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How to Look Up

050109PM Standing Before The Throne

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At the end of his life the great Reformer and servant of the Lord, Martin Luther shared what kept him going through such lifelong adversity and hardships. He said he lived by this simple truth:


“I have but two dates on my calendar today and the day of the judgment seat of Christ!”


In other words he lived each day like he was on his way to explain what he did with his life to the One who gave him life – Jesus Christ.


Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest minds ever produced in an American had this as his constant plan:


“Resolved, never to do anything I would not want to be found doing–by Christ, at His Return.”


Are you ready this evening to appear before Christ’s Throne? The Throne we will appear before was described by the Apostle Paul in several places, none is clearer than 2nd Corinthians 5:10. Turn there with me as we begin this evening.


When we take pilgrims to Greece, the most moving spot of all is in the city of Ancient Corinth. I have seen travelers who were just tourists the whole trip until they reached that spot. And there beneath the raised stone platform called in Greek the bema suddenly the awesomeness of the moment overtakes them and they see themselves at a future day standing at Christ’s Throne. Often tears, often deep silence – and always reverence fills each one as the scene unfolds before their eyes.


Are you ready?


What will matter when you stand alone right in front of Jesus?


What do you wish to have in your hands to give to the One who loved you and gave Himself for you?


What ever that is – that is what we need to live for TODAY!


Tonight will you come with me to that Throne? Will you let the Holy Scriptures transport you out of this world and into God’s?


His Throne, Our Appointment, His Fire, Our Crown, and the Glassy Sea


While we are here seated with songs of Heaven on our lips – something is happening in the place we have pointed our hearts. What we do, say, think, pray, and give rises above and enters into God’s presence. Do you realize how much what you do today and each day matters to the Lord?


So as we sing, give, and worship — what is happening right now, at this very moment in Heaven? Often we think of Heaven in the past (when Christ left for earth and the angels came) or in the future (when Jesus comes as King of Kings) but forget that at this very moment the epicenter of the Universe, the Throne Room of God is very active. So what is going on right now?


God’s Word can take us by angel wings to see the very center of the Universe, to the Throne of God in Heaven. A few moments there will get us in touch with what God is doing right now and how we can TODAY be in tune with Heaven.




  • In the early sixth century before Christ’s birth[1] an exiled Jewish priest, living in Iraq (ancient Babylon) named Ezekiel wrote these words in chapter 1:24-28:


When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings. 25 A voice came from above the firmament that was over their heads; whenever they stood, they let down their wings. 26 And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. 27 Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.


  • Another exiled Jewish prophet, also in Babylon after[2] Ezekiel was named Daniel writes these words in chapter 7:9-10:


“I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened.


  • Another exiled Jewish prophet by the name of the Apostle John wrote to us from Patmos at the end ofg the 1st Century in Revelation chapter 4:1-4:


“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.”


Revelation 5:8-14 “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” 14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”


Watch with me as God pulls back the veil. Through John’s eyes in Revelation we see Heaven as he seems to rise on the wings of angels to get his guided tour of Heaven. His inspired words portray for us a scene of angels—hundreds of millions of angels—“ten thousand times ten thousand”—all clustered about the smooth crystal sea that reflects awesome images from its mirror like surface. Our senses are besieged by so many different sensations. The colors of the materials surrounding God’s Throne are beyond description.


The traditional description of the rainbow is that it is made up of seven colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Actually, the rainbow is a whole continuum of colors from red to violet and even beyond the colors that the eye can see.


A cool, emerald-green hue dominates the multi-colored rainbow surrounding God’s throne; the city that surrounds us has thick walls of sparkling diamonds. To get the sensation hold up your diamond ring to a light and look through the stone and see dazzling flashes of light. Multiply that by diamonds large enough to built walls out of and then an entire city that is over 1500 miles high…looking down beneath your feet you see gold that is transparent so the overpowering radiance of God’s glory can refract and glisten through the entire city; everything is made of gems of such beautiful colors that they send forth the light of God’s glory.


