Plenty To Do - Pt. 2
Topic: Sunday Sermons Scripture: Revelation 22:1-5
Transcript of our Sermon Audio:
Well, let's take our Bibles and turn to Revelation 22, verses one to five. We started this study last week. We're in a series on heaven, Life After Life. And we started to look at the subject, Plenty To Do. What will we do in heaven? And we've got all kinds of misconceptions about that, and I've been trying to deconstruct those. And so, we're going to pick this up this morning. And then, God willing, next Sunday morning we're going to look at Revelation 21, verses one to five. A message I've called Good Riddance because there are many no more's in Revelation 21 and 22. No more sun, no more temple, no more death, no more crying, no more sorrow. How interesting a study. Sometimes we tend to focus on what's going to be in heaven, but heaven is going to be heaven partly because of what's not going to be in heaven.
So, I'm whetting your appetite for next Sunday morning. Stand in honor of God's word, Revelation 22, verses one to five. And he showed me a pure river of water of life. Clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of its street, and on either side of the river was the Tree of Life, which bore 12 fruits, each yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it and his servants shall serve him and he shall see his face and his name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there, no need of a lamp nor light of sun. For the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign for ever and ever. So reads God's word, you may be seated.
Talking about caricatures of heaven. I was interested to read something from a columnist from the Los Angeles times, a man by the name of Joel Stein. Here's what he said. "Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you want to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but heaven has to step it up a bit. They're basically getting by because they're just a little bit better than hell." Now if this writer knew his bible, but come on, he's an LA Times columnist. He's not likely to know his bible or have one. But if this guy knew his bible, he would know that that's a misrepresentation, that's a mis-characterization of heaven. Read your bible. Heaven is never presented as a theorial, sterile, repetitive, boring and out of the body experience. No.
Heaven is thrilling. It's material. It's not to be missed. It's an ever expanding experience of God, ourselves and it's an access of life. And we started to look at that subject last week. We started to answer the question, what will we do in heaven? Well, there's plenty to do in heaven. More than just sitting around, polishing our halos, playing the harp and wishing we had brought a magazine. That's not what heaven's going to be like. And we started to look at this, life marked by stopping, Revelation 14:13, they will rest from their labors. We looked at life marked by solving, First Corinthians 13:8-13 where our partial knowledge will give way to full knowledge. And we'll be able to look back and understand what God was doing in the stuff that we couldn't understand.
It's a life marked by studying. In Ephesians Two, verses six to seven, we learned that God will reveal to us the riches of his grace throughout the ages. We'll come to understand God better. We'll come to understand life. We'll come to see the depth and breadth of God's love for us in the gospel. But here's another thing. It will be life marked by serving. Here we're picking up where we left off. Stopping, solving, studying, but what about serving? Look at our text. Revelation 22, verse three, Revelation 21, 22 has us in the new heaven and the new earth. It's Eden revisited and restored. And in the midst of that, here's what we read: and there shall be no more curse. Okay?
The book of Revelation is a book about what we lost in Genesis we regain in Revelation. No more curse, but the throne of God and then of the Lamb shall be in it. Did you notice, and his servants shall serve him? That's what we'll be doing in heaven. We won't be sitting on clouds, playing harps, polishing our halo. We'll be serving, we'll be busy bees. Heaven's not some celestial version of the village's retirement community in Florida. Okay? No, no, no. Heaven will be a new earth. It will be Eden restored and revisited.
If you look at the book of Revelation, John calls himself God's servant in chapter one, verse one. He calls us priests and kings in chapter one, verse six. We're called servants in chapter two, verse 19. In chapter seven, verse 15 we're told that the throne of God, his people will serve him night and day. And here in Revelation 22, verse three, we're told we'll serve him. I think you've got the message. Work has always been part of God's plan. It was part of God's plan in Eden. If you study the book of Genesis, you see the creation of man made in the image of a working God. Adam was not given a hammock and a pillow. He was given a shovel and a rake, and he was put in the garden, Genesis 2:15 to tend it. To work it. We know that God's calling upon man was to exercise dominion over all living creatures and to subdue the earth, Genesis 2:15, Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 2:19 to 20. Zwingli, the great Protestant Reformer said, "There's nothing in the universe so like God as the worker."
