Spiritual Life of the Leader - Lesson 22

Examples of Worship in Revelation 4

In this lesson, you explore worship in Revelation 4, guided by Dr. Robert Mulholland. Key actions include falling before God's throne, casting crowns in surrender, and embodying humility and love. You learn that future worship in the New Jerusalem shapes current practices. The lesson highlights the importance of heartfelt worship beyond physical actions, using examples like the sinful woman anointing Jesus' feet. It calls for intentional worship focused on honoring God and guiding leaders to inspire genuine worship in their congregations.

Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of the Leader
Lesson 22
Watching Now
Examples of Worship in Revelation 4

Examples of Worship in Revelation 4

I. Three Movements of Worship in Revelation Chapter 4

A. They fall before the throne

B. They worship the Lord

C. They take off their crowns and cast them before Jesus

II. Intentional and Focused Worship of God is Often at Best, Secondary

A. Follow the example in Revelation Chapter 4

B. Example from the Gospels

C. What we should do as leaders

  • Dr. Martyn has surveyed church leaders around the world to understand their responsibilities and pressures. He aims to use his experience to help them develop a model of ministry that encourages spiritual formation, discipleship, and worship in a healthy way. His class is comprehensive on topics such as spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles, and worship. Listening to this class could benefit anyone regardless of whether they have an official leadership position or not.
  • This lesson covers the involvement of Christians in societal issues, using historical examples and emphasizing the balance of Christ's work for and in believers, while critiquing modern church practices and advocating for active ministry participation by all members.
  • This lesson teaches the importance of balancing Christian service with receptivity to God's word, using the story of Martha and Mary to illustrate the need for prioritizing spiritual union with Christ over mere activity, emphasizing the consequences of a divided heart and the necessity of both justification and sanctification.
  • Learn to identify red flags in your ministry, distinguish between serving God and personal ambition, and address anxiety, self-pity, and control issues by trusting God and adopting humility.
  • Understand the theological concept that your essence is divinely created and precedes your existence, contrasting this with Sartre's existentialism, and learn the importance of receiving God's guidance over defining your life by accomplishments.
  • Learn to critically evaluate your motives, distinguish between self-serving and God-serving actions, understand the role of community in avoiding self-deception, recognize the significance of Christ's atonement, handle red flags, and balance people's expectations with God's calling.
  • The lesson teaches you to balance spiritual renewal and active ministry by self-reflecting on weekly activities, ensuring you receive God's grace and effectively respond to His directives, thus preventing burnout and sustaining a healthy ministry.
  • Learn to live like a reservoir, receiving spiritual replenishment before giving, through prioritizing key practices like prayer and scripture, and avoiding depletion by maintaining a constant spiritual reservoir and making essential practices an integral part of daily life.
  • This lesson teaches you to live by integrating core Christian principles daily, maintaining foundational practices like loving God, building relationships, serving vocally, and caring for your body, while emphasizing the importance of following Jesus closely and avoiding the pitfalls of church leadership.
  • Learn about the eight deadly sins, their historical and spiritual context, and the importance of overcoming them through spiritual disciplines, while illustrating the consequences of these sins through biblical examples, especially emphasizing the dangers of anger and depreciation of God's goodness.
  • Learn about dealing with inordinate sadness and grief in ministry, understanding the importance of acknowledging suffering, supporting others compassionately, handling difficult relationships with integrity, and addressing unresolved anger constructively.
  • You learn the importance of gratitude, the dangers of sadness and acedia, the need for internal well-being through a relationship with God, and the power of infused hope in overcoming ministry challenges.
  • Gain insights into the dangers of vainglory and pride, the importance of humility, prayer, and community support, and the significance of recognizing God's sovereignty in overcoming self-centeredness and narcissism.
  • Integrating sermon teachings into your heart is crucial, all sins are deadly, and you should submit worries to God, rejoice, and take every thought captive for Christ, using early church wisdom to overcome temptations like gluttony for spiritual growth.
  • This lesson teaches you how to identify and combat the eight deadly sins using virtues like temperance, chaste love, poverty of spirit, meekness, appreciation, infused faith, hope, love, and humility, relying on divine grace to transform these vices into a deeper spiritual life.
  • Understand that crises, whether personal or ministry-related, are opportunities for spiritual growth by seeking God's refuge, understanding forced detachment crises, maintaining healthy life rhythms, and recognizing divine purification amidst challenges.
  • This lesson teaches how crises reveal the light of Christ, illustrating the transformative power of faith through biblical examples and personal experiences, emphasizing reliance on God's resources and presence, and portraying ministry as a pressure cooker demanding quick maturity and resilience.
  • Explore Christian anthropology, understanding God's image in us, and the dimensions of human life, roles, and spiritual longings, emphasizing the balance between physical, functional, and spiritual aspects guided by the Holy Spirit.
  • This lesson continues the study of Christian anthropology through Adrian Von Comm's field theory, emphasizing Christ at the center of interconnected aspects of human existence—interior, relational, here and now, and global life—encouraging balance, cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and harmonious Christian living.
  • Learn that as a leader, worship is central to your role, involving a holistic response to God's love and guidance, emphasizing discipleship, biblical understanding, and aligning with God's purpose through praise and adoration, preventing apathy and enriching your leadership journey.
  • Understand that true worship according to the New Testament is about honoring and serving God alone, avoiding idolatry, and leading a life of genuine service and love toward Him, while recognizing and addressing the major obstacles to authentic worship within contemporary church practices.
  • Understand the importance of genuine worship leadership, personal worship alignment, the significance of historical church traditions, the dangers of overloaded worship services, and the mission to uphold true worship against global falsehoods.
  • Learn about the core aspects of worship in Revelation 4, emphasizing humility, submission, and the connection between future and present worship, encouraging heartfelt adoration and genuine worship practices in church leadership.
  • Learn how a leader's spiritual life impacts their ministry, the necessity of comprehensive discipleship, the integration of gospel content into daily life, and the importance of articulating and practicing core theological doctrines.
  • Explore the dynamic nature of spiritual life and leadership, emphasizing shifts from traditional to transformative ministry, clergy-centered to congregation-empowered roles, and solo to team leadership, advocating mature discipleship and active laity engagement.
  • Learn the importance of integrating sermons into discipleship, focusing on high commitment, contextualization, personal mentoring, and a family-like atmosphere, while emphasizing biblical and theological grounding for a solid foundation.
  • Biblical and theological grounding, genuine discipleship, and the formation of life-giving dispositions are crucial for spiritual growth and active participation in God's mission, leading to personal joy, communal fulfillment, and a global impact.

