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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - The Revelation - Part 1

Allen Jackson - The Revelation - Part 1

Allen Jackson - The Revelation - Part 1
TOPICS: Book of Revelation

I want to continue a theme we began, actually, last Saturday night concerning spiritual things. We wanna talk about some spiritual things for a few sessions, I gave you a starter list of some things that we're gonna explore, spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit and spiritual armor and spiritual conflict and a whole host of things, but those are really outworkings. Those are secondary to a more fundamental issue and it has to do with the reality of spiritual things. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and verse 1. It's written to a church, a church that was very spiritually vibrant. The Corinthian church was a spiritually active church. If we put it on a contemporary scale, they'd be over here on the far end of extremist. They spoke in tongues, they prophesied.

All those things were happening in the Corinthian church and yet it was a very, very carnal church. They were sexually immoral, they were gluttons, they were drunkards. They were struggling. It's a very interesting parallel, so Paul is writing to them in chapter 12 and verse 1 and he says, "About spiritual things, or spiritual gifts," the word "gifts" is not a part of the original language. In the Greek, the noun is "spirituals". We don't have an English equivalent, so the translators have to put in a word that makes sense in English. And gifts is not inappropriate, it's just a little misleading, because gift is something that is given to you and then you possess it, you control it, you own it, and that's certainly not the meaning in this context. So, for the sake of our discussion, let's just say, "concerning spiritual things". "Concerning spiritual things, brothers, I don't want you to be ignorant".

Now, he's saying that because they are. They have a lot of spiritual activity, but they really don't understand. They're not, I don't think I'm being unkind to say that the contemporary evangelical world, for the most part, has a pretty high degree of ignorance around spiritual things. We can talk about the new birth or conversion or salvation and perhaps we might extend the conversation into water baptism, but beyond that we wanna have a debate. Does God do miracles? Does he heal? And whatever expression of the supernatural we would bring to bear, we would say, "Well," and then we'd begin to deviate and have our opinions. We just don't have a great deal of insight and understanding.

And I do not believe, not only do I not believe we... I don't think we can flourish with what's before us without a more robust understanding of spiritual things and the availability of the help of the Holy Spirit, I'm not sure we'll survive. And I don't mean that in an ominous, threatening way. I think it's a reality. If you know you're going to a desert country, I can tell you, you'd better have a plan for hydration because you'll be dehydrated before you realize it. It's not like living in humid Tennessee. And when you walk into a point in history when demonic activity escalates and the spirit of Antichrist is growing in its influence and all of those things are very prevalent in our current world circumstance, you had better have a plan to understand how to cooperate with the person of the Holy Spirit more fully than in the previous time.

And so, for that reason, we're doing this little bit of a study and I wanna go back to the book of Revelation. We started it in our last session. I want to return to it because the book of Revelation is the largest single presentation in all of the Bible on spiritual things. The book of Revelation is the curtain pulled back and a discussion of what's happening in the spiritual realm. In most of the other places in our Bible we just get little narrow windows of that. I can give you a for instance, in chapter 4 and verse 1, it's there in your notes. We're gonna read a kind of a disproportionate amount of Scripture and I'm gonna offer some comments. Then I'm gonna give you some principles but I really invite you on a little bit of a journey with me. I'll tell you more about it, but it says: "As I looked, there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 'Come up here, and I'll show you what must take place after this.' And at once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it".

This is the apostle John, and he's been invited into the throne room of God. Some of you may remember, Isaiah had a similar invitation. It's in Isaiah 6. He said, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple". But in Isaiah, it's a little portion of one little chapter and it's really about Isaiah's commissioning with the message that we can read through his book. In the book of Revelation there's chapter after chapter after chapter with perspective after perspective after perspective on what's happening in the spiritual world. And so what I wanna ask you to do with me is we're gonna walk through these chapters and, for the sake of this session, let's not get too heated up about the meaning behind them.

You know, there's seven seals on the scroll that have to be opened and there's seven bowls to be poured out and there's seven trumpets to be blown and there's the four horsemen of the apocalypse. There's a tremendous amount of imagery and messaging in the book of Revelation and it's appropriate to try to understand it all but, for this session, I wanna ask you let's not do that. Let's see if we can accept John's invitation and step with him into the throne room of God and then let's look around. What's happening there? What did he see? What's it like? You see, we have to understand spiritual things better, 'cause if I say we're gonna talk about the gifts of the Spirit, immediately we begin to decide whether we believe in that or we don't believe in that, or whether they stopped with the last of the apostles or what do we have to do or do I have to do that and I wanna push that, that's a very secondary question.

Let's decide at the fundamental core of our person whether spiritual things are real or they're not. And if they're real, let's understand how to participate in that world more fully. Seem fair? So we're gonna take a walk into the book of Revelation, and we're gonna look around the room a little bit. You can use, I want you to use your perspective. You'll see some things that I won't. It's one of the ways I like to read my Bible. If I read the Gospels, if I read the Sermon on the Mount, I don't wanna just list the Beatitudes and memorize them. I want to imagine I'm standing in the crowd that day and I'm trying to look at the faces of the people. Or when I hear Jesus say to the disciples, you know, "The people are tired and they're hungry. I don't want to send them away. They'll faint on the way. You feed them".

