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Revelation 4-5

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Introduction & Context

As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me. May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me. May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me. May Christ shield me today. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. Amen
Patrick of Ireland was a missionary in the 5th century who was captured by Irish pirates as a youth. He was brought to Ireland and put to work in farm and field. After a divinely provided way of escape, Patrick made his way over 200 miles to the Irish coast, where he was able to travel to Britian. After a fresh committment to his faith and training, he returned to Ireland, to the land where people had kidnapped him and put him to work, to preach the gospel. In the face of death threats and opposition, the Lord worked mightily through Patrick, and many in Ireland were converted. Listen to this prayer, attributed to Patrick:
As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me.
Patrick of Ireland was a missionary in the 5th century who was captured by Irish pirates as a youth. He was brought to Ireland and put to work in farm and field. After a divinely provided way of escape, Patrick made his way over 200 miles to the Irish coast, where he was able to travel to Britian. After a fresh committment to his faith and training, he returned to Ireland, to the land where people had kidnapped him and put him to work, to preach the gospel. In the face of death threats and opposition, the Lord worked mightily through Patrick, and many in Ireland were converted. Listen to this prayer, attributed to Patrick:
As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me. May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me. May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me. May Christ shield me today. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. Amen
May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me.
How does a man, who had so much to lose in going to Ireland, have such a God-centered perspective on his life? He prays acknowledging that it is only by God’s grace that he is led, protected, and has breath. More than that, how did he have such a Christ-centered perspective? Patrick prays that he would be surrounded by and overshadowed by Christ, such that “Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me”. Patrick seems to have understood that his living, his dying, his acting, his speaking, his coming, and his going were all to revolve around Christ.
Patrick seems to have understood that his living, his dying, his acting, his speaking, his coming, and his going were all to revolve around Christ.
This is the picture before us in . What we are about to read is truly one of the most glorious, wonderful, lofty, most satisfying passages in the entire Bible. The Lord has chosen to reveal these things about Himself and about the present reality around His throne in heaven that are awe-inspiring and glorious; I hope that we will stand in awe at the glory in these verses.
However, my hope is not just that we will stand in awe of these things. We must remember that this vision, given to John, is apart of the book of Revelation, written to first-century churches. How would a first-century believer have read and responded to ? We are called to respond the same way, though the specifics may look different. We may not be staring down Roman officials or be faced with death in a gladiator’s arena, but we are called to live with the same death-defying faith. How do these passages call us to repentance, faith, and mission? How do these verses lead us to live our lives coram deo, before the face of God, just as the worshippers here in and 5 are physically before God’s throne? Let’s find out.
Read .
May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me.
v. 1 “After this I looked: formula in Revelation, introduces a new section. Same language as in chapter 1 (in the Spirit, after this I looked, what must take place after this, voice like a trumpet); Jesus is showing John more of things to come, yet what seems to be a current situation?
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Amen
What a great prayer to pray in the morning! How does a man, who had so much to lose in going to Ireland, have such a God-centered perspective on his life? He prays acknowledging that it is only by God’s grace that he is led, protected, and has breath. More than that, how did he have such a Christ-centered perspective? Patrick prays that he would be surrounded by and overshadowed by Christ, such that “Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me”.
Patrick seems to have understood that his living, his dying, his acting, his speaking, his coming, and his going were all to revolve around Christ. And this is right. Christ is worthy of this kind of all-encompassing worship.
How do we get there? How do we get to that point? How did God choose to encourage the first-century readers of John’s revelation, many of whom were in desparate situations, in places where they were being persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ? How did He choose to follow the letters to the seven churches with something that would speak to all of them, and in a way that would speak to us today?
God chose to do it with a vision of Himself.
John could have simply stated, “God is on His throne, and Jesus is also God.” However, what we have here is the difference between hearing about something and seeing it for yourself. Instead of simply speaking ot us about God, John, carried along by the Holy Spirit, paints us a picture of Him. In these chapters, the Lord intends for us to taste and see that He is good. This is the picture before us in . What we are about to read is truly one of the most glorious, wonderful, lofty, most satisfying passages in the entire Bible. The Lord has chosen to reveal these things about Himself and about the present reality around His throne in heaven that are real and awe-inspiring and glorious; I hope that we will stand in awe at the glory in these verses.
However, my hope is not just that we will stand in awe of these things. We must remember that this vision, given to John, is apart of the book of Revelation, written to first-century churches. How would a first-century believer have read and responded to ? We are called to respond the same way, though the specifics may look different. We may not be staring down Roman officials or be faced with death in a gladiator’s arena, but we are called to live with the same death-defying faith. How do these passages call us to repentance, faith, and mission? How do these verses lead us to live our lives coram deo, before the face of God, just as the worshippers here in and 5 are physically before God’s throne? When it comes down to it, do we believe that God is on His throne and that Christ controls our universal destiny, or do we believe it to belong to someone else?
Let’s find out.
A shift from earthly realities viewed through a heavenly lens (the churches) to a heavenly reality viewed through an earthly lens. John is about to be shown the very throne of Yahweh in heaven, and he will struggle to describe it. His words are, at points, hard to understand, because what he is viewing is hard to describe; analogies fall short. However, the language he uses is incredibly biblical, as he often uses the language that the prophets used when they received their visions and words, revelation from God.
Read Revelation 4-5.
PRAY.
What we are about to read is truly one of the most glorious, wonderful, lofty, most satisfying passages in the entire Bible. The Lord has chosen to reveal these things about Himself that are awe-inspring and glorious; I hope that we will stand in awe at the glory in these verses.
v. 1 “After this I looked: formula in Revelation, introduces a new section. Same language as in chapter 1 (in the Spirit, after this I looked, what must take place after this, voice like a trumpet); Jesus is showing John more of things to come.We have here a shift from earthly realities viewed through a heavenly lens (the churches addressed by Jesus) to a heavenly reality viewed through an earthly lens (John describing the throne room). John is about to be shown the very throne of Yahweh in heaven, and he will struggle to describe it. His words are, at points, hard to understand, because what he is viewing is hard to describe; analogies fall short. However, the language he uses is deeply biblical, as he often uses the language that the Old Testament prophets used when they received their visions of God. He employs language from Ezekiel’s vision, especially of the beasts. His language is similar to Isaiah, and follows closely with Daniel chapter 7, in which the Son of Man comes before the Ancient of Days and and is given glory, dominion, and kingdom; all nations come to serve Him.
However, my hope is not just that we will stand in awe of these things. We must remember that this vision, given to John, is apart of the book of Revelation, written to first-century churches. How would a first-century believer have read and responded to ? We are called to respond the same way, though the specifics maylook different. We may not be staring down Roman officials or be faced with death in a gladiator’s arena, but we are called to live with the same death-defying faith. How do these passages call us to repentance, faith, and mission? Let’s find out.
A door in heaven: into the very presence of God Himself
Read .

