What does Revelation 4: 6-11 mean to us now?

Any church, no matter how good it has been in the past, can easily fail when we think we no longer need to put our best efforts forward. It is when we stop growing, stop learning, and stop reaching out to Him and to others that we fail as His church. When we live in the past, we are not living now¾we actually are not living at all. Keep in mind that just about all churches were good and vibrant at one time or else they would never have been formed. It is when we fail to keep those things going that we fall short. 

The Church is to be under His rule and kingship, not our committees and trends. We are to surrender to His lead and to His Way so we can proclaim His supremacy and majesty. If not, we engage in spiritual warfare, but not the kind that most Christians think of, as in our battling Satan. Rather, it becomes us battling God for control so we can conform His church to our pleasures. Satan does not need to battle us when we are already battling God. He will fuel our battling and provide the weapons, but he does not even need to do that, we are so good at it ourselves. Satan’s objective is to manipulate those with bad intentions to battle the righteous and godly, to lead us astray, and/or to get us too busy to see Christ in our everyday lives. 

Looking forward to His eternity? Great! But, consider this. We do not need to be in His Throne Room; He is here with us now. We just need to see His hand upon us now, feel His presence, and allow His supremacy to lead us in His way. In the end, God wins out. Satan’s spiritual warfare against us is as futile as our war against God. He wins! There is no other way; His way is the best and most glorious for us and for Him. Satan wants our eyes distracted so we do not see Christ’s majesty, with the goal being that we worship him and not Him. God wants us in spiritual purity and faithfulness in and to Him. The choice is given, the call is made; the choosing is up to us! How will we lead and manage our spiritual journeys? How will you lead and manage your church? Will it be His supremacy or your inclinations? Which way do you think will win out? Then, why would a person of faith in Christ choose to run his or her life or church by any way other than His? 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you? How would this glimpse of heaven motivate you and your Church to get right and get busy in Him?  
  2. How do some churches battle God for control of His church for their pleasures? How will you lead and manage your spiritual journey? How will you lead and manage your church so you are not battling Him, but rather, serving Him? 
  3. Any church, no matter how good it has been in the past, could easily fail. How does the breakdown of putting our best efforts forward contribute to this?  
  4. What about that when we stop growing, stop learning, and stop reaching out to Him and to others, our churches fail? What can your church do to prevent this?  

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 4: 6-11

Preterist view sees this passage as a courtroom with a Judge who is Sovereign, and who pronounces those who are guilty in the next chapter. They see the phrase of “after this” as meaning it will happen right away and thus has already taken place in the first century. The 24 elders represent the worship of Christ, but are not angels or people. Rather, they are just an image made up for John to grasp His Throne. Others see the creatures and elders as angels or separate created entities that guard God (who needs no guard) and proclaim His Glory and Lordship. They also see this passage as an assault on the zodiac and astrology. 

Futurist view sees this passage as the turning point from dealing with the Church to dealing with the “last days” that have not occurred as of yet. In addition, they see the phrase “after this” and “the triumphant” as referring to after the Church age and thus, since the Church is no longer mentioned much, they mostly believe the Church will not be a part of these events because it has been “raptured” (even though there is little to no scriptural support for this theory, 1 Cor 15:51-54, 1 Thess. 4:16-18, and Rev. 7:9-17; 22:16 are twisted out of their context as they ignore word meanings and other phrases used for the Church such as “redeemed” and “saints” in Rev. 5:8-9; 8:3-4; 11:18; 13:7-10; 14:3-4, 12; 15:3; 16:6; and17:6,  seeing these as meaning characteristics of the church but not the church玅a big stretch away from the actual meanings for this view). The 24 elders represent the first 24 ancestors of Christ listed in Genesis 5 and 7 (this is a big stretch, reading into the text what is not there); others see them as exalted angels who serve God, and some see this as the 24 elders adhering to the Levitical orders (1 Chron. 24:4; 25:9-13) and functioning as priests. Others say they represent the redeemed. They see the seven lamps and spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit. They see the sea of glass as solid, meaning we no longer need the cleansing of the water because of Christ. The four living creatures are living entities that can represent the attributes and qualities of God, the attributes of nature, or as four portraits of Christ from the four Gospels, as King, Servant, Son of man, Son of God. However, such views are wildly speculative and not rooted in Scripture. Their function is to praise God and execute His sovereign will. 

