Who Really Controls Our Government? Part 2

Revelation Reveals The Importance Of God-Honoring Worship.

Matt Stokes
Jan 31, 2021    51m
Do you value worship as part of your spiritual life? This message, based on the imagery described in Revelation chapter 4, reveals the importance of making God-honoring worship a part of your everyday spiritual life. Video recorded at Ocean City, New Jersey.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Matt Stokes: 00:00 As you're turning there, I'll just say it's in this place that we see God enthroned in power and majesty, we see a government of omnipotent sovereignty, we see a King reigning in glory and he has complete authority. And as we move in chapter 4 and go into chapter 5, which God willing, it looks like we'll finish 4 and go into 5 after that, keep in mind that God's throne dominates the Book of Revelation. I mean, God's throne dominates our world, the point of these messages that we're sharing right now, is to convince you of that as you look at the truth of scripture.

Matt Stokes: 00:43 The worship in the rest of Revelation, and there's other places where you'll see praise, but the worship and the rest of Revelation flows from this particular source of scriptures. And when God speaks, and John hears the voice of Christ, and it sounds like the sound of a trumpet. I mean, what is that like? And when he hears it, it says, come up here and I will show you things that are to come. The very first thing that he sees, is he says, "And I saw a throne and I saw that there is one who sits upon it." And I don't know about you, but in my life, you know, people talk about how you doing. Hey, how are you doing? And people often say, well, God's still in the throne. Did you ever hear people say that? Have you ever said that? When you say that, what you're really saying is, I've got some really kind of like stinky stuff going on in my life right now, I'm kind of frustrated and confused and I might be really maybe borderline angry, but you know what? God's still on the throne. Like that thought that there is a throne, and there is one who sits on it, it like centers you.

Matt Stokes: 02:00 And I remember studying last week, intensely, going into Romans chapter 4. And that quip, that trite little saying, that I met him thrown out, all of the sudden became intensely important to me. That God's on the throne, that there is a throne, and it's not vacant. It's not a vacant throne, there is a throne and there's one who sits on it, may be the most important perspective that you could have in your life. And so when I say that, when it comes to the scriptures and how they're so rich and full of meaning, and purpose, and describing to us our destiny and morality. I'm saying, when you look at it, what are the, and maybe you want to write this down, what are the sources of scripture from which your worship flows? I mean, if you're rich in the word, what really to me, what worship is, worship is me receiving the word from God. And then when I worship, I'm actually giving all of it I know about God, back to God. So, if you're listening, I'm saying your worship is directly related to your understanding of the word. Show me a person who's passionate and worship, and really doesn't understand the word, and I'm going to say that there's something anemic in the midst of that. There needs to be a direct integration of your understanding of the word and of worship.

Matt Stokes: 03:33 And I'm saying the more deeply I delve into the depths of God's word, my discipleship leads me to worship. So what are the sources of scripture from which your worship flows? Is it Romans 8:1, "There is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ."? Is it Romans 8:28, "And I know that all things are working together for good, for those who love God and are called according to his purpose."? Second Corinthians 5, "He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God." How about Romans 12, where it says, "Oh, the depths and the riches of both the wisdom and the knowledge of God, his ways are unsearchable, his ways are inscrutable, his ways are past finding out. For who has known the mind of the Lord and who could be his counselor for from him, and to him, and through him, be all things. Amen."

Matt Stokes: 04:30 How about the gospels where it says that Jesus is the stone that makes men stumble, and he's the rock that makes men fall. And Acts says, "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we might be saved, except the name of Jesus Christ." And speaking of the name of Jesus Christ, "He has the name, Philippians chapter 2, that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Second Timothy chapter 1 says, "I am not ashamed, even though I suffer, because I know in whom I have believed, and I am fully persuaded that he is able to guard or keep that, which I've been trusted to him until the day that I see him face to face." And he is referring to his life, he's referring to his soul. How about Titus, which is such a small little book, but it says in just that second chapter, "We wait for the blessed hope, the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and savior, and his name is the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians chapter 3, it says, "You might have the power, O, that you might have the power to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth, and what is the length, and what is the height, and what is the depth of the love of God, which goes beyond knowledge and that you may be filled with the fullness of God."

