Building a Church on Earth That Looks Like the Church in Heaven

In Revelation 5:9 the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ by His blood “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” This is the breadth and scope of the redeeming work of the Lamb who is enthroned in heaven. Then, in Revelation 7:9-10 we read that John saw “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” Here are two complementary visions of redeemed worshipers. Here are two marvelous visions of the church in heaven.

When we examine these two passages of Scripture, a couple of things immediately jump out. First, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is greatly adored, loved and exalted by the church in heaven. Second, those who worship the Lamb have come together from every ethne, from every people group on the planet. They have come together as the ransomed of God (Rev. 5:9), the Bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7; 9), the wife of the Lamb (21:9). This is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ that will exist for all eternity.

Such a vision in heaven has tremendous relevance for the church that exists on earth today. It informs us who we are to be and what we should be in the process of becoming. It gives us a kingdom agenda on earth for our churches that says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Racial distinctions, ethnic distinctions, socio-economic distinctions are abolished because we are family. We call out to the same Father, look to the same Savior, and share the indwelling of the same Spirit. Therefore, we strive mightily out of gospel gratitude and gospel unity to plant, build and grow churches on earth that reflect the beautiful diversity of all peoples which we see in heaven.

I used to say wrongly, but with good intent, that our God is a colorblind God. What I meant was He was a God who, as Samuel says, “sees not as man sees, man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). However, I now realize that our God is not color blind at all. He sees the beautiful rainbow of diverse colors that make up the human race and He loves what He sees. He rejoices in what He sees. He is redeeming a people for Himself out of what He sees.

If this is how God sees His world of people, this is how I should see them too. A church on earth that looks like the church in heaven! That is a vision worth having. That is a vision worth pursuing.