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May 17, 2009
Holy Terror – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Revelation 1: 9-20

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This series provides insight into Jesus' master plan for the church today. We cannot afford to ignore what Jesus thinks of the church. You've Got Mail will help deepen your understanding of the church and the essential elements necessary to remain healthy, holy, and faithful in today's society.

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Well, let’s take our Bibles and turn to the book of the Revelation. Given the compressive time this morning, since we’ve covered so much, I want to go to begin a sermon I’ve entitled Holy Terror. Holy Terror. We’re going to actually look in chapter one, at the vision that John receives of the risen and radiant Christ. And I want to help you grasp the significance of this vision to the letters themselves. These are letters from our Lord to His church, and we want to understand something of the Lord behind the letters. And we want to pick up in verse nine of chapter one. John is writing of that which he has seen and heard. Verse nine, chapter one; I John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos, for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard from behind me a loud voice as of a trumpet saying, “I am the alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. And what you see right in a book and send it to the seven churches…” which are Asia. “Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me, and having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands. And in the midst of the seven lampstands, one like the Son of Man clothed with a garment down to the feet and guarded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow and his eyes like a flame of fire. His feet were like fine brass as refined in a furnace, and his voice is the sound of many waters.
He had in his right hand, seven stars, out of his mouth went the sharp two-edged sword, and his continence was like the sun’s shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fail at his feet as dead.
That’s where I get my sermon titled from this morning. Holy Terror. John fell to his face on the floor in Holy Terror at the sight of the Son of God. Verse 17; and when I saw Him I fell at his feet as dead. But he laid his right hand on me saying to me, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last. I am he who lives and was dead and behold, I’m a alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of hades and of death. Write the things which you have seen.” That’s chapter one. “And the things which are,” that’s chapter two and three, “And the things which will take place after this.” That’s chapter four through 22. Verse 20; “The mystery of the seven stars, which you saw in my right hand in the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels or messengers.”
We would maybe translate that of the seven churches. There’s a debate as to whether they’re literal angels, or that word can be used of messengers, could well speak of pastors over the churches. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw, are the seven churches. Or we trust God will use his word in our lives this morning. Have you ever experienced the put-down of not being given your proper place? Have you ever been at a ceremony or an event where people’s dress or people’s demeanor didn’t fit the solemnity of the occasion? If so, then maybe you can identify with Alfred Smith, the one-time governor of New York State, who walked out of an out-of-town convention in New York City, because he felt that his office was being demeaned and the people of New York disrespected.
There were a number of businessmen that come in to New York City for a convention, but during the events of that convention there was a familiarity. There was a joviality that that was out of place. And when Alfred Smith, the then governor of New York State was to be introduced, the host of the convention half inebriated himself, introduced the governor like this, “Would you give a round of applause for a great guy?”
Alfred Smith stood, he looked on his audience and he said, “Gentleman, when I was a little boy on the east side, my father took me one day to a great civic parade. I held his hand tightly and thrilled as battalion after battalion of infantry marched past to stirring drum and martial music. Suddenly my father stiffened. I felt almost electricity pass from his hand to mine. “Son,” he said, “Take off your hat. The governor of New York is passing by.” I took off my hat. Gentleman, the governor of New York bade you goodnight.” And at that, he left the platform and walked out on the convention. As I’ve thought about that, I think this story suggests something. I think there may be times when God simply wants to walk out on congregations.
Having come through the front door of a morning service, He finds no reverence, He finds no contrition, He finds no adoring silence, no sense of eternity, no exalted thoughts of his person in his work, no splintering of pride, no bruising of our own self-sufficiency, no crushing of our own self will. And He turns and leaves through the back door without ever being properly welcomed or properly worshiped.
There are many church services where God saturates the place with His absence, because He’s uncomfortable at how comfortable those congregations have become regarding Him and themselves. As He watches and as He listens and He walks among the candlesticks, He attacks very little appreciation for His holiness and even less appreciation for the people’s sinfulness. You see, many churches propose to meet God on middle ground somewhere between His holiness and somewhere between their utter sinfulness. But listen to me this morning, Kindred Community Church. There is no middle ground. You can’t worship God on average. In fact, I was struck this week to learn that God according to the prophet Isaiah, will only meet us. God will only manifest Himself. God only lives in two places.
