There has been a constant
discussion among the leaders of this church about how to express worship
better. It seems like so often our sense of worship is tied to where we
are. That is always a struggle. For example, many of the church buildings
in which I have pastored have had solid wood walls, solid wood floors, and
smooth ceilings. They echoed like a basketball court, and when we sang, we
sang like a choir of thousands even if there were 20 people. We would have
people come to visit. They would sit through our worship service and they
would say "Man, your singing is incredible! If only we would sing
like that back at our church." What they didn't understand is it
didn't have anything to do with us. It was the building we were in that
caused our voices to multiply. The building that we are in here this
morning doesn't do that. It is not built acoustically to enhance singing,
however what it does do is it keeps down the other noises. Because in
those same buildings where you had the wonderful singing, any time anybody
moved their foot, everybody heard it.
All of that to say that we struggle with how to sense worship. We have
talked some about worship. As a matter of fact, for the last month we have
been talking about worship. We have been talking about the fact that the
offering plates are at the back of the room. They're not there just
because we need some place to put our offerings but so that you can
privately and personally, as an act of worship, present your gifts to the
Lord. We have talked about singing as an aspect of worship. When we come
together on Sunday mornings, we come here to worship our God. It is
difficult to find that balance between a sense of family, where we just
love seeing each other and we like to spend time together and we like to
talk to each other about what's going on in life, and coming in quietly as
a body of Christ into the presence of God in awe. It's difficult to do
both of those things.
We tried turning down the lights a little bit and, that's great except
that nobody can see the words in the hymnal so that didn't work. We give a
call to worship just a few minutes before we begin and, hopefully, that
brings us together to focus our attention on our Lord and visit
afterwards. Somehow we need to sense that as we come together it is not
the place but it's the person before whom we come together. It's the
person of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, as we think about worship if
you were to think through the scriptures and I were to ask you to give me
two books in the Bible that you would go to for instruction or for help in
worship and it had to be something other than the Book of Psalms, which
books would you take me to? I asked a couple of gentlemen that earlier
this week and they didn't know. If I couldn't go to Psalms, I'll tell you
where I'd go. The two books that I have gone to more often than any other
for worship, the Book of Isaiah and the Book of The Revelation.
As a matter of fact, most people tend to think about the Book of
Revelation as kind of a dark, ominous, mysterious, we can't understand it,
we'll just stay away from it because it scares me kind of book. But the
thing that impresses me about the Book of Revelation is that it is a book
that gives Jesus Christ his proper place. And it is, among other things, a
book of worship.
In Revelation Chapter 1 and Verse 19 we are given an outline for the book.
It's not a very even outline. Since there is 22 chapters, you'd think
you'd want about 7 chapters in each section to make it outline nice and
even. That's not how it works. In Revelation 1:19, Jesus Christ says to
John "Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things
which are, and the things which shall take place after these." If you
take those three categories, you can outline the Book of Revelation. The
things which have been or which you have seen, that's chapter 1. That's
what John had seen in the vision up to that point. The things which are,
that's chapters 2 and 3, the messages that God gives to seven of the
existing churches in John's day. And the things which shall be after this
is from chapter 4 through chapter 22, that's the things that are yet
coming, the things of the future.
As we look at that outline, what you see is Jesus Christ revealed to us in
each of those three sections. As a matter of fact, the book begins in
chapter 1, verse 1 by saying "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which
God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly
take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His
bond-servant John." Now the statement "The Revelation of Jesus
Christ" can mean one of two things. It can either mean the revelation
which comes from Jesus Christ, or it can mean Jesus Christ revealed. Now,
I think it means the revelation that comes from Jesus Christ but, at the
same time, as we look through this book what we see is Jesus Christ
revealed. As a matter of fact, from the first section in chapter 1 we see
Jesus Christ revealed as God, eternal, immortal, invisible, creator God.
And when we look at chapters 2 and 3 we see Jesus Christ revealed as the
one who holds the answer to all the needs and conditions of the church.
And when we look at chapters 4 through 22 we see Jesus Christ revealed as
the one who is the culmination of all history and all creation. It finds
its beginning and its end in Him, which is why He is called the Alpha and
the Omega, the beginning and the end. What we see in this book, above
everything else, is Jesus Christ revealed as the one who is worthy of our
worship because He is God, because He holds the churches in His hand,
because He holds all of creation in His hands. And what I would like you
to do with me this morning is to meditate on that simple fact, that Jesus
Christ is, in fact, worthy to be worshipped because of who He is, as He is
revealed in this book.