Matt Stokes: 06:05 What does it look like for you to be filled with the fullness of God? I don't know, but I want that, and I don't even know what that means, to be filled with the fullness of God. Can a man, can a human being, be filled with the fullness of God? I'm saying, according to scripture, it says that you can, and that's what I want. How about where it says in scripture, Ephesians again where it says, "Now unto him, who's able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all, and more than you could ever ask or think through the power that works within you. To him be glory in the church, and in Jesus Christ, throughout all generations, forever and ever, and after all the forever’s, Amen." What I'm trying to say to you is these are the places to which I go when I feel frustrated, confused, when confliction and division comes into my heart and I'm not sure which way to go, I need to come back to the middle, I just pour out a bunch of scriptures into my mind, and I come back to the middle. And last week in the midst of frustration and some confusion, all I thought was this, there is a throne and there is one who sits upon it, and do you know what, it stilled me. And I just want to challenge you and encourage you to be so rich in God's word that you can pull whatever scripture is needful in that moment of frustration, and confusion, and calamity, and sadness, and tragedy, and wherever you are, get back to the middle. Amen?

Matt Stokes: 07:47 God's beauty, and majesty, and magnificence, and his grace, and his glory, are fundamental to the church's worship, particularly the Coastal Community right now, as I was sharing last week with a certain group and a team, in terms of our mentality, in terms of the values of the fellowship, we want to be a church that worships. We're really trying to change the culture, we love you, we're glad you're here no matter what time you come. We are glad you're here, but we want to try and change the culture of the people who come, there's some people, like I've been doing this for a long time, right? There's some people who come like after the worship, and they're like, yeah, like we're not really into the worship, but we like your message, so we actually come after the worship. And then I noticed as I'm standing in the back, right, so like, I'm not here to make anybody feel guilty. But when I finish the message, I go to the front door because I still want to like love you, and say that I'm glad you're here. And why the closing worship songs going on, there's people heading out the door. I'm like, wait, this gathering is not over, we're still worshiping God. I'm just thinking how guilty that sounds, because like, now nobody's going to, like, you might have to really use the restroom and you're like, I can't go out there, Pastor Matt just said that I'm like, not Holy. Like no, like don't get caught in that, that's not what I'm trying to say. Just cultivate that culture of worship, where you just don't knock it off of both ends, like it's a bookend on the service because that's what we do. No, it's intentional, we come in, we cultivate, we turn over the soil as we wake up in the morning with worship, then the seeds of God's word go out, and then after we've learned from God's word, then we receive and then pour back out to God what it is that we've learned. I just want everyone to understand how important worship is in the life of a genuine disciple.

Matt Stokes: 09:41 If you want to understand worship, right now we're in Revelation chapter 4 and 5, and this is where it begins. And after you study the entire scope of scripture, this is where it ends, with worship. If you don't like worship, you are going to be really bored in heaven. Because that's what they do day and night, every day, for eternity, like a million years, like around the throne, right? And when we've been there 10,000 years, right, like you know, Amazing Grace, like 10,000...Oh my gosh, Holy, Holy, Holy, again? I mean, I've sung this song for so long. You know, like some people, like you see a song show up, you're like, oh my gosh, we've sung this like three weeks in a row. Like you're going to be singing, Holy, Holy, Holy, like forever. So like, let's get into, let's cultivate a spirit of worship because that's what's going to be going on in heaven. In fact, that's what's going on right now.

Matt Stokes: 10:42 So let's look at this together, Revelation, I'm only going to cover a few verses today because it's going to be a little bit of a different message. Revelation chapter 4, I'm going to pick up where we left off last week in verse 5, and it says this, "From the throne came flashes of lightning, and the rumble of thunder." Okay, now watch this, "In front of the throne, were seven torches with burning flames. Which is the sevenfold spirit of God." Okay, which is, that's another way of saying it's the Holy Spirit in his wholeness. The sevens are very popular with John. Seven, if you didn't know, is the number of completion, some would call it the number of perfection. And so when you talk about the sevenfold spirit of God, we're talking about the Holy Spirit in all of his fullness. And here he's manifested, portrayed, shown forth, as the seven torches that are in front of the third throne.

Matt Stokes: 11:46 I'm going to get into it in just a few minutes, but by the way, there's a sea that's like glass. And by the way, it's going to say that glass, actually, even though it's see-through glass like crystal, it looks like fire. Revelation chapter 15, hey, why does the sea of glass look like fire? Like that doesn't make sense, except that the torches of the Holy Spirit, the seven torches, which are the sevenfold spirit of God are so bright and so brilliant, and the [inaudible] shining of it is so coming forth and emanating from the front of this throne, that it lights up the entire expanse of the crystal sea in front of the throne. I mean, are you picturing this? Because you're supposed to, you're at least you're supposed to try to, because John trying to describe it to you.