These are the colors of Heaven, the colors God has chosen to surround Himself with – His Glory reflected in all these hues: sky-blue stones with translucent, colored stripes; parallel layers of red and white; orange-red to brownish-red to blood-red; a transparent, yellowish gold; light blue aquamarine; yellowish-green; apple-green gold-tinted green; deep blue; shining violet; and intense purple.


The size is astounding. With just an average platform area for each of us to stand on, just the angels would take up 40,000 square miles. When you add all the redeemed of all time it will take a minimum of an area of a circle with a radius of 750 miles. And that is just for starters.


Imagine God’s Throne about where the Arch is in St. Louis and people and angels standing in circles around that Throne all the way to Tulsa on one side and Chicago on the other. That is an enormous area.


Sq feet per mile per person per sq mile 10 Million people need
27,878,400 9 3,097,600 3 square miles
27,878,400 36 774,400 13 square miles
27,878,400 64 435,600 23 square miles
27,878,400 144 193,600 52 square miles
27,878,400 400 69,696 143 square miles
27,878,400 625 44,605 224 square miles
27,878,400 900 30,976 323 square miles
Sq feet per mile per person per sq mile 600 Million people need
27,878,400 9 3,097,600 194 square miles
27,878,400 36 774,400 775 square miles
27,878,400 64 435,600 1,377 square miles
27,878,400 144 193,600 3,099 square miles
27,878,400 400 69,696 8,609 square miles
27,878,400 625 44,605 13,451 square miles
27,878,400 900 30,976 19,370 square miles


But no matter what the size may be, just the sight is hard for us to take in, so much beauty, color, and brilliance overwhelms our eyes. One by one our eyes are riveted on the celestial scene before us.


First, ANGELS capture our attention. These countless white robed angels standing like living walls of pure white robes rising in circular rings reflecting the light of God. They rise and fall to the sounds of the four creatures crisscrossing the expanse on the four corners of the Throne. They move as one – falling down on their faces as they speak the wonders of God’s Glory.


Next, the FLOOR if it can be called that, is an ocean of completely clear and reflective glass. In this crystal sea we can see all the colors, lights and objects are reflected and amplified.


Then the THRONE. Central to Heaven is the Throne of God. Completely encircled by the emerald green rainbow that is over, around and beneath the Throne – we are overwhelmed by the massive rumble of power, as endless peals of thunder and flashes of lightning seem to radiate outward from within. Listening carefully we hear with John the loud voices like roaring waterfalls rolling past the seven blazing pillars of flame that burn in a circle around God’s Throne.


Then the BURNING ONES, that is what seraphim means, capture our focus. As our eyes turn to follow the four glistening living beings each with four distinct faces – lion, calf, man, eagle – and completely covered with eyes as they move like flashes of light with fire passing between them, gliding through the expanse around the Ancient of Days in theocentric orbit always facing the Almighty One.


Now as we watch, 24 ELDERS rise and fall, under the awesome expanse of space over the Throne that sparkles like pure on the crystal blue pavement as it is called in Exodus. Then we see a circle just beyond the burning pillars of fire, and the four living creatures that surrounds God’s Throne–made up of 24 small thrones seated with white robed celestial men.


Each man holds a harp, wears a crown, and holds a golden bowl. These golden bowls contain the worship offered by God’s saints on Earth. And repeatedly we see those twenty-four elders fall on their faces pouring out to the Lord, the collected worship of the saints as the hosts of Heaven loudly chant the Glory of God. With the mighty sound of seraph wings we hear the voices, thunders, and sounds of all the Universe blending into one crystal clear affirmation:


Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,

who was, and is, and is to come.

(Revelation 4:8)


Finally, at a special moment every angel and every elder and every saint fall prostrate before him—those four great angels, those twenty-four elders, the hundreds of millions around the sea—and most of all, us! And we all join together to sing with them:


Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,

to receive power and wealth

and wisdom and strength

and honor and glory and praise! (5:12)


So what is valuable here? What is the currency of Heaven? Today — you and I are God’s priest’s on earth, offering to Him our worship that He receives in Heaven. This is what I would be trying to do as much of as possible if I really believed that I would stand in front of Jesus Christ some day—and I do believe that. Do you? Does your life look like you believe this to be true?


