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Worship His Majesty - Part 1 - Revelation 5:8-10

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In heaven there won’t be just three services in the morning and one at night with a midweek tacked on. There will be no need to be sensitive to time so we can go to lunch. Words will not have to be printed nor projected. Worship leaders will have no need prompting people to sing. It will be an all-consuming experience that will involve our total cooperation and enthusiasm.

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9/8/1996
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Worship His Majesty - Part 1
Revelation 5:8-10
Skip Heitzig
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In heaven there won’t be just three services in the morning and one at night with a midweek tacked on. There will be no need to be sensitive to time so we can go to lunch. Words will not have to be printed nor projected. Worship leaders will have no need prompting people to sing. It will be an all-consuming experience that will involve our total cooperation and enthusiasm.
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66 Revelation - History's Last Chapter - 1996

66 Revelation - History's Last Chapter - 1996

The book of Revelation exalts Jesus Christ as the soon-coming Lord over the earth. Skip Heitzig explains the amazing and mysterious prophecies that form God's final word to mankind.

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  1. The persons involved in worship
  2. The positions assumed in worship
  3. The possessions employed in worship
    1. Each having a harp
    2. Golden bowls full of incense
  4. The praise ascribed in worship
    1. It was a song
    2. It was a new song
  5. It was a new song for what he had done
  6. It was a new song for what he had done & will do

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In Revelation 5 verse 8, "Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever."

The last few weeks we have been in heaven. Not literally, but in our study of the Bible. John is caught up in chapter 4 and he sees God, the throne, twenty-four elders, four living creatures. And then in chapter 5, last week, we talked about history's greatest real estate deal--the redemption of the earth. Buying back the title deed of the earth. And we called last week "History's Greatest Real Estate Deal," and this week is really "History's Greatest Worship Service," and it's the greatest worship service in terms of its size. It will be the biggest thing ever. You think that you're in a big church now, just wait till you get to heaven. And its location will be awesome. It will be your future home--heaven. Not only will you see God, not only will there be the creatures and the angels, but millions upon millions of those redeemed ones singing a song unto the Lamb. There was a mother trying to comfort her young daughter. The family pet just died. It was a little kitten; the girl was young, didn't quite understand it and was filled with grief and remorse. So Mom tried to explain the inevitability of death in terms that the child could understand, that God is simply calling all of His creatures back to Himself. And the little girl said, "But, Mom, what in the world would God want a dead cat for?" When it comes to human beings, when you die or are caught up into heaven, you will be very much alive and it will be your future home and you will be very active in worshiping the Lord forever and ever and ever.

Now the truth is, we can worship God anyplace, anytime. It doesn't have to be in a church building. It doesn't have to be in a worship service that is formal. You can do it under a tree, you can do it out in the dirt, you can do it at home, and you can do it in your bedroom at night before you go to bed. You can worship anyplace, anytime. As Jesus told the woman at the well of Samaria: "God is Spirit." And He's not confined to Jerusalem or this mountain, but God is looking for people who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth. But worship will have its ultimate climactic fulfillment when you and I are in heaven. And no longer will there be long-distance worship. You'll see God face-to-face. You'll be there with the Lamb in person, singing and giving glory to God. Let me explain before we jump right into the exposition of these verses my personally journey through chapter 5. I first looked at chapter 5 and I said, no problem, I can cover this in a week and we can go on to the next chapter and get into the tribulation. Not that we would want to. But the more I studied it I saw that, though the theme of chapter 5 is the Lamb, there are a couple of sub-themes. The first part of chapter 5 is the scroll in the right hand of Him who sits on the throne, and the Lamb takes it--He's worthy. The second part of chapter 5 deals with worship. So I said, great, I'll do one week the scroll issue, which we did last week, and then the following week I'll do worship. But then the more I studied it, I thought there's so much here and it would afford us two full weeks of looking at true worship. The nature of true worship not only in heaven but, I think, reflections of that here on earth. So what we're going to do today is look at verses 8-10 and next time we're together 11 through the end of the chapter as we look at true worship.