I. The vision of God enthroned. ()

Enthroned: v. 2

I. Marvel at the glory of God.

He is indescribably beautiful, powerful, and worthy of worship (v. 3-6)
The image of the throne dominates these chapters, as it will in the rest of the book. He holds the decisive place of authority. Yahweh God seated on the throne is the central, arresting reality for John and for all of heaven. He reigns in authority.
He sits on the throne in heaven (v. 2).
Is the fact of God’s rule and reign the central, arresting reality in your life? Is it the driving factor in your decisions? If not, what is? Whatever that thing is, that is the thing that you actually believe to be on the throne of heaven.
Worship from heavenly beings (v. 6-11)
We are all tempted to rebel against God, and to attempt to dethrone Him and replace Him with something else. So we pray: your kingdom come, your will be done.
Glorious: v.3
v. 3: Described in bright colors: He dwells in unapproachable light
Stones used in the high priest’s garments reflective of God’s glory
Rainbow: perhaps a symbol of God’s mercy (Noahic covenant)
A bright, glorious God; indescribably brilliant and set apart. We will never tire of gazing upon His glory in His sanctuary.
This is evident in the text: the elders, the creatures, never tire of exalting God. John is enamoured by the vision of Him. God is not boring; He is infinitely more interesting than anything else we can or will ever encounter anywhere ever.
You might be thinking: is that all we will do in heaven? Sit around, and look at God and sing? Won’t that be boring? From the rest of the book and from the Bible, I do not think we will only be staring and singing in the new heavens and the new earth. However, I would like
Do you find other things more interesting than Creator God? Maybe it’s television, work, your home, your finances, travel, your family, your children, your lifestyle. You find it hard to stay focused and aflame towards Him. May I suggest something?
Powerful: v. 4-6
v. 4: surrounded by thrones. His throne is preeminent among the other thrones.
v. 8: eternal: ever-existent
We will talk about these elders in detail in a moment. But, suffice to say, they are an exlted, select group, and they submit to Him.
Holy: pure, and utterly set apart; worthy of worship.
We will talk about these elders in detail in a moment. But, suffice to say, they are an exlted, select group, and they submit to Him.
v. 5: lightning, thunder, the Holy Spirit present in fire. Reminiscent both of:
Lord God Almighty: all power. Kingly authority over all.
The Old Testament, when God’s presence would descend on Mount Sinai in thunderous clouds
The New Testament, when the Holy Spirit descends on believers in fire.
He is worthy to receive all
v. 6: set apart by a sea of glass
The four living creatures: v. 6-8
Seem to reference the creatures in Ezekiel’s vision, though the descriptions differ slightly.
Whatever their identity, it is evident that these are unique, powerful, highly favored creatures in heaven. They stand around the throne, and seem to lead the elders in singing praises to God.
How do they address the Lord? (v. 8)
Holy Holy Holy: utterly holy, pure, set apart. In a righteous category all His own.
Lord God Almighty: mighty and in control. He is all-mighty. No other might can overcome His might.
Eternal: was and is and is to come: He always has been, and always will be.
Glorious, divine attributes.
The twenty-four elders; v. 4, 9-11
He is worthy of worship because of who He is (v. 8b)
It isn’t crystal clear from Revelation who these individuals are. Some believe that they are humans, perhaps Old Testament saints; the sons of Israel and the twelve apostles. They always seemed to be mentioned along with the angels and creatures, leading many to believe that these are angels or heavenly beings who represent God’s elect in every age: both from the twelve tribes of Israel and through the ministry of the twelve apostles.
What is clear is that these elders are clothed in pure white, and possess golden crowns; wealth and authority. When they see God, hear and feel His power, and hear His praises sung, they divest themselves of these crowns. What does this mean? They use their power, authority, and wealth to praise the One seated on the throne. He is worthy to receive all power, authority, and wealth, and these elders gladly, joyfully sing as they surrender their crowning glory to the One true God.
How do they address the Lord? (v. 11)
