‘Same throne, same Lamb, same robe, same song’
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) -- The holy desire to see the local church reflect the nations was seen at “Skin Deep: a Discussion on Faith and Race in the Church,” Feb. 19, in the Naylor Student Center.
“The conversation was edifying and thought-provoking,” said Anthony Moore, director of student life at Southwestern and moderator for the evening. “Among many things, students were encouraged to faithfully preach the Word as a means of fulfilling God’s great desire for churches that reflect all tribes and nations.”
Paul Hoskins, assistant professor of New Testament at Southwestern, read Revelation 5:9. “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.”
“That’s the Gospel right there,” he said to the audience. “Jesus ‘purchased for God with his own blood all the people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.’ And when you think about that, you begin to realize that’s the type of challenge that was laid before the early church,” to take the Gospel “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Hoskins said Christians must live out this vision of the New Testament: “one people of God, worshipping together, and enjoying the unity we have in Christ. … At the very same moment we were all reconciled to Christ, in Christ we are also all reconciled to each other.”
Rodney Woo (Ph.D. 1986) is an author and pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. The church’s mission statement, reflected by the diversity of their congregation, is to be “God’s multi-ethnic bridge that draws all people to Jesus Christ, who transforms them from believers to missionaries,” said Woo.
Woo pointed to Genesis 1, which declares that man is made in the image of God. “Everyone has the same imprint,” he said. “It has nothing to do with physical appearance, texture of hair, pigment of skin.” This image instead is spiritual and has to do with our abilities to worship, make decisions and have morality.
“No matter what we look like on the outside, we equally share the image of God,” said Woo.
Referencing Revelation 7:9, Woo said, “Every tribe, every tongue, every people, every nation will gather at the same throne, worshipping the same Lamb, wearing the same robe, singing the same song. So, at the beginning [in Genesis] we share image. At the end [in Revelation], we share in salvation.” The difficulty, however, comes in the “parenthetical in-between,” said Woo.
Woo said even churches like his—a congregation that reflects 44 different countries without reflecting one racial majority—deal with conflict on a daily basis as they work out living life together within that diversity. However, the multi-racial aspect of his church is “a little taste of heaven,” referencing the verse in Revelation 7, which makes the difficulties worth it, said Woo.
He exhorted the crowd that Jesus’ chosen descriptor to say how the world would know the identity of His disciples is in—not their love for God—but their love for one another, as shown in John 13.
Audio is expected to be posted online in the near future on the Media Resources page of the seminary Web site.