So, I want you to know that heaven will resound to the perpetual hum of industry. I like what Augustus Strong, the great theologian said. He believes that on heaven's door you might have these words inscribed, no admission expect for business. Love that. Heaven's about doing God's business still. There's going to be no sinners in heaven and no slackers. Just to put you on notice. Now, man's disobedience, man's fall, man's rebellion brought God's curse on the ground, brought thorns and thistles and man will eek out a living with the sweat of his brow, right? Genesis 3:16 and 19. But all of that gets rolled back. We're now back in the garden with God. We're now back in pre-fall days, Eden restored and we'll be working with the sense of fulfillment and we'll be doing that which is suited to our gifts and calling and even the work itself will be restful. It won't be frustrating. It won't be marked by competition or jealousy. It won't be marked by failure or something that's never accomplished, which is often our experience in the workplace today. No, heaven is not so much a place where no work is done. It's just a place where pain is removed.
I just want you to bare that in mind. So, let's just develop that a little bit and move on. Here's a couple of thoughts to throw your way. When it comes to working in the life after life, we might apply and perfect prior skills. I think one of the big themes that comes through this series is that our body will be a renewed and perfected continuation of this body. We'll get to Revelation 21 and 22 in a final study where we'll see that this present earth will be the new earth perfected. We'll retain something of our personality and looks even when we're glorified. There's a lot of continuity and it would seem to me that if God has gifted you either naturally or spiritually with certain gifts, abilities, I think you might carry them forward into the next life. There's an interesting verse, Revelation 14:13 that their works will follow them. There's a rendering of that could read and their works will follow with them.
Paul Enns make that argument in our book of the month, Heaven Revealed, that our works, our abilities will follow. Mozart will compose music perhaps in heaven. Okay, you get the point. So, we'll apply and perfect prior skills. Remember, Ephesians 2:10 is an interesting verse. Prior to the world being made, God ordained us to do certain works. I would have to assume that's not just for this life, but the next life. What you're good at, you're going to get real good at it in the life to come. You may be thinking, "Pastor, I've got certain skills, but for the sake of my family, I've fallen on my short end I'm doing a job I don't like." I'm not sure we'll be doing jobs in the world to come we don't like. We'll be doing that which is restful, suitable, fulfilling.
Secondly, we'll work and serve harmoniously alongside angels. Have you ever thought about that? Angels serve God night and day in heaven. They don't go away. Revelation 7:11, Revelation 19:10 shows them serving God. They'll work alongside us. And then, finally, we'll subdue the earth in constant creativity. Remember, we said this last week. Again, people think heaven's up there, it's a theorial, it's kind of cloudy. No, no. Heavens down here when it's all said and done. We'll be in our physical body. God will have renewed the earth. It'll be Eden revisited and God will give us stuff to do. We will build civilizations. We will develop the earth because that was the mandate wasn't it, to Adam? Exercise dominion, subdue the earth. Genesis 1:28.
I think that will continue. In fact, I'm sure of it and for this reason, a reformed theologian Hoekema says this, "The cultural mandate because of sin was never fully carried out the way God intended." Let me ask you guys, you think the world today under man's management is the way it ought to be? Well of course not. Now, there are flashes and there are episodes and there are experiences that are good. But we have failed because of our sin and rebellion to live up to working alongside God in subduing the earth and developing the world in a way that glorifies God harmoniously and with righteousness. I think the new earth gives us the opportunity to actually fulfill what Adam failed to fulfill.
So, that's worth thinking about. Ted Kennedy, when he was first running for Senate, was in a debate with his political challenger who mocked him on television that he was a child of privilege. True. That he'd never done a day's work in his life or a full time job. True. The next morning, Ted Kennedy is on the political trail and he loved to tell this story. And while he was visiting this factory, a factory worker speaking about the thing on television the night before said, "You know what Mr. Kennedy, is it true that you've never worked a day in your life?" And he said, "If it's true, I want to tell you something. You haven't missed anything." Now, that's funny. But in another sense, it's not funny.