Idealist view sees this passage as a vision, depicting the entire church age. They ignore key words and context. They see the phrase “after this” as meaning “this is what I saw” (not what the words actually mean). They see these images as representative of the Ezekiel and Isaiah passages combined into one series of images of God’s purity and holiness. They see these beings as a separate class of angels or celestial representatives. The 24 elders represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles of the Church (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 21:12-14). They also see the seven lamps and spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit. The elders and such are to glorify God because He is Worthy and reassures the people who are being persecuted. 

Historicist view sees this passage as depicting the Sovereignty of God and the privilege we have to know Him and worship Him. These images parallel the ancient courts of kings such as King Solomon, who had the lions carved on either side of his throne, as well as the Babylon and Roman emperors who had similar images on their thrones. The 24 elders represent the entirety of the Church triumphant that replaces the Jewish priests and sacrificial system with Christ as Lord. However, these angelic hosts were real beings, depicted according to our ability to comprehend. These depictions are in humanistic terms so we can get how glorious God is, far beyond any human rule. The images refer to God’s stability, preeminence, and His ability and right to govern through His rule, wit, power, intelligence, vigilance, and energy.

Exegetical look into Revelation 4:9-11

What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you?

This passage is about coming before our Lord, and our worship from our gratitude for who He is and what He has done for us as individuals. He is the depiction of the centrality of His Supremacy as Christ. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the object and reason why we meet and function. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. 

  • Fall down before him. Anyone who comes before God falls “prostrate.” This is a form of reverence and homage. 
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  • Worship him. An essential element is that all who proclaim God as Lord must also worship Him. Here, it refers to songs of praise for who He is in glory and what He has done in deeds (Ex. 15:11; Isa. 6:3; John 20:28; Rev. 1:6). 
  •  
  • Lay their crowns…you are worthy means the recognition that God alone is worthy of our praise and worship.
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  • You created acknowledges God as the creator of all things and Sovereign Lord over all. He made it and He gets to run it and all that is in the universe, including you and me! 

How is God exclusive and pure? How does this fact help you to come before God? 

What can your church do to better reverence God, not just in song, but also in motivations and behaviors? 

Why does the Church exist? What about your church? Why is this so often forgotten in our boardrooms and planning? 

How does this passage give hope and encouragement to the persecuted church?

Exegetical look into Revelation 4:6-8

John tells us in his Gospel that “He must increase and we must decrease.” (John 3:29-30) If we refuse this vital call, God just may allow those hardships to come our way, breaking us down so we will yield and grow as His child. Just as good and loving parents will discipline their child, God will discipline us. But, this is not a personal attack; rather, it is a way to help us grow and be better used by our Lord (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 1:27; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23-24; 1 Pet. 1:5).

  • Sea of glass. This is an image of worship, as the temple had the “Bronze Sea” referring to the “basin” in the heavenly temple (Rev. 15:5-6, 8; 16:1, 17). Elsewhere, this image of water and worship is found when the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds) was parted by God, as was the Jordan River’s parting (which was actually a greater miracle). These images indicate that all that exists is submissive to God’s supremacy, and He has victory over all that oppose Him. In conjunction, water also means that He supplies us with all we need (Ex. 24:10; Deut. 11:11; 1 Kings 7:23-25; 2 Kings 16:17; 2 Chron. 4:2-6,15, 39; Psalm 11:4; Isa. 51:9-11; Jer 27:19; Ezek. 1:22; Rev. 11:19; 14:15, 17; 15:2).
  • Crystal indicates the magnificence, precious purity, and beauty of His Throne and Being as with verse three (Rev. 21:18-21).
  • Four living creatures. A figurative image from Ezekiel and Babylon descriptions, this possibly refers to angelic ministers to God who act as protectors, guardians, and servants, giving their adoration. The point is that “God is Great;” God is universally glorious, and greater than any earthly power or king. This may also be an assault on the powers and authority of Babylon and Rome. To read into these images more than what is there misses the point of the passage and muddies the waters of Revelation (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 25:17-22; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Chron. 12:8; 28:18; Psalm 18:10; Isa. 6; Ezek. Chaps 1, 10).
  • Covered with eyes. Not necessarily a literal depiction, this perhaps means that nothing gets past them; they are all seeing.
  • Like a lion… like an ox… like a man… like a flying eagle. Basically, these images mean the entire scope and sinful nature of all creation. Lion is the greatest of beasts, the ox is the greatest domestic beast and servant to man, the eagle is the chief of birds, and man is the chief of all (Isa. 6:3-5).
  • Six wings. Ezekiel had similar visions where he saw four living creatures (Ezek. 1:6-11)
  • Holy, holy, holy, is from Isaiah 6:3, and is an expansion of God’s divine name, power, and holiness found in Exodus. This is referring to the holiness of God and our duty and call to worship Him and Him only (Ex. 3:14-15; Isa. 41:4; Rev. 1:4).