Look at Isaiah 57:15. God lives in one of these two places. For thus says the high and lofty one, who inhabits eternity whose name is Holy. I dwell in the high and holy please, with Him who has a contract and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble to revive the heart of the contrite ones. God’s presence can only be known in one of these two places; the lofty place or the lowly place. If you and I want to know God, he’ll meet us at a time when we are worshiping Him in a holy manner. When we have got our heads around the grandeur and the greatness of God, and we are expressing that as excellently and as enthusiastically as we can, or God will manifest Himself to us, God will come near to us as we bow our head in shame over the brokenness of our obedience, the coldness of our love and our lack of holiness.
God only lives in one of two places; in the lofty place or in the lowly place. God can only be known either in holy transcendence, or in gracious condescendence. But there’s no middle ground. True worship is predicated upon a high view of God and a low view of yourself. And as we come into Revelation chapter one, we’re going to see that played out. That’s exactly what takes please here, as John’s worship of God is invaded in a spectacular way. As an antidote to anemic worship that tempts God to leave the church, I want us to study this passage this morning and then again, because what we have here is an encounter by John of the once crucified, now glorified Christ.
On a particular Sunday, John describes it here as the Lord’s day. The aged John is a-worshiping in the spirit on the isle of Patmos. He’s there for the testimony of Jesus Christ and his commitment to the gospel as the pastor of the church in Ephesus. And God comes walking in to his worship experience. A voice sounds like the blast of a trumpet, and John stands to attention and does an about face. As he spins around, he’s blinded by a vision of the unveiled, risen and radiant Christ. The sight is so staggering he can hardly describe it. That’s why he employs this word ‘like’ again and again and again. The one I saw was like the Son of Man. The one I saw had eyes like a flame of fire. The one I saw had feet like brass.
The sight of the Lord Jesus unveiled and unedited, was so staggering that John can hardly describe his experience. And as a response to what he saw, he just falls to the floor as a dead man. This was Christ as he now was, not as he had once been. Jesus didn’t stay put as the Jesus of Nazareth. This was a time of honor for Christ. His humiliation was over. According to Philippians 2:5-11, God, the Father has highly exalted Him.
The glory that once was His is now His again. After his incarnation, humiliation, obedience to death to the cross, entering the domain of death. The cross is behind Him. The coronation is before Him. He’s no longer the servant king of the gospels. He’s the king of kings to be lauded, worshiped within the church and someday among the nations, the lamb has become the lion.
John recognizes that, and we need to recognize that. We can’t worship Christ on the middle ground anymore. He will only be worshiped. He will only be known in the lofty place or the lowly place. May we never tempt Christ to walk out on us, because we have offended Him, dishonored Him and disrespected Him. Please notice John’s response. It wasn’t, “Hey, Jesus, what’s up, dude?” It wasn’t. No, John fell over like a dead man. Verse 17. He was struck by Holy Terror. There was a palpable sense of the power and glory of Christ, so much so that John could neither stand nor set. There was only one proper response. It was on his knees with his face to the ground. And here we have loftiness and lowliness altogether. Christ has been worshiped here as high and holy.
John is dying on the ground, recognizing how far short he has fallen in the light of that glory. This is an infinite God being worshiped by a finite man. A mortal in the presence of the immortal. A man whose heart is dark with sin, in the presence of the glaring glory of Christ’s holiness. And as we get into the texts this morning, is it not a rebuke to the laissez fait way we worship God in the modern church? We arrive late, or if we arrive at all. We may have something better to do, than meet with the risen and radiant Christ. And even if we get here late, the song and the sermon can hardly command our attention for 90 minutes. We want shorter sermons, we want shorter services. And throughout the service we act as judge and jury on the song leader and the preacher. We caress our spouses’ neck and allow our children to fall asleep on our shoulders in the presence of a thrice holy God.