Here is my goal. If it scares you, don't stay away. This week I want to
talk about worship from the Book of Revelation. Next week I want to talk
to you about why God gave us the book, three reasons God gave us this
book. And, then, over the next eight weeks I want to take you through the
first three chapters of the book. And from there we'll see where we'll go,
probably go on to the end. But that's going to take us up awfully close to
Easter, okay. That's just so you have some idea of where we're going.
But worship. Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship. Would you bow with me
in prayer before we go any further?
Our Father, I pray that you would direct what we say this morning and that
you would direct what we hear. I pray, Lord, that we would not bring
attention to ourselves but that we would, in fact, have our attention
drawn to you. And, Lord, that you would motivate us and instruct us in
worship. In Jesus' name, Amen.
In case you doubt that this is a book of worship, some of the greatest
worship passages, I believe, of all the Bible are found, among other
places, in chapter 4 and 5 of the Book of Revelation. Just a quick glance.
We see the throne of God and we see around that throne the living
creatures and the angels. And in chapter 4, verse 8 we see the four living
creatures crying out day and night "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord
God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come." We see the
24 elders casting their crowns before the throne and crying out in verse
11, "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and
honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will
they existed, and were created." Over in chapter 5 we see the living
creatures and the 24 elders falling down before the Lamb. We see the
prayers of the saints and we see them singing a new song "Worthy art
Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; because You were slain, and
You did purchase for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue
and nation. And You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God;
and they will reign upon the earth. And I looked and heard the voice of
many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and
the number of them are myriads upon myriads, and thousands upon thousands,
saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to
receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and
blessing. And every created thing which was in heaven and on earth and
under the earth and on the sea, and everything in them, I heard saying,
"To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and
honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." And the four living
creatures kept saying "Amen." And the elders fell down and
People, this is a book of worship and that's what I want you to see. Jesus
Christ is worthy of our worship because, first of all, He is God. In
chapter 1, verses 1 to 3 we see that He is the source of this revelation.
God gives a revelation in verse 1 but he gives it through Jesus Christ,
who gives it to John. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ. As a matter of
fact, if you remember in John chapter 1 and verse 1, it says that Jesus is
the Word. He is God's revelation. "In the beginning," it said,
"was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."
And later we see him coming flesh and being revealed as Jesus Christ. And
so Jesus Christ was with God and he was God. I don't understand that.
There was a time in which I thought I understood the Trinity and I had a
great illustration for it, and the more I realized about the Trinity and
the more I looked at my illustration, the more it all fell to pieces. So,
I won't even share it with you because it doesn't work.
Somehow, the scriptures tell us that God is three persons but one essence.
And you take God the Father and God the Spirit and God the Son and you put
them all together and you don't have any more or any less than you do with
each individual part. I read a cartoon just the other day. It said -- A
preacher was standing up in front of some students and he said "When
we come to the Trinity, spiritual math says 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals
1." And one student turned to another student and he said "I
wonder what 14 times 532 times ..." and he gave this big long
mathematical equation "wonder what that equals in spiritual
math?" The guy said "Why?" He said "Because I got it
wrong on my exam but maybe I got it right in spiritual math." But
Jesus is God and he is the source of this revelation.
In I John chapter 1 it tells us in verse 1 that Jesus is the Word of Life.
And in Revelation chapter 19, verse 13, it tells us that Jesus is the Word
of God. In verse 2 we see that John is the man who bears witness to the
revelation that finds its source in God the Son, Jesus Christ. And, so, in
verse 3 we are challenged to listen to this revelation and to pay
attention. "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of
this prophecy, and pay attention to the things which are written in it
because the time is near." Look in verses 4 through 8. I don't want
to spend too much time in this chapter because we are going to come back
here in about two weeks and spend the whole time in it but "John to
the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who
is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits who are
before His throne; and from Jesus Christ." In those two verses you
see the Trinity. I think the one who is and was and is to come is the
Father. The seven Spirits refer to the Spirit of God, and Jesus Christ
here refers to Jesus Christ "who is the first-born from the dead, and
ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, who released us from
our sin by His blood, He made us to be a kingdom of priests to His God and
Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is
coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced
Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.
"I am", Jesus says, "the Alpha and the Omega," that's
the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Anything you write uses
only what is between those two letters. "Says the Lord God, who is,
who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
I think, and you might call me wrong and that's okay, but I think the who
is and who was and who is to come in verse 4 is God the Father and the who
is and who was and is to come, the Almighty, in verse 8 is Jesus Christ.