Worthy: He merits glory and honor and powre and praise for all eternity. He is worth it. An eternally good God is worthy of eternal praise.
Our: God relates to His people. He is not impersonal, but is in relationship with His creatures. This is good news!
Creator: created all things, He is mighty and able to do so
Will: it was His will, His decision to do so, and to keep them existing.
Glorious, good attributes
What does all of this teach us? That this present, heavenly reality is true right now on Earth. God is on His throne, and His is worthy to receive glory and honor and power for who He is and for what He has done.
He is indescribably beautiful, powerful, and worthy of worship (v. 3-6)
Powerful
As the throne is central in heaven, is the fact of God’s rule and reign the decisive, central, arresting reality in your life? Is it the driving factor in your decisions? If not, what is? Whatever that thing is, that is the thing that you actually believe to be on the throne of heaven.
We are all tempted to rebel against God, and to attempt to dethrone Him and replace Him with something else. So we pray: your kingdom come, your will be done.
As the elders cast their crowns before the Lord, in your life, right now, it is worth it to spend yourself for the glory of God. He is worth of all of your attention, all of your affection, all of your devotion. How will you use what God has given you as a means by which to praise Him? How will you use your job as a way to declare His worthiness? Your finances? Your family?
Notice in the text: the elders, the creatures, never tire of ceaselessly exalting God. John is enamoured by the vision of Him. God is not boring; He is infinitely more interesting than anything else we can or will ever encounter anywhere ever.
Worship from heavenly beings (v. 6-11)
He is worthy of worship because of what He has done (v. 11)
You might be thinking: is that all we will do in heaven? Sit around, and look at God and sing? Won’t that be boring? From the rest of the book and from the Bible, I do not think we will only be staring and singing in the new heavens and the new earth.
Not only this, but take not of this: the elders, the creatures, never tire of exalting God. John is enamoured by the vision of Him. God is not boring; He is infinitely more interesting than anything else we can or will ever encounter anywhere ever.
He is worthy of worship because of who He is (v. 8b)
Utterly unlike us
He is
But notice in the text: the elders, the creatures, never tire of ceaselessly exalting God. John is enamoured by the vision of Him. These creatures, who are full of eyes; they see everything all around them, choose to sing for all eternity in praise of this God, finding Him ever more holy. The elders, pure and crowned with authority, choose to bow in eternal worship of Him, finding Him ever more worthy. God is not boring; He is infinitely more interesting than anything else we can or will ever encounter anywhere ever.
Worship from human beings??? (v. 9-11)
Do you find other things more interesting than Creator God? Maybe it’s television, work, your home, your finances, travel, your family, your children, your lifestyle. You find it hard to stay focused and aflame towards Him. May I suggest something?
Do you find other things more interesting than Creator God? Maybe it’s television, work, your home, your finances, travel, your family, your children, your lifestyle. You find it hard to stay focused and aflame towards Him. We are tempted to waste our lives, our attention, and our affection away on worldly things. But these things will all pass away. We need a vision of the eternal God, the vision presented here, that blows those things out of the water. We need to believe that the vision of God on His throne, worshipped and adored eternally is more real to us than any wasteful, worldly, sinful satisfaction we might find around us. We need to want to dwell in His presence more than we want to dwell in our sin. May the Holy Spirit, through this book, and these chapters, change your heart, such that you no longer have a stomach for the things of this world, but a desire to feast your eyes on the all-satisfying, ever-more-interesting Ruler of the Universe.
The four living creatures
He is worthy of worship because of what He has done (v. 11)
Seem to reference the creatures in Ezekiel’s vision, though the descriptions differ slightly.
Whatever their identity, it is evident that these are unique, powerful, highly favored creatures in heaven. They stand around the throne, and seem to lead the elders in singing praises to God.

