In Revelation 4:1-4 a transition in the Book occurs. Jesus had given John the messages to the seven churches. Now, a voice invites John to "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things." John sees a new scene that involves the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and the twenty-four elders. He is "in the Spirit" when he receives this vision. With this in mind, let's talk about life in the Spirit.
One, all believers should live in the Spirit.
Our text does not say anything about one's normal life in the Spirit. However, John in his writings does. As his gospel points out, the Spirit is a powerful persuader who lifts up Christ and draws men to Him. As believers, we are born of the Spirit. The Spirit guides us, leads us into all truth, teaches us, and comforts us. He is ever present and does not leave us.
Believers have the great privilege of living in the Spirit--all the time! The apostle Paul said (Galatians 5:22-23), "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." When we rely on the Spirit fully, these characteristics begin to dominate our lives.
Two, we are eligible for special experiences in the Spirit.
As believers, we also are good candidates for special experiences in the Spirit. Going beyond our normal life in the Spirit, there are special moments when the Spirit may powerfully manifest His presence in our lives. We can rejoice over those times when the Spirit manifests Himself in special ways.
We read in John 1:10 that John was in the Spirit. There, we concluded that John meant "in the Holy Spirit." Nevertheless, John's human spirit no doubt was strongly influenced by the Holy Spirit. Thus, both John's spirit and the Holy Spirit were involved.
Once again, here in Revelation 1:2, John was "in the Spirit." In my view the phrase "in the Spirit," like the phrase "filled with the Spirit," can be used of repeated experiences. Indeed, the two phrases are nearly synonymous. Although Peter was filled with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), he also was described in Acts 4:8 as "filled with the Holy Spirit." As believers, we are eligible for repeated and powerful experiences in the Spirit.
Three, God manifests Himself in powerful ways.
While John was "in the Spirit" God manifested Himself to John in a powerful way. The first thing that John sees (verse 2-3) is the throne of God and One sitting on the throne. God often manifested himself in fire in the Old Testament, but this is more glorious than anything ever seen before. With regard to verse 3, Horton (pp. 74-75) makes these comments:
He [John] is aware of God's presence, but the glory is too great for him to describe as having a shape or form. All he can do is speak of a diamond brilliance, a fiery orange-red presence. The "jasper" is said in Revelation 21:11 to be crystal clear, not like the opaque jasper of today; it was more likely the diamond. The "sardine stone" (or sard, sardius, or carnelian) was a beautiful red precious stone, or gem, symbolizing redemption.
The Holy Spirit is not limited in the way that He manifests HImself. Sometimes He manfests Himself in unusual ways in our worship services. As He distributes His gifts among the saints, we witness the result in our congregational life. Moments that might otherwise be routine become high points of spiritual experience. Then, sometimes in our private devotions, the Spirit speaks powerfully to our hearts. As believers, we are blessed by His manfest presence.
Four, we must exalt God and worship Him.
When John was "in the Spirit," he witnessed the twenty-four elders worshipping God. When we are "in the Sprit" we have an excellent opportunity to follow their example. Jesus said that we must worship "in Sprit and truth." They fall down and worship God and cast their crowns before the throne. They adore the Creator.
What does it mean to worship "in spirit and truth?" When we worship "in Spirit," the Spirit empowers our spirits to fully exalt God. The entire act of worship is fully influenced by the Spirit. When we worship in truth, our worship is based on the Word of God. Moreover, our worship exalts Christ who is truth. And we worship if full and complete loyalty to Him who is our Savior. Our relationship with Christ is strengthened by the worship.
The church throughout all the ages can be grateful that John was "in the Spirit" when he received his visions. The visions were from God and are authoritative. This was a special experience in the life of a person who without doubt was constantly living in the Spirit.
Is it possible for us, today, to be "in the Spirit?" Can we enjoy experiences beyond the normal life in the Spirit? Yes, we can! The Holy Spirit, in total harmony with His purpose, does dramatically influence our lives. Let us not try to limit His activity but rather remain open to His constant guidance and powerful presence.