Matt Stokes: 12:40 And I want to get into why he describes it the way he does, because as we go further into the Book of Revelation, people have been writing me and I really appreciate your notes, and your emails, and your texts. Revelation has really been great, I've always thought this book was confusing, and it just seems so simple. It's going to get confusing, okay, it's going to get really confusing, we just haven't gotten there. Wait until we get after chapter 6, you're going to just, your mind is going to just...Basically, you're going to pick it up off the floor, put it back, try and get in here, and then head for the door. Like it gets really confusing. But the point is, is they had to write in the way they did, I'll try to describe more of that as we go forward, don't let me get ahead of myself. My point is this, from the throne proceeded lightnings and thundering’s, you're going to see, as we read further, there's also voices that are emanating and coming forth from the throne. And in front of that, there's these seven torches of burning flames.

Matt Stokes: 13:37 Okay, so here's the part that I just think just is really cool, that I wanted to share with you as I study. The lightning, and the thunder, and the voices, are reminiscent of God's terrifying presence at Mount Sinai. So go all the way to the end of the Book of Revelation, where we are now in the Bible. Now go all the way back to the beginning, and you have Genesis and Exodus, the children of Israel go into captivity, they come out, God meets them at Sinai. He met with Adam in the garden, he saw Moses in the tabernacle. But what you're looking at here in Exodus 19 and 20, write down Exodus 19 and 20, look this up for yourself. I'll read it to you, it says, "And on the morning of the third day, thunder roared, and lightning like lightning flashed, and Moses spoke and God thundered his reply. Exodus 20, "And when the people heard the thunder..." Hey, can you look at me for once second. "When people heard the thunder, and the loud blast of the Ram's horn..." Does that sound reminiscent to anything that happened last week? I mean, is this not a carbon copy of the Book of Revelation, like thousands of years later? "When they heard the thunder and the lightning, and the loud blast of the Ram's horn, when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain." And hey, there's an expression we use, where there's smoke, there's what? There's fire. Fire, just like we're looking at it Revelation. I know, it makes you just kind of freak out, right? "Smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance trembling with fear." And if I had the time I can get into the passage, they were so terrified, they said to Moses, ask God not to speak again. Because of God speaks again to us, we're going to die, his very voice will kill us. So just make sure, Moses, that God speaks to you, because if he speaks to us, we think we're going to die. Right? Okay, that's how powerful this moment is.

Matt Stokes: 15:42 And what I'm saying to you this morning, and I have to move quickly, here in all of this imagery, it takes the ancient reader back to the first awesome, spectacular, great, terrifying moment where God meets with man. Again, he met with Adam, I understand that, he gave Joseph a vision in Genesis, but this one here is epic, this one here is awesome, it's downright terrifying. So for John, the Apostle John, getting this vision on the Isle of Patmos, for John, Moses meeting with God now is not some kind of metaphorical mythology that was passed down to him from generations. It's not even mythology, it's not even history, now, for John, it's his reality, it's his present reality. And I'm here to ask you, as much as I'm asking myself, is it yours? Revelation chapter 4 begins to communicate and reveal the grandeur, and the greatness, and the glory, of God. Is it yours? Jesus says come up here and write down, and describe, what it is that you see around the throne of God. And I'm saying, is it yours?

Matt Stokes: 17:03 Of course, John is caught up in the Spirit and he's taken into heaven. So what we're going to experience on earth may be different than what John experienced, because as far as I know, most of us haven't been caught up by the spirit and taken into heaven. But the question is this, is that your yearning, is that your longing? Because Jesus said, when you pray, pray to the Father and say your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And if this is the worship that's going on right now in heaven, and here's the worship that's going on in earth, I'm saying, how do we close the gap? Maybe we can never close the gap completely because of our sinfulness and our limits in humanity, but is there a yearning for you to close the gap between the two, and just get as close to heaven's worship as you possibly can? Worship is not song singing, worship is adding weight to the glory and the greatness of God. I have to move on, but I hope you understand what I'm saying.