And I'm looking at the disciples and they are not happy. They've worked a 12-hour day and they're tired of these people, and Jesus just told them to feed them. I know that feeling. There are times when I get done at church and I'm thinking, "I'll go home, flip the lights". And I think if Jesus said to me, "Take 'em out to pizza," I'd be going, "You have got to be kidding me". And so I want to invite you. It's a little bit, I don't know if you ever gone snorkeling? I've been a few places in the world where there was some coral, you know, and if you look at it from above the water, there's glare and you can kind of tell maybe there's something going down. But they give you a mask and a snorkel and you put your head in the water, and whoa! Well, that's what I wanna do with the book of Revelation, okay?

So here we go. "I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And a voice that I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.' At once I was in the Spirit". So this is very much a spiritual scenario. "And from the throne, well, I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And from the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. And these are the seven spirits of God". I think a simpler translation would be the sevenfold spirit of God. Either way, it works with the language. It really depends on the translation you pick up. "These were the sevenfold spirit of God and before the throne was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal".

So there's the throne of God and then John has this revelation, this understanding, of the sevenfold spirit of God. The image is repeated in the previous chapter. The previous chapter is the message to the seven churches that are to receive this revelation, this revelation of spiritual things. And in chapter 3 and verse 1, "To the angel of the church of Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits, or the sevenfold spirit of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds". So it's a theme in this revelation of spiritual things. It's introduced to us twice in these first opening chapters. The sevenfold Spirit of God. Seven is a number of significance in the Bible. It means completion. In chapter 1 there's seven candlesticks, the seven churches. And it says there's seven stars and it gives us the explanation. It says the stars are the angels of those churches.

Did you know there's angels attached to churches? I believe there are angels that have assignments for this congregation. "Well, why would you believe that"? Well, it seems to be what the Scripture is inviting us to believe. "The sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars, and God said, I know your deeds; you have the reputation of being alive, but you're dead". Whoa, it's a church with an angel that made the book. And God's commentary's a little sobering. As just a bit of an aside, you know, and the book of Revelation is not something new. It's the curtain being pulled back on a larger story of Scripture. I don't know that we'll take the time to do this in a great deal of detail, but I brought you one passage from Isaiah chapter 11. I already mentioned Isaiah 6.

There's a vision of the throne of God. In Isaiah 11, there's a prophecy about the Messiah when he comes. It says: "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse". Jesse is David's father, and Jesus comes from the house of David. "From his roots a Branch will bear fruit". And then it lists seven aspects of the Spirit of God: "The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD, and he'll delight in the fear of the LORD. He'll not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears".

Did you get it? There's seven aspects. They're the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of counsel, the Spirit of power, the Spirit of knowledge, and the Spirit of the fear of the LORD. One spirit described seven ways. Now, what's gonna become abundantly clear as we're walking through this throne room and through these visions of heaven, is that God is not like us, and we're struggling a bit 'cause we have this very limited perspective. We have such real limits. Our strength has limits. Our physical senses have limits. We can't see the entire spectrum of light, nor hear the entire spectrum of sound. We get tired and hungry and frail and we need to rest and we can't live outside of the little envelope of the earth's atmosphere 'cause our earth suit comes with some very real limits. God doesn't have those. He doesn't have those.

So as we're reading through this spiritual unfolding, we're gonna become aware that sometimes it's hard to understand God. He's beyond us. He isn't bound by time. He's eternal. He has no beginning or end, and I'm going, "You mean, he's really old"? No, eternity isn't a long time. Eternity is a completely different type of existence. So there's gonna be some things that will push us a little bit and, at some point, we'll just have to say, "Well, I'll accept that I don't understand". How does a fish breathe underwater? "Well, he has gills". Oh, that explained everything. You know, we use little languages if we understand it, and sometimes it's sufficient to say that God is beyond us. I want you to use your mind and your intellect and all the capacity that it represents. Squeeze all the juice out of it. And when you've learned everything you can learn and you've consumed everything you can consume, we're still going to acknowledge there's a Creator and we're his creation.

The sevenfold Spirit of God, one Spirit described in seven ways. I like the last sentence in that Isaiah passage. "He'll not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears". The Messiah is going to conduct himself by another set of tools for comprehension and awareness. It's not going to be his eyes and ears that are the primary components of his ministry. It's going to be his dependence upon this sevenfold Spirit of God. So we see Jesus operating in a realm that is beyond us. It causes his peers to be baffled by him. When Nathanael is brought to him, he says to him, "I saw you when you were underneath the fig tree". And Nathanael says, "You must be the Messiah". He said, "Oh no, son, you'll see greater things than that". He speaks to the wind and the waves, and the disciples are amazed. He walks into the synagogue in Capernaum the first time, and a demon begins to scream, "We know who you are," and he says, "Oh, you be quiet".