Revelation 4: 6-11

Introduction

Heaven Exposed to Us!

General idea: A picture of a heavenly Choir, of all of creation praising God and His wonder as Almighty, Holy and Worthy. And so begins a foretelling of what will come about. The previous passage from 4:1 through 22:5 describes a series of heavily visions in seven cycles (see background article) that John receives from Christ, climaxing with the final judgment. The purpose is not just eschatology (End Times), but rather to give the persecuted church hope and encouragement, and chastisement to those in leadership who are “bent” on false teaching and bad motives. The goal is that we get our churches lined up to His will and call.

John gives us a picture of worship, as God is exclusive and pure. This is about how we come before God, because He is the Supreme and Sovereign Lord over all. John explains His Throne Room in terms of earthly metaphors of earthly kings, except that an earthly king thinks he is in control and deserves the veneration of his subjects. God alone deserves such praise. An earthly king holds court by force and control, whereas God has earned the right to be in command, and He alone is worthy. He has the right to rule and dictate His decrees over us¾over all, because He is the One who created everything. There is no one greater; He deserves our wholehearted worship and reverence. This does not include only praise and song; it means putting Him first in all that we do in life. Real worship is how we reverence Him, not how we sing about Him. He wants our obedience and veneration over all else (1 Sam. 15:22-23; Rev. 5:8; 11:19; 15:5-8)

Get this essential point: Revelation is not just about what will happen in the future, but also what is happening now with the practice of our faith and how we lead our church. We are called to open our eyes to His wonder and worship Him solely-not our ways and trends, and not our pride and feelings. Revelation is about His church and that we run it His way, worshiping Him alone. Church and worship are not about what we feel we need or desire; rather, it is about Christ and what He intends.

How do some churches battle God for control of His church for their pleasures?

How will you lead and manage your spiritual journey?

How will you lead and manage your church so you are not battling Him, but rather, serving Him?

What does Revelation 4: 1-5 mean to us now?

One day, this door will be open to us and we will be there.

The question is, are you ready and have you lived the life He has called you to? God calls us to be earnest in pursuing a serious, deep—rooted, and determined faith. It is a call to persist in our faith and determination, regardless of obstacles—physical limitations, spiritual depression, spiritual warfare, or our circumstances. If everything came to us instantly, there would be no growth, no appreciation, no maturity, and no faith. Faith requires resistance and struggle to make it flourish and grow. God is not the One Who always holds us back; it is usually our refusal to reach out and seize the opportunity. It is we who refuse to exercise our faith and grow. It is we who speak just a simple prayer with no earnest thought behind it, with no zeal or realization of God’s mercy and grace. We get so caught up in our own struggles that we do not look past the crowd to call His Name. We do not realize that He will stop, look, and listen—just for us!

God has given you an open door. What does it take for you to answer and to open it?