What do you think the priorities should be for a leader in the Church? How do you cultivate your personal spiritual life in a way that keeps you emotionally healthy and helps you avoid choosing sin? What is your measure of success for your church? How does that compare with a biblical measure of success? What is a disciple? What should the process of discipleship look like? What principles can you learn from the way Jesus interacted with his followers that will help you to encourage spiritual formation of the people in your sphere of influence? What are sins that people in leadership have commonly struggled with over the past 2,000 years? How do you recognize them in your own life and what are some practical ways to avoid them or repent and recover from them? What is the essence of worship? How do you live your life so you are worshipping God authentically in everything you do? How do you lead worship in a group setting in a way that encourages others to worship authentically? 

These are a few of the questions that Dr. Martyn poses to begin a conversation regarding the subject of the spiritual life of the leader. As a pastor for more than 20 years, Dr. Martyn asked and answered these questions in the context of loving and serving people personally. As part of his current position of teaching future pastors at Asbury seminary, he and some of his colleagues have conducted extensive surveys of church leaders throughout the North America and the world to get a better understanding of the responsibilities and pressures that church leaders face every day. His goal is to be able to understand biblical principles and use his experience to help leaders develop a model of ministry that helps them develop their personal spiritual life and give them a model to disciple and encourage the people they work with in a way that is healthy and encourages their faith and practice. 

