Summary: In worship, we hear and experience Christ. John’s experience reminded us of Christ’s omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence.
Max Lucado wrote this illustration in his book When Christ Comes.
Augustine once posed the following experience.
Imagine God saying to you, “I will make a deal with you if you wish. I’ll give you anything and everything you ask: pleasure, power, honour, wealth, freedom, even peace of mind and a good conscience. Nothing will be a sin; nothing will be forbidden; and nothing will be impossible to you. You will never be bored and you will never die. Only… you will never see my face.”
The first part is appealing. Isn’t it great to have everything we crave for?
• But then, just as we are about to say yes, we hear the final phrase: “You will never see my face.”
• Do you want that? To have everything else but not being able to see Him.
• We have to pause for a while and think. Never? Never, ever be able to see Christ and be in His presence?
What do you think? Will you take it?
• The bargain loses some of its appeal, somehow, right?
• We want to see Christ. We love His presence. Isn’t that true of our heart?
John’s experience tells us no matter how lonely you felt or how difficult your situation, Christ’s presence can be real.
• John saw Christ literally, and this encounter was far different from all that he had experienced before.
• He was knocked out cold. 1:17 “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.”
• Even in solitude and suffering, Christ is very present. You just need to seek Him, and you will find Him.
In fact, He is always present. The problem is with us.
• I was just having a conversation with my dad the other day, as he shares about a sermon he heard over a tape.
• The error we often made in prayer, asking God to be with us.
• God is always present. We need to pray that people will be made AWARE of His presence, that in the midst of our pain, we will be able to KNOW His presence.
John put himself in a position to hear His voice and experience His presence – he said, “On the Lord’s Day, I was in the Spirit” (1:10)
• Every day we have been hearing voices – voices of politicians, economists, teachers, actors, parents…
• We need to put ourselves in a position to hear God’s voice, and know His presence.
A. W. Tozer in his book ‘The Pursuit of God’ says:
“…it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and centre of their hearts.”
In Gold by Moonlight Amy Carmichael wrote: "It is not the sense of His presence, it is the fact of His presence that is our strength and stay."
When was the last time you tasted the sweetness of His presence?
When was the last time you heard Him speaking to you?
John did, in a totally unexpected place. He was determined to seek God.
• Isa 55:6 “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
• If we do not seek the Lord NOW, when trouble comes, it will be too late.
• We will not have the relationship we need with the Lord to help us during our time of trouble.
• You’ll find yourself too distant, unacquainted with Him. You do not know Him enough to give you the strength to weather the storm.
John sought Him and found Him.
You have a very contrasting picture here.
• John was in dire circumstances, and the believers under great persecution.
• In fact, the Lord reveals in 2:13 “I know where you live-where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city-where Satan lives.”
• How about living in this city for a week, where Satan lives?
We have this very bleak picture down here and a very bright, cheery and almost fake heavenly picture of Christ, in control of everything.
• And yet that picture is more real and what we are seeing down here. This place was created; it didn’t exist once upon a time.
• But for eternity, Christ has been there. Overseeing everything that has taken place.