The Spirit and the Bride say “Come!” Revelation 22:17

I do love a good wedding! One of the perks of being a minister is going to so many weddings. and so many receptions of course! The whole day is always wonderful. The bride more beautiful than ever, the groom looking smart for once, the guests happy and smiling, the delicious food at the reception of course. But I guess my favourite part of every wedding is the bit where I get to say, “I now pronounce you man and wife” and the groom finally gets to kiss the bride! That wonderful moment where all the months or even years of waiting and preparation are eventually over – the two have become one – husband and wife are married.

The Bible tells us we are looking forward to a very special wedding. A marriage not of an ordinary man and a woman. Rather a marriage truly made in heaven. That wonderful event which the book of Revelation calls “The Marriage Feast of the Lamb” – the glorious day when the Lord Jesus Christ returns and is united to His Bride, the church.

REV 19 6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.

What a wonderful day that will be – the wedding day between the Lamb Jesus Christ and His Bride the Church!

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

There are so many blessings waiting for us on that glorious day of the marriage feast of the Lamb when Jesus will come back to take us to be with Him. Some preachers have nothing better to do than to create sermons with 8 points all beginning with the same letter, neatly divided into 25 subpoints. Less gifted preachers just borrow those points and subpoints and describe the day when Jesus returns like this.

1 It will be a day of Reunion,
Reunion with Christ Himself
Reunion with other Christians and with our loved ones

2 It will be a day of Rewards
The day will itself be a great reward,
it will be a full reward,
it will be a sure and certain reward,
it will be a satisfying reward,
it will be an inestimable reward,

We could list some of the amazing rewards which Christians will receive on that day when Jesus returns:
– being with Christ, John14:3; Phil. 1:23; 1 Th. 4:17
– seeing God and Jesus face to face Rev. 22:4
– being glorified with Christ, Rom. 8:17-18
– sitting in judgment alongside Christ, Mt. 19:28
– reigning with Christ, 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:4
– having a kingdom, Mt. 25:34; Lk. 22:29
– having an eternal home in heaven, 2Cor. 5:1

3 It will be a Day of Rejoicing,
We will rejoice over our new status – the redeemed of the Lord will return with rejoicing
We will rejoice over the rewards we receive;
We will rejoice when we see again the souls we have helped to win

4 It will be a day of Restoration
Paradise regained – delivered from the limitations of this life

5 It will be a day of Resurrection
the dead in Christ will rise first
followed those of us who that are still alive

6 It will be a day for Revelation
bringing to light the hidden things of darkness

7 It will be a day of Regrets for some
Jesus will return like a thief in the night,
His coming will be unexpected,
That day will bring judgement as the sheep will be separated from the goats

8 It will be the day of Retribution
with God’s punishment on evil and wickedness

The return of Christ will indeed be an amazing day, count the 8 points – a day of reunion and rewards and rejoicing, of restoration and resurrection and revelation and regrets and retribution. The day when we look forward to receiving the crown of life, the crown of glory, when we receive our inheritance in Christ. The wonderful day of the Lord. And hear the inspiring and encouraging promises Christ Himself makes!

7 “Behold, I am coming soon!; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.” …..
12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” AMEN COME LORD JESUS!

What a wonderful hope we have in Christ – the happy certainty of the Day of his return. As a bride looks forward to her wedding day, we should be looking forward to Christ’s return and praying for his return. We should be ready for Jesus’s return and anticipating his return. No wonder we read:
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.
Of course we are longing for Jesus Christ to return – at least I hope we are! But wait a minute. Did anything in that passage in Revelation 22 surprise you? Strike you as strange? How about verse 17? 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”

As Christians, as the Bride of Christ, we cry out “Come Lord Jesus”. But why should God the Holy Spirit also be saying “come”? How is the Holy Spirit affected by the return of Christ? Just what part does the Holy Spirit play in the return of Christ?

Let’s step back for just a moment to think about the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Church, the bride of Christ. When we think of the work of the Holy Spirit we think about the Spirit who is the Lord, the giver of life, who gives us new birth and new life. We maybe think about spiritual gifts as the Holy Spirit equips the church to serve Christ. We think especially about the communicating gifts like prophecy and tongues which enable Christians to communicate with God and God to communicate with us. But my guess is that we often forget about one whole area of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers and of the church. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, making us like Jesus. The work of the Holy Spirit is to get us ready for heaven! The Spirit preparing the Bride so that she will be ready to meet her Bridegroom on her wedding day!

We know that Christ has died to make the church his bride.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

But how exactly does Christ make us holy? How does he get rid of our stains and wrinkles and blemishes. Because we know very well that so far in this life we Christians are anything but holy and blameless.

This is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit! Making us holy. The Spirit inside us who bit by bit, day by day, is changing us to make us more like Jesus. To prepare us for heaven. A long hard process of transformation which begins in this life but won’t be finished until that wonderful day when Christ returns.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

This transformation is like the metamorphosis from a caterpillar to a butterfly. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians and in the life of the church.

The Holy Spirit helps us develop the character of Christ Himself in us!
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The Spirit helps us to know God better and better so that heaven will not be too much of a shock for us when we get there.

Ephesians 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

The Holy Spirit also helps us when we pray:

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

More than these things, the Holy Spirit himself gives us a foretaste of heaven.

Romans 8:23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?

Christians have already received the firstfruits of the Spirit – the foretaste, the appetiser, the first instalment of heaven. More than that, the Holy Spirit within us is God’s guarantee to us that he will keep his promises.

Ephesians 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of his glory.

2 Corinthians 1:21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

So we can be absolutely certain that one day we will receive all the blessings God has promised us – because we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts now as first instalment and guarantee of our inheritance.
Romans 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 ¶ Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.

So the Holy Spirit within us helps us look forward to heaven.
2 Corinthians 5:4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

The Holy Spirit is working in us preparing us for heaven, preparing the Bride of Christ to meet her Bridegroom. No wonder not only the Bride, but also the Spirit cry out “Come, Lord Jesus!”

We might even say that the Holy Spirit is the BRIDESMAID – helping the bride to be ready for her big day.

But then there is something even deeper in this passage. Something mystical and profound revealed by the phrase, “The Spirit and the Bride say come.”

From eternity God has been three in one and one in three, Father Son and Holy Spirit.
In the Incarnation – God became man, In one sense that introduced a distance between Son on the one hand and Father and the Holy Spirit on the other, because God the Son has experienced humanity in ways which the Father and the Spirit have not.

On Calvary, when sins of world were laid on Son he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Our sins caused a deep division in the Holy Trinity as Son of God took upon himself the alienation of rebellious sinners which we all experience.

At the Ascension the Father and the Son were reunited – but then Father and Son sent the Spirit into the church to accomplish the work we have been talking about tonight – the sanctification of the church, the work of first fruits and guarantee.

So perhaps there is a great longing actually WITHIN the Godhead for these last days to be over. For the Bride to be ready for her Bridegroom. A longing for the day when Christ will claim his Bride. A longing within the Holy Spirit of God for the process of sanctification to be completed. For the battle against human sin to finally be over. For the Holy Trinity to be completely united once again. No wonder not only the Bride but the Spirit says “Come”
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.

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