Allen Jackson - Spiritual Forces In Conflict - Part 2
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Chapter 4 and verse 1 says: "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, 'Come up here, and I'll show you what must take place after these things.' And immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne". Again, John used this little phrase, "I was in the Spirit". John can see the throne of God. And the book of Revelation takes you back and forth between what's happening in the earth and what's happening in heaven. It's a very important idea. In fact, then the next principle I would give you, and it's so abundantly clear in the book of Revelation but it's clear throughout Scripture, is that there are different realms of existence. We struggle with this.
In Western civilization, after the Enlightenment, the elevation of reason, there was a time humanity focused a great deal more on spiritual things, and we will celebrate that in other cultures. We'll celebrate it in all sorts of cultures where they give attention to spiritual things, but amongst those of us that have imagined that the training of our intellect is the ultimate expression of the human being, we have diminished spiritual things. And the Bible very clearly invites us to the conclusion that there are different realms of existence. Let's explain it first in the part that science can verify. We know that, for instance, that there's a visible world we can see with the apparatus we've been given, with our eyes. But we also believe, I think, that there's an invisible world, there's a microscopic world.
Now, you can't see it without some artificial assistance. You can't see a bacteria or a virus. There's a whole invisible world. We call it internal medicine in the medical community, a whole host of things happening on the inside of you. You can't see them. And we've got some rather sophisticated equipment to help us get some imaging around that, but it's not visible to you. You can't go look in the mirror and see how your coronary arteries are doing. You need help. It is invisible to you, but you understand it can impact your life. You believe it. If you've ever known anybody that's been impacted by that, you believe it completely. We believe there's a whole world in space that's beyond what we can see with the visible tools that we have. We can have some sophisticated telescopes to help us see further and further into the universe, but we can't begin to see what's there. It's not visible to us. We understand that we can't see the full spectrum of light.
So we have infrared and ultraviolet. There's a whole host of spectrum of light that we simply don't have the apparatus for, so we will accept logically that there's something visible and something invisible, and the invisible can affect us. Not talking about anything spiritual, just physical things. We hid for a year from a virus, and we can't see one of those. Maybe with an electron microscope, but all we can see is the impact of the virus. In the same way, there's things we can't hear. You can hear a great deal, I hope you can hear me. But there's a whole host of sounds on the spectrum of sound that you don't have the equipment for. Again, visible and invisible.
How many of you believe there are visible and invisible things that impact your lives? About a third of you. I'll start with that. This is the South, we're catching up. It's okay. Again, the concept is different realms of existence. This isn't as strange as we wanna act like. There's a different realm of existence if you live underwater or if you live in the atmosphere: two totally different ways to exist, agreed? And if you don't have the equipment to live underwater, you better have some really fancy adaptations or you're not gonna flourish. It's not mean or cruel, it's a different realm of existence, and you don't have the tools you need to flourish there.
Well, the Bible invites us to the imagination, to the reality that there's a physical, material world, and there's a spiritual world. And it gives us the instructions on how to flourish in both. It's a part of the gift of Scripture. If we didn't have that, we would be left to fate, to create myths, thus we have things like mythology and false gods because we have to come up with explanations for the world in which we live. The reason we say we believe the Bible is authoritative, it's the inspired Word of God, that it's a revelation of truth, that it enables us to navigate a world that we cannot navigate with just our rational minds, because there are forces that are impacting us that are beyond what we can see or hear. We don't have the sensory equipment to acknowledge them. There is a spiritual world. John said, "I looked up and there was a door standing before me in heaven".
Now you have a choice to make, I have a choice to make. What are we gonna do about this proposition of spiritual things? Will you believe in them? Will you reject it? Do you imagine you can be a Christian and ignore spiritual things? Are you only gonna believe in positive spiritual things? That's not really a biblical faith. That's kind of a combination of positive thinking and New Age. I mean, it's a whole host of things contribute to that, 'cause the Bible tells us in the plainest of language that not only is God a good God, it tells us the devil's a bad devil. I mean, that's a simple way of stating it but it's the fundamental principle of the story. Do you have an imagination? Do you have room for spiritual things?
Let's press on, same chapter, verse 9: "Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne, who lives for ever and ever". That's a difference. In the physical world in which we live, we don't live forever and ever. We're on countdown clocks. Even the things that live a long, long time, even redwood trees don't live forever. But it says that in the spiritual realm, things live forever and ever. "The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and they have their being.'"
