God expects us to do the impossible. He expected Luther H. Bridgers to play the role of Job and
keep on singing. He was a young pastor who was away in another city for a series of meetings. The
phone rang late one night and a friend had to tell him of the tragic news. Fire had swept through his
home and his wife and 2 children perished in the flames. He dropped the receiver and ran out of the
hotel into the empty morning streets. He walked for a long time trying to get self-control. He came
to a river and felt a compulsion to end his life and be reunited with his family. Life seemed
impossible-absolutely impossible. He could not make it on his own.
It was a terrible struggle, but he knew it was God's will that he press on into that impossible
future. Years later he married again and raised a second family. He became best known for his
song that has been sung by millions. His song goes-
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest name I know,
Fills my ever longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.
Jesus kept him singing because he was able to look beyond the impossible circumstances and his
own weakness to the Lord on the throne, and to his ultimate promises. Paul was going through deep
waters and he writes in II Cor. 4:8-9, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair: Persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed."
What kept him pressing on being not weary in well doing, but serving and singing the praises of his
Lord? He tells us at the end of the chapter in verses 16-18, "Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our
light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So
we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what
is unseen is eternal."
What a paradox! The way Paul copes with the impossible is by doing the impossible. He
focuses his eyes on what cannot be seen. By seeing the unseen and eternal he is able to be victorious
in the visible world of suffering. This teaching runs all through the Bible. It is one of the primary
messages of the book of Revelation. The perspective from which you see life makes all the
difference in the world. We want to ride on John's coattails as he soars beyond space where no man
has gone before, except the Son of Man, and possibly Paul. Paul does not reveal his vision of
heaven, and so we do not know if he went to the very throne room of God like John did. First I want
to call your intention to 4:1 where we see-
I. THE IMPOSSIBLE COMMAND.
The trumpet like voice of the risen Christ shouted, "Come up here!" Jesus commands John to do
the impossible. Do you think John would be languishing on that island as a prisoner if he had the
ability to soar off into heaven? He could no more go through that open door to heaven than he
could walk on water back to the mainland and be free. Some things we call impossible are really
just very hard, but for John to somehow rise up off that island of Patmos and ascend into the realm
of heaven was an absolute impossibility from a human perspective. And yet John was soon in
heaven seeing the very throne of God just as he was commanded. Here we see the impossible made
instantly possible. This reveals just how relative the impossible really is. The fact is, it is almost
impossible to keep anything in the category of the impossible for very long.
It was impossible John to fly in an airplane or a space ship that could blast him beyond the
earth's atmosphere. These seemingly absolute impossibilities were really only relative
impossibilities, for man has now done what was impossible in the day of John. And so it was never
really impossible, but just not available. John could not fax his letters to the 7 churches of Asia
either, but not because it was impossible, but because it had not yet been invented. There are
literally hundreds of things that were impossible for John that are now possible for us. So the point
is, in the light of all the impossible things that are now possible it is nearly impossible to speculate as
to what is impossible, for anything we might say could become possible in a short time.
Now if this is true on the human and earthly level, how much more does the sphere of the
impossible decrease when we bring the power of Christ into the picture? He commanded John to do
what was impossible, but then he made it possible for John to do it. If Jesus wants you to do
something, He will make it possible for you to do it. Paul said he could do all things through Christ
who would strengthen him. Nothing is impossible if Jesus wills it. He wanted John to come up and
see heaven, and in a split second John was in heaven. Either heaven is very close to the island of
Patmos, or we are dealing with speeds that make the head swim. We have spacecraft that can circle
the globe in minutes, but even to get to the moon takes a while, and beyond that it can take a long
time to get anywhere specific. But here we see John going from earth to heaven in the times it takes
to end one sentence and begin another. This is impossible with any technology that we know, but it
is only relatively impossible because John did it, and this is a hint as to how all of the redeemed will
travel in eternity. We will travel with the speed of thought that leaves even the speed of light
looking like a one legged turtle with arthritis.
