. “It should be emphasized that the viewpoint of some scholars that the Book of Revelation is an impenetrable puzzle is expressly contradicted by this and other passages. Revelation, both via its plain statements and its symbols, is designed to reveal facts and events relating to the second coming of Christ” [Bible Knowledge Commentary].

2). When Christ comes, there will be no more time for decision or change, 22:11. John writes, “Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness; let the filthy go on being made filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; and let the holy go on being made holy.” This exhortation seems to be a puzzled some students of the Word. Neither Jesus, nor His angel approves vile, evil behavior, nor does Jesus overlook sin. The point here is not that we are to condone that which is evil. What seems more likely is that John is told that those who do not “heed the prophetic words of this book” are going to go on sinning and living a vile, wicked life. Those who do heed the prophetic words of this book, however, will continue to do what is right in the sight of God.

Let’s face it, if the return of our Savior is imminent, and I believe it is, you are not going to see a radical change in the behavior of lost, carnal, wicked people. They are going to continue in their sin.
Christians on the other hand are to be encouraged to continue in the Lord, loving Him, worshiping Him, and serving Him. “Relatively speaking, the time of the Lord’s return is near and no major changes in mankind’s conduct can be expected” [BKC].


Do I believe the Lord’s return is drawing near? I consider it a distinct possibility, even a probability. As the population continues to explode, and as America spirals deeper and deeper into the moral abyss that is the world, I see a lot of problems that man has tried to solve, which are getting worse, not better. To name one, there are race relations. Any hope that man may employ sociology, psychology, education, politics, or even religion to racial issues and solve the problem received a serious setback in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. One black leader claimed that whites bombed the levy in New Orleans to kill black people. Little is heard about all the white people who tried to go down in boats and in busses to help with the evacuation, but were turned back because officials considered it dangerous because of snipers. I cringe when anyone tries to create racial issues where none exist - there are enough real racial issues without trying to manufacture more.

There are many people of all races who work together to help solve problems, but there are many others who seem always to find a way to exacerbate the problem. In the Middle East today, there are three major religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Two of those religions believe in an eye for an eye. Only one believes in forgiveness, and there will never be peace until forgiveness is preached and practiced. Race relations will never be solved in America until those profess a faith in Jesus apply the Golden Rule in relationships. We not only need confession, we need forgiveness.

World hunger is a serious threat. Nuclear weapons are getting into the hands of more and more dangerous, evil people. Morally, America is slipping deeper and deeper into a moral cesspool. In 2004, according to one report, 35% of all babies born in America were born to single women. The divorce rate among church members rivals that among lost people. Behavior in school is getting worse each year. Homosexuality has champions in congress, universities, and in the media. Hollywood is spreading filth and polluting the air waves while campaigning to clean up the air and streams.

Then there is the threat of Islam, which seeks world-wide domination. We must also consider that segment of Islam that is aggressively anti-Christian and anti-Israel. The president of Iran has called for the destruction of Israel. We could go on and on, naming moral, social, and economic issues that seem to be getting worse, not better. We are hearing about avian flu, or bird flue, which could kill hundreds of millions of people. Famine is a growing threat in some countries.

What is the church doing to help in the battle against evil? In France, the church has lost its influence. Germany has turned its back on the church. England, which saw the great preachers of another day, like John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon, is growing more secular - they think. However, when Islam gets the upper hand, just see how much religious freedom they will have. Right now, Muslims make up only about ten per cent of the population of France, but they are rioting all around Paris. France would not support us in the war against terrorism, and now they are seeing it up close and personal.

If you want to see an example of the New Testament church in our day, look to the persecuted church in China. One leader has stressed that we should stop praying for an end to the persecution in china, because it is persecution that has caused the church to grow. As a matter of fact, he said that those in the house churches in China are praying for persecution to come to America so the church here can experience that kind of growth.

I really believe we are in the countdown today. I believe when Jesus says, “I come quickly”, we had better stop looking for signs and start listening for the shout. I have already prayed with John, “even so, come “quickly, Lord Jesus.”

What if it were today? Would you be ready? If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will spend eternity with Him in heaven. If you do not have a personal relationship with Him, let me urge you with all my heart to trust Him, confess your sin, repent, and seek his forgiveness. He will only come into the heart that He has cleansed. Jesus is coming again, what if it were today. You can be ready - why not today?

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