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Who Are the Righteous?
Innumerable people around the world claim to believe in God. However, God says that there is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who does good, not even one.
Ro 3:10-12 "As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is ... no one who seeks God. ... there is no one who does good, not even one."
Who is a righteous one whom God approves? The Bible says that there is no one who seeks God and comes near to Him except the righteous.
Adam, the ancestor of mankind, sought God and came near to Him before he sinned. But after he committed sin by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he hid himself from God when He called him, "Adam, Adam!" rather than came to Him, saying, "Yes, here am I." From that moment he sinned, he became afraid of God and shrunk from His presence. Since Adam committed sin, his heart was changed.
A righteous person obeys the word of God
If we feel alienated from God, we should recognize that we are gradually falling away from righteousness and should turn ourselves to it. Through the account of Noah, let's see how we can become righteous and what we must do to become righteous.
Ge 6:9 "This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God."
Let's find out why Noah was called righteous and blameless by God, through his works.
Heb 11:7-10 "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham, ... he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."
What did Noah, a righteous man, do? He realized God's plan of judging the world in those days, and prepared an ark in obedience to God's command. By faith Noah built the ark, so he was called a righteous man and an heir of righteousness.
All who were called righteous and forefathers of faith like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, had absolute faith in God and obeyed whatever God told them to do.
With absolute faith in God, Noah built the ark to save his family and the world. That was the most righteous thing in God's sight and caused him to be called an heir of righteousness.
Jas 2:17-26 "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. ... You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? ... You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. ... As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead"
The book of James shows us what is righteousness in God's sight. God considers it a righteous act to fully obey His word, not just to know it.
We, too, have faith in God: We believe that He will gather the 144,000 and lead the people of the new covenant into the everlasting kingdom. We try to do God's will by fully keeping all His laws and diligently carrying out our ministry of preaching the gospel, loving God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. When we thus put our faith into action, God calls us 'righteous.' The righteous are those who obey God's word; they are perfect in God's sight.
Just as Noah and Abraham were called righteous, so the 144,000 are now called righteous. It is because they truly believe God's word and also put it into practice.
Though a man knows and believes that 'the Sabbath is right,' unless he observes it he cannot be blessed; only by keeping the Sabbath holy, he can receive the blessing God has promised. Likewise, if a man just believes that 'the Passover is right,' how can he receive God's blessing? Only when he celebrates the Passover by eating the bread and drinking the wine, he can receive the blessing of eternal life and the seal of God.
Blessing for the righteous who show their faith by deeds
Those who put their faith into action were all blessed. In this age, we are also blessed and called righteous when we serve God by preaching His words and keeping the new covenant regulations for the seven feasts at the three times in a year. That is God's providence and will. So the Bible says that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
When God told Noah to prepare an ark, if he had not obeyed God's word even though he believed it was right to do so, would God have called him a righteous and perfect man?
Noah did a thing that was really hard to obey in those days. The Bible doesn't tell us how long it took Noah to build the ark, but most Biblical scholars agree that it took so many years to build the ark. To build it must have cost him a great deal of money and labor, including expenses for purchasing materials and workers' wages. With undeveloped technology in those times, it must have been a handiwork requiring over a hundred people; they must have worked unceasingly day and night. Thus, Noah spent a great deal of time and money on the ark. He devoted his whole life to building the ark.
Besides that, people had never seen rain up until that time. They laughed and made fun of Noah and his family all those years. However, Noah just followed God's word and continued to build the ark. By doing that, he was called a righteous man, blameless in his generations.
Abraham, the father of faith, also proved his faith by his deeds. He absolutely obeyed God's command to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering. The command to sacrifice Isaac would be a very difficult one for Abraham to obey. It would be easier for him to give up his wealth or power. Abraham loved his son Isaac more than his own self. It must have been hard and painful for him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
When God ordered Abraham to offer up his son, he might have questioned God's command. However, he obeyed God without arguing or complaining. He was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, thinking that God gave him Isaac and He had the right to take his life. How greatly God would be pleased when He saw Abraham's faith and obedience! Abraham was called the father of faith and received God's overflowing blessing.
Everyone has his own values. To Abraham his son was the most valuable treasure in the world, and to Noah his possessions. God sometimes requires of each person what is the most important thing to him. This is not because He hates him but because He wants to give a greater blessing to him.