Something wrong with that? What’s up? I’ll tell you what’s up. We have forgotten this is the Christ who stands among the candlesticks. Today, worship is marked by familiarity. Johns was marked by fear. Today’s worship is geared to having a good time, while John’s experience scared him half to death. Today worship is expressed with noise and people raising their hands, and there’s nothing wrong with that in its place, but what we see once in a while, silent frustration. Today’s worship presents the kinder, gentler Christ, while John’s vision unveils a fearsome figure who commands our awe. Today’s worship is intended to stroke our emotions, while John’s worship experienced shattered his self-image and changed his life. Enough of our high spirits and low worship. Enough of our entertaining of self and little enchantment with Christ. It’s the Almighty God we worship, not the all [inaudible] God we worship. And I think this morning, we need to be captured by what captured John. Now before we get into a number of thoughts you have in your outline, let me just show you the importance of this vision.
I said we were going to study the seven letters, and you’re saying, “Pastor, when are you going to start?” Well, I think we can’t get to the letters until we’ve understood the one who wrote them. You can’t separate chapter one from chapter two and three. In fact, even after we’ve done this two-part sermon on the Lord of the Church, we’ll spend just one more sermon just looking at the whole context of these seven churches and the significance of the letters and then we’ll start to open the mail that was addressed first of all to Ephesus. But couple of things about the vision. Why should we study this? Well, number one, it sets the direction and the tone for the rest of the book. Remember we saw at the very beginning, this is a Revelation of Jesus Christ. Verse one of chapter one. The whole point of this book is to unveil apocalypse. It’s to unveil.
Maybe you’ve been at some civic ceremony where some statue or painting is about to be unveiled and at a particular moment the string will be pulled, and the band will strike up a song, and everybody will have their eyes forward. That’s an apocalypse. It’s an unveiling and that’s what the book of Revelation is all about. It wants you to get a new sight of Jesus. Because while it’s the same Jesus of the gospels, He’s different. He’s different. He’s no longer now being obedient to the cross. He’s no longer now, in a state of humiliation before men in the form of a servant. He has finished his work. The father is pleased. The offering for sin has been made, and heaven has rejoiced at his triumph over the grave. And He is no longer mocked by man. He is now adored by angels, no longer veiled but unveiled, no longer in a place of submission. He’s now enjoying the exultation at the right hand of His father on high.
Well, it’s the same Jesus, but He’s different. He who came the first time as the lowly carpenter’s son, meek and muted in some ways is to come a second time in power and glory. And in chapter one, the church gets a glimpse a private viewing of what the world will one day see. In Revelation 1:7, every eye will see Him, but only now the church sees Him for who He is. That’s why this vision is so important.
In Acts 1:11, what do we read? This same Jesus will come again. It’s the same Jesus, but He’s different. He’s coming in power, and He’s coming in glory. There’s another reason why this vision is so important. It presents Christ as the Lord of the church, the one who stands amidst the candlesticks. We read that, don’t we? In verse 12; then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me, and have been turned, I saw seven golden lampstands who are… what are the lampstands? Well, it’s expanded for us at the end of verse 20. The seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. Chapters two and three, which deal with the seven letters must become detached from chapter one, which deals with the vision of Christ’s intrusive and imposing presence within the church.
He’s the head of the church. He’s the Lord of history. In fact, as you read these letters, we’ll see soon enough, many of them pick up the threads of chapter one. In fact, many of the letters are introduced to some aspect of this vision, because these letters come with the authority of the one who unveiled Himself to John, and John unveiled Him to us. And you and I have got to grasp that it is the Christ who caused John some heartburn in Holy Terror, who stands among us this morning, hidden to the naked eye but seen by the eye of faith in the mirror of God’s holy word. And you know what he’s doing? He’s walking amidst the candlesticks, amidst the churches. He’s listening to each sermon. He’s evaluating each song. He’s watching each worshiper. He’s noticing every act of service. He’s registering every word of complaint. He’s viewing each tithe. He’s listening to each sermon and listening each act of service.
