By Bob Jacobus
Message delivered at Breath of God Worship, Buckhannon, WV, April 15, 2018.
Worthy, Holy, Risen… These three words form a music-like cord that describes the beauty of the Lord. His Glory. They point towards who He has been, who He is, and who He always will be. The same yesterday, today and forever.
They also point towards who you should be, who you can be, and who you will become. They are rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.
Only the Spirit can craft proper words or phrases, paint an elegant verbal brush stroke, or quicken your heart to convey what they fully mean.
Unbelievers will say they are just words, just a slogan, just a catchphrase. Every nitpicker, every gossiper, every slanderer, every bighead, every false-believer, and especially all those of dark and fallen character will try to downgrade them…even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.
But these are some of the things these three words in concert do: They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the Gospel. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be steadfast in hope and to be honest in failure, humble and gentle in success. They teach you not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and mountains of difficulty with courage. They exhort you to stand up in the storm and to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to lead others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high. These words consent to holy laughter yet allow you to cry; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness. They open the mind to true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. These words support a bending strength of the will, an excellence of the spirit and the forte of the heart.
Worthy, Holy, Risen and their implications renew a freshness of the deep springs of life and an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what is next and the joy and passion of life. They teach you in this way to be a child, a son, a daughter and a treasured servant of ‘El ‘Elyon, The Most High God.
And what sort of family is in God’s house, those called home from this life? Were they reliable? Were they brave? Were they capable of victory? Their stories are known to all of you; stories of men and women who dared to trust God and follow Him.
Knowledge of the God I serve was formed in the dust of a coal field many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded Him then as I regard Him now–Worthy, Holy, Risen. He is one of eternity’s most majestic figures, not only the Captain of the Hosts, but also as the One who is most pure, even without stain. His name and fame are the birthrights of every person called by His Name. In His youth and strength, His love and loyalty, He gave more than mortality can give… a life that was worthy and holy enough to redeem all people everywhere. He is risen.
In as much, He needs no eulogy from me or from any other man. He has written His own history and written it in red with his own blood. When I think of His patience under adversity, His courage under persecution, and His modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as the greatest and only example of Godliness in human form. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom to live a full and honorable life. He belongs to the present, to us, by His virtues and by His achievements.
In 36 years, in hundreds of lives, at over a thousand meals of fellowship, I have observed that enduring love, that eternal promise, and that unshakable purpose which He has created His image in the hearts of His people. From one end of Heaven to the other, He fills vessels such as you and me with His Glory.
As I listen to songs of worship, in my mind’s eye, I envision those high-spirited believers of the first century. Bending under cruel persecution, undertaking many exciting missionary journeys being arrested, thrown in prison and beaten. By singing songs of praise, they were set free by earthquakes and angels, always speaking a word in season, sometimes out of season, and for many… seeing their God before their natural time.
I do not know the exact testimony of their new birth and can only imagine the glory of their death unto eternal life. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that true Christians would go on to victory. Always, for them: Worthy, Holy, Risen. With blood and sweat and tears, they sought Him who is the way, the truth, and the light.
Two thousand years later, on every reach of the globe, in the filth of impoverished communities, still they follow. In the stench of unrighteousness, the slime of godless leaders; those unending mountains to be climbed, those deep valleys to cross; rain storm after rain storm, the loneliness and utter desolation of standing firm in the truth, still they follow.
God’s chosen, trusted servants have suffered the bitterness of separation from those dearly loved and cherished; the deadly plague of unclean spirits and the dismay of those who lost faith and gave up during the heat of battle. These men and women put on the resolute full armor of God, swift and sure prayers, indomitable faith, complete and everlasting victory–always victory. Always through the cloudy fog of the last echoing battle, there have been, there are, and there will be strong-hearted children of God reverently following the watchwords of: Worthy, Holy, Risen.
The code which those words preserve reinforces the highest calling and will stand the test of any false religion or world-view ever invented to elevate mankind. They form a foundation for things that are right and means to conquer things that are wrong.
The Christ, above all other men, was required to fulfill the greatest act of religious practice–sacrifice. Worthy, Holy, Risen.
