Just recently my congregation and I concluded a year-long sermon series in which we read through the Bible. Below is a part of my last sermon of the year 2010, and was addressed to my congregation on December 26, 2010. The focus text was Revelation 22:16-21. I felt like the text is appropriate as we end the year and pray that 2011 is an even better year than 2010. Peace be with all of you.
Here we are at the very end of the Bible. This is considered the final written word of our sacred text. Let me clarify a few things before we continue. As I have said before, there are many theological misconceptions that are out there.
This pericope is no exception. For instance, when John speaks in verse 18, he is not talking about the entire Bible. He addresses this writing, the Book of Revelation, to be the source to which he refers. Some theologies take this verse to indicate that it refers to the entire Bible. I disagree with their conclusions.
When the author of John wrote about this unique vision, there was no Bible. The only thing considered canonical were the ancient writings of the Hebrews. There was no New Testament. Something regarding a New Testament would not come into being for many years. When Paul referred to the gospel, he was not referring to what we know as the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He was referring to his own experiences. The Gospels would not be written until after Paul wrote his letters. With the religious landscape in Paul and John’s time, there would be no way that verse 18 could have spoken for a complete collection of writings that we know as the Bible.
So, why is this important? I like to say, so what is at stake? Okay, we move on. This is the end. These are the last words that we hear. Look at the writing. It is filled with hope. It is filled with assurance. And it is filled with wonder.
This may be the ending of what we call the Bible, but to us it is just the beginning. Our own narratives are writings within themselves. Our stories continue this one. We are living testaments to the radical transformation of the love of God.
Just as John wrote of his journey, so we write of ours. We have parts of the story that are filled with hope, longing, joy, sadness, redemption, and forgiveness. The printed text is not the end of the Biblical story. It is the beginning of our continued relationship with our Savior.
We started our journey at the beginning in which God created beauty out of chaos. As we continued on our journey, we explored the unique relationship that God had with His chosen people. We discovered the Messiah was brought into the world to save us all. In this good news or gospel, we found the message of hope. May we continue on this journey towards salvation and wholeness.
What are you going to do with your gospel? Will you simply close the book to the Biblical text, or will you chose to be a living example in the day to day living? You are called to keep this text alive. Let it breathe. Let it live. Let the message flow deep into your hearts and bring you freedom. Don’t close the book. Simply continue it.