Their devotion – a burnt offering:


Mark 12:33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”


Have we offered our devotion up to Him irretrievably, completely, and lovingly?


Their life is – a sacrifice:


Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 15:16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.


Have we recently renewed that offering of all we are to Him?


Their service – a drink offering:


Philippians 2:17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.


Are we pouring out what we cannot keep – to Him so we cannot lose?


Their gifts – a fragrant freewill offering:


Philippians 4:18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.


What is the aroma ascending from our living before Christ’s eyes today?


Their worship- a praise offering:


Hebrews 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.


When is the last time we stopped and launched a wave of praise filled worship toward His Throne?


Their deeds-spiritual sacrifices:


Hebrews 13:16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.


What acts of kindness have we premeditated and carried out this week?


Their prayers-an incense offering:


Revelation 8:3-4 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar, which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.


What do we have in the bowl of our collected prayers? If God loves our prayers so much that He collects them all (like notes from my wife & kids) why don’t we send more?




This evening each of us has an unavoidable appointment. This appointment should constrain our flesh and motivate our spiritual hearts. The Time of this appointment is the Day of Christ. This time is so important that Paul mentions in not once or twice, but eight different times in the New Testament, and the Apostle John once for total of nine times.


  1. Romans 14:10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
  2. 1 Corinthians 1:8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. 1 Corinthians 5:5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
  4. 2 Corinthians 1:14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.
  5. 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
  6. Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
  7. Philippians 1:10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
  8. Philippians 2:16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. This is the judgment of the church, one of three last day judgments.
  9. 1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.


In our text of 2nd Corinthians 5:10 we see several elements of our time before Christ’s Throne.

  • So, its going to be first of all a very public event: phanerothanai which means more than just to appear, it means to make manifest. Before the God of the universe and all of creation, we will be made known before all. And bema is the judgment seat of the rulers of old. It is raised for all to see. That is the place all will appear one by one.
  • Secondly it is also a very personal event heskaton [plural] must appear in order that each one individually which is the literal meaning of ‘may receive’. Our lives amount to either good or phaulon translated bad does not speak of evil but ‘good for nothingness’[3] The believer is either going to have to answer for the good things done faithfully for the Master, or for the rest which was good for nothingness. This is ‘light, unstable, blown about by every wind’. Oh, to stand before all in that day and to answer to Him.




At Christ’s Throne there is the presence of a refining fire. God’s plan is to take all of our life, our time, our choices, our deeds, our priorities, our savings, our possessions—in other words, everything to show for our life from conversion and onward. All that we were is placed in a celestial tub, just like at the airport screener’s station. Down the conveyor belt it goes. Instead of being x-rayed, it actually passes through celestial fire from God. That fire is meant to burn away anything that was done for self, done for pride, done for worldly or fleshly purposes. Then, after that fire is finished, all that is left in our celestial tub is what was done for God’s glory, in obedience to Him.


The contents are emptied into our hands we get to present what we were for the glory of God as our gift to our Savior who loved us and gave Himself for us.


1 Corinthians 3:10-15 “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”




  1. The Crown of AN  ABUNDANT LIFE Revelation 2:7  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
  2. The Crown of AN  INDESTRUCTIBLE LIFE Revelation 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
  3. The Crown of AN INEXAUSTIBLE SUPPLY  Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth [it].
  4. The Crown of AN INEXPRESSIBLE  FUTURE  Revelation 2:26-29  “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— 27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’— as I also have received from My Father; 28 “and I will give him the morning star. 29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
  5. The Crown of INCREDIBLE COVERAGE Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white  Raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
  6. The Crown of AN INESCAPABLE DESTINATION  Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, [which is] new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and [I will write upon him] my new name.
  7. The Crown of INTIMACY WITH GOD Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 1 Peter 1:4-5 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
  8. Revelation 2:10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you THE CROWN OF LIFE.
  9. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an IMPERISHABLE CROWN.
  10. Philippians 4:1Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and CROWN, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.
  11. 2 Timothy 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
  12. 1 Peter 5:4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive THE CROWN OF GLORY that does not fade away.