They use the same name because they are, in fact, both God. He is an equal
member of the Godhead. He is the faithful witness. He is the one who made
us and He is the one who is coming again. He is the majestic and
magnificent Lord over life and death that is revealed in verses 9 through
20 as a voice of authority, as a person of authority, and as one who holds
a position of authority. When Jesus walked this earth John, as a young
man, leaned back on Jesus' breast and relaxed there. John, as a young man,
would go where Jesus went and he was one of the inner circle with whom
Jesus talked and shared his deepest struggles. Yet when John sees this
same Jesus revealed here, he falls at His feet as a dead man. He saw Him
as a man. Now he sees Him as God. He is both. What we see in this first
chapter is that Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship because He is God.
He is not a prophet of God. He is not a messenger of God. He's not one of
the highest of mankind. He is God and He deserves us to fall at His feet
as dead men and worship Him. He is revealed as God.
Secondly, when we come into chapters 2 and 3, He is revealed to us as the
answer to all the needs of the church and, therefore, He is worthy of our
worship. Let me go through this quickly. We are going to spend one week on
each church as we go through these first three chapters in the coming
weeks. He writes a letter, He sends a letter through John to seven
churches and He has a unique message to each one of these churches. In
each church He refers to Himself by a different name. Now understand that
the names God uses are not simply handles so we know what to call Him.
They are revelations of His nature and His character. He sends a message
to each church and then He uses a specific name for Himself that, I think,
directly relates to the needs and the conditions of the church.
In Ephesus, in chapter 2, verses 1 through 7, they had left their first
love and they were in danger of being removed as a church. He calls each
of the churches a lampstand and He says that Ephesus is in danger of
having their lampstand removed. Who is the one who can tell them that they
are in danger of having their lampstand removed? He is "The One who
holds the seven stars in His hand, and who walks among the seven
lampstands." The seven stars, He says, are the seven messengers of
the churches. The seven lampstands are the churches. In other words, He is
the one who has authority over the church and He warns them because they
have left their first love.
In Smyrna, in chapter 2, verses 8 through 11, He writes a letter to the
church at Smyrna and they are challenged to be faithful in the face of
persecution. Who challenges them to be faithful in the face of
persecution? The One who has faced death and conquered it. He is the one
who encourages them stand in the face of opposition.
In Pergamum they have accepted into their midst those who are leading
people into idolatry and fornication and they are challenged to repent by
the one who has the two-edged sword and who will fight against them.
In Thyatira, chapter 2, verses 18 to 29, they have allowed Jezebel to
teach and to seduce within the church but the one who has eyes of fire and
feet of purified bronze will come against her and her children with
In Sardis, chapter 3, verses 1 to 6, the one who holds the seven Spirits
of God and the seven stars accuses them of having a name that they live
but they are dead. He is the one who holds life. And they're walking
around saying we have life but they are, in fact, dead.
In Philadelphia, these who have a very little strength are called by the
one who has all strength to hold fast.
In Laodicea, chapter 3, verses 14 to 22, the one who is said to be the
faithful and true witness is ready to spew them out of His mouth because
of their lukewarm unfaithfulness.
Now the point of all of that is that Jesus Christ, as a person, is the
answer to each condition of the church. Did you ever see the movie Mary
Poppins? If you did, do you remember where Mary Poppins gets the nanny
position and she goes into her room and all she has is a carpet bag. She
sets the carpet bag down and opens it up and she starts pulling out all
kinds of amazing things. She pulls a great big huge mirror out of the
carpet bag that's bigger than the carpet bag. She pulls a hat rack out of
the carpet bag that stands maybe 5 feet high. She just keeps pulling it
out and she sets it over in the corner. The little kids who are watching
this are amazed and they go over and they look in the carpet bag and there
is nothing in there. Then she says "Oh, I need this," and so she
goes over and she pulls something else out of the carpet bag. Everything
she needs is in the carpet bag. Now, listen, Jesus Christ is not some kind
of magic carpet bag. He is eternal God. And everything we need is not to
be found in some kind of little magic bag. It is to be found in the person
of Jesus Christ. Whatever the condition of our home, whatever the
condition of our family, whatever the condition of our life or our job,
whatever the condition of our church, the answer is to be found in Christ
and in Christ alone. And, as such, he is worthy to be worshipped.