Matt Stokes: 18:06 "There are seven burning torches that were on fire before..." Before means in front of, not like before in terms of time, before in terms of proximity. "Before the throne..." Isn't it interesting, the Holy Spirit is manifested as seven burning torches of fire, the scripture say that our God is a consuming fire. John the Baptist, they said, are you the one? Are you the prophet Moses spoke of? Are you the one we've been waiting for? John said, no, I'm not the one, but there's one that is coming after me, and he's mightier than I. I'm not even worthy to actually take the straps on his sandals and untie them, and I baptize you with water, but when he comes, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with what? Fire. Jesus rises from the grave, you have the resurrection. Then after that you have the Ascension, and the Holy Spirit comes upon this portion of people in celebration at a day called Pentecost, which basically 50 days later after his resurrection. Did you ever wonder why 3000 souls were saved in one day? Because they were all there, they're all in Jerusalem for the feast day, there were thousands upon thousands of people. But there happened to be a cross-section of several thousand that may have been on the temple Mount on top of Jerusalem at the time when Peter got up, and he stood up, and he began to preach the gospel and what happened? A rushing wind mysteriously blows through the temple and over the heads of 120 people, it's recorded by Luke in the book of Acts, there seemed like something as it were, like tongues of what? Fire, fire, fascinating to me. And if I had the time, I would talk to you about Pentecost, which is the feast of harvest, and why God chose the feast of harvest to bring in this first harvest of souls at this festival, but we have to continue to move on. I just think when I look at this, fire.

Matt Stokes: 20:16 When you envision the Holy Spirit in the fullness of heaven, John says, when I saw the Holy Spirit, he looked like seven burning torches of fire. So what I'm trying to do is help you to envision something more than matchsticks and Catholic candles with which I grew up, okay, we're talking about seven torches of burning fire that were in front of the throne. And the one who sits upon the throne, later, next chapter, you'll see the lamb is right next to the throne, Father, Son, and in front of the throne, before the crystal sea, is the seven torches of burning fire, and it is the Holy Spirit we're told. I don't know if there's a Greek word for Inferno, I didn't look it up, but I have to believe according to Revelation, chapter 15, it says that this fire was so bright that it made the crystal sea look like it was on fire, when we get there soon, but just that's how epic this moment is.

Matt Stokes: 21:19 In other passages, the Holy Spirit is represented as a dove. I mean talk about contrast, right, he's represented as a dove coming down from heaven when Jesus is being baptized. If you really study the scriptures, the Holy Spirit is also represented by oil, healing oil, or anointing oil. When someone is set apart for ministry to go forth and share the gospel, they would anoint. Or the priesthood, they would set that person apart by anointing them with oil, and it becomes a symbol of the Holy Spirit. In Acts chapter 2, and what you're seeing here, the Holy Spirit is symbolized by a flame, burning torches of fire. And the reason I'm belaboring the point is, the torches of fire are important, because the Holy Spirit, hey, the Holy Spirit is not really visible. The Holy Spirit ordinarily today, in the world in which we live, is not visible. You read the scriptures, you see these different types of manifestations, but not today, he's not visible. So I'm asking this Coastal Community, and again, I'd like to talk to the whole church at large, but I'm asking you, how is the Holy Spirit visible today? Would you write it down, would you take the time to take a pen and write it down, and just ask yourself this question? How's the Holy Spirit visible today? Because I'm telling you, I really don't know except for the scriptures.

Matt Stokes: 22:46 And I can tell you this, in Galatians chapter 5, the way the Holy Spirit is visible today is through you, and you manifesting the fruit of the spirit. The Holy Spirit shows himself today in the life of the committed, submitted believer, that is birthing, that is bringing, that is bearing forth, the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Here's what's really interesting, I know that because I memorized it and it was in a song that I sung. When I was younger, I remember that scripture memory verse, I think I got some candy for being able to remember that there was nine in a row and I really wanted the candy, so I had memorized the list, right? And Laura, my wife, she, as a teacher, she makes songs in Sunday schools, she'd teach the kids in the classroom, but no one ever finished the verse.

