And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. (Revelation 19:9)
Before I use our text in a larger sense, it is due to our reverence for the Word of God to expound this short sentence to its immediate connection, for the angle here declared that certain things which had been spoken in John’s hearing were “the true sayings of God.” You will observe that he bade the apostle “write” what he had heard. It was so weighty that John was not to trust it simply to his memory. It was so necessary that it should be remembered that he had to record it so that it might be handed down to future generations. “Write,” said the angel, and then, as if to give John reasons for writing, reasons why these truths should be permanently recorded, he added, “These are the true sayings of God.”
What were those true sayings? I shall not dwell long upon them, but just hastily allude to them. The first which appears in this chapter is the great fact that God will judge and condemn the harlot church. There are two churches in the world today. The one is the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, composed of believers in him who worship God in spirit and truth, whose creed is the Word of God, and whose power for life and service is the indwelling Spirit of God. There is another church; you know what a shameful name is applied to her in this chapter, and you also know that she deserves to be called by that name, for she has indeed corrupted the earth with her fornication. In the old Jewish time, idolatry was called spiritual harlotry; and there are millions of idolaters daily bowing down before images, and rags and bones that ought long ago to have been buried in the earth. The Church of Rome seems to have gathered up all the relics of the idolatries of other ages, and then to have capped them by saying that a substance, which is only bread before the “priest” consecrates it, becomes God afterwards, and then the idolater eats his god, a monstrous piece of blasphemy and superstition unworthy of Dahomey itself. That is the harlot church, which God will surely judge; and when he does, terrible will be that judgement. Amongst the tremendous things of the last day will be the total overthrow and utter destruction of this “mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.” Come ye out from her O ye people, lest ye be partakers of her plagues; for terrible will her plagues be in the day when the Lord shall avenge upon her the blood of all his saints and martyrs whom she has slain. This, then, is one of “the true sayings of God.”
The next true saying is concerning the glorious and universal reign of the great God. For John “heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” There has been a long war between God and idols of various names. Among the ancient idols were Baal, and Ashtaroth, and Dagon, but all had to bow down before Jehovah. Then Jupiter, and Saturn, and Venus, and Mars were worshiped as deities by the heathen, and now gods many and lords many still dominate a large part of the human intellect; but they are all doomed to fall, and the one invisible Creator of heaven and earth, almighty and eternal, will yet reign throughout the whole universe without a rival; and then shall be heard again that great shout that John heard during the wondrous revelation in the Isle of Patmos, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Let us never imagine that God’s throne is in peril. Let us never fancy that the truth can be defeated. Truth is God’s daughter, and he covers her with his great shield, and fights for her with his invincible omnipotence. Do not tremble for the ark of God, do not despair, or even despond; the Lord will win the victory over all the powers of evil. This also is one of “the true sayings of God.”
The next true saying was this, that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, so called because of the atoning sacrifice which he presented on Calvary, will have a full reward for all his sufferings: “For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready… Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Jesus Christ came into this world to find his beloved ones, and he found them in bondage; and having taken upon himself their nature, he became their next of kin; and then, according to the ancient law, he redeemed them, and bought them unto himself, and he has espoused unto himself all those that trust in him. All believers in him, in whatever visible church they may be, make up the one Church of Jesus Christ which he hath redeemed from among men with his precious blood, and in the latter days he will have that Church to be his reward. At present, Christ has but a poor reward for all his sufferings. Comparatively few reverence him, his people are a feeble and scattered folk; but there are days coming in which the Lord Jesus Christ shall have all whom he came to save. He shall not be disappointed; “he shall not fail, nor be discouraged.” The Lord shall abundantly reward him for all his agonies. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” This also is one of “the true sayings of God.”
This true saying also declares that, in the latter days, when Christ comes again to this earth, he will find his Church here. He will bring with him a part of that Church, and he will find here part of that Church which shall be his bride for ever and for ever. A description of the purity which is her glory is given in the verse which precedes our text: “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” So that the Church of Christ will be arrayed as brides should be, in the garments of light and purity; she will also be chastely arrayed, not like the harlot church, in purple and scarlet, but “in fine linen, clean and white.” Christ’s Church shall be a pure Church, a simple Church, a humble Church, and yet, for all that, a beautiful Church in the eyes of Jesus Christ. She shall be a perfect Church, and her beauty shall be her righteousness. And where shall she obtain that righteousness? It is said that it shall be given to her. It will not be any righteousness which she has herself manufactured, for each of her members has the same desire as Paul had when he wrote, “That I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” The Church of God, then, when Christ receives her as his bride, will be dressed in the imputed righteousness which comes to her by faith. It is the righteousness which Jesus Christ spent his life to work out, the righteousness which never had a stain upon it, for Jesus Christ is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Oh, blessed be God for this glorious fact that for ever Jesus Christ will have a Church of this kind. This also is one of “the true sayings of God.”