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Can you imagine what Heaven will be like? Or, is it so far above your ability to imagine that it is a mere hope?
  2. John, Ezekiel, and Daniel all used images and metaphors to describe this wonder. What do you suppose are the reasons for this?
  3. Why do many Christians today get so caught up in these images that they miss the point of the message? Have you ever done that?
  4. Many misguided interpreters read into a Bible text, stringing together other passages out of context to create a grand theology out of injudicious reading and insert ideas that are not in the passages. What could be causes and motivations for this? Why are we called to read His Word with “exegesis,” or a right explanation and analysis of the text from what is actually in it?
  5. One day, this door will be open to us and we will there. The questions are, are you ready, and have you lived the life He has called you to? What do you still need to do?
  6. What would it mean to your faith and relationships to be better at seizing the moment and taking advantage of the opportunities He gives? Remember, the application is that all who are in Christ are His representatives, both individually, and collectively as the whole assemblage of all Christians who are the Church. How can you make this so in your life and church?
  7. In the meantime, as we wait to see all this for ourselves, how can we fuel our perseverance and productivity by His marvel? What can you do to further persevere with your call and faith?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

Exegetical look into Revelation 4: 4-5

What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you?

The point of this portion of Revelation is to motivate us as a Church to get right, and get busy in Him. How many churches do we know who are indifferent, who just get by and do nothing to exercise their faith or show who Christ is in their lives? Such a church is exercising faithlessness to the point that they actually scheme to not grow in Him, revealing their breach of faith and disloyalty. Such a church will not reach out. Their programs are superficial and inclusive to themselves and not available to others who need them; thus, they are not worthy to be called Christians.

  • Encircled the throne…surrounded by is a parody of a kings court, showing his importance. These images can help us see God’s centrality and eminence. These are visions of angelic courtiers as attendants serving in a royal monarch’s court (1 Kings 22:19; Job 1:6; 2:1; Psalm 89:6-7; Ezek. 1; Dan. 7:9-10)
  • Twenty-four other thrones. In the art of that period, the image of a few (such as priests) means there are many more than depicted. Thus, the number does not mean an actual number. This applies through most of Revelation. Numbers are symbols, not accounting or actual numbers.
  • Twenty-four. The number 24 can mean many things such as the 24 books of the Jewish cannon, or the 24 orders a Jewish priest at the time took, or the completeness of the 12 tribes and 12 Apostles, indicating all who bow to Christ. These numbers are symbolic and not actual accounting as there were 14 apostles and 13-14 tribes depending on context of the listing. (Joseph was two.) (Deut. 21:6; 1 Chron. 24-25; Isa. 24:23; Dan. 7:9; Acts 1:26; Rev. 5:5-14; 7:4-17; 11:16-18; 14:3; 19:4).
  • Twenty-four elders. Elders refers to those with authority. In the context of a church, they are God’s representatives called to declare and serve Him wholeheartedly and righteously. Referring to God’s “cabinet officials” denoting those “with wisdom” as His attendants who worship and serve Him, there are two theories¾Angels or people, or perhaps an exalted category of Angels. Perhaps, it refers to the Church as triumphant; others say it indicates the ancestors of Christ. However, the passage and context suggest celestial representatives, which can mean the Church¾as those who are redeemed or God’s servants¾or, more precisely, both. This is also suggestive of how a healthy church functions with elders who seek wisdom, serving and worshiping God. The application is that all who are in Christ are His representatives—individually, and collectively as the whole assemblage of Christians as the Church.
  • Dressed in white. White, in ancient times, was associated with good and purity. In contrast, black was associated with bad. The dead were buried in white and priests were dressed in white (Rev. 3:4).
  • Crown refers to victory.
  • Flashes of lightning. Special effects in ancient times indicated an important event. Here, it is pointing to God’s self-revelation. It is the symbolic representation of the awesome majesty and power of God. It refers to God’s Supremacy and Authority and our duty to heed His voice and reverence Him. It is also a symbol of the fake god, Zeus’ authority and vengeance (Ex. 19:16-19; Job 37:5-6; Psalm 18:11-15; Ezek. 1:4, 24; 43:2; Dan. 10:6; Heb. 12:18-29; Rev. 8:5; 11:19; 16:18).
  • Rumblings and peals. An illustration of God’s mighty power coming to deliver His people (Psalm 18:12-15; 77:18).
  • Seven lamps/torches refers to the seven churches that are representative of God’s Temple here on earth, as all churches are. The image that God is Light refers to the Church as the body of believers whose duty it is to be a light and a witness for Christ. This is why some commentators take this as meaning the Holy Spirit; however, the theme is that His character is the Light we follow and proclaim, and refers to the O.T. account of how God’s Glory descended into the Tabernacle. Now, our purpose is to point to His glory, as the Church is the light of the world. Proclaiming the Church as a lamp stand is saying the Church is significant as the true place of reverence to God (Gen. 1:3; Ex. 25:31-40; 1 Kings 7:49; Zech. 4:2; Matt. 5:14-16; 18:20; 28:20; John 1:4-5; 8:12; 14:18; Acts 26:13; Eph. 1:10; 5:8-13; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 1:4-5; Rev. 1:12-13; 2:9; 3:9).
  • Seven spirits of God means an angelic court pointing to God’s Fullness. The word, seven, means completeness, perfection, and its importance is compounded. Some believe this is referring to the seven celestial beings (Rev. 8:2). However, context and word meaning attest to the Holy Spirit and His various roles as Counselor, Bearer of Wisdom, Fruit, etc. (Isa. 11:2; Zech. 4:2-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Rev. 1:4; 4:5; 5:14).