In fact, we could entitle this passage this morning; Jesus Goes to Church, because that’s what we have before us. And it is no cameo performance by Christ. He is amidst His churches. In fact, we’ll see before we’re done this series that He threatens some of them with the removal of their lampstand. He’s about to walk out on some of these congregations. It’s possible to have church without Jesus. You know that? Without the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Back in the Old Testament, there came a point, a sad point, a low point in the life of the Old Testament covenant people of God, when God’s glory left the temple, and what was written on the gates of that place, Ichabod. The Lord’s glory has departed.
God just might write that over many a church. Ichabod. That’s why this vision is so important. And thirdly, it’s intended to help the people of God get perspective. This vision of the risen, radiant Christ is put strategically at the front of the book, before all the horrors of subsequent history are unfolded before the eyes of its readers, this book reminds us that one stands amidst the candlesticks, who someday will reign among the nations, victorious. Leon Morris, the great Australian commentator said, “The Christians were a pitiably small remnant, persecuted by their foes to all outward appearance. Their situation was hopeless. But it is only as Christ is seen for what he really is that anything else can be seen in its true perspective.”
That quote is simply saying before you look at anything, look at Him, and then what you’re about to look at will have a different hue and perspective to it. Evil men will have their moment in the sun, and then they will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming. According to 2 Thessalonians 2:8, a brightness which is spoken about here in verse 16, Jesus is unveiled to us as one who shines like the sun in its strength. Truth for a time may be on the scaffold, and injustice on the throne, but he who is faithful and true will have the last word because His name is the word of God. See that which is confessed by a few in the church will be someday confessed by every person dead or alive on the earth or under the earth, because Philippians 2 tells us, it will come the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God, those on the earth and those under the earth, the living and the dead.
And we have been given a private viewing and the church has been brought to see their Lord, high and lifted up, reigning victorious. And it gives them heart and perseverance and endurance in the tough times. To this little flock in Asia, they were called to overcome and hold faster their profession. I may have told you before of the interesting story that comes out of the filming of that classic movie, Ben Hur. Charlton Heston had trouble learning to drive a chariot. But after much practice, he was able to control the chariot but still had some doubts as to whether he could win the races itself, and he shared that with Cecil B. deMille, and he said, “I think I can drive the chariot but I’m not sure I can win the race.”
Cecil B. deMille responded, “You stay in the race and I’ll make sure you win it.” That’s the intent of this vision. You stay the race, be fearful under death, and I’ll give you a crown of life. Now you’ve got an outline there. We’ll make a start on it. John is overcome by majesty. That’s the first thing we want to see here. That’s about as far as we’re going to get and we won’t even exhaust that. The majesty and the marvel of the unveiled Christ was such that John simply and suddenly keels over, falls on his face, as a dead man before the Lord Jesus. Chapter 1:17. In fact, Paul had a similar experience on the road to Damascus. In chapter 9, in the book of Acts, verses three and four. John quickly collapses in panicked frustration. He’s speechless. Spitless. Some years earlier John thought nothing of laying his head on the very chest of the Lord Jesus.
But things have changed. It’s the same Jesus but He’s different. He’s a demanding commanding figure. The glory that John got just a little snippet of on the Mount of Transfiguration, now has come into full view. The brilliance and the beauty of Christ is stunning. The holy affluence of Christ’s presence is something that that is awing John. This isn’t the humble carpenter of Nazareth anymore. This is the one who has forgotten the worship of angels and the fear of devils. So let’s ask yourself the question; why this instant submission? Why this humble frustration? Why this sudden apprehension? I think there are two reasons. Jesus’ deity and John’s depravity. We’re back to that loftiness/loneliness thing. You get it here. John worships Christ in a lofty place, and John acknowledges Christ in a lowly place.
And that’s why he’s overwhelmed by majesty. Let’s go down this description of Jesus’ deity. You don’t need to be a detective to quickly discover the source of this beloved disciple’s trauma. It’s Christ unveiled. He’s no longer the cross-bearing savior, He’s the crown-wearing king. He’s no longer naked and shamefully ridiculed on a cross. He’s now seated on a throne, clothed in the attire of a king. Let’s look at the description. We’ll go down a few of these and then stop and pick it up next week. Number one, in describing Jesus as the Son of Man, John is primarily picking up the prophecy of Daniel, which anticipates the coming of the Messiah, as the ruler of this universe. Look at verse 13.