Matt Stokes: 23:39 We always end by just listing the nine fruit of the spirit, but do you know how the verse ends? Some of you do. The last phrase in the verse, in Galatians 5 says this, "Love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, against such things there is no law." Okay, like wow. So in other words, how does the Holy Spirit manifest itself? It manifests itself in the life of the believer, and when the Holy Spirit's revealing himself in all those characteristics in the life of the believer, there is nothing against you, there is nothing in God's perfect law that would be against you. Like when we read and we sing that song, he is for you, he is for you, he is with you, he is in you, all around you. Like when you are operating in the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, there is no law against you. Do you ever drive, and you're wondering, am I going over the speed limit? Did I just switched lanes without signaling? Like, there's so many laws against us every day, I don't even know how many I break. But when I'm operating in the spirit, it says there's no law that is against me, when I am manifesting these particular characteristics that come forth from the life of an individual filled with the Holy Spirit.

Matt Stokes: 24:55 I want to encourage you today, let the world see the Holy Spirit. Yes, he's a consuming fire, yes, he descended in the form of a dove, yes, there's a beauty when people come forth and pray and we anoint them with oil, but let the world see the Holy Spirit in you. And when they do, other believers around you, they will be built up. According to the scriptures, they will be exhorted, they will be encouraged, they will be empowered, they will be edified. And those that are far from God, when they see you they'll ask you, according to the scriptures, they'll ask you for a reason for the hope that is in you when you're using your gifts and you're filled with the spirit, and the lost will be convicted. Read First Corinthians 14, I think it's verse 25, when you're using the gifts of this...Which is chapter 14 of First Corinthians is all about the gifts of the spirit. When you're using the gifts of the spirit, people will be convicted, they'll hear a message of grace. They will, this is what it says, they will fall on their face and they will say, truly God is in this place.

Matt Stokes: 26:09 And how many people do we know that just, I mean, I don't know if you know all the stories. I know some of them, people that just came in to use the restroom, and the next thing you know, they're walking up onto this platform to give their life to Jesus Christ. It's like, they just came in to ask directions. They just came in because they were at the grocery store. And they're like, they come in and they stand in the back, they're like, God is in this place. And so I'll be like, Oh, I'm so glad you came, I'm so glad you came today, and I'm so glad you prayed. How'd you hear about Coastal? I was just shopping and you know, I had some time, so I thought, you know, I saw the door and the guy said, come in, so I need Jesus. Like that happens, right? Because the Holy Spirit is showing up in the midst of the word going forth, the supremacy of scripture, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the richness of the worship. And I want to challenge you, let people also see it in the way that you show forth the work of the Holy Spirit going forth from you.

Matt Stokes: 27:13 Okay? I've got to get back to the message here. Verse 6, "In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal." Okay, before the throne there was a sea of glass and he says, it was like crystal. Now scholars are divided on what this is, I was fascinated as I read Revelation. So when I study, I actually read the whole book and then I go back and I read it again, and I go back and I actually study like what's for this week, you know? So Revelation 15 says, "I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire.", as I shared earlier. It appeared as, it was like, it seemed as if it was, I mentioned this last week, these are what are called words of comparison. And when the apocalyptic writers, when the ancient prophets wrote, they wrote using many words of comparison, because that's what they had to do. And you have to understand that that really makes a difference, because like comparison matters, this matters.

Matt Stokes: 28:27 Like, it's one thing for me to say that I have a million buck, it's another thing for me to say, I feel like a million bucks, right? I mean, there are two different things, I feel like a million bucks, is a lot different than actually having a million bucks. When I come downstairs, I have like this little fancy [inaudible] thing on this shirt here, and my wife sees me as she's having her morning coffee, and she says, you look like a million bucks. Okay, I might look like a million bucks, but I don't have a million bucks. She didn't say that by the way, but if she ever did say that, that would matter, right? There's a difference between what you are, and what seems like, or it's as if, when John saw this, it seems like it's impossible for him to describe, so he uses these paradoxical statements.