Exegetical look into Revelation 4:1-3

This passage is cycle one (Rev. 4:1-8:1) in a series of seven heavenly visions given to John by Christ (Rev. 4:1-22:5). In this first cycle, God is presented on His Throne as the King of Kings, as The Supreme Majesty in sovereign control of all things. He is the One who rules and governs us; we are the ones who are to bow to His supremacy and surrender to His Lordship. The centrality of His Supremacy in this passage gives hope to those who are suffering, and purpose to those who have lost theirs.

  • After this. This is a literary reference to the transition from the epistles to the seven churches over to John’s heavenly visions.
  • I looked. This possibly refers to a vision, or a vibrant dream (Ezek. 10:1; 44:4; Dan. 10:5).
  • A trumpet said. This means God is preparing to give a command or the pronouncement of His Word (Ex. 19:16). Here, many misguided interpreters read into the text a “rapture,” and string together other passages out of context to create a grand theology out of injudicious reading and inserting ideas that are not in these passages, such as 1 Cor. 15:51-54 and 1 Thess. 4:16-18. This is called “isagesis” which is a personal interpretation of a text from our own ideas. However, we are called to read His Word with “exegesis,” or a right explanation and analysis of the text from what it actually says. Also, because the word “church” does not appear until chapter 22, many think this means the church is not on earth during the last days. Again, this is reading into a text our ideas and not God’s. We are never to stretch or construe Scripture according to our whims and/or opinions. Rather, we are to plainly seek what He has for us from what He has clearly revealed to us.
  • Come up here. This phrase is expressed in the same way Moses was called up to Mount Sinai and how Paul was “caught up” in to heaven (Ex. 19:3, 20-24; 24:12; 34:2; Ezek. 1:1; John 1:29, 51; 2 Cor. 12:2; Rev. 11:12-19; 17:1; 19:11; 21:9).
  • What must take place after this. This indicates past, present, and future, and refers to what is referenced in Revelation. It is for the present and future as well as rooted in the past, but not completed as of this writing. Some misguided interpreters find the “rapture” in this phrase, which is again, totally reading into the text what “we want” that just is not there, not only violating the rules of biblical interpretation, but also (and ironically) the plain meaning and point of this passage, which is bowing to Christ and His ways rather than our ways and ideas (Dan. 2:28-29, 45; John 19:35; Rev. 1:1, 19).
  • In the Spirit. This means spiritual exaltation and prophetically inspired¾the wonders of the Lord, giving him this vision and insight for God’s glory and not John’s. This is a state of being sensitive to spiritual understanding, not necessarily “charismatic” worship. The Holy Spirit provided John the visions and took him to places he could actually see. Thus, he is recording authentic images he saw in reality; this was no mere dream. This can also mean that John was caught up or transported to God’s Throne. However, these particulars are irrelevant to the meaning (1 Chron. 25:1-6; Ezek. 2:2; 3:12-14, 24; 8:3; 11:1, 24; Acts 10:10; Rev. 1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).
  • There before me. The representation of God ruling from his throne in heaven is a standard image from the Old Testament. This is a figurative depiction, not a literal description of our Lord (Psalm 47:8).
  • Throne in heaven. Denotes a throne and refers to the earthly kings pompous dignity and prestige in contrast to God’s Preeminence and actuality of having a throne. This is an image of the Old Testament Tabernacle where the “copy” of God’s Throne Room, made for His presence, was made known. Now, John sees the real heavenly version in a corporal state to condescend to his and our understanding (Ex. 24:9-11; 25 (25:40)-40; 1 Kings 5-7; 22:19; 2 Chron. 2-4; Isa. 6; Ezek. 1; 10:1; Dan. 7:9-10; Heb. 8:5-6; 9:1-14; Rev. 3:12; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15-17; 15:5-16:1, 16:17; 21:22).
  • Someone sitting on it. His greatness and splendor surpasses all understanding, as He is supreme and Head over the Church. Either the details are not given to us, or we are not able to comprehend with our human minds in our present state (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:13-15; 5:23; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9).
  • Appearance of jasper and carnelian… emerald… around the throne. This is an image of God’s purity and overwhelming elaborations, magnitude, majesty, and brilliance that is “reflected.” “Precious stones” means precious and nothing else is like it, and that He dwells in unapproachable light “whom no one has seen or can see” (Ezek. 1:26-28; Dan. 7; 1 Tim. 6:16).
  • Rainbow refers to God’s mercy and grace, which we are called to reflect (Gen. 9:12-15).

