GOSPEL Dashboard: Worshiper (Revelation 1)

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As you know, every car has dashboard gauges that tell your vital signs – speed, gas, mileage, temperature, and even oil & tire pressure. These gauges inform and warn. They inform of how you are progressing during your journey. They also warn of problems that occur during the journey. You can do one of two things with your dashboard – 1) You can pull out a hammer and smash your dashboard, essentially ignoring its vital signs. OR 2) You can choose to evaluate your dashboard and respond appropriately.

If we want to live spiritually healthy and productive lives, then we must be willing to self-reflect and surrender to the LORD. A wise person once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”[1] The first step at bringing about change is defining reality.

Today, I want to accomplish 3 goals:

  1. Define reality of God and realities of our church ministry and help each of us to define reality in our life.
  2. Declare aspired values for our church.
    1. God: We are worshipers.
    1. Others: We are family.
    1. Spiritual Growth: We are thermostats.
    1. Prayer: We are warriors/champions.
    1. Evangelism: We are sent.
    1. Legacy: We are growing godly generations.

Reflecting on these core values is a discipleship tool to help our church’s spiritual growth. The tool is an assessment that can be used either as a compass that points us in a direction, or as a dashboard that produces action steps.

  • Develop opportunities for us to respond to the Lord. We encourage every member, and others, to utilize this tool each week to consider their opportunities of spiritual growth and service to the Lord.  

If we want to live spiritually healthy and productive lives, then we must be willing to self-reflect and surrender to the LORD.

EXAMINE               Revelation 1:1-20
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Revelation book is known for prophesying eschatological (end time) events with the Tribulation, the mark of the beast, the Anti-Christ, the return of Jesus Christ to judge unbelievers and welcome repentant sinners, and the millennial reign with the new heavens and new earth. So, it’s known for being interpreted for eschatology, but the book can also be interpreted for doxology. We can read it for its backward and forward message, but also for its up and down meaning. In Revelation there are heavenly scenes with the word “thrones” appearing 47x, and all around the throne myriads of angels along with the saints singing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” Simultaneously there are earthly settings with nations and kings, and conflict and war. So, there is an upward and downward movement with the same God who rules in heaven is also moving downward and working His purposes on earth. When the world seems like it is spiraling into dark depravity, we need the calming confidence that nothing and no one can rival God’s throne. God’s sovereign power in the past, present, and future should permeate our worldview and lifestyle. Revelation unveils the cosmic authorities behind earthly politics and powers. In life, there are two realms: the seen and unseen, the physical and spiritual, the natural and supernatural. Therefore, we must learn how to view our circumstances from His throne down not our emotions up, and our fight is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of darkness.

Eschatology must lead to doxology because the book of Revelation is all about Jesus. We must learn how to view our circumstances from God’s throne down not our emotions up.

Ultimately, Revelation book is unveiling Jesus; book from Jesus & about Jesus. It’s from Jesus to John the beloved disciple (wrote Gospel, 1,2,3John). In fact, consider the last time John saw Jesus, they were eating breakfast together (Jn 21) and later Jesus ascended (Acts 1). John felt so confident with Jesus, he describes himself as “the one Jesus loved and reclining in the bosom of Jesus” (Jn 13:23). But now John sees Jesus and at the end of the vision “falls at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17). Seeing the glorified Jesus changes the relationship from affection to awe. For John, the cause of his fear is also the cure for his fear. Therefore, we must not treat God casually, where we merely randomly read the Bible, haphazardly pray, and treat church with lukewarmness. We cannot have a part-time faith and expect a full-time God. Rather, our faith must be sincere and serious as if our life depends on it – because it does.

– – – > Illus 1: Imagine if taking a med pill each day kept us alive, would we remember? Then, why not prayer and Scripture?

– – – > Illus 2 When we pick a flower, we have something incredibly beautiful. However, when a flower is separated from its vine source of life it begins to die. At first we cannot see its dying and we think everything will be fine. However, as death sets in over the next several hours and days you will begin to see petals wilt and fall. In a week’s time or so death will be complete because the flower is disconnected from the vine. It can never have life again, unless its seed becomes replanted and in a future season it will resurrect.

Sin separates us from Jesus the vine, and causes our dying. We think we will survive on our own. We show off our colors and rise as tall as we can. But, over time we begin to lack vibrancy and lose our vital signs. Our only hope of new life is to die and plant our seed in the soil of God’s grace for resurrection hope. God is waiting for you to die to self and be planted in Him.