Again, it's a very important component. It's another puzzle piece. You need it. You need it established in your heart, in your thoughts, in your decision-making equation. There's a spiritual force or a spiritual power, or more literally, a spiritual person created, is behind all creation. But everything we see in the physical world was created by God. This isn't radical; it's Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," and it's fundamental to the revelation that's given of the culmination of this age in the last book of your Bible, the book of Revelation. "The one seated on the throne created everything".
Now, you've got to deal with this, you've got to decide what you're gonna believe. You can't just live in the shadows on this any longer. The circumstances have changed. The stakes are too high, the battle has broken into the open. This is no longer subtle, folks. We're mutilating kids. You've gotta decide what you believe. Then you've gotta decide where you're gonna stand. Is there a God? Can he be known? Can he be served? Will he reward you for serving him? Did he really create heaven and earth? If he did, then he could write the owner's manual. And when he defines relationships or marriage or family, it might be in our best interest to take note, because he's the designer, he's the design engineer, he's the creator of all things. But I believe you're entitled to your belief. I will defend your right to that, but I will not equate it with what God said is true. I've chosen to submit myself to the authority of scripture.
Not easy, because that has all sorts of implications, but the Bible tells us that there is a spiritual force, power, authority, in fact, a personality behind all creation. Now, beginning in chapter 5, there's a question that's asked that I think is worth spending a moment with. It says: "I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?'" A mighty angel. Not all angels are mighty. Some work out more. It's the question that the angel is asking that I think is significant: "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll"?
Again, we live with very small imaginations of authority in the kingdom of God. We are so inundated with this egalitarian idea, and I don't know that it's evil. I think it comes in many respects from our biblical worldview that every person is equal before the law. It's a wonderful idea. There's never been anything quite like that before. We're not honoring it anymore but the principle still exists, that every person is equal before the law, regardless of your IQ, your race, your social status, your financial resources. But we extrapolate that and push that into the kingdom of God so that God's just like me, or I'm just like him. We've elevated ourselves to a place that's inappropriate. We're not the creator of all things. There is a God and it isn't us. He isn't like us. He does know how many hairs are in everybody's head. He knows how many sparrows didn't take flight today. He knows the ending at the beginning. We don't know those things.
So when we begin to think about a relationship with God, there's a question now that comes into play: What would allow me to have that relationship? Well, that carnal part of us says, "Well, because I'm willing to have it, God be willing to have me". Back up a minute. That sounds ignorant. No, he's almighty, he's omniscient, and he said we could have a relationship with him. Let's revisit the question for a moment. What would be necessary for me to have that privilege? What would be required of me? What's the threshold? Here's the amazing part. That invitation is open to everybody. Wow, the smart and the not-so-smart and the strong and the not-so, the well-educated and the not-so-well educated. It's open to everybody.
"Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll"? Look at verse 3: "No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside". There wasn't anybody in all creation. Then John said, "I wept and wept". This is John the apostle, born again, Spirit-filled, faithful follower of Jesus, recruited by Jesus, present on the Day of Pentecost, stands before the Sanhedrin and says, "We will not stop". "I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look inside. And one of the elders said to me, 'Don't weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.'" It leads us to an idea and we're not gonna take the time to fully explore it, but worthiness brings with it ability. "Who is worthy"?
If you're worthy you can open these scrolls, you can bring insight and understanding and revelation. Again, we have this kind of sloppy imagination: if we've been born again and then we've acknowledged Jesus as Lord, we should have access to anything, anytime, anywhere, the way we want it. It's not really a biblical idea. Bible says God rewards those who diligently seek him. We don't like to think about that. You can be unworthy and unable. It's why we're encouraged to over and over and over again to lead a life worthy of the Lord. To lead a life worthy of the Lord, in all we say, in all we do, in how we think, in how we behave. When he gives us roles within the family, it's a part of leading a life worthy of the Lord.
"Well, I don't like that". Okay, change. When he defines moral and immoral, "I don't like that". Let's push on, verse 7: "So he came and he took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb". The lion of the tribe of Judah looks like a lamb. "Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You've made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.'"
Folks, we're not gonna spend eternity in heaven. We're gonna reign on the earth with the King. Hoo-hoo! That's that hillbilly word again. "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousands times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'" What a scene! It starts with the question, "Who is worthy"? And John bursts into tears because he doesn't think anybody's worthy. And then a voice says, "No, the Lion of the tribe of Judah's here". And John looks to see the Lion and he sees the Lamb that looks like he's slain. And he can open the scroll. And then all those gathered in the throne room of God, 100 million angels, they begin to say, "Worthy is the Lamb".