Whether you have an official leadership position or not, you will benefit from listening to this class. It is one of the most comprehensive classes on spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles and worship that you will ever hear. If you listen and reflect on each of the lectures from beginning to end, you will be glad you did. 

Dr. Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of a Leader
Examples of Worship in Revelation 4
Lesson Transcript


[00:00:01] Welcome back. What I would like to do and where I'd like to lead us now is continue on in Scripture looking at what the word has to say. And I owe this next section to the dear colleague who seeing Glory now in Robert Mulholland. Doctor Mulholland has been a guide for me for many, many, many years. And I should also it's important for me to say that biblical training has a fairly major section on Mulholland on Revelation, and I highly recommend this to you. So Dr. Mulholland studied and taught for decades on the Book of Revelation. He was a New Testament scholar, and I think that his work in the fourth chapter of Revelation goes to the very heart of what we've been talking about. And and it goes to the heart of pastoral leaders, of of congregation leaders in terms of how we understand how our own personal living and our own personal understanding of how we are to lead others here. So this is this is going to apply to all of us who are working for God's church. John proclaimed, and the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside, day and night without ceasing. They sing Holy, holy, Holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come. And whenever and whenever the living creatures give glory and honor. And thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who is for ever and ever, the 24 elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, singing You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things.


[00:02:45] And by your will they existed and were created. Now, as the four living creatures continually sing their song of worship to 24, elders enter into a three fold action of the worshiping church. I told you we were going to do those movements again. And so hold on. Here we go. What's what's the movements? These are movements for all of us, you know, And you want to learn about worship. Where do you go? You go to the word first. They fall before the throne. Second they worship the Lord. Third, they cast their crayons before him. Now, Mulholland comments that this posture of falling before God's throne does what it represents an acknowledgment of God as absolute deity. Now, it's important for me to also say I'm quoting Dr. Mulholland from a commentary, the Cornerstone Biblical commentary. James First and second. Peter two in Revelation, this Tindale House publication. So they're acknowledging God is absolute deity. This is the whole falling down before this, remember, is classic worship. So in their worshipful movement of falling before God, they are paying him proper homage. By what? By adoring him. Then, in throwing their crowns before the throne, Mulholland notes that this represents authority, rule control. Whoa. What do we see here? Here we see the elders yielding the control of their lives to God. Wow. Falling before rising up to praise. Then casting our crowns. I'm yielding all of the authority and rule and control of my life before God. So this allows God to be God in their lives. On God's terms, On His terms, not on theirs. Since all of the indicators in the Book of Revelation point to worship as the primary activity of the Bride of Christ in the New Testament and in the New Jerusalem, that is to come.


[00:05:34] And do you hear that? Listen, theologically. What do we say about that? This is what we say. The end determines the now. In other words, what we're going to be doing in the kingdom determines what we need to be learning to do and actually doing. Now the end determines to the now. So. Listen, the Bride of Christ in the new in the new Jerusalem. So we're going to do well to to allow our future adoration of God to give substance, literal substance and shape to our present worship in the church. Now, here's where Mulholland, you know, here's her. Dr. Mulholland exegesis of the word can help lead us in our contemporary worship today, and it can lead the whole church. All right, Now think about it. There's the physical action. I fall down before the throne. Well, what's the heart condition? Because the Lord's very concerned with the heart. You can actually, as we know, go through physical actions and be absolutely dead, worthless religion. Well, the heart condition is inward humility and submission to the Lord, not my will, Lord, your will. So this outward posture of acknowledging God is our superior in all things is matched with an ongoing inward movement of a claiming God is Lord in master second. So you fall down. Then what you do, you raise back up and you exalt. You are lifting up. You're exalting the Lord by proclaiming His worth ship. He's worthy and we're declaring all of those attributes that he is. This is the raising up. So what's the outward posture, the outward postures raising up now in terms of adoration of God and lifting up my eyes and lifting up my heart? What's the N word, love? Well, it's exactly that. It's. It's inward love expressed by lifting up the Lord.