Question. How important is worship to you? And as you think of that question, we should immediately ask how important is worship to God? And that's easy to answer. There's a biblical answer for the second question. Worship is a priority with God. Sometimes we think well, the focus of the church first of all ought to be evangelism, outreach. And that's really not God's priority. It certainly is important. It was a commission Jesus gave us, but it is not topping the list. After all, Isaiah, we remember, became an evangelist after he was inspired at a worship service in Isaiah chapter 6. Others will say no, the primary important thing the church ought to be involved in is discipleship--teaching, training. And although that is important, that is not of primary importance to God. What tops the list is upreach, a relationship of love, worship, prayer, to Him. Everything: outreach, inreach to the body of Christ, comes, stems from relationship to the Lord in upreach, or in worship. Of course Martha learned that, didn't she? She thought I'm going to be busy about doing His work and Jesus sort of reproved her and said, Martha, you're busy about so many things, you're distracted by serving, Mary has chosen the better part. And Mary was the one who sat at the feet of Jesus. George MacDonald once wrote, "In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably or succeed more miserably." All of our work, all of our evangelism, all of our Bible studies and training must stem from our worship of God.

There are three songs beginning in verse 8 that move through this chapter. Three great movements of songs we're going to cover, as I said, the first one this week, the second two songs next week. Three eruptions of praise, as John sees them. First of all, notice in verse 8, the persons involved in worship, at least this first stage: "Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." Who are these twenty-four elders and four living creatures? We already looked at them a couple weeks back but, to refresh our memories, the twenty-four elders, I believe, are representatives of the church. Even as there were twenty-four courses of priests in the Old Testament and those twenty-four courses of priests represented the entire nation of Israel before God in the temple in Jerusalem. These twenty-four elders, an elder is a church leader representative, represent the entire church before God in heaven. The four living creatures, as we already saw in chapter 4, well, they're literal creatures I believe. Somebody came up to me and said, I think that they're just attributes of God. That's what my Bible notes said at the bottom: these are probably attributes of God. Well, it's strange these attributes of God say things and do things in heaven. They're involved in worship. The Greek word for living creatures is zooa where we get the word zoology and it simply means a living being. It seems that these are angels of God's presence who are hovering around God in His presence in heaven and are involved in inspiring worship as well as executing judgment, as we'll see later on in this book.

But I draw your attention to the words, the first two words, of verse 8: "now when." "Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb." You see, worship here comes in response to a completed action by the Lamb. The Lamb does something, as soon as He takes that scroll, that authority to rule, that is the cue and a response is given, a response of worship. And we also notice that there's a beautiful order to this worship service in heaven. Like Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 'Let all things be done decently and in order.' It's not as if John and the angel and the living creatures just have a free-for-all. I feel led to do this, I feel led to say this. There's a definite order to the worship. The Lamb takes the scroll, twenty-four elders and four living creatures bow down, they say certain things. That is the cue for all the angelic hosts in the next few verses to speak antiphonally the phrases of God which in turn inspires all of God's creation in the last few verses to have their turn of praise and worship before God. Now that leads us to the first essential truth about worship. True worship is a response to God. It is, should be, at least, the natural response of any redeemed person. That we would naturally respond by worshiping God. It shouldn't be difficult. Our response to God for who He is and what He has done should not be complaining about our lot in life that God has given us. God why would You? That's not the proper response. The proper response for God's action should always be worship. Now because worship is a response, true worship never has to be worked up. You don't have to pump people up when they're truly God's people to worship. You don't have to get them in the mood to worship because worship is essentially a response. It is not a feeling. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to take all the emotion out of it. It involves feeling, it involves emotion, and sometimes worship is very emotional. As our hearts are burdened and we pour them out before God are filled with joy and sometimes people weep great tears of joy as well as sorrow in a worship service.

But it is not a feeling primarily. We don't get up, at least all of us don't, every Sunday morning and think, it's Sunday, I get to go to church and worship! Now it'd be great. I'd like to say we all should do that and perhaps we should. But we don't always. We look forward to being with God's people but there are times when we think, I don't really feel like it today. I don't feel like being around people today. I've had a bad week. I don't really have anything I want to be thankful for. And if we always waited for a feeling we may never worship, or seldom worship. It is a response; it is a choice to respond. It is not an emotional goose bump. Nor is worship a time-filler. I want to sort of mark that, that we don't worship at the beginning of our service just to fill in time. Well, we've got an hour, might as well sing and make room for people coming late and parking and that's really what worship is about. No worship is about responding to all that God is and what He has done. In other words, it is your turn. God has worked in your life, God has been faithful to you all week, every moment of every day, it is now your turn to respond, to give Him worth and glory and praise. Because love always demands action. Love is demonstrated. It can never be passive and if we will love someone we will share that love and respond. You might say that God is not too excited about secret admirers. Private: oh, I love God, but it's a private thing. It better not be with Him. You better tell Him that you love Him and respond to who He is and what He's done. Well those are the persons involved, the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures, respond as the Lamb takes the scroll.

