Heaven a mixed multitude

Woody Wilkinson, a professor of theology at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, provided the following viewpoint on ethnic origin and the beliefs of mainline Christians.

The Joplin Globe/January 2001

Throughout the history of the church, many men have strayed from the biblical, as well as the orthodox position of mainstream Christianity.

Although some of these movements were sincere in their attempts, many were a direct contradiction to the clear teachings of the Word of God.

Needless to say, such movements should not surprise us, since the Bible clearly warns us that such distortions would arise. In fact, the Bible tells us that some religious leaders would openly twist the Scriptures in order to support their illegal agenda, their immoral lifestyles or their abuse or mistreatment of others.

One way that religious groups have clearly deviated from the biblical pattern is in the area of ethnic origin. To use the Bible as a resource, or to promote the position that God has a superior race of people that he loves more than others, is clearly a distortion of the God that is revealed in the biblical text.

To confirm such a conclusion, please consider the following principles from the revealed Word of God.

First, from creation it is clear that all mankind bears the "image" of God. This unique feature does make man different from the animal kingdom, but it is not limited to a select group with a particular ethnic background.

Furthermore, the creation emphasis in the Bible always traces mankind back to the first man, Adam.

Secondly, as God was setting the plans for the coming Messiah, he made it perfectly clear to Abraham and to others that the blessing was intended for the "whole" world.

Another illustration in the Old Testament that serves to illustrate this point is when God saves the city of Nineveh. Jonah was looking forward to its annihilation. However, the people had a change of heart and God spared the city. Clearly, God moved beyond Jonah's racism and spared a city doomed for judgment.

Jesus' ministry clearly addresses the issue of racism. He not only dealt with all types of people, but he made it perfectly clear that faith, not race, was the basis for his acceptance of that individual.

The classic model for this is seen in Jesus' interview with the Samaritan woman at the well in Chapter 4 of John's Gospel. In addition to Jesus' personal involvement with people is His Great Commission to the church. The commission was directed to the whole world and it was to involve all the different ethnic races in the world. No particular race was to be held superior to another.

Along with the recorded references in the Bible regarding God's interest and love for all mankind, nothing could summarize it better than God's portrayal of heaven.

The community of heaven is made up of a mixed multitude. They will come out of every tribe and tongue and nation (Revelation 4:9).

There is no clearer statement found in the Bible that supports the fact that the ultimate gathering of heaven is a multitude of different races.

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