Please turn once again to Revelation 21. I've already given a baptism homily on this, so I won't spend much time on this passage for communion. I think I timed it at a little over four minutes. But let me read the passage again. It is Revelation 21:10-14.
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
We saw before that the invisible church is one body containing all the elect from the foundation of the world to the end of history. So Dispensationalism clearly has it wrong when it divides so sharply between Israel and the church that the twelve patriarchs are forever part of a different body than the twelve apostles will be. This shows they are all part of the bride.
But verse 10 shows the upward call that our citizenship in the church calls us to. It says, “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God…” Several New Testament Scriptures say that our citizenship is in heaven. It is true that this verse indicates that heaven also invades earth. But Galatians 4 says, “but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” And then he quotes Isaiah 57:4 to prove it, saying, For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.” That last clause indicates that true believers will eventually outnumber the non-elect in history. But I do want you to see that we have a citizenship above, which means that our loyalties to heaven should be stronger than our loyalties to earth, and our destiny and inheritance in heaven is far more glorious than our citizenshp on earth.
The second thing that I see here is that God is the heart and center of the church and the church should take on more and more of God’s character. The Lord's Table (called Communion) calls us to become more and more like our Redeemer. Verse 11 says of this holy Jerusalem: “having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” Now, keep in mind that verses 2 and following say that the New Jerusalem is simply an image of the bride of Christ. So the bride should look more and more like the God who loved us and gave Himself for us. If we are indwelt by His Spirit, His glory should rub off on us. So as we come to the table, perhaps we could ask God to help us to reflect more and more of His glory, and beauty, and character.
The third thing that I see here is that we enter the city through the same gates that the Old Testament saints entered the city. “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.” High walls keep out people. Gates keep out people. Angels keep out people. But if God has included people within Jerusalem, then those same walls, gates, and angels protect them and provide for them. Even if there are different maturity levels and privileges within the city (and there are), God alone gives the criterion by which people can enter, and once they have entered, they are protected. You enter by grace alone; not by works. If you are part of His flock, you are protected.
The fourth thing that I see here is that the city is guided by God’s revelation, the last portion of which was given through the apostles: “Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Ephesians 2-3 says that Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets were the revelational foundation for the church. May we value the completed canon that God has given to us.
As we come to the Table this morning, let us remember that our citizenship is in heaven, God calls us to be more and more like Him, He gives the credentials for entering the gates and those credentials are no different in the Old Testament than in the New (it's grace alone), and fourth, He has given us all the foundation we need in the Bible. Let's commit ourselves to it. Amen.