Near the end of his life while exiled on the island of Patmos, quarantined if you will, the Apostle John was given a foretaste of the future. Part of John’s vision recorded in Revelation 5 includes a picture of thousands and thousands of people from every tribe and language and people and nation worshiping Jesus. In verse 12, they shout in a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!”
The breathtaking vision God gave John was not just him in his day, but it is also for us in our day. Five themes from the passage should guide us as we seek to partner together to reach the lost in North Carolina, North America and the ends of the earth.
Revelation 5:8 describes golden bowls of incense, which scripture says symbolize the prayers of the saints, a sweet aroma to God. This verse gives us comfort and confidence that God not only hears our prayers, but He also delights in them. If we are going to reach those without Christ, prayer cannot be our last resort. Prayer must be our primary strategy.
In this passage, the saints sing, “You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood.” God saves sinners through the suffering of His Son. Scripture is clear that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Believers throughout the centuries have suffered for the name of Jesus. Suffering can take many forms. It could mean greater persecution, but it could also mean making difficult changes in our churches and how we do ministry. We must be willing to set aside our preferences, programs and the past to ask, “What can we do to reach a changing world for Jesus?”
Salvation in Christ alone
Those worshiping in Revelation 5 were redeemed by the blood of Christ. Acts 4:12 summarizes the truth that’s underscored throughout scripture – there is no other name by which people can be saved. All saving faith is focused on and found in the Son of God, yet there are billions of people alive today who have never heard the name of Christ. We must be about the business of bringing Jesus to people who have not heard and keeping Jesus at the center of all we do.
Who belongs to the multitude that John describes in this passage? All peoples. Note, it’s not all people, but all peoples. We will never know God’s glory until we understand that His glory is for all nations. God is multiethnic, multilinguistic and multinational. He sent His son to die for people of all nations and all tribes. The awful sin of racism that plagues our nation and our world isn’t a political issue or a social issue. It is a gospel issue. The church must be the primary force in solving this issue as we point people to Christ.
Ultimately, Revelation 5 is all about worship. In this passage, we see thousands from the nations worshiping Jesus. Worship isn’t just a time we set aside on Sundays. Our entire lives should be expressions of worship to our Lord and Savior. God desires more worshipers, and the church is God’s “plan A” for reaching a lost world.
If we are going to be a convention that reaches all peoples to worship, we must be ready to stand on God’s Word and the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ. We must be ready and willing to change and to suffer as we proclaim the name of Jesus. First and foremost, we must be fueled by prayer. These five things should unite us as a movement of churches on mission together.