The elders weren't worthy, the four living creatures before the throne weren't worthy to open it, 100 million angels weren't qualified, but the Lamb was. Do you think it's an insignificant thing that the Lamb gave his blood that your life and my life could be different? Do you think it's insignificant when he said, "You can use my name. You can use my authority. Go ahead, use my name". So then, what do they say? "Lead a life worthy of the Lord". That's not an imposition, it's not a burden, it's not restrictive. We've been given access to the authority that moves heaven and earth. It should change our behavior, it should change our thoughts, it should change our objectives and our goals.
There should be a difference between the ungodly and the godly, other than where we sit on Sunday mornings, because we serve one who is worthy. I put a verse in there. I think it's worthwhile at this point. It's out of Revelation, it's in Romans. It's Romans 5:9: "Since we have now been justified by his blood". Justified is a sometimes, sort of a technical word in Scripture. To be justified means to be acquitted, declared not guilty, made worthy. How are we made worthy? We just read it. "By his blood". "How much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him"! To be worthy is to be delivered from the wrath of God. It will be poured out upon those who aren't worthy.
Why would God be angry at those who aren't worthy? Because he offered his Son as a sacrifice that anybody who would believe in him could be justified. And if you reject his Son, if you reject God's effort, if you reject his initiative, if you vote to crucify him, then the wrath of God will be directed. Lead a life worthy of the Lord. Chapter 5, verse 8: "When he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lord. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints". I couldn't just rush past this, folks. Your prayers reach into the spiritual realm. They begin in your physical body.
Now, they may be formed through your vocal abilities, given expression through the language that you speak, but your prayers land in the spiritual realm; in the throne room of God is a collection of the prayers of his people. We can't afford not to pray. You know, we can say, "Well, I don't pray really well". I can't tell you how many parents bring me prayers that their little children pray. Lots of parents pray with their little people before they go to bed at night or before they say a meal, they told, teach 'em how to fold their hands and bow their heads and don't you wanna bless the food? Have you ever been through that ritual with a child? And if you have, if you're a parent, you've probably related this story. But if you've heard one, you know the enthusiasm, and they'll give it to you in childlike language.
You know, my little child prayed, Hody Pirit, you're weltome here. They're not embarrassed at all to talk like that. They're so excited their kids are praying. And then I hear the challenges we have: "Well, you know, I don't know how to pray. I sound too simplistic. I'm not very sophisticated. I don't know the right vocabulary". I've never heard a parent go, "You know, my toddler's not very sophisticated. They pray childish prayers". Yeah, it's what kids do. We're God's kids. Folks, he knows how many hairs are on your head and when a sparrow falls to the ground. He's not impressed with your intellect. So just bust out your hillbilly accent, "Ayo, God". Don't be disrespectful, but it's not like we're trying to outsmart him or impress him with our biblical knowledge. He's given us the Scriptures so that we might know him. It's not a point of pride or arrogance or selfish fulfillment.
The reason we read our Bibles and we think about it and we meditate on it is that we might understand the nature of his kingdom. Your prayers reach into the spiritual realm. Chapter 6 and I'll give you the last one, I'm done. "When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard a second living creature say, 'Come!' And another horse came out, a fiery red one. And its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. And to him was given a large sword". This is the fifth, this is the last principle we'll look at in this session. But it's important and it's very clear. It's simple, it's repeated over and over and over through the book of Revelation that activity in heaven, activity in the spiritual realm, impacts events upon earth.
I brought you a prayer. Our goal, remember? We don't wanna be ignorant. We wanna stop saying things like, "I don't believe in spiritual gifts," "I don't know what the fruit of the Spirit is," "Do I have to speak in tongues"? No, but you could. "Well, I don't know if I believe that". Well, find out if it's in the Bible. And if it's in the Bible, get over yourself and get on with it. "Well, nobody's taught me". I'm sorry, do you have a Bible? Do you read? "Well, it's a big book". Uh-huh. I brought you a prayer. I'm sorry. I'll meddle more the next session. Why don't you stand with me? I took it from Revelation. I hope it'll sound familiar. It's important, I believe, to say over our own lives to establish authority in our lives, what spiritual authority we want to have governing authority over us. You don't ever want there to be a question about that.
Who is Lord of your life? What authority you live under. Yes, we may be citizens of a nation, but my first allegiance is to a kingdom. It's why I will speak up against things that happen where I have citizenship in a temporary status, because my citizenship in the eternal kingdom of God is more important. Have you found the prayer? Let's read it together. "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and we will reign on the earth". Now, this next phrase, you want to say it three times, thus that "3x" in your notes. I was out of paper. Let's say it together:
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! Amen, hallelujah.