Because to say that when you miss work you haven't missed a thing is to miss something very big. Work is part of God's original plan. It doesn't come after the curse. It's not a consequence of sin. God made us to work and serve and you know what? That was true in the unspoiled first creation and it will be true in the restored and Holy and righteous second creation. Let's move on.
We will be supervising. Life after life will be marked by supervising. Go back to Revelation 22, verse five. We read about his servants will serve him, verse three. And we read in verse five they shall reign forever and ever. Heaven's citizens are not just servants. They're supervisors. They'll be blue collar and white collar if you want to put it that way. We'll be servant Kings. If you studied the book of Revelation, reigning with Christ, exercising dominion alongside of Christ is one of those themes. Revelation One, verse six, describes us as Kings and Priests unto God. Revelation 2:26 to 27, Jesus says the church of Thyratara, you know what? He who overcomes and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. What a promise. You've got the same promise to the Church at Laodicea. Revelation 3:21, to him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with me on my throne as I also overcame and sat down in my father's throne.
Who are the over comers? They are saints who persevere. They are faithful followers of Jesus Christ and some day, the overcomer will be over the world to come. What did Jesus say in Matthew 5:5? The meek will inherit the earth. What does it mean, meek? Some times we think meek, weak. No. The Greek there is a word that means under control. It was used of a horse that had been broken and bridled. So, the text would be somebody like this, those who are under the control of God. Those who are living a life under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Those who have submitted to the authority and rule of his word. The meek, those who are under control some day will be in control. How interesting.
Here we have the promise of reigning with Christ. We're back to that creation mandate. Adam was to be a co-regent with God. He was to exercise God's rule through his submitting to God's rule and exercising a life that was a life of obedience and one that reflected God's glory. Satan tried to usurp that rule. Adam disobeyed and disrupted that rule. God's judgment has complicated that rule. But Jesus Christ will someday restore that rule through the gospel and we will reign with him.
What about Matthew 19:20, where Jesus said to his disciples, "You know what? Someday you'll sit on thrones and rule the tribes of Israel. The 12 of you, the 12 tribes." What about Paul's words to Christians in Ephesus, Second Timothy Two, verse 12. If you suffer for him, you will reign with him. You know the parables, right? Matthew 24:45 to 51. Luke 12:41 to 48, where Jesus likens himself to an owner that goes away or a king that's traveling to another country and he leaves his servants with certain responsibilities, certain stewardships. Then he comes back, he judges them, he tests them, and depending on their faithfulness they get to rule, they get to have certain responsibilities within the kingdom. I don't know how this is all going to work out, but it's clear in the new world there'll be nations. We just read, didn't we, in Revelation 22, that the tree of life will be for the healing of the nations.
We read in Revelation 21, verses 24 to 27 that the nations will come up and worship before the Lamb. We read in Revelation 5:9 that the host of heaven will be made up of those out of every tribe, and tongue and nation. I don't think nations go away in the world to come. I mean, at it's essence, nationhood and nationalism is not a bad thing. It's not an evil thing to take pride in your nation because each nation and each culture is an expression of God's creativity and our world is better for the different nations that there are. Now, what we're looking for in the world to come is equity, peace among the nations. But when Jesus brings that, imagine that cities, nations cultivating a world under God. And you know what? For faithful over comers, there is a ruling with Christ, a reigning with Christ.
In the world to come, the redeemed will be agents of Christ's lordship and love throughout the earth. Their actions and the glory of Christ will fill the earth as the waters fill the sea. By the way, that argues for good government. I don't understand Christians here aren't interested in politics or government. I mean, at one point Adam was told to exercise rule, dominion. Organize life in a way that glorifies God. Now, we know man's mismanaging it. We know that governments have to carry the sword because men are rebellious. But as I read this and the governance that's going to come through Jesus Christ, I aspire to good government even now.
I'll tell you another thing, this stirs up Godly ambition in me because if you read the parable of the talents, if you read those stories in Jesus' life, the more faithful you are, the more you'll be given to do. The more rule you'll have, the more authority you'll exercise. Now, that's not a power trip. It's a desire for Godly ambition, to be something for God in this life and be something even more for God in the next. Be ambitious. Don't have some kind of flat org chart on your Christian faith. And I'll tell you another thing. What a comfort to the persecuted saints of God who don't live under our government? It's a joke. It offends me to hear people in Washington talk about, Oh, our tyrannical president." We know nothing about tyranny. We know nothing about the tyranny of communism, socialism, theocratic, maniacal governments across the world where our brothers and sisters are butchered. They're like chickens in hen houses in North Korea. There's coming a day, and this has got to be a comfort to them when the diabolical rule of diabolical man's over. And we'll rule with Christ. Those same saints will rule North Korea some day.