[00:08:07] I mean, how do you feel when your your spouse speaks well of you? You know, we get a wonderful Latin word, those of you in leadership in the local church who will give at the end. What do you do at the end of the service? Yeah, you give the benediction. Well, it's from it's Benedict Terry speaking well of. So if your spouse speaks well of you just kind of makes your day if if those you love speak well of you. It's always important to have a dog around the house because the dog will always speak well of you, even when the spouse and others don't. That's an important issue. But, you know, we're speaking well of God is what we're saying here. I'm speaking well of God. Why is this important for us? Because when you live where people get caught up with all that's wrong with the world, or when you live in a in a place in time with partizan bickering, partizan contrary political views both in the church and how do the church you know you are not going to tie into that. What we're going to do is tie into speaking well of God. We're getting our eyes off, not neglecting, but we're getting our eyes off of what's wrong with things by declaring what is right and good and just in holy and honorable. And all of that is grounded in who God is. So this is inward love. It's an ongoing movement of declaring the goodness of God, even in the mess of our own daily lives. Sometimes in three, what do they do? They take their crayons off of, you know, So. So our crowns are our achievements are our good works for the Lord. Any kind of honor that is given us.


[00:10:16] You know, it's a good thing to take it. Take it off now. I, I had at one point, I had a number of plaques and diplomas, and I had awards all on my all own, my office. I got to looking at those one day, I was just sitting in front of them, and I thought to myself, well, any of my three children or any of my grandchildren even want one of those things, much less put them up on a wall anywhere. And I immediately knew the answer. No, sir. Took them all down. They're not there. Every last one of them. They're all dead. Let's just take them in through and before the Lord right now, thanking him for what he's given us. Thanking him for how he's honest, everything. We thank him. We thank him for it. We're throwing the crown before the Lord. What's that doing? So it's acknowledging that every good thing that happens in my life. Who made it possible? The Lord Jesus. It comes from his. And let us say where it comes from. It comes from his mercy. Undeserved. Undeserved. It's an outward action of placing all that we are under the Lordship of Christ. And it's an onward. It's an ongoing inward movement of total abandonment, of everything, all that we are to God. Get the formative movement now. Bow in love, lifting high, casting our crowns. Listen, we are painfully aware that as we attended worship services over a broad area, that intentional and focused worship of God is often, at best secondary. And all too often not even mentioned in worship services. It's a neglected. These things are neglected. These movements are neglected. We're failing at every primary level of recognizing and honoring father son in spirit as our try and God, the one Lord of our lives, the three of our love.


[00:12:37] Now without being prescriptive in any manner. Again, I don't want to do that because every truly consonant, Christian tradition, faithful Christian tradition has its own own way of working out the application parts of of worship or without trying to dictate specific styles of worship. You know, I'm really, really want to press all of the streams of Christianity, of Christianity, that we're being summoned by the elders in Revelation. This is the true elder board here to bow before God and to declare his praise. The people of God deserve this, and they're going astray because of its absence in the light of worship is not breaking into the darkness of this fallen world. I want to also suggest that we learn how to worship by looking back, by looking back at an account in Scripture that shows up in all four Gospels. So you'll see it first in Matthew 26, verses six through 13, a woman, a sinful woman, comes to Jesus. She's lived a life of self curvature where she's taken the love that's meant to be for God and for others. She's turned it back on her self. She's lived a morally. Corrupt, miserable life. And she was filled with shame, no doubt. And so this poor lady, when it seems that things can't get any worse for her, what happens? She finds herself in the presence of Jesus. I no doubt she'd heard about it. You know, she knew about him. But I think like everyone else, she kind of figured he would condemn her. What happens? The son of man, the son of God, sees right through her sin and shame to who she was meant to be. And what does he do? He responds to her not with condemnation. But with mercy, with love, and with amazing forgiveness.