Now let's look at the position that they assume in the worship. Again in verse 8 it says, "The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb." Being so awestruck, being so grateful, now the earth can be fully redeemed and bought back to God by the Lamb! In perhaps the greatest demonstration, at least in ancient times, to show veneration, they'd bow down before the Lamb of God. It is a term or a sign of respect. I was looking up worship and found out that in the Old Testament, it is mentioned 97 different times. 97 different occasions. And of all the words that are used for worship, the Hebrew word 'shaha' is the most frequently used and it means, literally, to bow down, to lie prostrate before, to bend, to stoop, to do obeisance to. The idea is humility. I'm in God's presence and I am grateful and I humble myself before Him. There are many Scriptures that bear this out. One of this, Psalm 95, one of my favorites, it's an invitation: "O Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker." Then Paul predicts when all of creation will do this: "Every knee shall"? Bow. And every tongue shall confess. Now this leads us to another essential truth about worship. Worship involves humility. Think about it. The very act of worship is the absence of self-absorption, of self-centeredness. When we worship, we are not preoccupied with ourselves. Our focus is not on us. We're preoccupied with God. Our focus is upon God. It's like an engaged couple when they're in each other's presence. They're wrapped up in the other person. They're goo-goo-eyed over that other person. They're thinking about ways to please that other person, things to say to encourage. It's the natural response.

This, I believe, is the very reason why many people do not get involved in worship. Because for some people, it is so foreign to take the focus off themselves. It is more comfortable to be self-absorbed and to not lose sight of myself. And so many people simply do not worship because they don't want to shift the focus. William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury, at least he was a long time ago in the 1940s, wrote, "Worship is the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable of and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of actual sin." In other words, the cure to being self-centered is to put all of our focus upon Him. And that is the most selfless emotion. Let me also be quick to say that every single person I have ever met worships something. I've never met a true atheist; I've met many people who say they are. But I contend that every person has a god and worships that god. It could be a job and some people spend long hours at the altar of their occupation. Hour after hour trying to get a higher position, a more lucrative position in the company, they worship their work. Other people worship pleasure, and they go from one pleasure experience to another, one high to another, one drug to another, one bed to another. They worship that, and you know what? It's pretty easy to find a person's god. Just find what that person is involved with most of the time. Jesus said, 'Where a man's treasure is there is his heart also.' What is the master passion--the thing that drives a person? That is that person's god.

Now it is easy to claim that we worship God but give Him leftovers. God, I love You, You're the ultimate, but I'm too busy for You right now, ok? Surely You're God so You understand. You've heard about the farmer who had two cows that were born to him. He said, I'm going to donate one to the Lord, one I dedicate to God and one I'll keep. But as a sign of God's blessing and in gratitude, I dedicate this cow to God. The only problem is he never made a distinction as to which one. Until one night when one of the cows was sick and he spent long hours in the barn trying to nurture it back to health. Finally he came into the kitchen sweating and he said, 'Honey, I have bad news. The Lord's cow just died.' Leftovers. You can only worship God when your life is fully given over to Him and really, that is the essence of humility. And if your life is given over to God and you're preoccupied and consumed with Him, it is impossible to just hang out in a worship service. It's impossible. I think much of Christianity is weak in worship because much of Christianity is weak in relationship with God. And worship is not just a once-a-week thing. It's something we do throughout our week and what we do Sunday is simply an overflow corporately of what we do anyway all the time. It's the natural response of the child of God.