II. Marvel at the glory of Christ.

II. The vision of Christ exalted. ()

The agonizing problem: how will the Lord accomplish His will? (v. 1-4)

The agonizing problem: how will the Lord accomplish His will? (v. 1-4)

v. 1: The scroll: in Isaiah and Ezekiel, the destiny of the nations. The scroll has written on it all of the things He will bring to pass. And what is His plan? What is His end goal?
Revelation 21:3–4 ESV
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Salvation, accomplished through the judgment of the seals, trumpets, bowls, etc.
v. 2: the question: how will these things come about? Who is worthy to make this happen?
How can people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, all of whom have sinned against a perfectly holy God, dwell in right relationship with Him? How can the pain and death introduced at the Fall be wiped away?
Proverbs 17:15 ESV
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.
How can God justly condemn sin, yet bring sinful men to dwell in right relationship with Him, without being an abomination to Himself.
This is the question of the Bible. The question in our culture, today, is this: how can God be so harsh? How come He is so hard on sin? Everybody does it… The question of the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, is just the opposite. God has promised to show steadfast love and mercy, but He will by no means clear the guilty. How will this happen? How can any many be saved. This is how John thinks....
v. 3-4: No one in heaven or on earth can do this. All have sinned, there is none righteous, no not one. Everyone born in Adam rebels against God as Adam did. So John weeps because he knows this; we are cut off from right relationship with God in our sin.

The amazing Savior: the Lion and the Lamb who conquers! (v. 5-7)