There are many fascinating implications that come out of this instant trip to heaven. It
immediately eliminates all concepts of the universe being too vast to explore. No matter how many
billions of light years it is across the vast wonder of God's creation, it only takes a second to cover it
by thought. We can speculate, in the light of thought travel, that redeemed man will explore
everything in the universe, and what doors this will open up is beyond our wildest dreams. If there
are many other experiments of God with intelligent beings, we will know this and be able to interact
with them, and this may provide the way of service we will offer to God in eternity. None of this
will be impossible in the light of what God will make possible with out redeemed bodies.
Another thing that is comforting here is how this scene with John changes my perception of the
rapture. I have a fear of heights, and the idea of soaring up into the clouds has never been very
appealing to me. But in the light of John's rapture into heaven it no longer needs to be seen as scary
for those with a phobia. John was there in an instant. It is not as though he soared through the air
whizzing past clouds and then stars with his hair and robe waving in the wind like a flag. He was
caught up and was there with no experience of passing through space at all. This is the kind of
travel that is only relatively impossible. It is not available to us yet, but it will be our mode of travel
The famous Christian mystic Sadhu Sundar Singh said, "In heaven distance is never felt by
anyone, for as soon as one forms the wish to go to a certain place he at once finds himself there." All
vehicles will be obsolete, and oil companies will no longer have any power at all. Mark Twain
wrote a piece about wings in heaven, and he came to what appears to be a very valid biblical
conclusion. He said that wings on angels are like a uniform, and they are only for show and not for
travel. That makes sense, for if they were actual flight heaven would be slower than time. Wings
are only symbolic of swiftness. They are not the mode of heavenly travel. If that was the case
Gabriel would still be on his way to earth with the message of Christmas, and John would still be
somewhere in the solar system winging his way toward the throne of God.
If you take this experience of John and start telling people that man has traveled faster than the
speed of light, you will be met with words like, "That is impossible." And they would be right, but it
still happened, and it will happen all the time, for with God the impossible is just something we are
not doing yet on a regular basis. When God says to all the saints what He said to John when He
said, "Come up here!" Then we will all be traveling at the speed of thought. The practical
implications of this are that we should never be quick to call anything impossible. To assume that
anything cannot be done is to shut God out of history. You might be right that it will not be done,
but it is only because it shouldn't be done because the time is not yet right. An incurable disease is
only a disease that we don't know how to cure yet. But history is full of these impossible to cure
diseases that have been cured. All the impossible is, is something that hasn't happened yet. Those
who believe this are the ones who always wined up doing the impossible.
When the engineers were called in to evaluate the possibility of building a railroad across the
Andes Mountains of Peru they concluded that it could not be done. American engineers were called
in, and they agreed it could not be done. As a last resort a Polish engineer named Ernest Malinowski
was called in. He said it could be done, and at age 60 he began the task of digging 62 tunnels and
building 30 bridges. Once he had to flee the country and remain in exile for a while, but he went
back and completed the engineering feat that became one of the wonders of the world in 1880.
The point is that he did the impossible because he believed that the impossible is only relative.
Too many Christians give up on projects and become weary in well doing because they feel it is
impossible. I know Christians who have ceased to witness to people because they feel it is impossible
to change them. Or they give up on study of the Bible and conclude they are just not cut out for it.
Or they cease to try to have meaningful devotions because it just doesn't work. On and on go the
impossibilities, and they are real, but they are only relatively impossible. If they things God wants
you to do, they are very real possibilities. There are many things we will never do, for they are, for
all practical purposes, impossible for us to do. This is true for everyone. None of us can leave the
body and enter into heaven in a split second. This is impossible because God does not call us to do
it, but if He did, it would be just as possible for us as it was for John.
We can do anything God calls us to do, and so we need to be ever striving for higher goals.