Now let's look at the possessions that these people, these creatures, employ in their worship. It says they "fell down before the Lamb," verse eight, "each having a harp". Now this is probably where we get the idea of being in heaven, sitting on a cloud, and playing a harp. But let's look at it a little more closely than that: "and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." They had a harp or, better put, a lyre. This is an ancient instrument that was a rectangle or a trapezoidal shape with strings that were plucked as music was sung with a voice or words were simply spoken like poetry. And so you would accompany the psalm with plucking of the strings or strumming of the strings like a guitar. What's interesting is we are in the New Testament, we are in heaven, and there is a musical instrument in heaven, and with all deference to our friends in the Church of Christ, I think it's an important point to see that there's music employed in the anthems of praise in heaven. Even as music has always been important when it comes to God's people gathering. In the Old Testament, we read that music was employed on several occasions. When the Red Sea opened up and swallowed all the Egyptian oppressors and Israel came out on the other side, they didn't just, you know, mumble a little prayer and go on. They danced and used timbrels, these tambourines, and danced and sang before the Lord. In the temple there were worshipping groups of people as well as instrumentation going on. In battle times there was also praise and worship. Let me give a few of these Scriptures. In 1 Chronicles 15, David brings the ark back to Jerusalem the right way, the second time. And it says, David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy. Then when David established the system of worship over in 1 Chronicles 25: Moreover David and the captains of the army separated for the service. Some of the sons of Asaph of Hemen and of Jebuthim who should prophecy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals, and the number of the skilled men performing their services was 288. You think our band is big? 288 paid musicians to lead Israel in worship. That must have been awesome to listen to! Then in 2 Chronicles 20, when Jehoshaphat goes out to battle, it says: When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord and who should praise the beauty of holiness as they went out before the army and were saying, Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever. Now when they had began to sing and to praise the Lord sent ambushes against the people of Amon, Moab, and Mount Seir who had come against Judah and they were defeated. That's an interesting battle strategy. Ok, infantry men first! No, no, no, wait a minute. Get the musicians first! You think, what, to kill us off first? No. It was to praise the Lord. And so they would go out before the army and they'd say Praise the Lord His mercy. And I'm sure they're going, Lord, I'm trusting right now in Your mercy--it endures forever. And when they praised, God set ambushes. It was important even in battle times.

Music has always been a powerful force in every society. Every society has folk songs, every society has national anthems that we sing. Music has always played an important part. It's important in our culture. If you want to sell anything, you set a little jingle that will catch the ear. You want to sell a Chevy, a Coke, electricity? Millions of dollars are spent to employ the right kind of music to make an impact on people as they hear it. I heard a story of a missionary in Nigeria who was building a missions station and he got local carpenters, all of the materials were sent to the spot, everybody got up that day early to build this missions station. But they waited around, no action was being taken, nobody was working. Finally the missionary said to the foreman, look the material's here, everybody's here, why don't you get to work? The guy said, we'd like to but the musician's late. I don't know where he is. The musician's late? What does that have to do with building a missions station? And he found out that in that culture, they worked to the beating of the drum and the chanting of music. That's very important. And some of you might say, why is that important, yet some of you will have your radio on or a tape on while you're working and tapping your foot or jiving to the movement of the music. It has a powerful influence in our culture. Psychologists, I found this article, tell us that music influences us whether we like it or not. In one study of its powerful effect upon people's feelings, a number of individuals were exposed to a series of brief, classical excerpts that moved from one specific mood to another mood, from depressed to happy, from agitated to serene, from bored to active, from lighthearted to majestic. In every case, the emotional response of the subject paralleled the spirit of the music. King Saul understood that when he was sullen and down he said, Get David! I want to hear his music, it will lift me up to a new level.

God's Spirit moves through the minstrels of music. We were simply made that way. I think you have to be practically dead to not be moved from the anthems of worship are lifted up. When music is cranked and God's people start singing, to not be moved by that, something's got to be wrong. We were meant to be moved by it. Now what kind of music it is in heaven we're not told the beat, how the measures are set out. What kind of worship was played in the early church, what kind of music in ancient Israel? We're not really told. I don't know if it was slow, fast, whatever. But just thinking of the musical instruments of ancient Israel and the early church being part of the economy of Israel, coming out of ancient Israel, going to the temple, we can kind of infer what kind of music they were used to. Listen to Psalm 150: "Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet, praise Him with the lute, the harp. Praise Him with the timbrel, the dance, praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes, praise Him with loud cymbals, praise Him with clashing cymbals. It's obvious that the music was loud and rhythmic, at least in certain portions in ancient Israel and no doubt in the early church since they picked that up. Now I am coming to a controversial point. And it's controversial; it's just like the devil to get us sidetracked and argue about things that are really unimportant. But it has been a source of controversy actually probably for generations. And that is what style of music does God enjoy? Let me be quick to say God enjoys whatever comes from your heart if it's true and honest and you worship Him with it. I don't think God says, that's not a 4-4 beat! I can't listen to that! But some people say, well you can't worship God with electric guitars or drums, much less these electric drums because the beat, the devil's in the beat. Have you ever heard that? I've heard it for years. And that beat moves people to do weird things. And what is the complaint essentially? The complaint is music moves people. You know what? Music was meant to move people. To tears, to laughter, all sorts of moods and emotions. It has an effect. Music is like a knife. Now would it be a little bit unilateral, monolithic and unfair to say, knives are evil, we should outlaw all of them. Look at all the damage that's been done by knives throughout history. People have been murdered by knives. You would be quick to respond, yes, but think of all the good that they have done. Think of all the mothers that have cut vegetables and meat for their family. Think of all the heroes that have cut ropes of bondage from those in slavery with a knife. It depends solely on who's using it. Not the shape of it, not the length of it, but who is controlling the force of the knife. So it is with music. Who is controlling it? Who is using it?