In battle and in the face of danger and death, Jesus unveils those divine attributes which God purposed for humans when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain those who believe when in dire straits.
However terrible the incidents in this life of faith may be, the soldier of God who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his Lord is the noblest new creation in mankind.
You face a new world–a world of change. The thrust of wicked social media of the day, social acceptance of ungodly lifestyles, and the great fear of an apocalypse mark the beginning of another age in the story of mankind. Since Adam or in the three or more millennia of civilization since the flood there has never been a more abrupt or staggering change in the quality of human existence. We deal now…not with things of this world alone, but with inconceivable distances and deepest mysteries of the universe. Like the created heavens all around us we, as believers, are reaching out for the boundless promise, in Christ.
We speak in strange terms: of laying hold of the power of God; following the wind of the Spirit; of walking in unheard of places to complement or even replace our old standard way of doing things. We talk of the pure blood for our drink; the broken body being our eternal food; free of disease by divine health; belief that bad weather can be governed by word of mouth with the authority of the believer; the hope of the rapture; that all must be born again to be saved for eternity; embracing the ultimate conflict between Jesus and the sinister forces of the spiritual world.
The Christian believer’s life is never boring; but, most exciting at all time. Worthy, Holy, Risen.
And through all this flurry of dynamic change and development in faith, your mission, should you choose to accept it, remains fixed, determined, inviolable: it is to follow Jesus.
Everything else in your life should be an extension of this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their slavery; however, you are the ones who are being trained to serve the Most High God. Yours is the profession of faith, the will to follow through with faith, the sure knowledge that in God’s courts there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose faith and fall away, without His faithfulness you and members of your family may face certain destruction; that the very hallmarks of your view of Christ must be: Worthy, Holy, Risen.
Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men’s minds and cause a human faith to fail; but you can stand serene, calm, aloof, as a gatekeeper, as a lifeguard from the raging tides of international and spiritual conflict, with the whole armor of God, a gladiator in a Roman Forum. For 20 centuries, you…and those like you have been called to defend, guard, and protect the consecrated ideals of freedom from sin, liberty in the spirit, and Godly righteousness.
Let unbelievers argue the merits or demerits of human actions: whether this country’s strength is being sapped by social media and low morals; a government that has grown too arrogant, taxes that have become usury, robbing Social Security to finance immorality by power groups that support the killing of babies and by corrupt politics.
Do guns pull their own triggers? Have extremists grown too violent? Are our personal liberties as thorough and complete as they should be? You do not serve these great problems caused by the fallen nature. Rather, you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. You are called to declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Your lighthouse stands out like a triune beacon in the night: Worthy, Holy, Risen.
You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of God’s joy in personal relationships. You rub shoulders with prayer warriors greater than the world will ever know; you respond the moment the cry for faith sounds. The Faithfulness of Jesus has never failed us. Soon, millions of resurrected believers in robes gleaming white, washed in the blood of the eternal lamb, will rise from their resting places thundering these consecrated words: Worthy, Holy, Risen.
This does not mean that you are always in a state of war.
On the contrary, a soldier of God, above all other people, knows to pray for peace; for we suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of rejection and injustice, even as Jesus took suffering to the cross.
The Bible says sin has no dominion over the dead. Therefore, become dead to yourselves, embrace the cross and come alive in Jesus.
Shadows never lengthen for the faithful, twilight never comes. Our days of youth may vanish. Hair may gray, joints may creak, and the belt becomes smaller. Those former days are not gone as a feather on the wind, they are not wasted. Our lives and memories are of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and stroked by the smiles of yesterday. I listen faithfully, with craving ears, for the piercing call of clear trumpets blowing a signal for the last day of this time and dispensation. In my dreams, I see a great white horse and the One who rides, the One who comes for His bride.
But in the meantime, I always come back to my first encounter with the living God.
Always there is the resonance and reverberation: Worthy, Holy, Risen.
Every day is a lifetime before us, let it be governed by a faithful view of Jesus Christ. For He is Worthy, Holy, Risen.