John Dickinson from Carnmoney Presbyterian Church was speaking at the first night of New Wine Ireland's Summer Conference - Sligo 15. Here VOX magazine's editor Ruth Garvey-Williams brings you a summary of his message!
Reading from Revelation 1: 9 - 20.
This is the Lord’s Day and it is my favourite day. From as far back as I can remember, it was always my favourite day. I was brought up in a strict conservative household. No TV, no radio, only Christian music playing and the icing on the cake was that we were not allowed to do any homework!
But it was the worship that I loved the most. The girl who is now my wife used to sing in the choir! There were some human elements involved in my love of the worship but it was more than that. Isn’t worship beautiful? Isn’t there something wonderful about being in the presence of God on the Lord’s Day?
In Revelation, on the Lord’s Day, John was in a place of worship. He was in two places at one time: a geographical location (Patmos - a small island about 30 miles off the coast of what we now call Turkey that was a Roman prison - in short, it was grim) but he was also - “in the Spirit”.
He was given the gift of double vision. That is not usually a good thing. Double vision is the simultaneous perception of two images, two realities. But in John’s case it was good!
Seeing Jesus as He is!
In double vision, John saw Jesus! John heard a voice and turned to see someone “like the Son of Man”. John knew Him well. He had walked and talked with Him for three years.
It is incredible to know that Jesus was just like us. Humanly, He was tempted and tried in every way. But it is not the only view we need. He is so more than that! He is gloriously present, right here, right now! We need double vision!
Seeing the church from heaven’s perspective
John also sees the church with double vision. He sees the reality but He also sees “the seven stars” - a heavenly vision of the church. Here in the world, the church is shining for Him - it is the context of the presence of Christ. But from a heavenly perspective, Jesus is holding the church in His hand.
You know just how much you believe in the immeasurable power of the Lord, by what you ask for the church.
God is doing something new in the church. We need to see it and pray it into existence. There is not just one star in Jesus’ hand - there are seven! That is such an important thing to notice! John’s passion was for the whole church in Asia minor - not just for one church. God wants us to have a heart for ALL the churches - even those we don’t like… or who don’t like us!
No permission to retire!
John sees Jesus, the man He knew, now glorified. He sees the church as stars in the right hand of Jesus. And then he sees himself. John knew who he was. He was a church leader. He was the real deal. He was dogged. He was on Patmos (in prison) because of his “patient endurance” (also translated: courageous resistance). He was loyal to His Lord. He was on the front line. He felt the stress and pressure just like everyone else. He was in exile was because he was a teacher. He knew the scriptures and he could explain them.
John was a respected leader and a true friend of Jesus but when Jesus showed up, John fell “as dead” at His feet. Don’t you want that? To be overwhelmed? To be His and His alone? Jesus gives John a new perspective. The Message puts it like this: “His right hand pulled me upright. His voice reassured me.”
Jesus does not take over. He does not take away our responsibilities or render our involvement superfluous. He enabled John to understand how vital his contribution would be!
Jesus being here doesn’t make your ministry redundant - it makes your ministry important!
In earthly terms, John was removed from ministry among the churches but in heavenly terms, he was significant. God had not given him permission to retire. John’s ministry wouldn’t be the same but it wasn’t at an end! He went on to write down Revelation in obedience to Jesus. You won’t necessarily go on doing exactly the same things. But there is still something that God is calling you to do!