Africa, Asia, what a thought. Talking about presidential politics, it's 2020. You know right now for those who are seeking office, they have got themselves a campaign team. And they've got staffers and they've got people working on polling and getting people out. They've got people pounding the pavements all over our country. And you know what you find? The candidate that wins, those who are in the campaigning council, those that are a part of the campaign will someday be part of the government. A lot of those people get jobs in the government and that's our analogy. The church is in campaigning mode right now. We're campaigning for Jesus Christ. We're preaching the gospel. We're proclaiming the gospel. We're pounding the pavements of our communities and speaking about him. And some day, we'll move from campaigning to governing. You want to be part of the governing, you better be campaigning.
All right, you're all looking at me. I better move on. We will be socializing. We will be socializing. What a wonderful thought. Go to Hebrews 12. Hebrews 12:22. Listen to what we read about heaven. It's a description of the life to come, but you have come to Mount Zion, under the city of the living God. The heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable... notice the word company... of angels to the general assembly of the church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven to God, the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect. We'll do a lot of socializing in heaven. Be a lot of fellowship, developing of friendships, keeping old ones going and making new ones. The life to come, the heavenly, is described as being in glorious company.
In fact, there's four groups here. Angels, the church, the Lord himself, and perhaps Old Testament saints. The saints who have been made perfect. You know what? Mark Twain got a lot of things wrong about heaven. The American humorist and writer once said that he would take heaven for climate and hell for company. Why don't we take heaven for both? The climate, the environment, but the people. I love the people of God, odd as some of them are. They're peculiar saints as we call them back in Northern Ireland. Every pastor's got some peculiar saints to shepherd, but I'll tell you this, having lived in the world as you have, I'd take the saints of God on their worst day than the world at its best. You know what? God has brought us together in a family. He's created a community and one of the joys of heaven will be family reunion with loved ones that have parted. A lively community experience of God's people throughout the new earth. We're not going to spend eternity as isolated individuals. We're going to spend eternity in relationship.
Heaven is a place of expanding friendship and fellowship. It's a wonderful thing. We will enjoy community without competition, community without misunderstanding, community without disruption or failure, community without end. That's a wonderful thing to look forward to. That's something to want. I want to go to heaven because I want to be with people I love and people who love me. Now, at this point, some people get super spiritual. And they go, "I don't like that thought. I thought Jesus was the heaven of heavens. His throne is central, he's preeminent." You are right, but I want to give you this to think about.
Even when God made us in Genesis for his own glory, to reflect his image, to love him and worship him. Do you know what God said before that week was done? It's not good that man should be alone. I want you to think seriously about that. The implication is that, I don't say this to be misunderstood, God by himself is acknowledging in our humanity, God is not enough. Or God has made it in a way, maybe a better put, where God wants us not only to enjoy him but to enjoy others who reflect him. So, don't be embarrassed. There's nothing wrong with talking about, I want to go to heaven because my mother's there. I want to go to heaven because my father's there. I want to go to heaven because my child is there. Nothing wrong with that because heaven promises that. If our loved ones died in Christ, we're going to meet up someday. It's going to be family reunion, it's going to be community. It's going to be together.
In fact, we're really talking about here will we know each other in heaven, right? We're back to that kind of question. Well, of course. The answer to that question is this, we will not truly know each other until we get to heaven. Then we will be known as we are known. First Corinthians 3:12. The answer to that question is that we will know each other and we will know people we didn't know. I base that on Matthew 17, three to four, we touched on this in a prior study. When you've got Jesus transfigured, remember he is preeminent, and Moses is there and Elijah is there, and then Peter makes the mistake of not understanding the preeminence of Christ and says, "Lord, why don't we build three booths and get into some conversation here and a worship experience." And eventually go out and he takes Moses, and Elijah away because Jesus is preeminent. But at the same time, what strikes me before Peter makes that mistake is that he recognized Moses and Elijah. I mean, did he Google some picture of them?
