The Key to Worship — Revelation 5:8-14
by Reverend Anthony R. Locke
Sermon Series in Revelation # 13
English Standard Version
8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,
12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Worship defines a church. It’s one of the most important things that a church does.
Worship is a foretaste of heaven for we gather around the Heavenly throne by faith and in praise of Jesus. We join the choir of angels. We are in communion with the saints made perfect says Hebrews 12:18-24.
Worship brings together all the generations, all the languages and all the cultures into a singular activity. Worship sets the church apart from the world as we sing Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs that the world doesn’t know, to a God that they refuses to acknowledge. It is God meeting with his people. Worship is sacred business!
So what is worship? Is it identified by our clothes? Our demeanor? Or structures?
Some churches hire worship leaders. When people leave they tell the preacher, “that was amazing worship today!” A visitor might say they really liked our worship.
There is a Worship Conference going on somewhere in America every month. The dialogue and debate are enough to give a seminary student a headache. The diversity of answers does not make the question invalid, but the conversations are often heated. So what is biblical worship?
Josh Riley defines worship as everything we think, everything we say, and everything we do, revealing that which we treasure and value most in life. I think that’s a bit limited.
Mark Driscoll says that worship is living our life individually and corporately as continuous living sacrifices to the glory of a person or thing. That definition is true, but not uniquely true for the Christian faith.
Warren Wiersbe says that worship is the believer’s response to all they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does. I think that’s better.
The dictionary says that worship is to regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion. The first couple of the Ten Commandments reflect this definition by telling us not to give adoring esteem or devotion to the wrong person or thing.
I liked David Peterson’s definition in his wonderful book, Engaging with God, quote “Worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.” I like this definition because it isn’t generic and applies to Christian Worship specifically.
In a moment I am going to share a definition of biblical worship which comes from our text. I also would label this definition the Key to Biblical Worship.
The Key to Worship is that sacred ingredient that transforms any moment into a worship moment.
So here it is: I believe that worship happens when we rightly profess the identity of Jesus and then rightly respond to that profession.
Said most succinctly: Jesus is Lord! Now act accordingly. That’s worship.
We do this individually and corporately.
First, individually. The ARP has a slogan that “All of Life is Worship.” How do we understand such a generality?
Every moment of your life that you hold forth a profession of faith in Jesus as Lord, and you live in light of that profession, you are offering up sweet worship to your Creator.
Three days ago I was with Gloria and the Anderson family praying over her frail and dying body. That moment became a worship moment as we professed our faith in Jesus.
When I am with my children around the table and we ask God to bless the food, a family moment becomes a worship moment.
Listening to a Opera can be a worship moment if you receive that beauty as a reflection of the beauty of Jesus and ascribe to Him the glory.
Last night at the Braves Game my group ate at the 755 Club some of the best Stadium Food we have ever eaten. I had a meal that made my taste buds spring to life and in the joy of that moment my soul gave thanksgiving to God and I offered worship to Jesus.
When we reflect on the glory of Jesus’ identity and act accordingly, we are worshipping. In this way all of life can be lived in worship to Jesus. We rejoice in the Lord always.
Second, we do this as a congregation. We have regular set patterns for our worship. We organize our worship in a particular way that reflects our connection to previous generations of saints. We think we are making our worship according to Biblical mandates.
On Wednesday we do it differently. There will be a Memorial Service for Gloria Saturday at 1:00 pm at the Park Springs Community Center and we will do it differently again.
But what’s central to all of these moments? The Key to Worship is that we profess Jesus as Lord and we act in accordance with that profession. That’s worship.
The sacred worship scene that unfolds before our eyes in Revelation 5 is a scene where Jesus is rightly identified and rightly honored.
In chapter 4 Jesus was introduced as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, and the One who has conquered.
Three identifying ideas. Jacob blessed his son Judah as the Young Lion who would fight for Israel. Jesus is the Lion who fights for His people.
Israel did not keep God’s covenant and was taken into captivity. She was cut down.
Jesus is the new life sprig that appears on the abandoned Root of David. Jesus is the new beginning and the renewed hope that all of God’s promises are getting ready to come true.
Third out of chapter 4, Jesus has conquered. That Greek word hints at a horrific struggle that Jesus endured before overcoming. We learn about that struggle when Jesus is revealed as the Passover Lamb for our sins.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He bears the scars of that struggle for the rest of eternity.
The shedding of His blood did not diminish His power. Jesus has all power, as seen in the seven horns. Jesus has all knowledge and wisdom as revealed in the seven eyes. And Jesus sends for the the full anointing of the Spirit to perform the Father’s will as is revealed in the seven spirits of God.
Only the Only Begotten Son of God has the authority to walk into the center of Heaven’s Throne and take the universe as an inheritance.
And when Jesus breaks one seal after the other He will speed this world toward that final state that the Father has planned before the foundation of the world.
This chapter is the climax of the Bible story, the beginning of the end of the story, that God started to tell us in the Book of Genesis.
And if you know the identity of Jesus, then you hold the key to this heavenly worship. It’s all about Jesus.
Chapter 5 Verse 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb.
These are the two choices on the shelf. Either worship Jesus or worship yourself. All eternal creatures will either worship the Lamb or be cast into the Lake of Fire.
In chapter four all of Heaven was worshipping the Father saying Revelation 4:8-11 “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Heaven bows down before him who is seated on the throne and worships him who lives forever and ever saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
But when Jesus steps into the center of the throne to receive from the Father His exalted position, all Heaven trains their eye on Jesus and worships Jesus just as they worshipped the Father. All Heaven falls down before the Lamb.
The saints aren’t really in view yet in the Revelation, but it appears that the angels are already taking up a servant role to the Church as they are presenting to Jesus the prayers of the saints.
each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
And along with the New Name that Jesus is given and by which He is known, the Creation sings a new song “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
What is the Key to Creation’s worship? They all said with a loud voice “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
When I speak the name Jesus, how does your soul respond? Does your heart cry out with John the Baptist, “May He increase and I decrease”?
Does your heart immediately offer up poverty of spirit? Humility? Do you bow down in worship at the name of Jesus? Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Is Jesus all the world to you? You life, your joy your all? Can you say with Paul, For me to life is Christ! And to die is gain!
This is the first half of the Key to a LIFE of Worship. The second part is your actions.
Your profession of faith that Jesus is Lord is proven genuine when your life is lived for Jesus. Anyone can say, “I have faith.” Satan knows the true identity of Jesus and is working to subvert Him.
James 2:17-20 But faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
It isn’t enough that you can rightly identify Jesus as Lord. Are you willing to live for Him? That’s worship.
Satan can never worship. Satan knows exactly who Jesus is, but Satan has no intentions to ever live for Jesus. The Devil’s insurrection goes down in flames when Jesus joins the Father enthroned in Heaven. Satan wanted to ascend to the most high. Jesus already did!
How about us this morning? Are we setting ourselves up on the throne of our lives? Are we giving the greatest respect to our own ideas about life and the way we live?
Are we ascribing glory to what the world has to offer? Do we wish we could be in charge and ascend to the throne?
Only Jesus has the right to ascend to the Father’s Right Side. Jesus did that from the Mount of Olives. It’s an accomplished event. Jesus has taken the scroll from the hand of the Father. He controls the future destiny of all things. Jesus is worshipped in the same way as we worship the Father for He is equal to the Father.
So let’s live for Jesus! Let’s glorify Him by our choices. Let’s bow the knee. Let’s approach the throne with poverty of spirit. Let’s bring our life into conformity with His commandments. Let us worship!
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
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