Revelation was not only from Jesus, it’s about Jesus. God wanted to encourage and elevate John’s circumstances. Like John, followers of Jesus need reminders that God is not finished with us, Jesus still cares and is control. Patmos was a small and remote island used as a Roman penal colony. Tradition tells us the emperor Domitian had John boiled but he continued testifying of Jesus and lived, so he was exiled to Patmos. There, the wounded and weak apostle still set aside time to worship on the Lord’s day, and Jesus gave him a vision. Like John, we need to elevate our perspective no matter what we face in life.

John is told to write down what he sees, and thus we have this book of the Bible. Revelation stimulates our senses hear, see, smell, taste, and touch the kingdom of heaven. Our appetites are awakened for all that is to come in the end. Because our gaze is often on present problems and pains, we desperately need a compelling vision of our forever future. The book of Revelation lifts our eyes from the losses of this world to the victory as kings and queens in God’s kingdom.[2] In all, it readies us for the return of Jesus. The Bible speaks of the 1st coming of Christ 129x, and we have a holiday to celebrate, and our entire culture commercializes. But the Bible speaks of the 2nd coming of Christ 329x; more than twice as much. Reading this book can compel urgency to know and live for Jesus.

This brings us to one of the grand themes of Revelation, and really all Scripture; as well as the start of our GOSPEL Dashboard. Our first value is GOD: We are worshipers.

So, we declare… Jesus is everything.

We recognize that all of us are worshipers.

  • When a person photographs a sunset.
  • When a person smells and drinks from a coffee cup.
  • When an athlete scores or wins, or a fan cheers.
  • When a business owner profits generational wealth.
  • When a musician hears celebrations of a crowd or sees a standing ovation.
  • When parent hovers & helps child’s happiness every moment.
  • When alcoholic/addict can’t stop consuming substances.

As Christians, we recognize there is only one worthy of worship. We declare: Jesus is everything. But Jesus plus anything is nothing. So, we must be careful not to add to our worship of God. There’s a temptation toward syncretism – mixing gospel with goodies from the world, which is poison from the pit of hell.

  • Ex 20:3, 5 “You shall have no other gods before me… for I the LORD am a jealous God”
  • Ps 16:4 “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply”
  • Jn 4:24 “The Father is seeking worshipers in spirit & truth.
  • Jesus is the temple, the locus of worship, who resides in our life, where our bodies are to be living sacrifices each day in worship to God.

What fuels our worship? It’s having an accurate understanding of Jesus. Jesus’ vision to John in Revelation 1 helps us.

  • Jesus Christ (start 1:1; 7x in Revelation; 3x in opening verses). He is the one promised from ages past in OT. God becoming flesh. If you celebrate Christmas, you recognize His entrance.
  • Faithful witness (Rev 1:5). Jesus gave testimony as God and coming from the Father. He’s either LORD, liar, or lunatic.[3] Prophet.
  • Firstborn of the dead (Rev 1:5). Death separates the irreplaceable, but resurrection does the unimaginable to overcome death and offer hope that Jesus is the first of many more resurrections to come! Can you imagine how this might encourage the early Christians who lost loved ones, saw evil persecution and murder at the hands of an evil empire? Priest.
  • Ruler of kings on earth (Rev 1:5). All authorities, governments, laws, and circumstances submit to Jesus. King.
  • “’Alpha and Omega’ says the Lord God… the Almighty” (Rev 1:8). Jesus is the Creator God from the beginning, outside of time, matter, and space, and He is where all creation is headed at the end consummation standing in the presence of God.
  • John’s vision of Jesus is awe-filled (Rev 1:9-20).
    • Jesus is the Son of man (v.13) {God; representative human}
    • Standing in midst of 7 golden lampstands {Dwells w/ Churches}
    • Clothed in full robe, wearing a golden sash {Distinguished Person; Priestly clothes (Ex 28:4; 39:39)}
    • Head and hair were like white wool (v.14) {Wisdom; Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9). Aged symbolism is offset in new creation without diminishing mental or physical capacity (cf. Prov 16:31 white head is a crown of glory”}.
    • Eyes like flames of fire (v.14) {Purity & Refiner; likely means ability to see secrets with burning insight}
    • Feet like glowing bronze (v.15) {Man of Justice – work boots}
    • Voice like roar of many waters {significant power; ready to pounce}
    • Holding 7 stars (v.16) (angels / pastors? of churches)
    • Mouth flows sharp two-edged sword {Discerning/Piercing Motives}
    • Face shines like sun {Radiant Glory; see Jesus as beautiful not just useful}
    • First and last, the living one, I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have they keys of Death and Hades” (Rev 1:18). And so many other names…[4]
      • Keys = ownership (house, treasure, cars… we don’t go anywhere w/o keys – can look but not drive unless you get keys!)Remember, John and the churches were suffering. They needed rescued from their circumstances. And it doesn’t get any better for the church over two-thousand years later.
        Instead, Jesus gives the church not what they want but what they need – not subtraction from tribulation but sustaining strength to persevere.
        “In times of intense persecution, you don’t need a sentimental Jesus – one part genie, one part therapist, one part life-coach, and the rest a warm blanket; you need a Jesus who is sovereign… and says ‘Fear not’”[5] with a greater purpose for our circumstances & promises to redeem every tear & trial.Jesus is everything feeds and fuels our thirsty soul and strengthens us for every life circumstance.
      • Sometimes, the Christian life waiting for the return of Jesus is like viewing a cross-stitch tapestry from the back where it’s all knotted and frayed, and we must wait until it’s turned over before we can make sense of the picture.

