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The apostle John wrote, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).
The book of Revelation is a very special prophecy given to God’s people before Jesus returns. Jesus begins this book with a blessing to those who read and keep the things written therein (Revelation 1:3). He also ends the book with the warning to those that add or take away its words (Revelation 22:18-19).
Does it mean that if someone added or took away from the book of Revelation under any circumstance, would they lose their salvation forever? Let us look to Scripture to find the answer.
The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus says the only sin that will not be forgiven is sin against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31). The sin against the Holy Ghost, in essence, is the only sin that cannot be forgiven because it is when we refuse to hear the Holy Spirit and do not come to God and ask for forgiveness for known sins. It is called blaspheme against the Holy Ghost because it is open rebellion against the member of the Godhead who draws us to the Savior (John 16:13-14).
Therefore, if someone was misinformed or lacked understanding on a topic and taught something that added or took away from the book of Revelation and then later realized their error and confessed it to God, it is safe to say from Scripture that they would be forgiven. The breaking of God’s law is sin (1 John 3:4) however, we know that if sin we can call on Jesus to advocate for us and forgive us (1 John 2:1).
The Bible also says that at times of ignorance God winks (Acts 17:30). Therefore, if someone genuinely was trying to share his understanding of Scripture and made an error, he is only accountable for what he understood. God is a fair judge ( Psalm 9:8, 1 Peter 2:23) and we are answerable only for sins we are aware of (James 4:17).
This warning at the end of Revelation is there for the reader to take the prophecy seriously. The teaching of this prophecy should be done prayerfully and with much care, as its understanding can lead or deter others from being ready for when Jesus comes and gaining salvation. If we are careless or purposefully misconstruing this prophecy to fit our own liking or agenda, there are serious consequences that we must face. We can add serious judgment to ourselves as well as lose our salvation based on how we handle this prophecy. Just as a parent gives strong warnings to their children over serious matters, so God gives His children warnings to save us from destruction (Revelation 3:19).
God wants us all to be saved (Ezekiel 18:32, 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9). May we heed God’s warnings and gain the blessing that this prophecy was intended for. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3).
In His service,
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