I’m continuing to read through Dr. Steven J. Lawson’s Heaven Help Us! My hope is to have it finished by the end of next week. Just like many of the author’s other writings, this one is an easy and excellent read. He is working his way through the bookends of Revelation; mining truths from chapters 4-5 and 21-22.
Chapter five deals with those who will worship God in Heaven. This is described in verses 9-10, which read:
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
I was struck by what Lawson wrote on these verses (below1). In part because of what has been taking place in our headlines of late. Sadly, it seems that in each generation there are those who have forgotten that we all originate from the sons of Noah in Genesis 10. And furthermore, they forget that Heaven will be full of believing representatives from each tribe, tongue, people and nation.
The word purchase pictures the acquisition of slaves in a marketplace and then setting them free. That’s what Christ did for us at the cross. He came into this world and—with the gold of His blood and silver of His tears—paid the purchase price for a lost humanity who had become enslaved to sin. Only Jesus can set is free (John 8:36).
All the religions of the world can be put into one of two categories. On one side, there’s the religion of human achievement. On the other side, there’s the religion of divine accomplishment. All religions, except one, teach that man must do good works and earn His way to Heaven. Only Christianity teaches that salvation is a free gift offered to undeserving sinners on the basis of the finished work of Christ at the cross. Only faith in Christ saves.
That’s why in Heaven we will be praising Christ. We will not be praising ourselves, because no amount of good works, church membership, baptismal certificates, or service can take away sin. Only Christ can save us from sin.
Christ’s victorious death at the cross—a death that brought about the death of death for all humankind—won the victory for men and women out of every part of the human race. He purchased a people group for God from every conceivable background, without distinction of ethnic race, geographic location, or political persuasion. Tribe means the same descent, same clan, same family lineage. Tongue means people speaking the same language. People means those of the same race. Nation refers to those bound together by political unity, habits, and customs. People of every lineage, language, race, and political orientation will be in Heaven praising Christ.
Let me be clear: This heavenly hymn does not teach universalism. Every person will not be ultimately saved and find his or her way to Heaven. But people out of every people group will be there.
For Christians, this is an infallible truth from Scripture. There is one race (human), with many people groups. There is one color (melatonin), with many pigments. And in Heaven, the company of worshipers will display them all as a tapestry of believers for the glory of God alone.