[00:15:12] Nobody is beyond the reach of forgiveness here. Then she in turn, responds to his love by receiving this forgiveness that he offered and by trusting that he would indeed work out the mess that her life had become. So while her life probably was still hard, I mean, she still had issues she was going to have to face. She had been restored. Her basic dignity had been given to her. She was loved. She knew the love that she was seeking. And she had the opportunity now to know God's intention for her life. And what does she do? She brings in the most expensive things she has. And she broke it and poured it out on Jesus feet. I mean, she bought the good stuff, the great perfume. She bowed before her Lord. She anoints his feet with her costly gift. And then what she does, she wipes his feet with her own hair. Now, this woman offered up the most costly gift that she had to Jesus, and she gave her complete self with that gift. And she literally with this action, she's literally offering all that she has in love and worship and adoration with the 24 elders, we too are called to bow down and to rise up in in praise and to cast the costly things of our lives. All of it before him, before the feet of Jesus. So here we go. Here we go. We want to come in. I learned. I've learned this from Robert Weber. We want to come into the presence as leaders who want to draw people into the presence of Christ. And we want to be really clear. We are here to worship and select and sit earlier. We want to do we're asking we're invoking the Holy Spirit to make this possible.


[00:17:24] We're praying. We're reaching out to God. In worship, whatever tradition you're out of, I'm trusting that the Word of God will be held up. And let me just say a little little word here. I love what John or Debbie Start said many, many decades ago. He said this sermon, it's now sermon. It's a little bitty few points, a few illustrations sermon. It's make for Christians. It's still the sermon. It's the people of God need to come to the feast of the word. So whoever says, you know, we come to the feast, the word of God. Then we respond. In the classical sense, we respond. How do we respond? We come to the table of God to receive all of the gifts He has for us at the table. And then what do we do? We go out. We go out to serve. All of this is an action of worship, of bowing down, of rising up, of blessing, of going forth. Then after throwing our crayons. So why I mean, we're acknowledging this big. Why? Why are we gathered? We're gathered to still our lives to focus upon God who calls us into worship. And we're inviting the Holy Spirit to enable our worship. This is why we're doing it. We come before the mystery of God and we bow down in submission and praise. And then we listen. Listen to the word. This is why it's so important for anyone breaking the word of lie for them to have. Listen to what God has to say. You want the mind of Christ for your people. Not your own mine. The great, great systematic theologian Thomas Soden. Said, this is why Jesus came. And this kind of sets our agenda in bringing forth the word.


[00:19:50] Whether I'm doing this in a small group, in a Sunday school class, in a discipleship class before a congregation. Jesus came out and wrote to reveal God to humanity. To provide a high priest interceding for us who is able to sympathize with our human weakness, to offer us a pattern of fullness of human life. To provide a substitution every sacrifice for the sins of all of humanity, faith to bind up the demonic powers in all of this fullness of the Gospel is coming out in all that we preach and teach, and it's all focused on Christ. These are the things that we listen to as we study God's were listening to God's Word, faithfully presenting God's Word, and in response, the living word. Who is Christ Jesus? We say yes to him. We say yes to all that He wants us to say yes to. And we do that by entering into the great sacrifice of our savior. We remember what was done for us in the Atonement. That's why we celebrate Holy Communion. We're remembering we're also looking forward to the fullness of the banquet that is to come. And we're also right now presently receiving all of his love through grace. Through grace. Well. Finally, we go forth. It's the people of God who've worship, listened, responded, received, praised. Given our lives, we go forth. Now, for those of you in leadership today, I just want you to be encouraged. You know, we don't have to collapse to the level of what's called anxious people pleasers. Why? Because when you take up the courage of God, he will help you lovingly, graciously and at times, yes, firmly present his word. We don't ever want to use the word as a hammer to beat people.


[00:22:18] We don't want to use the word to promote our own agenda. We want to let the fullness of the gospel speak. But I think when we bow before him, when we rise up to praise him, when we cast our crowns before him, he's going to equip you. He will equip you with his work, his job, his kingdom, his church. And I bless you in the name of Christ, our Lord, and that whole movement of worship. May you be a true leader for God's kingdom. A man.