THE INVITATIONS OF REVELATION 22:17 By H.H. Lefferts
From Signs of the Times- March 15, 1915
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that, heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come: and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.”
We have beard it said by Arminians that the above is one text which Old Baptists cannot use, that it clashes with the doctrine of salvation as we see it, inasmuch as we believe salvation to be a work which God himself plans and carries on to execution and fulfillment. The Arminians teach that the sinner must, himself make the first move, take the first step, if he wishes to be saved; that the Lord invites man to come to him, but it is man's own work to do the coming; that the Lord calls; but his call need not be heeded except the sinner chooses to heed it.
The text quoted above from Revelation is called by the nominally religious, an invitation, a gospel invitation, but Paul says the gospel is the power of God unto the believer's salvation; how then can there be invitations in the gospel? The power of God does not invite, it commands. It does not degrade itself to beg and beseech at the court of man's free-will; it speaks the instant doing and commands immediate establishment of all it purposes to do or wishes done. There is no text, in all the Bible that more firmly settles Old Baptist, experience and doctrine than this in Revelation 22:17. If there is in all the Bible a single Scripture of which we, as a people, fear the interpretation lest it unseat our faith, then we had better give over hoping we are the church of God on earth.
If we are of those who wrest the Scriptures to suit, selfish ends, to flatter the flesh, tickle the ears, and to further personal advantage, we stamp ourselves as hypocrite grossly deluded. There are religious denominations who accept certain portions of the Bible and reject others: a preacher recently advised his hearers not to read Paul, as it would confuse them if they did.
If the Old Baptists are compelled to exercise a censorship of the Scripture to prune, garble, amend and destroy them in order to secure their continuation as a religious body among men, the sooner we cease to be, the better. The entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation is one united harmonious and consistent body of truth, with no contradiction or confusion existing between any of its parts; and, so far as we know, the Old School, Particular, or Primitive Baptists are the only people on earth who hold fast the Scriptures in their entirety, resting them with the Holy Ghost to interpret when and where and how he pleases.
"The Spirit and the bride say, Come." It is usually supposed that this "Come" is addressed by the Spirit and the bride to the world, inviting sinners everywhere to come to Christ. Arminians delight in picturing the church as a woman with arms outstretched welcoming the whole world to her embraces. This seems to us to present the church as a lewd woman willing, for a price, to let anybody love her. It is not presenting the church as the chaste virgin of Christ, separate from the world, a holy vessel sanctified to the use of her adored Lord and heavenly Husband. A virtuous woman loyal to her husband is not seen making overtures to other men ; the church of Jesus, secure in his love, is not seeking the embrace of the world, but the church of antichrist lures its mongrel works mongers by the thousands into her incestuous lap by means of social clubs, penny lunches, gymnasium classes, men's clubs, kindergartens, penny savings banks, children's story' hours, sewing schools, manual training classes, Promise Keepers, age segregated Sunday school hour, et al., housed under her roof, managed by her “clergy” and laity, and financed by her people. The “come” of the Spirit and the bride, however, is not addressed to the unregenerate world, as will be evident from a reading of the context. "Behold, I come quickly," says Jesus, who sends his angel to his church to bear testimony of his appearing. The response of her heart to him is: "Come." Suppose a husband should be a long time absent from his loving and faithful wife, and suppose he should by his messenger send her word of his imminent coming, what would be her reply to him? Would it not be, "Come?" Would not every fiber of her being pulsate with joy at the announced coming of her absent lord?
Thus, it is in the expression: " The Spirit and the bride say, Come;" it, is not to the world of reprobates she says "come," but the Spirit and the bride say, "Come" to him for whose coming she longs and hungrily waits, and who has just announced by his messenger that he is coming, and that quickly. All through the law and prophecies the Spirit said, "Come." It did not tell the world to come, but cried to heaven " Lord Jesus, come quickly" Every commandment and every sacrifice of the law, every utterance of prophecy, and every type and figure of the old covenant, said, "Come." They all testified by and through the Spirit, of his coming - the coming Of Jesus.
