The Future Belongs to the Righteous
The future belongs to God’s people; through them liberty will flourish in the earth. Yet this is often forgotten by modern evangelicalism, whose vision of the future has been shaped by the Left Behind fairy tale. You will not find that fictitious vision, where rank unbelievers rule the future after the faithful have been raptured, in the Bible. Rather, from cover to cover the Scriptures tell of a Sovereign God who has always been in the process of removing lawless families and nations from the earth and preserving and establishing the righteous.
As in the past, so in the future, the “left behind” will be the righteous! This promise is reiterated numerous times throughout Scripture. When Israel failed to obey, God proclaimed, “I will have an obedient people. In fact, they will cover the earth” (Num. 14:21). Proverbs is peppered with this principle: Both the righteous and the wicked will be rewarded in history (the earth); the rewards of both will be manifest in history, not only at the last day judgment (Pr. 11:31).
The righteous will see the fall of the wicked (Pr. 29:16). Adversity will be hot on the tail of lawbreakers, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity (Pr. 13:21). The seemingly secure position of the wicked will not last, but the righteous will be raised up from their temporarily lowly position, and their place will be made permanent (Pr. 14:11). God’s law will enter the house of the lawbreaker and consume his house (Zech. 5:3,4). It would not be difficult to fill another whole page with further attestations.
God’s People Established, Lawbreakers Removed
The end of world history will fully manifest both God’s law and the grace of Jesus Christ, and freedom from lawlessness will reign. In time, obedience to God’s law through grace brings greater and greater liberty. The Bible reveals God’s comprehensive plan in which sin (lawbreaking) is defeated, and righteousness is established. Sinners (lawbreaking individuals, families, nations) will wither like the grass, but the righteous will flourish like the palm tree; the righteous will inherit the earth.
For this reason God’s people should live in energetic optimism. We ought to think, plan, and live in joyful expectation of the future promised to those who are obedient through grace.
From the Beginning — LAW
Law was first expressed in the words, “…but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). When our race was set outside the Garden after the Fall, that moral law had jurisdiction long before the written law of Moses: “The Lord said, ‘The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave…’” (Gen.18:20). Sin only exists if there is a law to be broken.
But what law? From the beginning man has had knowledge of and been accountable to God’s moral law, “…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Rom.1:19-20; 2:11-16). Every person is held accountable to God’s law.
By Grace, Not as Sodom
However, if our account with God was strictly a matter of obeying the law, the destiny of the whole world would be that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Law alone condemns.
Thankfully, however, before the foundation of the world God ordained that grace would rule our destiny instead. This grace is always in agreement with God’s law, never in opposition to or in place of it. The law is not nullified through grace, but rather established by means of Jesus bearing the penalty of sin for His people. For those who have run to Jesus for refuge, the requirements of law are not removed, but rather the guilt of their lawless deeds. The law that once condemned is now written upon their hearts by the Spirit, empowering them to live in obedience to it. They have become the righteous through grace. They are at liberty to obey the law through the power of the Spirit.
So what does the future hold? Ever increasing and abounding liberty (Is. 2:4; Zec. 3:10) in harmony with God’s law and the grace of Christ! God has purposed that Christ’s righteousness will prevail in history. Christ’s righteousness will be lived out through His people on whose hearts He has written His law. They and their descendants will be established to the thousandth generation (Dt. 7:9). History shall more and more tend to the removal of lawbreakers as they are either converted or destroyed, while the righteous continue to be established. The future belongs to Christ’s kingdom of righteous liberty!
What about Our Kids?
This glorious future of ever-increasing liberty waits for faithful generations whom God will bless. As obedience grows, so the blessing of God will grow. But if we fail to train our children, generations will suffer. Israel’s sad commentary shortly after they entered the Promised Land tells us that the generation after Joshua did not know the Lord because their parents failed to transfer the Faith to them.
Parents with children in government schools seriously should ask themselves whether having their children spend most of their childhood hours with unbelieving teachers is faithful training in the knowledge of the Lord. Government schools deny God by embracing homosexuality, premarital sex, abortion, and the brainwashing of children into a godless worldview. And when not so blatant, they ignore Him. This teaches Christian children that God is not relevant to life nor the world in which they live.
Can we hope that our posterity will inherit the earth when those who are, spiritually speaking, Egyptians, Babylonians, Philistines, Sodomites, and Baal worshipers train them? Can we expect our children to be strong in faith when their faith is undermined thirty or forty hours a week? God will make the righteous inherit the earth! But we cannot confidently expect our children to be among them if we allow lawbreaking God-haters to mold and shape them in opposition to God’s express will, which says children are to be continually confronted with God’s Word (Dt. 6). Family prayer, Sunday school, and youth group cannot possibly neutralize such indoctrination and prepare increasingly faithful generations.
The course of history will be determined by God’s law and the grace of Christ. We must obey through grace. The result will be glorious liberty!
- Eugene Clingman
Eugene Clingman is Executive Administrator of the International Church Council Project (www.churchcouncil.org) a theological effort (of Coalition on Revival) seeking to halt the slide of the evangelical church toward liberalism and compromise. Eugene also works part-time as a representative for an Inc. 500 company (MoreHealthTimeMoney.com).