Next, they have also in their possession, golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. This is an image we should think of when the high priests in the Old Testament would walk into the temple in Jerusalem he often had a bowl filled with incense that represented the prayers of his people. Outside of the temple in the outer courtyard, the people of Israel were praying as the incense was being offered to God. David said in Psalm 141, "Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." Here's a bowl representing the prayers of God's people, all of the intercessions, all of the pleadings, all of the confessions, all of the burdens, being poured out as God hears once again the prayers of His people. Jesus taught us to pray, 'Thy kingdom come'. And one day, and here we see it, these prayers are about to be answered. Your prayer is sweet smelling to God. You don't bug God, alright? God doesn't say, oh, it's you again. Would you pipe down please? I'd like to listen to Billy Graham or somebody important. Even when you plead before God and you offer up a prayer, it's sweet incense to God. He loves to hear your prayers. Yesterday was sort of a dad-son play day. Nathan had baseball early in the morning so went to a baseball game and afterward he wanted his skateboard. And he has a skateboard and I just bought a new skateboard so I thought, let's go do a couple ditches. After skateboarding, he wanted bicycle. So we got on bicycles and rode them. Then he wanted to rollerblade. Now I had to draw the line somewhere. I said, no you roller blade, I'll ride next to you. Then toward the end of the afternoon he said, dad, I'm sorry, you had to sacrifice your whole day to be with me. I said, you don't understand it's been a delight to be with you, it's no sacrifice. It's sheer joy. And do you think that when you pray to God and pour out your heart, because worship involves praying, that God says, you know, I'm just bugged by your prayers. It is sweet incense to God, folks. God loves hearing from His children. Even when you pour out a pleading, O Lord, I need this. It is an act of worship because you are voicing your dependence upon God. You're expressing your trust and your faith by even bringing it to God in prayer.

Next, let's look at verses nine and ten, the praise song that is ascribed in worship: "And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." First thing I want you to notice about this praise, it was a song. They sang, it says. They sang. And it brings up another important truth about worship. I know it's going to sound very elementary but bear with me. Worship involves singing. Involves singing. You're saying, well, I don't have a good voice. You know, that's ok, some of you don't have good voices. It's not a put-down, it's a fact. But aren't you glad that the Bible says make a joyful noise rather than sing a perfect song? It doesn't say that. Now anybody can make a joyful noise. And I would ask that you make a joyful noise definitely unto the Lord. Let it be heard. Next, notice that it was not just a song, but it was a new song. "And they sang a new song". I was looking up the Scriptures, there's a frequently used concept in worship, especially in the book of Psalms, about this new song. Nine different times it mentions a new song. Most of the time it's a commandment: "Sing a new song to the Lord." Not the same old stuff--a new song. And look at the book of Psalms, which is the ancient songbook of Israel, 150 of them. Probably many of them were broken down, like Psalm 119 and others. Sing a new song. Some people refuse to do this in the church, even in the evangelical churches. They'll say, I don't like those choruses. I only like the hymns. Now I've got to jump on this quickly and say I love the hymns, too. In fact, we've made it a practice that at least every Sunday morning we will incorporate in our worship, which is more contemporary than most, at least one hymn so that we can stay tied into the roots of sacred music. Because some of those hymns have such depth in their words and their theology that I'm just not seeing duplicated. There's a depth in expression and I love them--they're beautiful. However, what essentially you are looking at when you look at a hymn or sing it, is what God was doing 100, 200, 300, 400, 800 years ago. And if that's all we sing, we're essentially saying, God moved 800 years ago but He's not moving now. We really have nothing new, no new expressions of worship. And so we're called to sing a new song. You know, those hymns were edgy then. They were contemporary Christian music whenever they were written. It was fresh out-of-the-stove, so to speak. It was new stuff then. And every new generation needs a fresh expression of love to God. Whatever suits that generation. Now many throughout history have sensed this and I'm probably going to step on a few toes, not that I've minded doing that, but it has to have a good reason. But throughout history there has been this eruption of, wait a minute, we need something new and fresh in worship.