Revelation 4:1-5

Introduction

“The Throne”

God stands above and opens His door to His Home for us to see. One day, we will see Him there, but for now, we can only imagine how it will be! John gets the great, anticipated glimpse that all people of all times have wondered about¾what will it be like, the wonder of wonders, the layout and look of our eternal home. Imagine what you would see: His awesome sight! Imagine what would you hear: His voice! God tells John to come on in and take a look at what must take place. And John is there, in Heaven. Whether this is a physical transportation or a fantastic vision matters not. He gets to see what only a handful of men have seen while they still roamed this earth. John saw God’s throne and the entire splendor that was there. There are no earthly words, none that even Greek or Hebrew could contain that would adequately describe what God has revealed to him. John is overwhelmed, but manages to grasp what few early images and metaphors existed that could describe this wonder. This passage starts off with a series of heavenly visions (chaps 4-8) as an attempt to convey this marvelous spectacle that is perhaps beyond our ability to even imagine.

God is portrayed as pure and as brilliant as precious, glowing gemstones, and a sea of glass is surrounded by further reverence and majesty. Elders and representatives serve as a house of worship, praising Him, clothed in His grace and presence. Yet, in this serenity are His supremacy, intensity, and power that are overwhelming and glorious. This was more than a foretaste of things to come; it was a show of strength and a demonstration of hope to those in distress and despair. One day we will be called there; but, in the meantime, we are fueled with His perseverance and productivity by the marvel of Him. He is to be our Hope so we can persevere with our call and faith. It is a call to seize the moment and take advantage of the opportunities He gives (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

Revelation is a book that describes events that are indescribable to a people in persecution who need hope and a purpose to cling to. It is not a book of mysticism, because the symbols do mean things that we can understand with a little research and O.T. understanding. Because of the subject, John can only use metaphors and word pictures to put it into writing because no mere words of earthly origin can adequately convey it. If we just see this as mysticism, we miss the point of what God is saying!

What would it mean to your faith and relationships to be better at seizing the moment and taking advantage of the opportunities He gives? Remember, the application is that all who are in Christ are His representatives, both individually, and collectively as the whole assemblage of all Christians who are the Church. How can you make this so in your life and church? In the meantime, as we wait to see all this for ourselves, how can we fuel our perseverance and productivity by His marvel? What can you do to further persevere with your call and faith?