For those of you who have been following the devotionals during the reading of Revelation, you will know that we are at the end of John's dream. The horrendous battle between good and evil is over and Jesus has won.
There are two things that really interested me in these passages. First of all, you know how they say that anything in the Bible that is repeated must be very important? There are several quotes repeated in these verses. These are: "These words are trustworthy and true", "See, I am coming soon" and "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." I think the reason for the repetition is fairly obvious. The first is to remind us that this isn't some wild, hair-brained dream of John's but a true revelation from God Himself as told through John. The second quote, I believe, is truly the "topic sentence" of this whole book, the statement of true hope for the world - See, I am coming soon. The third quote underscores this by reminding us that God is everything.
The second thing that interested, and puzzled me, was the 12th verse. Here, the angel explains that Jesus is coming soon "...to repay according to everyone's work." Whoa. I thought that works did not matter. What you need to do to get into heaven is accept Jesus Christ as your savior and repent. Now, repent means sin no more, or at least stop committing the sin(s) for which you repent. So, theoretically, one would need to start behaving differently once a person accepts Christ. But, if that was the case, the angel could have said "to repay those who have repented." That is not what the angel says.
I've had this discussion with lots of Christians. Do works matter? I know that works alone certainly will not get you a place in heaven. But what about the deathbed confession of the habitual criminal? He doesn't have any time left to prove that he truly repents. Does he get into heaven?
As we all know, Jesus alone knows what is in our hearts, as he would know the heart of the dying criminal. If we are truly Christians, if we truly repent, than our actions will speak louder than our words. We will not be able to help ourselves as we will want to share God's love with the world. So, our works won't be the admission ticket, it will be the love in our hearts.