Well, there was no Google back then. They didn't have pictures either. How did he know Moses and Elijah? It seems to me that knowledge was given to him. Again not a hill to die on, little dot to connect maybe? Will we be given some intuitive knowledge of each other? We'll not only know ourselves and those we know best and better, we may know those who we didn't even know, you know? Walking down the streets of gold and was that Jeremiah? It could be. If there's coffee shops there, you're walking by, you look in the window and go, "Hey, there's Daniel. Ezekiel." You pop your head in, "Hey guys, have you got a minute?" They go, "It's eternity brother, sit down." Something like that.
You say, "That's crazy." No! Because listen to this, this is Jesus' words in Matthew Eight, verse 11. And I say to you that many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Issac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Wow, there's a verse you haven't thought about for a while. You'll know each other, we'll know each other. We'll know people we didn't know, and we'll get to know each other in a way that we only approximate to in this life. Can you imagine conversations with Noah about the flood? Can you imagine a conversation with Issac about how he felt when his father stood over him with a knife? Can you imagine David and the Giant story? Can you imagine talking to followers of Jesus about what it felt like going to the grave and finding the tomb open? You want to sit down and talk to John Calvin about his institutes? You want to talk to Issac Newton and Blaze Pascal about science?
Want to talk about social reform with William Wilberforce? You want to pick the brains of writers perhaps like CS Lewis? As one writer said, "Better bring your autograph book with you". It's going to be quite an experience because there'll be a lot of socializing. Let me quote this from DL Moody and wrap this up and move on. "When I was a boy," he said, "I thought of heaven as a great shining city with vast walls, domes and spires, with nobody in it expect white robed angels who were strangers to me. By and by my little brother died and I thought of a great city with walls and spires and domes and one little fellow there that I knew. He was the only one I knew at that time. Then, another brother died and there were two. Then, my acquaintances began to die and the flock continued to grow. Finally, I had so many acquaintances in heaven that I did not see any more walls and domes and spires. I begun to think of the residence of the celestial city as my friends and not so many of my acquaintances, and now so many of my acquaintances have gone there, that sometimes seems to me that I know more people in heaven than I do on earth."
In fact, as I read that I was reminded of being at a prophecy conference in Dallas when a story was told about Erwin Lutzer, one of the preachers had heard him tell this, that his father had lived to 104. It's quite a ripe old age. His wife had died a few years earlier, many of his friends were 10, 20 and 30 years dead. He was the last man standing. And so, in conversation with his son, Erwin Lutzer's father said this humorously, "You know what? I'd better die soon or my friends will think I've gone to hell."
But here's the point of that story, here's the point of that story. Heaven is the place where friends wait for friends. I don't think that's a caricature. I don't think that's just me playing to the human emotion. No, there's a promise that living will be translated, the dead will be raised and we will meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord. So shall we, together, be with the Lord, community, family. There will be singing. Singing! Read the book of Revelation. There are songs all over it, right? You know Revelation Four and Five, how the angels and the elders in the church worship God who's redeemed by his blood at every tribe and tongue and nation, who's worthy to be praised. He's the creator of all living things. Heaven resounds to the worship of the triune God and his son, Jesus Christ.
You know what? What about Revelation One to Six? I said, we are priest and kings. There's a rendering there. A kingdom of priests, could be, but what do priests do? They worship, they serve, they render ministry before God. Listen to me, if Revelation is anything to go by, heaven will be a place of uninterrupted joy, unending worship, uninhibited praise. Let me give you a little sampling. We don't have time to develop this. But if you want to read through the book of Revelation, I think Robert Coleman in his book, Songs of Heaven, identified 14 different songs in the book of Revelation. And you'll find that this sense of doxology and worshiping God builds throughout the book, almost like a crescendo. Have you ever been to a concert with a really great orchestra, or a great choir and it builds. It builds and we call it a crescendo. I'll give you an example of this.