The church has experienced significant amounts of suffering. Jesus gives the church what they need most – not subtraction from tribulation but sustaining strength to press onward.

APPLY/THINK

Let us consider our response and what it practically means for us as worshipers.

Jesus is everything results in praise to God, specifically singing to Jesus. Basically, singing is praying but to music. The key is that we are communicating to our God because we have a dynamic relationship with Him.


The book of Revelation is, quite literally, song-saturated.[6]
15 hymns or song fragments are commonly recognized (4:8; 4:9–11; 5:9–10; 5:12; 5:13; 7:10; 7:11–12; 11:15; 11:16–18; 12:10–12; 15:2–4; 16:5–7; 19:1–4; 19:5; 19:6–8), and some scholars have identified even more. “Music plays a larger role in the book of Revelation than in any other book of the New Testament, and few books in all of Scripture have spawned more hymns sung in Christian worship today.”[7] It is noteworthy that the heavenly worship scenes occur at critical junctures in the book and provide commentary on the surrounding circumstances.[8] In all, we learn that worship is warfare and how God brings His people to victory.
– – – > Sing your struggles away trusting in the Lord. Worship is always with you because God is.

Ultimately, John’s response to Jesus is to fall at the feet of Jesus.

  • Where do you need to see awe of Jesus?
    My God is bigger than _______.
    From a boulder pushed in prayer to God’s hands transformed into pebble in God’s pocket.
    • Over health, over family, over job & finances,
      over school year, over sin & struggles.
    • “Spiritual growth is about recapturing your awe.” @PaulTripp[9]
      God has hardwired all human beings for awe. There is a quest inside of us to be amazed, to wonder, to have something that is so great and so awesome and so compelling that we want to live for it. In contrast, sin is when we awe other things equal to or beyond God’s provision.

Awe of God is absent & should not be. We find awe in wrong places.[10]
– in life dreams that slip through our fingers.
– in spouses that try to satisfy but fall short.
– in our hopes for children’s future which often result in conflict.
– in a house that becomes filled but leaves our hearts empty.
– in a job that tires and taxes.
– in vacation that leaves us in debt & more tired before we went.
– in a championship season that ends w/ fading & ending celebration.

Our awe is too often misplaced. We were made to live with eyes gazing upward and hearts gushing outward in love for and from God. Our searching and hunger can only be satisfied when we have awe for our Creator and not created things. In fact, conflicts and crisis occur when we are no longer amazed by the gospel, and we stop our wonder and worship for God. Therefore, when we find our identity and live for the applause of the only One deserving of our awe, then we find purpose and understand how to prioritize everything around us.

  • Take GOSPEL assessment as compass or dashboard.
    *Use weekly for this series to reflect.
    *Don’t use it as a checklist or measuring chart, especially comparison with others. A dashboard is meant to help us keep driving and staying on the journey with Jesus. So, this dashboard is helping our church road trip reach our intended destination with less detours 😊.
    *Today’s Core Value: Worship
    1) Christian?   
    2) Repent of lukewarm faith  
    3) SPBC membership with regular in person gathering & growing/giving.

[1] Socrates.

[2] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/kings-and-queens-in-training

[3] For more about this trilemma, see C.S. Lewis https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/is-c-s-lewiss-liar-lord-or-lunatic-argument-unsound/; and Can We Trust The Gospels? (Peter J Williams).

[4] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2011/11/16/god-who-triumphs-revelation/

[5] Quote from J.D. Greear sermon on Revelation 1.

[6] Robert Smith, “Songs of the Seer: The Purpose of Revelation’s Hymns” Themelios 43.2 (2018): 193-204.

[7] Craig Koester, “The Distant Triumph of Song: Music and the Book of Revelation,” WW 12 (1992): 243.

[8] Grant Osborne, BECNT: Revelation.

[9] http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/god-s-glory-must-enchant-us

[10] More from Paul Tripp, Awe: Why It Matters For Everything We Think, Say, and Do.

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