Comparing the faith and works of the righteous Noah and Abraham with ours, we need to check whether or not we have deeds along with faith. In this age, an act of faith that pleases God most is to save souls, sacrificing the most precious thing we have.
Hoping for heaven, we follow the Spirit and the Bride and we firmly believe that all of our heavenly brothers and sisters scattered across the earth will quickly come to Zion. With the act of faith by which we become righteous before God, we are now proclaiming the truth, throwing out the life line, to save poor dying souls. We are building Zion the ark of salvation around the world and leading many souls into the ark. Seeing brothers and sisters participating in the gospel as God prophesied, we feel that we gradually become righteous by acts, like Noah and Abraham.
We should let go of all our own ideas and learn the obedience of faith that Noah showed, so that we may all become the righteous people, the 144,000, in these last days.
Practice righteousness by following the examples of faith
God says that there is no one righteous, not even one. Then how can we become righteous in this age? Through the works of the forefathers of faith in the Bible, God tells us how to become righteous. We are to put our faith into action; for faith can be alive only when it is accompanied by action.
Our forefathers in faith were proven to be righteous by putting their faith into action. We will also be called righteous by God when we believe God's word and put it into practice.
Righteousness and unrighteousness [evil] always exist in the world. How can we distinguish between right from evil? We can distinguish between the righteous and the unrighteous by their deeds. Our fore-fathers in faith were called righteous because of what they did, but many other people were called unrighteous because they did evil.
2 Pe 2:5 "if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others"
Now, we should be considered righteous in God's sight, by doing the righteous act of preparing the ark and calling in all whom God has allowed to enter the ark. Noah took his family and every kind of animal on the ark, in addition to himself. How about the other people? They disobeyed God and did not enter in.
The Bible calls all non-Israelites 'Gentiles' and likens them to animals. However, God has promised that even non-Jews, compared to animals, will be saved at the last day if only they obey God's command to enter Zion the ark of salvation and serve God through their acts of faith. Thanks to this promise, we Gentiles are now obeying God's words with the hope of heaven.
Mt 24:37-39 "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man."
God said that the end time would be like the days of Noah. The gospel in this age is accomplished when all who are to be saved flee to Zion, the ark of salvation. What's the use of the ark unless it is occupied by those who are to be saved? Now, let's learn how to lead many into the ark of salvation, from the works of the apostles in the Early Church.
Ac 2:41-47 "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ... All the believers were together and had everything in common. ...Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
The apostles, being filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, devoted themselves to prayer and preaching, doing righteous good deeds, and they were highly regarded by many people. When we devote ourselves entirely to saving souls, God will be pleased and add to our number day by day those who are being saved.
Ac 4:1-4 "... while they were speaking to the people. ... They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand."
In the days of the Early Church, the apostles continued to meet together with glad and sincere hearts and boldly proclaimed Jesus as the Christ and Savior. God opened the hearts of those who heard it, and within a short period of time about five thousand were baptized.
We need to consider what our forefathers in faith did in order to receive God's blessing, and how the saints of the Early Church were blessed. We should imitate the faith of the saints of the Early Church, so that God will add to our number daily those who are being saved in this age, too. Many people claim to believe in God but refuse to do His will, just as He said: "There is no one righteous, not even one." We are asked to accomplish our prophetic mission in these last days. Keeping our faith alive by practicing righteousness, we must come closer to God.
Practicing righteousness causes us joy. When we, being full of joy, give glory to God and do whatever He wants us to do, we come to understand God's plans and His will described in the 66 books of the Bible. No one can understand God's word without practicing it, even though he reads the Bible a hundred times or a thousand times. Only he who does the will of God can understand all passages-even the difficult things in the Bible.
Our hope is to enter the kingdom of heaven after quickly finding all our 144,000 brothers and sisters. We need to consider how the Early Church could lead so many people to the truth in such a short time. It was possible because they did just as the Bible said. For the Bible guides us towards practical ways of achieving righteousness.
God is making us complete. In obedience with His will, let's practice far greater righteousness than Noah, and we will be called righteous and perfect by God.
All righteous ones having faith with works! Let's awaken this sleeping and dying generation by the work of the Holy Spirit, which is seven times greater than that of the Early Church!