Matt Stokes: 29:21 Like the sea, okay, when we talk about the sea, the sea is vast. The sea, I don't know if you have you ever been out in the deep sea? The sea is deep, and the sea is dark. But glass is completely lucid, and flat, and transparent, but yet he combines the two together, and combine that with the crystal in chapter 4, and the glass that's mingled with fire in chapter 15. Are you still with me? Please say yes. John seems to be trying to describe an enormous expanse, that's in front...Like, here's God on the throne, here's the Holy Spirit and these seven torches of burning fire. The lamb, you'll see, is by the side of the right hand of the throne of the Father. And in front of him, he's trying to describe, there's an enormous expanse of lucid, placid, totally at peace, water, crystal? But yet it's shimmering with some kind of brilliance. And John must be outside of the third dimension, like we live in a three-dimensional world, right? Two dimension is on paper, where you can draw something that has length and height, but three dimensions are length, height, and width. But he's outside the third dimension because what he's looking at, obviously he's a long distance off, because he's in front of this enormous sea of glass, but he's also telling you what's happening right there on the throne, in the midst of the sea. So somehow whatever dimension this is, he's way back, but he's also able to see what's happening right there beyond the sea, right there on the throne. I mean, mind blown, right, there's even more. What I'm saying is apparently what John saw was so impossible to describe, and I'm belaboring this, because we're going to get into some pretty crazy stuff as we go forward in terms of trying to describe the impossible. It was so different than anything he'd ever seen, he was compelled to describe it with like contradictory statements. It was like a sea, but it was also like glass. And this isn't the first time in scripture that you see a paradox being portrayed, whatever John saw, obviously had the qualities of both the sea and glass. Think of it as having the sea's expanse, but glass's transparency and glass's purity. Add to that the words crystal mingled with fire, and the chances are that John is trying to describe or help you visualize the vivid brilliance, and the vast expanse, and the lucid purity of what he saw.

Matt Stokes: 32:11 So like, as I read, am trying to do what I can today to try and explain it. I mean, is it blowing your mind? I mean, if you had this in front of you, when you went to the mall. When you were driving in your car and somebody just cut in front of you a little too close for comfort. I mean like, this is not what we're going to go see, like this is happening like right now, and we're a part of that kingdom, we are citizens of this society. And I'm saying, how's that changing the way that we're living? So, you might be listening, as I did when I read this, and you're like, wait, what? This is crazy. Like, I know. Wait until Matthew Maher tries to describe the seven beasts in Daniel chapter 7, I'm showing up for that Thursday night. Ezekiel as it opens up, there's wheels within wheels, and there's eyes all around. I mean, again, it's another multi-dimensional image. Matthew and I were talking about this past week, that it's just hard to understand or explain.

Matt Stokes: 33:19 When the ancient prophets are trying to describe visions of the spiritual world, they have to use this metaphorical, apocalyptical, language, and it leaves us scratching our heads. And here's why, and maybe you want to write it down, put it in your margin in your Bible, because finite human wisdom cannot describe the infinite world. What? Finite human words cannot describe the infinite world. So somewhere we're going to fall short in our descriptions, and we have to say, it was like this, it was as that, it was as if I saw something like this, trying to explain the realities of the spiritual realm, even the greatest intellect is limited when it tries to transcend the confines of linear wisdom of this linear world,

Matt Stokes: 34:17 The great Apostle Paul, Second Corinthians, he says, "I was caught up in heaven, and what I saw was too wonderful to describe with words." And as far as I know, in ancient times, he's the most articulate writer that I've ever seen. He's inspired by God, and he says, I can't even explain to you what I saw when I was caught up and had a vision of heaven. So we don't know, and I'm trying to lay the groundwork for what we don't know, because there's going to be a lot as we go into Revelation. But here's what we do know, we do know that the Holy Spirit inspired prophets to write, and they wrote down, as much as they could, the faithful description of what they saw. And it's our responsibility today, to try to decode those descriptions, as they were filled with the Holy Spirit and wrote the infallible Word of God.

Matt Stokes: 35:17 So listen to this, in more than one place it talks about the Word of God enduring forever. The word of the Lord, heaven and earth will pass away, but the Word of God endures forever. I have a picture, and maybe it's just in my mind, I believe that we'll continually be hearing the Word of God in the new heaven and earth. Like the Word of God will just continually be being proclaimed. And someday, can you just hang onto this with all your heart? Because I know some of you in this room, and I know you've pretty well, someday, everything that confused you, hurt you, frustrated you, in this world and in your life, we'll come together and make complete sense when God's Word is unfolded before us and we understand it in all of its wholeness. Let that sink in, because some of you are really hurting.

Matt Stokes: 36:29 Right now, we know according to First Corinthians chapter 2, probably 8, 9, it says, "No eye can see it, no ear can hear, neither can it even enter into the thoughts of any man, the things that God has in store for those who love him." John's trying to attempt it, but there's no way we're actually going to be able to absorb it. Because we have the Holy Spirit, Paul goes on in First Corinthians to say, we have a sense of it, but right now we only know in part. First Corinthians says, "It's like looking into a mirror that's dimly lit, looking into a glass and not getting a true reflection, but someday I will know, even as I am known."