There is one who is able to bring all God’s plans and promises to pass, to save and to judge. Salvation, accomplished through the judgment of the seals, trumpets, bowls, etc.
Lion of the tribe of Judah, mentioned in the first book of the Bible. He is powerful
The Root of David: the king from David’s line who will reign with an everlasting kingdom.
Conquered: he rules, and has conquered. This makes Him able to enact God’s plans.
The one who conquered
Able to open the scrolls and bring about the seven seals
What are the scrolls and seals?
How did He conquer? v. 6
John expects to see a royal, kingly lion; he turns to see a lamb, more than that, one who had been slain, yet standing.
Though He has been slain, yet He lives!
This is His glory!
“Thus Christ appeared at the same time, and in the same act, as both a lion and a lamb. He appeared as a lamb in the hands of his cruel enemies; as a lamb in the paws, and etween the devouring jaws, of a roaring lion; yea, he was a lamb actually slain by this lion: and yet at the same time, as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he conquers and triumphs over Satan; destroying his own destroyer; as Samson did the lion that roared upon him, when he rent him as he would a kid. And in nothing has Christ appeared so much as a lion, in glorious strength destroying his enemies, as when he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter. In his greatest weakness he was most strong: and when he suffered most from his enemies, he brought the greates confusion on his enemies.” -Jonathan Edwards, The Excellency of Christ.
He is the sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sins of the world; through being under His blood God’s wrath passes over us. He conquered sin by giving His infinitely valuable life for it. Yet, He did not stay dead, but through the power of the Spirit was raised from the dead, such that He counquered death also.
And so he has seven horns, complete power, and seven eyes of the Spirit.
Don’t miss the glory of the Spirit in these chapters. The Spirit flames forth in God’s presence in chapter 4. In chapter 5, part of Jesus’ glory is that He is (seven) full of the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit has complete (seven), omniscient vision, unto all the earth. This is the same Spirit who compels Christians to go to the ends of the Earth with the gospel.
This is His glory!
Full of the Spirit
Don’t miss the glory of the Spirit in these verses.
v. 7: the audacity: He approaches God’s glorious, unapproachable throne, and takes all God’s decrees, the destiny of the universe, in His hands. He will bring these things to pass.
His role in the Trinity.
Jesus has your destiny in the palm of His hand. This should be a great comfort, that whatever comes to pass, is part of God’s will and Jesus’ working. Whatever He has for your is for your good and for His glory. Not just in this life, as we are prone to think, but for all eternity! Your life is wrapped up in God’s plan to reconcile all things to Himself in Christ. Won’t you trust Him for salvation, and love and obey Him through whatever comes to pass?
Distinguished from the Father and the Spirit

The appropriate response: worship Jesus who is God. (v. 8-14)

Jesus is worthy of worship because of who He is and what He has done. This picture of worship in the throne room explodes with praise to the Lamb.
v. 8: these all worship the Lamb
And the Father does not object! This is the God of whom Isaiah wrote in “my glory I give to no other”, yet here He shares glory and worship with Jesus. Jesus, along with the Father, is Yahweh, the great I AM, and is worthy of worship.
This worship involves songs and prayers. Notice the prayers of the saints, offered up as incense in a bowl. As one author has said, prayer is implicit praise. It rises to the very throne room of God as worship because it acknowledges that He alone is able to accomplish all things. These things, these prayers according to God’s will that His kingdom come and will be done on the earth as it is in heaven, are accomplished through His Son, who is worthy.
v. 9-10: they have a new song to sing, which echoes and fulfills the scene revealed to Daniel in .
He is worthy to do these things through His death, which is actually His conquering. He was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross; therefore God highly exalted Him, so that at the name of Jesus every knee would bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. This is in action.
By His blood He ransomed, He bought by His blood and delivered out of slavery to sin, not just one people but those from every tribe and language and people and nation. Jesus deserves praise from all over the globe, and He obtains it by His blood.
They become a kingdom of priest, serving God and reigning on the earth. See here a reinstatement of the way things were before the fall, in the garden. Adam and Eve were to rule on the earth, expanding the borders of the garden until God’s glory covered the uncultivated earth. Believers from every tribe, tongue, and nation will obey God in this way, serving Him and having a reign and dominion over the earth in right relationship to God.
v. 11-14: the woship continues
The circle expands from those nearer the throne to myrads, of myriads, thousands upon thousands. These declare Jesus worthy of receiving sevenfold praise: power and wealth and wisdom and might and glory and honor and blessing.
The circle expands still further to every creature everywhere declaring His worthiness. See here the Son praised alongside the Father: the two are coeternal, equal in power, glory, honor, and blessing forever.
The amazing Savior: the Lion and the Lamb who conquers! (v. 5-7)
This is John’s way of telling us that the ideal world, the world as it really is and will yet be, should never be forgotten, though our visions of glory fade and earthly chaos threatens to overwhelm us. God is still on his throne, and his created order, though now in rebellion against him, is still subject to him and in some inexplicable way doing his will, and thus offering praise to him. - Walter Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible

How are we to respond to all of this?