Jesus has a dependence on something other than just what you can see and hear. And we thought, "Well, he's different from us, so we should imagine a different kind of a life or a different kind of existence", but the book of Revelation, God is inviting John into the throne room of God. You see, to conclude this age, for the gospel to be preached in the whole world, for the church to stand against the onslaught of Antichrist, both the spirit and ultimately the individual, we are going to have to have an awareness of the Spirit of God that exceeds what we've known up to this point. Are you ready to learn? Me too.

In verse 9, we get a little more of a window into the activity in this throne room: "Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and they worship him who lives for ever and ever". One of the ways of adding emphasis in language, in any language, is repetition. Did you go for a run? "Yeah, I ran and I ran and I ran". You get the feeling that I ran more than a sprint. Did you have something to eat? "Did I ever! I ate and I ate and I ate". You get the feeling I had more than a snack. Well, that's the pattern that's being utilized here. Did you hear it?

"Thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, and the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and they worship him who lives for ever and ever. And 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.'" Why do you suppose that would be of interest to John? Well, for one thing, I would submit he's an old man. He's a prisoner on an island. His peer group has all been martyred. Peter's gone, and John has gone and James has been gone a long time. And he's very aware of the limits that time have brought to him, and so a part of what he's recording for us is the one who sits on the throne lives for ever and ever and ever and ever and have I mentioned, he's gonna be there for ever?

So what we're being invited into is not limited by the vagaries and the limits of time. Chapter 5, next scene: "Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and 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?'" If there are mighty angels, it's only logical to me that there would be less mighty angels. If all the angels were the same, it'd just be another angel. It seems that there's very clearly a hierarchy of angel or an assignment of angels. Some angels we know represent children. It says that they always have the attention of the Father in heaven. We know there are angels assigned to churches. We know Michael, the archangel's assignment is uniquely to the Jewish people. And in this case, we have a window of a mighty angel.

Now, he's making an announcement in heaven: "Who is worthy to break the seals"? "And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside, so John begins to weep because no one was worthy to open the scroll. And one of the elders said to me, 'Don't weep! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David'", we just read about that in Isaiah. 500 BC Isaiah was. And now we're 30 or 40 years after Jesus's Ascension, and we're gonna get a description of what Isaiah saw 500 years before he was born. "The Root of David has triumphed. He's able to open the scroll and its seven seals". So John turns to see the lion of the tribe of Judah, and he said, "I saw a Lamb looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne," no lion. He saw a Lamb.

If we're gonna live in the authority and the power of the lion, we're gonna have to adopt the character of the Lamb. Nah, that's another lesson. "And he's encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. And he had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll". I don't wanna, the sevenfold Spirit of God has been sent out into the earth. That is a big part of what we're talking about. I wanna raise my hand and say, "Lord, I wanna cooperate with your Spirit. I wanna welcome you into my life". I don't know fully what that means. I know Jesus gathered his closest friends together and he said, "I'm leaving and where I'm going you can't come. But it'll be better for you 'cause if I go, my Father will send you another comforter, a helper. He'll be with you always. He'll never leave you, nor forsake you".

And the disciples are pretty stressed about that. They didn't understand. I think we struggle to understand that, and we're reluctant to say to the Holy Spirit, we think of Casper the Friendly Ghost or some Hollywood horror movie. I don't think we have realized that God said, "I'll send my Spirit to help you". So, rather than begin a debate about whether or not I have to speak in tongues or whether the gifts of the Spirit are for today or they ceased with the last of the apostles, or "I believe in the fruit of the Spirit but I don't believe in the..." whatever. What if we began to say, "Lord, you're welcome here". And it doesn't have to be about something that's demonstrated. Don't try to convince people you're spiritual. Weird is not spiritual, it's just weird. Spontaneous is not necessarily spiritual. Sometimes it's a lack of planning.

If you went to the doctor for surgery and he says, "Well, you know, I don't know if we've got any anesthetic in here or night but we'll figure something out". I'm leaving. I prefer a plan. Well, I would submit what we're talking about is far more significant than surgery 'cause Jesus said, "Don't be afraid of somebody that can just kill your body. Be afraid of somebody that after they've done that, they can throw your soul into hell". So we have confused spiritual things with some other stuff, 'cause so often we get our own selfish ambition into it and our egos into it and we want to announce that we're a prophet or I'm a this, or I've got that gift. And what I wanna be is as close to the person of the Holy Spirit as I am capable of being.

Whether we're new Christians or we are grizzled veterans of many decades, all of us can still learn about spiritual things. We wanna continue to grow in the Lord. The Holy Spirit's our teacher. We have the Word of God in one another. Let's give the Lord permission. Let's volunteer to be learners. You willing? Let's pray:

Father, I thank you that you've called us out of darkness into your kingdom. And Lord, we present ourselves now as ones who would like to learn. Holy Spirit, help us. Help us to grow and mature. Give us understanding hearts in Jesus's name, amen.

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