Let me begin with Martin Luther, head of the Reformation. He said in 1524 these words. Now this is Martin Luther, listen up: "How has it happened that in the secular field there are so many fine poems and so many beautiful songs while in the religious field we have such rotten, lifeless stuff?" That's Martin Luther! He said we must read, sing, preach, write, and compose verse and whenever it was helpful or beneficial I would let all the bells peal and all the organs thunder and everything sound that could sound. Yeah! Go Martin! What Martin Luther decided to do is take popular drinking melodies, songs that were found in the bars, in the 1500s, take the music and put Christian words to them. Songs like "Away in a Manger". Songs like "A Mighty Fortress is our God". You know when people first heard that, they went, "Ah!" now they're classics. Another time era: 1690. A young guy went up to his dad and said, "Dad, I love God and I love church but the music is kind of outdated and boring." And his dad just flew off the handle, "How dare you! You write some songs then!" And he said, "Ok. I will." His name was Isaac Watts. 350 some odd songs he gave the church. Songs like "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," "Joy to the World," that upbeat song of praise. Then there was William Booth who started the Salvation Army; he wanted to update the music. He thought, "Look, I'm reaching out to people on the streets of this country. I want to use an organ." I want to use tambourines. When he started coming out with his new brand of music, guess what people called it? [inaudible]. Then there's D.L. Moody and his revivals in Chicago. The eastern seaboard and also Europe. He used a song leader by the name of Ira Sanky and Ira Sanky took again, contemporary songs like "The Waltz," that was contemporary then, and he took these familiar songs and put Christian lyrics to them. So much so that when he would do his crusades and he did one over in Glasgow, Scotland in 1874, the songs were sharply criticized. They called it steam kettle music. That was a chop back then. The Scottish believers up to that point only would use the Psalms. No hymns, just psalms of David in their worship, or variations of them. So this was not only a song they sang, it was a new song unto the Lord.

Notice it was a song for what He had done. "You are worthy," verse nine, "to take the scroll, to open its seals for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation." If you want to be assured of having an anointed worship song, then you fill its stanzas with Christ. You make sure the sacrifice at the cross is paramount in that song. And I don't know for the life of me why many churches are trying to pull out songs about the blood of Jesus, or the cross. 'That's too offensive.' You kill life in worship when you pull out the sacrifice at the cross. It is to be paramount in worship. Notice also that this is a song that only the church could sing. Only the church can sing this song. "You have redeemed us out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation." Everywhere on earth You've done a work of redemption and here are God's people in heaven singing the anthems of praise. You know one of the greatest things of heaven is gonna be who's there? God's gonna be there, the Lamb's gonna be there, angels are gonna be there, but people from all over the world in past history and present day worshiping the Lord. That'll be cool. Somebody once said there's going to be three wonders in heaven. First wonder, who's there. Secondly, who's not there. And third, that we're there. And I think that fact alone will cause us to just unfold an anthem of praise that we're there in God's presence.