The Davidic Messiah
The one who conquered
How does this apply to us today?
How are we to react to this vision?
We are called out of compromise and complacency.
This vision is preceded by Jesus’ words to the churches.
Many of them had compromised: given in to various sins and idolatry. This vision of God and of Christ, good, powerful, exalted, and reigning, is meant to call those Christians out of sin with the power of a more excellent, more satisfying object: God Himself.
Maybe this is you. You have wandered in your life, and are even now seeking satisfaction in sin and in yourself; you have become bored with God. Meditate on the picture presented here, the fact that God is reigning and in control, and will judge sin. In His presence is fulness of joy and pleasure forevermore. See the surpassing worth in God Himself, and sin for the filthy rag it is; repent, and press in to God in His Word.
Many of these churches had become complacent: coasting along as a church, no longer impressed or animated by the things of God.
Maybe this is you. Realize that apathy before the God of and 5 is not an option. How come our singing is so often so passionless, so far less engaged than the singing here in these chapters? When you truly see the glory of this God, you cannot help but sing in heartfelt praise to Him. Ask the Lord to soften your heart, to open your eyes to behold wonderful, glorious things in His Word, such that you cannot but speak and sing of Christ and what He has done for you!
We are called to confidence and mission.
We are called to confidence and mission.
This vision of God and of Christ gives us confidence, no matter the circumstances.
Think of the original readers. In churches where things were bad, where some of them were losing their lives for their faith.
Christ has defeated death, and yet lives. Not only that, He is currently now carrying out God’s sovereign plan to judge sin and save sinners, to bring them before the presence of His glory with great joy. So we can have confidence that, no matter what comes our way, these things are working together for God’s glory and for our good. As tells us, we are more than conquerers through Him who loved us. How?
Romans 8:16–18 ESV
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18
Romans 8:31–39 ESV
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31
“these things” refer to sufferings and persecutions. We do not conquer these things through our own might, willpower, or intellect. We conquer in the same way that our Savior did. This is the part of the passage we do not quote as often: verse 36, though we are slaughtered, in that, because of that, we are more than conquerers through Him, the Lamb who was slain. Nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ, for He has disarmed death and thus taken the sting out of the worst persecution that could come our way.
How we conquer:
Prayer
So we have confidence in suffering.
When we are persecuted, and faed with the prospect of losing jobs, family, security, reputation, freedom, or even our lives for the sake of the gospel. Though it looks like we are conquered, we are actually conqering.
When we face illness, distress, times of want, when it looks like our lives or our bodies are conquered, we are actually conquering through the Lamb who was slain.
And we have confidence in mission: Jesus has ransomed His people from every tribe and language and people and nation. He has a plan, those written in His book of life, from all nations. He is bringing it to pass. But, we don’t just sit back, as if God’s sovereignty was an excuse for inaction. He has decreed the ends (believers from the ends of the earth) and the means: His church on mission to make disciples of all nations. So, we have confidence that, as we go, we join Christ on His mission. And He is worthy and able, He will accomplish His mission and receive the reward of His suffering: believers from every corner of the globe.
We have confidence as we share the gospel in our workplaces, in our family, and in our community that Jesus is gathering believers to Himself.
We have confidence as we go internationally, that Jesus is gathering believers to Himself.
We even have confidence that Jesus has ransomed those from the most remote, dangerous, unreached peoples of the world. From North Korea. From Nigeria, where Boko Haram have killed at least 15,000 people since 2009, abduct women, and target Christians. From Turkey, Nepal, Sri Lanka. And not just from these naiton-states, but from every people group, that is, tribe and language, on the globe. Danger will not separate us from the love of Christ. And Christ will accomplish His mission, the ingathering of His elect from every corner of the globe. He is with us, even now, until the end of the age.
This is why the book of Revelation ends the way it does, with an invitation:
Able to open the scrolls and bring about the seven seals
What are the scrolls and seals?
He is the Lamb who was slain
Revelation 22:17 ESV
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
This is His glory!
Full of the Spirit
Don’t miss the glory of the Spirit in these verses.
His role in the Trinity.
Distinguished from the Father and the Spirit
The appropriate response: worship Jesus who is God. (v. 8-14)
He is worthy of worship because of who He is and what He has done.
This is John’s way of telling us that the ideal world, the world as it really is and will yet be, should never be forgotten, though our visions of glory fade and earthly chaos threatens to overwhelm us. God is still on his throne, and his created order, though now in rebellion against him, is still subject to him and in some inexplicable way doing his will, and thus offering praise to him. - Walter Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible

III. Join in the mission of Christ.

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