“Then I turned to see the voice.” Verse 12, spoke with me and I’ve been turned. I saw seven golden lampstands and in the midst of the seven lampstands one like the Son of Man. Now this is a term that’s used 81 times in the gospel. It’s one of Jesus’ favorite self designations and self-descriptions. But it’s interesting. It’s use in the gospels is always involving two articles. It’s translated the son of the man. But not here. And I think that’s because John’s not so much drawing his idea from the gospels. It’s actually from the prophecy of Daniel. Go back with me to Daniel chapter seven, and you’ll see where he gets this idea.
Comparing scripture with scripture, we’ll see this. Daniel 7; Daniel is given a vision of the coming Messiah. How is this Messiah described? Look at verse 13 of Daniel 7. I was watching in the night visions and behold one like the Son of Man coming with clouds of heaven. Now that speaks of Jesus’ second coming, doesn’t it? Coming with clouds of heaven. That kind of echoes what Jesus teaches in the Olivite discourse in Matthew 24. He came to the Ancient of Days, which is a description of the Father. God the Father. And they brought him near before Him. God the Father. Then to Him, that is the Son of Man, was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples and nations and languages would serve Him. His dominion as an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed. This is a prophecy of the coming Messiah.
We now know with the advancement of progressive redemptive history, that there are two stages to the Messiah’s work. The Son of Man comes in humility to die and give Himself for us. But someday, the Son of Man will come in glory with the clouds of heaven, and he will establish an indestructible kingdom. That’s the very thesis of the book of the Revelation. So no wonder this is the image that’s set before John. Secondly, look at the next part of the description in describing Jesus as the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to his feet and wearing a golden sash across his chest, John is probably alluding to the high priestly nature of Jesus’ person and work. Go back to Revelation chapter one and verse 13; and in the midst of the seven lampstands, one like the Son of Man, this image of Daniel’s coming Messiah, clothed with a garment down to his feet and girded about the chest with the golden band.
Now what are we to make of this? My best sense of this is that this is presenting Christ in his high priestly ministry. His present ministry. Because after his death for us and his resurrection on our behalf, as a sign of God’s acceptance of his work, what do we read in the book of Hebrews? That the Lord Jesus Christ passed into the heavens for us. Hebrews 7:25 tells us that he saves to the other most all that will come under God by Him for he ever lives to make intercession for them.
Paul tells us, doesn’t he, in his letter to Timothy? There is one mediator between God and the man, Christ Jesus. The Son of Man. This word for tunic or garment is used consistently in the LXX, which is the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament. This word is used consistently of the high priest garments. You can read in Leviticus 16:1-4, and Exodus 28:4, of this long tunic that the high priest will were, and it’s set off with a sash coming across his chest. What a beautiful description of the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s our high priest. He’s the one who is our advocate before the Father, should we sin. I was interested to learn some years ago, that the Latin term for priest is pontiff or Pontifex. It’s an engineering term that means bridge builder. Building a bridge between two chasms, making a way from one place to another place.
And it’s a wonderful image of the high priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and the role of a priest. The role of a priest is to be an intermediate. And Jesus Christ is that perfect intermediate. Because you and I need to remind ourselves that entrance in the God’s presence is always mediated. You and I can’t go waltzing in the God’s presence by ourselves. In the old covenant you had the Levitical priesthood and the Aaronic priesthood. If the people of God were to approach God, they did it through the priests. Entrance in the God’s presence was always mediated. The summation and fulfillment of that priesthood gathers in the Lord Jesus Christ in the book of Hebrews. Our great high priest. And he’s the bridge-builder.