Matt Stokes: 37:08 One of my favorite verses, you want to write this down, is Habakkuk. When was the last time you opened your Bible to Habakkuk? Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 14 says this, listen to this and just like, you know that expression, wrap your mind, like wrap your mind around this. Habakkuk 2:14 says, "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, the way that water covers the sea." Not the earth, but the way that water covers the sea. Hey, with your attention, how much water covers the sea? You're like, okay, the water is sea. Like, he's trying to say, like someday, everything that has ever confused you, or frustrated you, or caused you pain and catastrophe and calamity, somehow, someday, it's all going to make sense.

Matt Stokes: 38:06 I've got to keep going, 6b, let me finish the verse, will you please let me finish the verse? People! "In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back." Here's one of those weird multi-dimensional moments again, The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”. And whenever the living beings give glory, and honor, and thanks to the one sitting on the throne, the one who lives forever...And I'm going to have the worship team come, and we're actually going to worship right in the midst of this message. Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), the twenty-four elders (this is what they do) they fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne who lives forever and ever. And they lay their crowns..." Because we saw last week that these 24 elders have crowns. "And they lay their crowns before the throne." And now they have something to say as well, the four living beasts, they say, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. The 24 elders, they fall down when they say that, "And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what pleased you.”

Matt Stokes: 40:34 So I'm going to have the worship team come, and this is something just that God pressed into my heart to do is that we would worship right now. Because there's a song we used to sing here at this fellowship called Revelation Song. And that song, Revelation Song, if you look at the verses, the verses from that song all come directly right out of Revelation chapter 4 and chapter 5. And so I thought there'd be no better time to do a throwback and go old school and sing Revelation Song together. And so let's take a moment in the midst of this priority we're saying, one of the values of our fellowship, one of the depths of discipleship, is worship. Let's take a moment and we're going to sing this together.

Worship Band: 41:45 (Playing Revelation Song)

Matt Stokes: 47:13 God willing, next time we're together, we're going to look more closely at these four beings, and these 24 elders, and this antiphonal symphony that they sing back and forth to one another. Why they cast their crowns before the throne, and what's the symbolism in all that. I don't even know where begin, in fact, I don't even know where to end. That's why I just thought, as I was writing this, I just called Katie and said, hey, can we just throw this song in there, and just really lean into it, because there's no better time to sing this song. Worship is often what God uses to drive us to the destination, and the destination is full on discipleship to Jesus Christ. He said, go into the world and make disciples, and that's what we ought to do, and you can't make disciples unless you are a disciple.

Matt Stokes: 48:01 So as God would have it, as we look at these seven churches, and now we're introduced to whom this is written, which is the seven churches, which is a cross section of who we are today in this church age. John begins to unfold the beauty of this throne room in heaven, and in worship is essential and critical and vital to everything going on, understanding the government of God and the weight of his worth. And this Creator Redeemer is so important for us as a fellowship, as we move forward and go into all the unknowns that are in front of us, and you know, there are so many now more than ever. This is where the essence of Revelation really begins is right here, and as we close the book, this is where it all ends. And if you're a student of worship and you study, this is also where you begin, it's worship. Anything and everything else that's going on in heaven, and in the new earth will have and include and be a part of worshiping God. So don't wait till you get to heaven, let's start right now.

Matt Stokes: 49:04 Of course we're limited, I said it earlier, because there's a gap between where the throne room worship is and where we are here on earth, but what are we doing to longing and be yearning to close that gap? And what would that look like in our fellowship? I know that finite human words cannot describe the infinite world, but when it comes to what John is seeing, what are you longing to make yours, to pull out of heaven and bring it down to earth and make it yours. Find the scriptures from which your worship flows this week, write them down, put them in places. Envision the Holy Spirit and his place in heaven as a burning fire before the crystal sea, and bring all of that worship down to earth. The Holy Spirit, it's beautiful that he's healing oil, it's beautiful that he comes as a peaceful dove, but our God is also a consuming fire. And as God wills, let this world see the work of the Holy Spirit in you. And with that, Amen. God bless you guys, let's close one more time, with one more chorus.

Recorded in Ocean City, New Jersey.
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