The book of Revelation has a crescendo of worship in it. Revelation One to Six, there's a two fold doxology to him be glory, and dominion forever and ever. Glory and dominion. Revelation 4:11, three fold doxology. You are worthy, oh Lord, to receive glory, honor and power. Glory, honor and power. There's a four fold doxology, Revelation 5:13, blessing and honor and glory and power to him who sits on the throne and the Lamb forever. There's a seven fold doxology in Revelation 7:12. Amen, blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power and might be to our God forever and ever. The book of Revelation is a book all about worship. That's why I envy Tom Grassi. He's the only guy on the staff that is going to have a job in the world to come. I might have a job. You know? Billy Graham's out of a job. Worship leaders? They can pick up where they left off.
In fact, Cliff Barrows, who led worship for Billy Graham and his crusades for many years said that to Billy Graham one day, "I've got a job in heaven. What are you going to do?" And you know what? It's partly true because heaven's about singing. It's about worship. That's why AW Tozer is right when he says, "I can safely say on the authority of all that is revealed in God's word that any man or woman on this earth who was bored and turned off by worship's not ready for heaven." Now, I can understand Christians who don't want to sing because they can't sing because you see, some Christians don't sing because they can't sing. Well, you can get there, but here's what bothers me: there's some Christians who don't sing and they don't seem to want to sing. What is wrong? You might want to take a look at your life because when you get saved it says he puts a new song in your mouth, even praise unto our God.
So, you're either singing in key or off key, but you're singing. And that's what heaven's about. In fact, let me run by this quickly because I have one more thought I want to cover, but I came up with some thoughts about worship in heaven as I studied this week for myself and for you. Worship in heaven will, first of all, it'll be holistic. It won't just be set times of singing orchestrial music and musical instruments that you find in the book of Revelation. Worship will be holistic as it ought to be now. If this is all the worshiping you do, you've missed it. This is worship, but so is eating, drinking, whatever you do, you can do it to the glory of God. People worship with their hands up. People tomorrow will worship God working a lathe or a milling machine or building the frame of a house with wood and nails. That's worship.
Worship is holistic. In fact, in Revelation 22, verse three, his servants will serve him. The Greek word there is often translated worship, worship and service go together. But another thing about worship in heaven, it won't be just holistic, it'll be heightened because in Revelation 5:9, Revelation 14:3, we read about the host of heaven singing a new song. And I don't want you to misunderstand that. I think what it means by the new song, it's the old song. It's our love for Jesus, it's our wonder at the gospel, it's our answering the question we sang in the hymn today, how can it be that I should gain an interest in the sea of Jerusalem. That's the song. But it's going to be a new song, and not that's it's got a different theme, not that it's got a different focus. It's just that you and I are different. And our ability to enjoy it and sing it will be heightened. It'll be new in that sense.
We will understand the gospel more fully. We will love Jesus more deeply. Nothing that will cloud our worship experience, whether tiredness or distraction will get in the way. Okay? So, it's going to be holistic. It's going to be heightened. Number three, it's going to be harmonious. Revelation 5:9, Revelation 21, verses 22 to 27. We're going to worship him out of every tribe and tongue and nation. It says in Revelation 21: 22 to 27 that the nations and the kings of the earth will bring their glory to Jesus and honor him.
I was with Tim Challies a little while ago and he told me his next project is both a video and written project. He was setting out to travel across the world from Europe and its cathedrals to Africa and its villages and to Asia. And get a sense of how the church worships all across the world. And he understood that was going to be a kaleidoscope of stuff, but he was looking forward to enriching himself and through a book, enriching the church to understand the diversity and the variety, and the beauty of worship in different cultures and nations. And you know what? That's going to all come to a head in Revelation. Before the throne of God, and Jesus is going to be the tuning fork for to him will be worship and glory and honor.
When I went to my first church in the United States, it was a church on decline. It was divided. It had fractured. It was right beside Master's College and we got four students coming, I think, at the time from a student body of 1,000. I remember talking to Dr. MacArthur about how do I go about getting this church back to where it was? How do we bring unity? How do we bring momentum and purpose and oneness? And I never forgot what he said. It was really, really good advice. He says, "Look, don't you go in there and try and tune everybody to everybody. Don't work on the horizontal, for the most part." He says, "Here's what to do. You go in, preach Christ, exalt Christ, model Christ, and you know what? He'll be the tuning fork." He says, "Philip, if you're going to tune pianos, you don't tune a piano to a piano." Okay? You don't tune one piano and then tune another piano to the other piano that's being tuned. No, you tune every piano to the tuning fork, and then all the pianos will be in tune. And that's what I tried to do.
