What Do We Know About
The Present State
and Final Destiny Of The Righteous?
The Bible teaches that the person is righteous who conforms to God’s established standards. A righteous person does not veer to the left or right from doing what God has defined as righteous. Joshua was told, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:7-8) God has an established a perfect, unchangeable standard of righteousness. The righteous person must rule his life by God’s will and not by the will of men or by the pressure of peers.
The good news is that if you really want to be righteous, you can be. In Matthew 5:6 we read, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) A person proves that he is righteous by the things he does. The things that you say likewise prove whether you are righteous. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36) Righteous people enjoy peace within and they are at peace with others. “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:18) A righteous person has faith in God and in His promises. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
We know the righteous have three things in common in this present life. First, the righteous have been willing to hear the word of God. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14) This is how man learns what God expects of him. God uses preachers and teachers to get His Word and the gospel into the hearts of people. Second there must be an acceptance of God’s word. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” The righteous accept God's ways as being best for their life. This is belief or faith. Third, the righteous take God’s word into their heart and consistently live it out in their life.
Living for Jesus, a life that is true, Striving to
please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad hearted and free, This is the pathway of blessing for me.
Living for Jesus Who died in my place, Bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace; Such love constrains me to answer His call, Follow His leading and give Him my all.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me. I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne. My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone. (Thomas O. Chisholm)
We know that the value of present righteous is seen in the fact of coming judgment. There is no doubt that you are going to face God in judgment. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27) All will face judgment. None will escape. "But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." (Romans 14:10) On the Day of Judgment you will be there to give account of yourself to God. "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:12) The word of Christ is the standard of judgment. "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." (John 12:48) We will be accepted or rejected based on the words of Christ.
The way you live your life is important. The deeds, words and thoughts of your life will be judged on that day. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10) The result of judgment will be, one is saved and another is lost. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." (Matthew 25:46)
We know that the present life of the Christian will one day involve death and the future life will involve a resurrection. The death of a saint is precious in the Lord's sight. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Psalms 116:15) The death of an unsaved person is a sorrow and grief to God. "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8) There will be a resurrection of the body. Our faith in the resurrection is based on the word of God. "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2) The dead will be raised. All will come forth from the grave. "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28-29)
We know that the future state of the righteous will be heaven. Heaven must be real otherwise Jesus could never have said what He did in John 14:2-3. "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Heaven is the place where Jesus is now. One day He will return from heaven to gather those who have been faithful to Him. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) Those who deny that heaven is a place prepared for every true Christian deny the word of God. Heaven is prepared for those who will prepare to go to that place. Heaven is the great goal of every child of God. Our reward is in heaven. "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven…" (Matthew 5:12) Are you preparing yourself for heaven?
We know that preparation during this present life is essential to living in heaven in the future life. In heaven, Christians have a house not made with hands waiting for them. "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (2 Corinthians 5:1) Heaven is an inheritance which is reserved for God's faithful children. "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." (1 Peter 1:4) Heaven will be a far greater reward than all our labors and trials could deserve. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:1) Heaven is for those who have become partakers of the divine nature. "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:4) Heaven is man's greatest goal to gain. To miss heaven is the greatest loss that can be imagined. In heaven, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
A true Christian is a person living a Christ-like life, preparing for heaven. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) This kind of life leads to heaven. To become a Christian, Hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), Believe in Jesus (John 8:24), Repent of every sin (Acts 17:30), Confess Jesus Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and Be baptized into Christ. (Romans 6:3-5) After baptism live so that you can hear the Lord say, "well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." (Matthew 25:21)
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA