Volume 13, No. 5 (May 2018)
THE GOD OF OUR ETERNAL PRAISE
In a sermon given by Sinclair Ferguson, the great Scottish theologian and preacher, he said:
A friend of mine led a tour last year to the seven churches of the book of Revelation. I said, “Did you go to the island of Patmos?” “No,” he said, “I asked the people about going to Patmos, and they said, ‘It would take you a day to get there, and a day to get back, and when you get to Patmos you don’t see anything.’” And I thought to myself, “Tell that one to the Apostle John!”
The aged Apostle John, exiled on the island of Patmos, saw and heard a LOT, and tells us about it in the book of Revelation. [Ferguson goes on to make application to our worship today: that it’s possible to be “in the building” but to “see nothing.”]
John “was in the Spirit [not just “in the building”] on the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10), and sees many amazing visions, as we read throughout the book. But none greater than the vision in chapter 1 of the glorified Christ Himself. Indeed, John starts his account by telling us that what he writes is the “revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1).
In the Gospel of John, chapter 4, the Samaritan woman is asking Jesus about the proper place of worship, the Samaritans’ mountain or Jerusalem of the Jews. And the Lord surprisingly replies, “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…. The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.” Jesus is saying that it is no longer so important where or when you worship, but how you worship: “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.”
Jean-Jacques von Allmen wrote, “the place of worship is essentially the place where Christ is found” (Worship: Its Theology and Practice, 241). Revelation 1 is such a place of worship, and in its verses we can learn many wonderful things about “The God of Our Eternal Praise.”
REVELATION AND RESPONSE
The basic pattern of how God relates to us as human beings is the pattern of Revelation and Response (see Worship Notes 1.5). All of our walk of faith, all of our service, all of our worship, is simply a response because God has first reached out to us. In His love He has chosen to first reveal Himself to us, to show us who He is, and to reach out to us in grace and to provide in Christ the way we need in order to draw near to God in worship with confidence and assurance. God always take the initiative: “By grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephes 2:8); “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
All of Scripture is of course God’s grand revelation to us, as well as of course His supreme self-revelation in the Person of His incarnate Son. Likewise, all Scripture call us to respond in faith, trust, worship and obedience to this One who has shown us Himself and lavished His grace upon us; and, supremely, we must respond to the gift offered us by the Song through His atoning work.
The book of Revelation is full of demonstrations of God’s supreme majesty, glory and power. And we see in the book also repeated calls to worship, to bow down, to pay homage “to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (5:13).
Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water. (14:6-7)
We see this pattern of Revelation and Response from the very outset, in chapter 1.
In the opening verses of chapter 1 we see many references to God’s revealing work:
“The revelation of Jesus Christ” v. 1
“The word of God” v. 2
“The testimony of Jesus Christ” v. 2
“The words of this prophecy” v. 3
And we are promised blessing if we respond appropriately, that is, if we read and hear and keep the words of this prophecy (v. 3).
~~~to be continued~~~