Revelation 4:5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”



To conclude our look at our call to abide in Christ as we have seen in John 15, may I share the testimony of someone we all have heard of? When asked later in life what kept him going in Bible teaching, translation, and church ministry Martin Luther said this simple truth:


“I have but two dates on my calendar today and the day of the judgment seat of Christ!”


In other words he lived each day like he was on his way to explain what he did with his life to the One who gave him life – Jesus Christ.


Are you ready?


What will matter when you stand alone right in front of Jesus?


What do you wish to have in your hands to give to the One who loved you and gave Himself for you?


What ever that is – that is what we need to live for TODAY!


Christ’s Throne of Judgment is a part of His overall plan. Remember GOD’S PANORAMA OF AGES? These are the steps from here tonight to Eternity that God’s Word has mapped out for all who study His Word.


RAPTURE I THESS. 4 BE READY – The Son of Man cometh
JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST 2 CORIN. 5 BE HOLY – We must all appear.
TRIBULATION REV. 6-19 BE THANKFUL – Christ will keep us from the hour.
SECOND COMING REV. 19 BE PATIENT – Christ will right all wrongs.
MILLENNIUM REV. 20 BE FOCUSED – Christ will perfect the earth
GREAT WHITE THRONE REV. 20 BE FAITHFUL – Point people to Christ.
HEAVEN REV. 21-22 BE INVESTING – Lay up treasure in Heaven.





Jesus left us with some beautiful pictures of how He relates to us in our every day lives. Remember them?

He wants to be our daily BREAD we feed upon.

He opens to us the DOOR of life.

He is our good SHEPHERD.


In that context as Good Shepherd this morning we find another powerful way Christ disciplines us in as a Chastening & Pruning illustration.


You know that Middle Eastern shepherds, when they have a sheep or a lamb that’s prone to wander — like it won’t stay with the flock but it tends to run off by itself — and they want to protect it, they don’t want it to fall off some cliff.  They know that if it gets out there by itself some wolf will eat it or it will get caught in the briars or something like that, they want to keep it close, do you know what they’ll do?  A lamb that is prone to wander, they will break its legs.  Now, that sounds pretty cruel, but they’re doing it out of love.  They will break its legs and put a splint on it so that little sheep can only hobble along and the sheep is going, “I’ve got this splint I can’t get away,” and the shepherds going, “That’s exactly right,” and he’s a good shepherd.  And, sometimes God puts a splint on your life that keeps you from wandering too far from the flock and you may resent it, and you may resist it, but it’s because God loves you; He’s guarding you.


If you were to travel around for a day visiting Bedouin shepherds in the Holy Land at their folds where they keep their flock, a surprising sight would be yours. It is very likely that you would come across a shepherd and his flock quietly resting except for one sheep. On a pile of straw that lamb would seem to be in pain. If you interviewed that weathered Bedouin who looked so much like Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob you would quickly find that its leg was broken. Upon further questioning if you were to ask, “How did it happen?” This startling answer would come back. Listen to the collective voice of centuries of good shepherds caring for their sheep:


“I broke that sheep’s leg. Of all the sheep in my flock, this one was the most wayward. It never would obey my voice. It never would follow where I was leading the flock. It wandered to the edges of cliffs. And not only was it disobedient itself, it was always leading the other sheep of my flock astray. I’ve had experience before with sheep of this kind, so I broke its leg. When I first went to it with food, it tried to bite me. I left it alone for a couple of days. Then I went back to it, and it not only took the food, it licked my hand and showed every sign of submission and even affection. And now let me tell you something. When this sheep is well, as it soon will be, it will be the model sheep of my flock. No sheep will hear my voice as quickly. None will follow me as closely. Instead of leading the other sheep astray, it will now be an example and a guide for the wayward ones. It will lead them to obey my call. Actually, a complete transformation will have come into the life of this wayward sheep. It will have learned obedience through its suffering.”


[1]  592-570BC

[2]  597-530BC

[3]  Trench, 296-97.

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