Now this brings up another question as they're gathered around the throne, all of these people, will we recognize each other in heaven? I've been asked that question a lot. I like the way Charles Spurgeon answered. He said, "Do you think we'll be more stupid in heaven than we are on earth? If we recognize each other on earth, surely we will recognize each other in heaven." After all, the three disciples that were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John, had an instant recognition that it was Moses and Elijah that appeared with Jesus. They'd been dead 900 years. But they saw, that's Moses, that's Elijah. There was that instant recognition. Somebody once asked me, "How will we look in heaven?" All I can say is--better than we do now. Glorified bodies in a completely redeemed state raised incorruptible. We'll close on this last note. In verse ten, we notice it was a song not only for what Jesus had done at the cross but what He would do presently and in the future. Verse ten: "And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." One of the things worship ought to do for us now is catapult us into the future to remind us of the future state. And I think one of the greatest deliverances of depression is when we sing to the One who rules our life and we sing to the One with whom we shall reign over the earth for a thousand years in the millennial kingdom. You've made us kings and priests and we will reign on the earth. Get used to worship. Get used to singing. You will be doing it for eternity. I found an article out of the Detroit Free Press, at least it was first published in it, and it was called "The Remedy for a Prune Face" about wrinkles. The article said in part, "Ladies, do you want to stay young?" All the ears perk up. "Then join a church choir," says the article. "Women who sing stay younger looking because a singer's cheek muscles are so well-developed by exercise that her face will not wrinkle as soon as the non-singer." Now I'm not sharing that as an antidote for aging. Worship, you know you'll look younger. That's not my idea; that's this article. But simply to say God made us to worship Him and to respond to Him and to sing to Him. And it is tremendous. The Bible tells us that a merry heart makes a cheerful countenance. So you sing, even if you can't, you make a joyful noise.