He’s perfect for the job because on the one hand He’s fully God. And by means of the incarnation in the virgin birth, He has become fully man. He can perfectly mediate because He understands both sides of the situation. And we have this set before us. It’s a wonderful thing to know that Jesus is in heaven, mediating for us. Now we can come onto God by Him, because He ever lives to make intercessions for us. Some years ago I got to visit the White House in Washington DC, through an American friend. I wasn’t living in the States at the time. It was a pen pal, and he had a friend inside the White House, and we were able to get inside the White House. In fact, we were able to actually get inside the Oval Office. It was during the time of the Carter administration. And so while I missed the President, I’m not sure I missed a lot. I nevertheless was kind of bowled over that I was standing inside the throne room of American life and government.
The place where laws are enacted and decisions are made, that are worldwide in scope. It’s kind of a really significant moment. And it was all because we knew someone on the inside, someone working in the Carter administration. And you know what, you’ll never get into heaven without knowing somebody on the inside. There’s no handle on the outside of the door to heaven. It can only be opened from the inside. And it can be opened by one who’s like the Son of Man with a garment down to his feet and a sash across his chest. The priest. The mediator. The advocate for sinners.
In fact, this image is reinforced by way of footnote, by the fact that he stands amidst the lampstands. The churches are likened the lampstands, which is an echo of the priestly ministry of the Levites, who went about the temple trimming the lampstands. That was Samuel’s job. Robert Murray McShane says, “What little Samuel did was to walk among the candlesticks and see that they kept burning. So doth Christ walk in the midst of believers to preserve them and see that they burn to pour in fresh oil to give the Holy Spirit.”
It’s a beautiful picture. Let’s move on to another description. We might need to wrap up here. In describing Jesus as having a head and hair as white as snow, John is conveying agelessness and eternality. White hair in the Bible, or silver hair in the Bible is always an image of dignity. What are we doing dying our hair in old age? It’s a sign of dignity. It’s a mark of maturity, we hope so, of age and lengthened experience and deep wisdom. Look at those verses in Proverbs 16:31, and Proverbs 20:29. And so what’s the significance of white hair? I think it speaks of agelessness. In fact, if we go back to Daniel 7, the Ancient of Days is a description of God the Father.
And He’s spoken of earlier on in that prophecy in verse nine. I watched till thrones were put in place. And the Ancient of Days was seated, and His garment, look, was white as snow and the hair in his head like pure wool. This is an image of agelessness, eternity. Drawing from the image of the Ancient of Days and Daniel’s prophecy, John acknowledges the eternality of Jesus. Now while we see in Daniel’s prophecy that the Son of Man was distinct from the Ancient of Days, when we put the complete image of the Bible together, the Son of Man shares the same nature as the Ancient of Days. And Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses need to learn that and learn that quickly before Jesus comes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
And the one who is to come is the one who has always been. Look at verse 8; “I am the alpha and the omega. The beginning and the end,” says the Lord, “Who is, was and who is to come The Almighty.” I love this word of exertation from Dennis Johnson in his commentary in Revelation. He says this, “Head and hair white like wool, like snow. The words declare the agelessness of Jesus Christ. He was there before the beginning. He will be there after the end. He is here in the middle. He has been around to see it all, the rise and fall of ancient Assyria and Babylon, Persia, the rise and fall of Greece and Rome. The rise and fall of the world-dominating empires of Spain and Britain. He has been around and watched the ascent and collapse of ideologies of apartheid, Marxism, Darwinism. Rulers have had their day, systems of thoughts have had their day, but He keeps standing.
He will outlive the pall bearers of Christianity. He will have the last word. He will be the last man standing, because He is the Son of Man with the same nature as the Ancient of Days. It’s beautiful. In April 15th, 1865, secretary of war, Edwin Stanton rose from the bedside of a dying Abraham Lincoln. He walked to the window, he pulled the blind, the sun came in. He looked back at the still form of Lincoln and he said, “Now, he belongs to the ages.” Of course, there’s an element of truth to that, but it can’t be completely true of Lincoln. It can only be true of Jesus Christ, because you can’t belong to the ages unless the ages belong to you. And the ages belong to the ageless Christ, who stands in front of John as the Son of Man and the great high priest and the eternal son. With eyes like a flam of fire. This is where we’ll stop.