I had a little bit of work on the horizontal side, but for the most part, I just preach Christ, exalted Christ, modeled Christ. And you know what? That church came together. And under our ministry, we got back to numbers they hadn't seen in seven years, and then someone followed me and took it to another level. Harmonious around Jesus. That's what heaven will be.
And then finally, hearty, holistic, heightened, harmonious, hearty. Loud, lively. That scares some of you, I understand. And every pastor who's got that experience of a Monday morning call or the office gets it, you know what? We just want you to know that the music was too loud last Sunday. We try to listen to that and be sensitive to that. But here's the issue, what about Revelation Five, verse 11 and 12? Then, I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, the elders, the number of them with 10,000 times 10,000 and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice. Better get used to a little bit of loud music because that's what heaven's going to be like, at least part of the time.
Worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power, glory and honor. Same again in Revelation seven, verse nine. And these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could number of all the nations, tribes, peoples and tongues standing before the throne and before the lamb clothed in white robes with palm branches crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to God."
Talking about football, since it's Superbowl Sunday, just a few years ago, 2013, third down, defensive stand against the New Orleans Saints up in Seattle and the Seahawks fans were cheering their team on, calling them to D and to defense and they produced an ear splitting, 137.6 decibels. Now, if that doesn't mean anything to you, if you stood 100 feet away from a jet engine, that would be about 140 decibels. Can you imagine that in a football stadium? Almost the noise of a jet engine. I've literally been in some stadiums. I remember being at an Ohio State, Oklahoma game in Norman with my friend, Dr. Mark Hitchcock, one of the loudest football experiences I've ever had. You couldn't talk, you couldn't think, although we still won. But that's besides the point. The Buckeye's still won, but you get that. Can you imagine that?
In fact, I think a few years ago in Mexico, Mexico, the national football team beat Germany one, zero in a world cup qualifier and the noise was so large that it registered as a small earthquake in Mexico City. And that literally is the scene. Tens of thousands of thousands of thousands, a multitude that no man can number with a loud voice crying worthy is the lamb, salvation belongs to God. Wow.
It's going to turn some of our concepts of worship upside down. Let's get to our last thought for a few minutes. We will be seeing. We will be seeing. Now I'm going back to this idea of, look, don't be embarrassed to think about your loved ones. I want to see my mother. I want to see my father. I want to meet my old pastor. I want to meet the person that led me to the Lord but didn't know that I was the fruit of their work and died, but perhaps feeling discouraged. We've all had those conversations, but now we're finishing where we need to finish. Although we're called to love our neighbor and love each other, we're called to love God first with all of our heart, strength and mind. And so, in Revelation 22, verse four, what do we read?
They shall see his face. That's amazing. Now, your immediate question, if God is spirit, how are you going to see his face? Well, you're not and probably if you read Revelation 21:22, the spiritual presence of God, father and spirit will be known through illumination, light, glorious presence. But there is a face to see in heaven, right? Who am I talking about? Jesus. Because remember, he was raised physically, he ascended bodily and as Leon Morris says in a famous book, "There's a man in glory." So, we will see a face, the face of God in human form. How welcoming will that be when you get to heaven to see a human face in the person and presence of the second person of the trinity, God's own begotten son. And it would seem to me that when we see his face we'll remember what he did in his humanity, when we see a human face we'll remember what that face did in humanity. Died for our sins, was broken on a cross, redeemed us out of every tribe, tongue and nation.
But the point is this, we're going to see and savor God. Once in heaven, the veil, the curtain that are unglorified humanity places between us and God will be removed. I think you'd agree with me. I think it's been my experience, I think my experiences of God are real, but I'm sure they're not all they can be. At times, they're clouded by just weakness on my part, laziness on your part. My part clouded by our fallen ness, clouded by the distance between this life and the life to come. But you know what? There's going to come a moment when that cloud that comes because we're unglorified, we're not yet completely holy. That cloud will be dispersed and that veil will be lifted and we will see him as he is.