There are many examples of people who have achieved seemingly impossible goals that no one
would have ever dreamed. Bob Richards, the famous Olympic champion, was teaching a Sunday
School class many years ago, and he was expounding on the theme of self-confidence, and of being
all you can dream of being. There was a girl in the class who was about 100 pounds overweight,
and she had the audacity to take him seriously. She began to jump up and down and say, "I'm going
to be a great tennis champion." Richards was embarrassed, for he knew she was an exception to his
message. But she didn't know any better, and she believed that by God's help she could become a
tennis champion. She was Billy Jean Moffitt then, but she became known the world over as Billy
Jean King-the greatest woman tennis player in the world. It was highly unlikely, but only relatively
impossible, for she was inspired to make it possible. It is fear of failure that makes it impossible for
us to achieve our dreams. We need to learn to take risks and believe that with God all things are
The impossible is always possible if God calls you to do it, but if it is not God's will, then it may
be just plain impossible. If John would have decided that he was bored on that deserted island and
decided that he would rather take a trip to heaven he would have chosen an impossible path to
follow. He only did the impossible because he was called to do it. God is calling us all to that
which is impossible without His power and grace, but how often are we not listening and responding
because we have already determined that we cannot do it. Almost every wonderful thing ever done
in history was declared impossible before it was done. Napoleon Hill wanted to be a writer as a boy,
but he was poor and could not get a good education. Everybody told him that it was impossible.
But he saved his pennies and finally got enough to buy a big beautiful dictionary. The first thing he
did was to take a pair of scissors and cut the word impossible out of it. He then went on to become a
famous writer who influenced millions.
In San Juan there is tribe of people called the Chamulas. They have not trusted and outsider
since the Spanish Conquest. Those conquerors betrayed them to get their gold, and they became a
closed society. Ken Jacobs and his wife tried to take the Gospel to these people, but soon became
discouraged and understood why they were called the impossible people. It looked hopeless, but
they obeyed God anyway and began to translate the Bible into their language. Five years later the
man who helped them became a Christian. One by one others came, and when the New Testament
was finished 500 of them sold in just 20 minutes. Today there is a well established church with
hundreds of believes in the midst of the impossible people, or more accurately the relatively
The point of this message is not to motivate you to go out and try to do a lot of impossible
things. The point is to stop telling your self the lie that nothing can be done in impossible situations.
Sammy Tippit is an international evangelist, and he illustrates the point. He had spent a week in
meetings at a university and then boarded a plane to fly home. He was seated next to a lady with a
screaming baby. As the plane took off the baby screamed louder and louder. The mother was very
frustrated, and it was an intolerable situation, and he felt helpless and miserable. That is when it is
time for a Christian to get his eyes off the situation and on to Jesus. He began to worship the Lord in
his heart and listen for an answer. Tippit saw that he must do what Jesus would do. He said to the
distraught mother, "Can I play with the baby?" She immediately said, "Please do." He began to
make faces and talk silly to the baby and got the baby to calm down. He thought to himself, "Is this
what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit?"
The mother was grateful for his help that she began to ask him many questions, and he was able
to share Christ with her. She began to weep and told how her mother-in-law had become a Christian
just a few weeks ago, and she had told her and her husband about Jesus. She said, "I'm going to
pray that God will send you someone to explain His salvation more fully." There Tippit sat on the
plane realizing he was the answer to that mother's prayer. He could have lost that temper and
scolded that mother and had a miserable trip. He could have felt justified in so dealing with an
impossible situation, but by the grace of God and his willingness to seek the mind of Christ he was
able to fulfill the plan of God.
Robert Mallet said, "It is not impossibilities that fill us with the deepest despair, but possibilities
which we have failed to realize." If only we could realize that in every impossible situation there
lurks the possibility for us to do the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. If we could see from
this perspective, it would change how we react to life's problems and burdens and make far more
effective tools for the kingdom of God.