John was highlighting the penetrating and omniscient days of Christ, as He walks amidst the churches. Look at verse 14; his head and hair were like wool as white as snow and his eyes like a flame of fire. This speaks of the omniscience of Christ, that everything before Him is full disclosure. I mean, if man can view golf balls and car license plates from outer space, how much more is it the case that the one whose eyes go in throughout the earth beholding the good and evil will not see it all? What does Hebrews 4:13 tell us? Everything is led bare and open to Him. We stand naked before God. Nothing escapes His attention, or His holy intelligence. That’s why we won’t take time to look at it. But if you look at all the letters, they’ll always begin with something like this; and I know your tribulation. I know your works of service. I know. Because He knows. Jesus not only sees man, He sees through man.
And everything is an open book to Christ. And He reads the small print of our lives. And that’s challenging. In fact, I would suggest to you in closing, as the team comes up and prepares for the final song, that just may well be the image in 1 Corinthians 3: You know we’re going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, right, and given a kind for the things done in the body. That’s 2 Corinthians 5:9-10. And the explanation of that scene comes in 1 Corinthians 3. And all of our works according to 1 Corinthians 3 will be tested what? As by fire. What fire? I think this fire. The flaming, fiery eyes of the omission Christ, who will look at our works. And He will not only see what we have done, He will look into why we did it. Because in fact, that’s what 1 Corinthians 3 tells us.
He will look at the kind of work we did. See, you can do the right thing the wrong way. You can sing and not mean it. You can give without hilarity and cheerfulness. You can be hypocritical in the way you act towards others, because it’s not about humbly serving them or God. It’s about making yourself look good, and on and on we could go. And there’s coming a day when you and I will stand before this risen Christ, who has eyes as a flame of fire. And nothing will be hidden. The shell game will be over. The pretense will stop. And only that which was done the right way and with the right motive will return to our reward. There was a portrait hanging in the common room of the Irish Baptist College in Belfast, where I was trained in the ministry. There’s a picture of an old pastor who founded the school. His name was Louie Deans, or he didn’t found it, but he was one time principal.
A very revered man among Irish Baptists. Pastor of Orange Field Baptist Church in Belfast. And the interesting thing about that portrait is no matter where you sat in the room, you always felt Louie was looking at you. You’re having a conversation with your pals or drinking a cup of tea, or moaning about the workload the professor was giving you, you kind of look up and you’re going, “He’s still looking.” And it was like he was looking down going, “Guys, you better not mess up. You better preach the truth. You better live a life of holiness. You better preach the gospel. You better shepherd your people, because you’re not really living under the scrutiny of my eyeballs. You’re living under the scrutiny of the one whose eyes are a flame of fire. So forget about the work. Do your homework and do it well. Preach your sermons and preach them well. Live your life and live it well.”
Let’s pray. Oh God, indeed, this has been a challenging, in some ways crushing sermon as we have been brought to see what John saw. No, God, it curses much that passes as modern day worship. Oh God, how familiar we have become with You. And when the church is called to worship, how inconsistent we are in our attendance, how sloppy sometimes we are in arriving. And You walk amid the candlestick here at Kindred, and You weigh the sermon and you measure us, and oh God, we trust we are not provoking You to walk out. That we have got a proper appreciation and a proper approximation of who You are. Oh God, help us to fall down as dead men before the glory of the risen Christ. Help us to be more offended when His name is taken in vain.
May our love be hotter. May our service be bolder. May our giving be greater. May our lives tell for Christ, the one who is amidst the church and someday will, as the Son of Man, establish an indestructible kingdom. Oh, God, help us to think through our worship. Though God, if there are those this morning who are here who don’t know You, may they come to you as the one mediator between God and man. May they put all their eggs in the one basket of Christ. May they trust Him alone and realize that His sacrifice on the cross was enough and His intercession before the Father is affective. And they don’t need to make their own sacrifices and they don’t need to come through a human priest, but they can go to the one who is both priest and sacrifice. The one to whom belongs the ages, and who belongs to the ages, and who can give to us eternal life. For these things we ask and pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. Let’s stand.