Now, we come to the rest of the book, chapters 4 through 22, and let me
just kind of give you a rundown of what happens. In chapters 4 and 5 we
see the throne of God and the Lamb who is worthy to open up the revelation
of the judgments that are to come. In chapter 6 we see 7 seals on this
scroll that are broken open and as more of the scroll is revealed, the
judgments are poured out against the world. In chapter 7, God seals
144,000 Jews unto His own to protect them and to keep them and, I think,
to use them to impact our world for Jesus Christ during the darkest
moments of the history of this world. In chapters 8 and 9 we see 7
trumpets blown, and as each angel blows this trumpet, another judgment is
poured out against the earth. In chapters 10 to 14 we see a little book.
We see prophets. We see beasts. We see, again, the Lamb of God. In
chapters 15 and 16 we see 7 plagues poured out upon the earth. In chapters
17 and 18 we see the Empire of Babylon fall, both an economic and a
religious empire crash. In chapter 19 we see the armies of heaven and
earth clash, and guess who wins? In chapter 20 we see Jesus Christ
establishing a rule and a throne upon this earth to rule for 1,000 years
and we see then the final judgment as those who have refused to believe
Him stand before Him one last time. Then, in chapters 21 and 22, we see
Him creating a new heavens and a new earth. We see a new city. As we have
done in the past, if you compare Genesis and Revelation, the first two
chapters and the last two chapters of the book, you see God restoring to
creation what He originally intended it to be.
People, what we see in this book is Jesus Christ as the beginning and the
end of all history, the beginning and the end of all creation, the
beginning and the end of all existence. History is His story and that's
not Michael Jackson's album. It is the story of Jesus Christ as He has
created and as He will one day re-create. All of creation begins and ends
in Him and apart from Him, it has no existence.
How many of you have read Janette Oak's Love Comes Softly series? Any of
you? A few of you? Not many of you? You don't know what you have missed.
They're great. How many of you have read Louie Lamour's Sackett series?
You don't know what you've missed. How many of you have read any Sherlock
Holmes? Man, what do you guys read? When Sherlock Holmes died, in what was
supposed to be the final episode of Sherlock Holmes, he fell off of a
waterfall and fell to his death. The public was so incensed that he would
die when they wanted to know more, that the author started writing more
Sherlock Holmes and he had miraculously survived the fall. People who
start reading a series, like Janette Oak's Love Comes Softly series, and
begin to follow a person or a family from generation to generation to
generation, come to the point where they say "I want to know more. I
want to know more. I want to know what happened to their kids and to their
grandkids and to their great grandkids and their aunts and their
uncles." Louie Lamour in his Sackett series starts with the Sackett
Family in Europe and follows them all the way to their coming to America
and then through the settling of America, through the old west times.
Through several generations he follows this family. And as you begin to
read it and you begin to become familiar with the characters, pretty soon
you get to the place when you read the last book and you say "Now, I
wonder what happens to their kids?" Guess what, absolutely nothing
because they don't exist.
In a series like that, the characters owe their entire existence to the
mind and to the pen of the author. If he doesn't write another book,
nothing happened to their kids because they never were. In a similar but
different sense, you and I owe our entire existence to our author. He
holds all of creation together. It begins in Him and it ceases to exist
when He chooses to bring it to an end. And, as such, He is worth of our
While many people have viewed this book of Revelation as a dark and
ominous book of great mystery and horrendous destruction, and all of that
is there, I think they have missed the main point. What we find in the
Book of The Revelation is that Jesus Christ is revealed as God. He is
revealed as the one who is the answer to the needs and the conditions of
the church and He is revealed as the culmination of all history and all
creation. As such, He is worthy to be worshipped.
I would like to leave you with a challenge. I would like to suggest that
this week in response to this truth and to this message, some time during
this week you set aside one hour and you take that hour to worship. You
say "Man, I couldn't do that for an hour." Relax. I want you to
start by going through the Psalms and Revelation and Isaiah and other
passages of scripture, just reading and meditating on passages of worship,
passages that talk about how great God is. Some of the greatest worship
passages I know are the chapters we have just recently studied in Bible
study in Isaiah, around Isaiah 43, 44, 45, tremendous passages. These
passages in Revelation, the whole book of the Psalms, just read them and
meditate them and let them kind of soak into your soul. And then as you
allow them to permeate your heart, take them and begin praying them back
to God as praise and as worship and as adoration. And then close your hour
by singing. You say "I can't sing." Sing in your heart.
Everybody sings perfectly in pitch in their heart. Did you ever notice
that? I never sing off key in my heart. Sing choruses and hymns of worship
and praise and spend an hour in worship because Jesus Christ who is God,
who holds all the needs of the church, and who is the culmination of all
history and all creation, deserves it.
Let me suggest you that right now you sing to God in worship. Consider Holy,
Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty. Worship God from the heart.