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/9/1996
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Good News from a Bad Place
Revelation 1:1-8
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6/16/1996
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Catapulted into the Future
Revelation 1:9-20
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6/23/1996
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When Love Grows Cold
Revelation 2:1-7
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6/30/1996
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Postcard to Those in Pain
Revelation 2:8-11
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7/7/1996
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The Curse of Compromise
Revelation 2:12-17
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7/14/1996
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Corruption without Discernment
Revelation 2:18-29
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7/21/1996
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Church of the Living Dead
Revelation 3:1-6
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7/28/1996
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Body Building - God's Way
Revelation 3:7-13
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The human body has become the obsession of our modern culture. Much like the ancient Greeks, people are madly trying to fit the contemporary ideal of what is an acceptable shape and size. The church is metaphorically called the "Body of Christ" and His desire is to see it built up spiritually. The church of Philadelphia is a good model of a healthy, faithful church. Their example provides for us a template to follow in building up the Body - God's Way!
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8/19/1996
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Taking Your Spiritual Temperature
Revelation 3:14-22
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Ever since we were kids our moms stuck thermometers in our mouths whenever she suspected that we were sick. If our body temperature of 98.6 had climbed up just a few notches, it was always a good indication that an unhealthy condition was present. There is also a spiritual temperature that reveals the condition of our souls, and when the thermometer reads Lukewarm it indicates that something is wrong; it indicates the presence of danger. Let's see how Jesus, the Great Physician, treats his patient with this malady.
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8/25/1996
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Peeking into the Portals of Heaven
Revelation 4
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9/1/1996
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History's Greatest Real Estate Deal
Revelation 5:1-7
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9/15/1996
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Worship His Majesty - Part 2
Revelation 5:11-14
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9/29/1996
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Four Riders with Bad News
Revelation 6:1-8
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10/6/1996
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The Cries of Heaven and Earth
Revelation 6:9-17
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10/13/1996
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A Blessed Interruption in a Tough Time
Revelation 7
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10/20/1996
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Trumpets of Doom
Revelation 8
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10/27/1996
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When All Hell Breaks Loose
Revelation 9:1-12
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11/3/1996
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Angels of Mass Destruction
Revelation 9:13-21
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11/10/1996
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A Big Angel with a Little Book
Revelation 10
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11/17/1996
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Two Powerful Preachers
Revelation 11:1-14
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11/24/1996
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Light at the End of the Tunnel
Revelation 11:15-19
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12/1/1996
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The Panorama of Spiritual Warfare - Part 1
Revelation 12:1-6
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12/8/1996
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The Panorama of Spiritual Warfare - Part 2
Revelation 12:7-17
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There aren't many people who like to fight. Confrontation is something most would like to avoid. But in the spiritual realm it's unavoidable. The question isn't, "Will I engage in spiritual warfare?" Rather, the question is, "How well will I fight?" As we saw last week, the war in the heavens makes its way to the theater of the earth. Let's see what else it entails.
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12/15/1996
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The Coming Global Leader
Revelation 13:1-10
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12/22/1996
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Evil's Right-Hand-Man
Revelation 13:11-18
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12/29/1996
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The Lamb Who Shepherds His People
Revelation 14:1-5
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After all that john has seen in his apocalyptic vision, seeing the docility of a lamb standing with his overcoming sheep is a welcomed sight. Although the dragon pursues god's people relentlessly, although the beasts are bent on ruling the earth, the ultimate winner will be the lamb and his followers.
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1/5/1997
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Angels Set The Record Straight
Revelation 14:6-13
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1/12/1997
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It's Harvest Time!
Revelation 14:14-20
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One of the most common ways to make a living in ancient times was to "work the land." The early rains of October/November and the soft latter rains produced the wheat and barley harvest later on. Also, when vintage season began, almost the whole village could be found in the fields harvesting the crop. Such images would also provide a poignant way of depicting the final judgment of the earth, as in this section.
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1/17/1997
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Getting Ready for the Grand Finale
Revelation 15:1-8
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1/26/1997
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What's in the Bowl? - Part 1
Revelation 16:1-11
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We now come to the "seven last plagues" of God in the Great Tribulation that is coming upon planet earth. These judgments come in the form of "bowls" being poured out swiftly and completely-the judgment will be swift and thorough. Yet through all the mercy as Well as wrath of this awesome era, people will persist in having a hardened heart. Open your heart 'right now to these truths.
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2/2/1997
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What's in the Bowl? - Part 2
Revelation 16:12-21
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What will the end of the world be like? What are the final events just before Jesus returns and takes over to set up His millennial reign? That's what this section tells us. There will be increased warfare activity in the Middle East, massive deception, and unheard of destructive cataclysms on earth. In the midst of foretelling these events, Jesus has a word of encouragement.
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2/9/1997
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The Coming World Religion
Revelation 17
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It was Karl Marx who stated, no doubt cynically, that religion was the opiate of the masses. The fact is, he was right-it is! People are driven to worship something or someone. This desire will be exploited to the hilt in the Tribulation period and will be under the umbrella of the world dictator-the Antichrist. What are its roots and how does it end?
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2/16/1997
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Get out of Babylon!
Revelation 18
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Someone once said, "Money can't buy you friends but your enemies treat you a little better." Though meant to be tongue-in­cheek, that won't happen when the entire world economy collapses. God's shakedown of the earth will include everything that the Antichrist's kingdom will embody, from the sacred to the secular.
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3/2/1997
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Marriage Made in Heaven
Revelation 19:1-10
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3/9/1997
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The Return of Jesus Christ - Part 1
Revelation 19
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Even in the dome of our capitol in Washington there is an inscription which seems to point to the return of Jesus Christ. It says: "One far-off divine event toward which the whole creation moves." It is that event which we will be studying in the next two weeks. This is what all Christians of all ages have looked forward to - His return and reign of His creation.
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3/16/1997
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The Return of Jesus Christ - Part 2
Revelation 19
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Even in the dome of the capitol in Washington there is an inscription which seems to point to the return of Jesus Christ. It says: "one far-off divine event toward which the whole creation moves." it is that event, that Christians of all ages have looked forward to-his return and reign of his creation. We will conclude our study of the return of Jesus Christ, today.
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4/6/1997
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Paradise Regained
Revelation 20:1-3
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4/13/1997
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The Devil's Last Stand
Revelation 20:1-10
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A typical question is, "Will evil ever get its reward?" What ever happened to ethics and justice? Well, we see here that God will not turn His back on this issue. He will deal with the source of all evil (the devil himself) and then judge those who revel in it. This section gives tremendous hope to anyone concerned about injustice in our world.
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4/20/1997
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Life, Death, and Resurrection
Revelation 20:5-6; 20:11-15
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5/4/1997
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All Things New - Part 1
Revelation 21:1-3
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5/11/1997
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All Things New - Part 2
Revelation 21:4-8
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"It's like nothing you've ever seen or experienced before." That's how John describes the emotional experience of heaven. So that we can relate, he tells us that all of the pain, sorrow, and moaning we've endured here won't be there. By the way, only those who want to go there will go there. Heaven is not a destination by default, reservations are made here and now!
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5/18/1997
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The City of the Future
Revelation 21:9-22:5
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There is no architect or builder like God himself. Even the patriarch Abraham "was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Heb. 11:10) he didn't find it in his lifetime. "You won't find you're "happily ever after" here either, but the New Jerusalem will be God's answer for man's longing to live in a perpetually peaceful stare.
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5/25/1997
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He's Coming - Now What!?
Revelation 22:6-21
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There are 43 additional messages in this series.