That's what one of the writers, I have of about 40 books on heaven at the minute. I'm dipping in and out of. One of the chapters in one book is called The Heaven Within Heaven. And this is what he calls the heaven within heaven, seeing the face of God. Having direct access to the presence of God, because up until this moment, what do we read in the bible? No man has seen God and lived. But we get to do that in Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ, humanity veils his deity. God dwells in unapproachable light, but we're going to be made holy. We're going to be glorified, we're going to be made blameless, and we will be able to stand in the midst of that unapproachable light. That's beautiful and that's where we're finishing.
Heaven will be about joyfully and tirelessly gazing upon the beauty of God. What does David say? This one thing I desire, and this thing I will seek after, that I might dwell in your temple and behold your beauty. All the days of my life. From the day I got saved, I've never, never not wanted to go to church. An odd day, it's been a bit of a battle, but I've never not wanted to go because I want to go to be with God's people, I want to be in the presence of the word of God preached. I want to spend some time worshiping. I want to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. And behold his beauty. And it's just about to get better. Some day. What does the Psalmist say, in Psalm 73? Whom have I in heaven but you? And I desire no one besides you.
We said last week didn't we, in Revelation 21:22, the verbs of perception and he showed me and behold, and it's all about the throne of God and the presence of God. Heaven's a place, a real place. But for us, heaven's a person. That's what it was for Paul. Paul, okay, what are you going to do in heaven? And he could go down the list we've just worked through, and I'm sure Paul would find more. But I think he would get too quick or it would be the first thing on his list. I'm just going to see and savor the Savior. For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. To be with him is far better. If I have to stay here, I'm going to stay and minister to you and that's to your profit. But given a choice, I would like to be with him. It's far better. Absent from the body, present with the Lord. The joy of beholding is beauty, the thrill of measuring his mercy, the delight of comprehending his love, the mystery of weighing his ways, the satisfaction of tracing his plan, the pleasure of exalting his son.
Some years ago, I read a book. I enjoyed every page of it. Some Christians You Should Know, by Warren Wiersbe. And in it, he's got a chapter on Fanny Crosby. I know that our ladies kind of studied her a year or two ago. She was a wonderful woman of God. She was made blind at the age of six because of a mishap on the part of a doctor. The doctor never forgave himself, lived in guilt the rest of his life. She said that if she could meet him, she would tel him thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You go, "What?" She'd come to the conclusion that her blindness was a providence. In fact, Warren Wiersbe calls this chapter, Blinded to See God. Because the argument is her blindness helped her focus. In fact, she says that, "I could not have written thousands of hymns if I had been hindered by the distractions of seeing all the interesting and beautiful objects that have been present to my notice."
But what's interesting is, if you listen to her songs, we still sing them and we should. She loves to talk about what she's going to see in the life to come. Here's a couple of lines and I'll pray. In her hymn or chorus, Saved by Grace. Listen to these two lines. I shall see him face to face and tell the story, saved by grace. In her hymn, My Savior First of All, she says this, "When my lifework is ended and I cross the swelling tide, when the bright and glorious morning I shall see, I shall know my redeemer when I reach the other side. And his smile will be the first to welcome me. Through the gates of the city in a robe of spotless white, he will lead me where no tears will ever fall in the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight, for I long to meet my savior first of all." That's it. That's probably the greatest thing we'll do and they shall see his face.
Father, we so look forward to that day, when we shall see Jesus as he is. We will come to understand the depths of his love as we ought. We will truly be thankful in a way not yet known for the grace and mercy you've shown us. That will be the greatest thrill. We thank you for all the other stuff we're going to do. We're going to seek that and we're going to savor that, but we thank you that we get to gaze upon you, Lord. All the other stuff is the drops, you're the ocean. All the other stuff is the sun beams, you're the son. And so, we thank you for what we have got to look forward to. So, forgetting those things, which are behind this morning, whatever wants to drag us back, whatever wants to hold us down in life, help us as God's people to put one foot forward into this glorious future and pursue the Lord, Jesus Christ. For we ask and pray these things in his name, amen.