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a biblical view of diversity

"After this I looked, and behold, 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, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands..."  (Revelation 7:9 ESV)

In preparing believers to partake in the Lord's Supper for the first time, Dutch pastor and theologian, Herman Bavinck gave a series of meditations on how and why we publicly confess our faith in Christ.  The sixth message was entitled, "The Diversity of Confession".  Below is an excerpt (underlining added) ...

"To be sure, people are already endlessly different from each other in the natural life.  Gender and age, talents and character, education and environment, country and people, time and place, class and position, and diversity of gifts of intellect and heart all bring about the greatest changes in the opinion and view of things.  No two people are exactly alike.

"And this diversity that exists in nature is not erased by grace.  For grace does not suppress and destroy nature but restores and renews it.  Still, grace expands the natural diversity through the diversity of spiritual gifts that, to be sure, are all worked by the one and same Spirit.  However, that Spirit dispenses unique gifts to everyone, according to his will.

"In unity, God loves diversity.  The whole of creation testifies to this: nature with its mountains and valleys, with its seas and islands; the earth with its kingdoms of minerals and plants, of animals and men; the heavens with its planets and stars; and the heaven of heavens with its thousands of holy angels.  The glory of the infinitely rich essence of God is reflected in the works of his hands.  God's grace and attributes are revealed in creation.  

"We see this diversity still clearer and fuller in re-creation -- starting with Christ, who is the most beautiful of all the children of men, from whose lips grace and truth poured out.  Around Christ in colorful, packed rows are the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and evangelists, the martyrs and reformers, and the whole host of the redeemed who are bought with his blood and renewed by his Spirit.  They are different in heaven from how they were different on earth.  That diversity, even through the error and guilt of man, ends up at the knowledge of truth and the glory of God's good grace.  Christ takes it into his service and adorns his church with it.  The Holy Spirit uses it to have everyone in their own language declare the great works of God.  One day at the end of time, God will receive all the glory through the church from every language and people, tribe and nation [Rev. 7:9].

"For this reason, it is no wonder that in all the diversity of confession the different relationship in which grace places itself to nature is reflected. The essence of the Christian religion consists in this -- that the creation of the Father, ruined by sin, is again restored in the death of the Son of God and through the grace of the Holy Spirit is re-created into the kingdom of God."  

~ Herman Bavinck, The Sacrifice of Praise (orig. 1921) (New translation by Cameron Clausing, Hendrickson Publishers, 2019) pp 47-48.


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