The practical point for us to remember is this, let us endeavor to get as far as ever we can from the meretricious church described in the 18th chapter. If you read that chapter through, you cannot mistake the church to which it refers, for the portrait is a photograph. Get as far as ever you can away from that mystery of iniquity. Shun sacramentarianism as you would shun the plague. Abhor the priesthood as you would the arch-fiend himself. Turn away from all idolatry, and worship God alone. Keep to the Bible, and forsake everything that is of man’s invention. Cleave to the simple teaching of God’s Word in doctrine, in practice, in the ordinances, and in everything. Cling, in fact, to the pure Church of Jesus Christ. If you ask me where you can find that Church, I may tell you that you can find part of it here, and parts of it scattered all over the land, and over a great part of the world. Believers in Christ are known to the Lord, for he knoweth them that are his; they are not as others are, for they have received an inner spiritual light and life; they no longer care for the world, nor for the world’s religion; they seek to walk where Jesus Christ marked the way with is own pierced feet; “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” This is the Church that loves the righteousness of Christ, the Church that magnifies his atoning sacrifice, the Church that believes in his merits, and not in human merits, and that trusts in his death, and not in anything that men can do to save themselves. Cling to that Church, beloved; cleave to it. Be numbered with it, give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids, till you know that you are amongst those people to whom is granted the privilege of wearing the righteousness of Christ as “fine linen, clean and white.” The Lord grant that, in that dividing day, not one member of this assembly may be driven away with the beast and the false prophet; but may we all be found with the bride, the true, chose, chaste, pure Church of Jesus Christ that has endeavored to follow him through evil report and good report, never bowing at the feet of kings, never accepting their proffered gifts, but remaining true to God and Christ all her days!
Having spoken thus upon the connection of this passage, I desire now to address you, for a short time, upon these words as they refer to the entire canon of Scripture. I may take this blessed Book, this whole inspired Bible, and say of its contents, “These are the true sayings of God.” I want to make two remarks; the first is, that some of these sayings we have already proved to be true; and the second is, that the rest of them we are fully assured are true.
I. First, then, SOME OF THE GREAT SAYINGS IN THIS BOOK WE HAVE PROVED TO BE TRUE. There is nothing like tasting, and handling, and trying, and proving for ourselves what we find in the Scriptures.
Among other things, this Book says that sin is an evil and a bitter thing. Some of us have proved that to be true, for sin became, when we were awakened by God’s Spirit, our plague, our torment, our curse; and to this hour, though God has forgiven the sins of as many of us as have believed in Jesus Christ, we never sin without suffering injury as the result of it. I ask any child of God here whether he ever was a real gainer by sin. Was sin ever anything to you, beloved, but a loss, an evil through and through? Have you not had to smart for it many and many a time, and do you not say, “of all the evil things that ever came from hell, there is none that can match sin”? Yes, we have proved that this saying of God is true.
But more pleasant to talk of is another true saying of God which tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ speaks peace to the conscience. This Book tells us that the blood of Jesus speaketh better things than that of Abel. It tells us that, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I put the question to those who have been justified by faith, those who have tested the power of the precious blood of Christ, has it not given you peace with God? My witness is, that I never knew what peace of conscience meant until I learned what the Savior’s blood has done for me. There is no peace like the peace that comes from trusting in Jesus; it is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” which keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Nay, more, the precious blood of Jesus, when it is applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit, not only gives peace, but it gives a divine exhilaration and sacred joy, as the Word says, “We also joy in our God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” I appeal to your experience, is it not so? Have you not proved that saying of God to be a true saying? Oh, yes! there are scores, and hundreds, and even thousands here who can repeat this saying, and add, “Verily, we know it to be true in our own souls.”
Further, god has told us in his Word, that there is a cleansing power in faith, and hope, and love, and all the other Christian graces. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself.” I put it to you who have faith and hope, have you not always found that, in proportion as you have these graces in active exercise, you can conquer sin? Perhaps you have some besetting sin; if so, have you not always been able to tread it under your feet when you have stood at the foot of the cross? When you have been full of love to Jesus, have you not also been most victorious over your inward corruptions, and most steadfast in resisting outward temptations? I know it is so, and there are some of us, in whom the grace of God has wrought such great wonders, changing us from what we once were, turning us inside out, making us such new creatures that, if we were to meet our old selves tomorrow, we should not know ourselves. When men tell us that the gospel is not the power of God unto salvation, we ask them how it is that, every day in the week, we hear of drunkards reclaimed, the unchaste made pure, thieves made honest, and persons of detestable temper made gentle and amiable; and how it is that we so often hear of the conversion of a husband and father, and that the wife and children and home bear witness that the conversion is no sham, but has made the cottage to be no longer a little hell, but more like a heaven upon earth. We say that the doctrine which can made such changes in men cannot be an untrue doctrine. When I have been troubled with skepticism, I have had to cure myself in this way. I have stood and looked up to the starry vault of heaven, and I have said, “Well, one thing I am clear about, and cannot doubt, namely, that there is a God. All these wondrous worlds did not grow; somebody made them. And there is another thing about which I am clear, and that is that I love this God whoever he is, and that I believe him to be a pure and holy being, and I want to be the same as he is; and whatever side he is on, I am on his side. I fell and honor and reverence for him, and desire to follow him in that which is good and that which is true.” Then I say to myself, “Did I always feel like that?” And I answer, “No, I did not. Now, that which makes me range myself side by side with God for that which is good and true, that which makes me love God, cannot be a lie, it must be true. And as it was the gospel of Jesus Christ that wrought that change in my soul, that gospel is true;” and so I get back again on firm rocky ground for my own soul to rest upon. And what I have said about myself is the witness of all who know the Lord. Their faith in God has had a sanctifying influence upon them, and so they know, in their own experience, that this saying of God is indeed true. (Charles H. Spurgeon, The True Sayings of God)
to be continued…