But we need not go so far back to find this Spirit that says to Jesus, "Come," for the doctrine of the gospel church, every principle of it, says, "Come," all of it looks unto his coming “without sin, unto salvation." The ordinance as well as the doctrine of the church say, “Come." Baptism, the Lord's supper, the laying on of hands, all look to and receive their meaning front the coming of Jesus. There could be no substance in any of these things without the appearing of Jesus, all by and through the Spirit, say, “Come." Not only the Spirit, but the bride, which is the church, says, “Come." The prayer and desire of every member of the church, of every one of the redeemed, is for Jesus to come to, and in them, for "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." The church is not interested in seeing the world flock to her, but is vitally concnerned in having Jesus come and take up his abode in her. This is her earnest prayer.
“Let him that heareth say, Come." None hear the glad tidings of the angel sent by Jesus, save the spiritually alive: those who have been quickened of the Holy Spirit and made alive unto God. These alone have the ears of the new man and hear the glad word that Jesus is coming: “The kingdom of heaven is at band." Every one that so hears this news from a far country with his spiritual ears, cannot help but respond, Lord Jesus, come and make me to appear as them that love thee, and whom thou lovest with an everlasting love.
"Let him that is athirst, come." It is not to be overlooked that this little word, "let " is conspicuous in the first of Genesis and the last of Revelation. It is not an inviting word, but a word of command from the King of kings and the Lord of lords. When God said, “Let there be light," it was not an invitation to light to make itself manifest, but it was the command of omnipotence, and "there was light," without any question about it. All the power of God is housed up in that word "let," and light bad to be. It could not be otherwise. God is not grown any weaker in the last of Revelation than he was in the first of Genesis, and the word "let" is as much fraught with omnipotence when he says, "Let him that is athirst, come,"as when he said, " Let there be light," and the thirsty sinner has no more to do with the coming than had light to do with bringing itself into manifestation. The command is accompanied with ability to obey. The word of God is not a matter of printer's ink committed to paper, but is spirit and life, is quick (living) and powerful (full of power) and sharper than a two-edged sword. Thus, when the Word is made flesh, and is addressed to the soul which is thirsting for righteousness, saying, Let him come, the soul can no more resist that Coming than it could withstand the power of God in creation. When God says, “let," every opposition, every stumblingblock, every excuse, be taken out of the path of the thirsty, they throng forward to the Fountain of life.
"Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." We have heard it said that the Bible says that Whosoever will, may come. This is not so. No such language is in the Bible that you will ever be able to find. “Whosoever will." It is not every one that has this "will“ to take of the water of life. The natural man, or he that is in a state of nature, dead in sin, has not this will, no appetite for God's free gift. These things of God are foolishness to the natural man, beyond his discernment. How,then, can he have a will to possess them? The will to partake of the water of life belongs only to him that is athirst for it; and only he is thirsty who is of the elect,predestined, chosen of God, quickened by the Spirit, thus a partaker of divine life. Natural life desires natural things to satisfy its natural animal longings, spiritual life craves eternal life to quench its thirst. Natural life and the carnal will do not, cannot, reach out for spiritual things; neither do spiritual life and the divine will reach down for carnal things. It is plain that in order to have this will to drink of the water of life, one must be born from above, of in incorruptible seed, by the Word of God. Being so born, one finds this new life accompanied with a strong will to drink of the water of life. Having such a will, there is no reason why such an one should not eat of living bread and drink of living water. God's "let" removes every obstacle to the water of life out of the path of him in whom God has wrought that will to do of His good pleasure As gravity draws us to the earth, , so the living water powerfully attracts the heaven-born will of the quickened sinner to partake of it, free by the blood of Jesus to all his people, not at all conditioned on their works. One need not believe in gravity. One's disbelief hinders not the effect of it none the less. Likewise, mere mortal man's resistence is of no consequence to God's Almighty drawing of His people to