|By Carlyle B. Haynes
Chapter 10— The Reward of the Righteous
people of God will not spend eternity in heaven. There is no promise in
the Bible that those who are saved will be given heaven as their eternal
reward. But there are numerous promises of a glorious inheritance for the
saints of the Lord on the other side of death. What that inheritance is
and where it is the Scriptures make very plain.
We are informed by David that “the heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16.) And in Isaiah 45:18 we read that God formed the earth “not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited.” It is inconceivable that God created the earth to be inhabited under its present conditions or by its present inhabitants. His purpose involved its being inhabited by a race of pure, holy, and righteous beings. He planned for just such a race when He placed our first parents here in the Garden of Eden. That race was to fill the earth, live forever, ever remain as pure and holy as when their parents came from the hands of God, and constitute the kingdom of God on earth. This plan has been delayed awhile by the entrance of sin, but God will yet have His way.
Earth to Be Redeemed
This earth was given to the human race at the time of its creation, and although it has been captured by Satan, this lost inheritance will yet be brought back to the children of God by the great plan of redemption, which includes the lost dominion as well as the lost race. Mankind lost the possession of the earth by sin, but it will be restored to the people of God through the gospel of Christ. And everything else which the race lost by sin will be restored by Christ, the Creator and Redeemer of the world.
The first specific promise of the future inheritance recorded in the Bible is that given to Abraham and recorded in Genesis 13:14-17: “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.” This promise was repeated to Isaac in Genesis 26:l-4 and to Jacob in Genesis 28:12-15.
All that is included in this promise in the way of territory is not apparent on the surface of it, and a divine explanation is therefore required concerning it.
This inspired explanation is given by Paul in Romans 4:13, where he declares that this promise made to Abraham included the entire earth: “For the promise, that he should be heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”
But this promise has never yet been fulfilled. Paul, in speaking of the men to whom the promises were made, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their descendants, declares in Hebrews 11:13 that “these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
he Resurrection a Part of the Promise
Inasmuch, therefore, as God promised the earth to these ancient worthies, and they died without having had the promise fulfilled to them, and as God’s promises do not fail, it is evident that there must be involved in that promise the resurrection from the dead. In order for God to fulfill the promise made to Abraham, the father of the faithful must be brought again from the grave and live upon this earth once more. The resurrection from the dead is therefore involved in the fulfillment of God’s great promise.
To this thought agree the words found in Ezekiel 37:12-14: “Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.”
God will bring His people into their own land, the land of promise, the land of Israel. This He will do by bringing them up from their graves. At that time it will be seen by all that not only has He spoken it, but He has also performed it..It will probably be inquired, What have Christians to do with these ancient promises to the fathers of the Israelites? Much every way. All Christians should be intensely interested in the promise to Abraham, for Paul, in Galatians 3:7, informs us that “they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” And in the twenty-ninth verse of the same chapter he says, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
The only promise, then, that we as Christians have of a future inheritance is this ancient promise made to Abraham. We become heirs of that promise by becoming Christ’s, for we then become Abraham’s seed, to whom the promise was made. The promise of God, then, to all Christians is not that they shall inherit or spend eternity in heaven, but that through Christ they become joint heirs with Him and with Abraham in the earth. They will spend eternity in the earth in its regenerated condition.
And to this agree the promises found in Isaiah 65:17: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind”; in 2 Peter 3:13: “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”; in Revelation 21:1: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth”; in Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”; and in Psalm 37:11: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
At that time also will be fulfilled the promise of Micah 4:8: “And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion [the church], unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion [the earth as it came from the hand of God]; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.”
The Earth Regenerated
The fire which consumes the wicked will also purify the earth. From the fearful ordeal of fire through which the earth will pass when the wicked and all sin are burned out of it, it will emerge fully cleansed from every stain of sin. The Holy City will then become the capital of the regenerated earth, and the whole earth will become again like the Garden of Eden. As “the wilderness and the solitary place” shall “blossom as the rose,” and “the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon,” the earth becomes what it was first intended to be, the eternal home of the people of God. Thus “the first dominion” is to be restored to the church.
After the destruction of the wicked and the cleansing of the earth, the righteous will go forth from the Holy City, and “they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.” (Isaiah 65:21.) The whole earth will be populated with the redeemed of the Lord. Sin has passed forever. There will be none to make afraid. All will be peace and contentment, and unspeakable happiness will fill every heart.
Every month and every Sabbath day the people of the new earth will gather in New Jerusalem to engage in worship of the King of kings. (Isaiah 66:22, 23.) Here in the city of God the redeemed will partake of the fruit of the tree of life. Here also they will wander through the groves which border the “river of water of life,” which proceeds “out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Revelation 22:1, 2.)
Never Again Any Sin
“And there shall be no more curse.” Revelation 22:3. Sin has been destroyed and will never return. Every one of the created intelligences on the other worlds, every angel, and every soul that has been redeemed at such an infinite cost has fully decided that God is righteous altogether. They have had enough of sin. Thank God for the promise of the Word that when the Lord destroys sin “he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.” (Nahum 1:9.)
In that glorious land “my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” (Isaiah 32:18.) “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.” Isaiah 60:18. “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree.” Isaiah 55:13. “And 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. “And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” Isaiah 33:24. And the New Jerusalem will be “a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.” (Isaiah 62:3.) “Her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” Revelation 21:11. “The nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.” Verse 24. “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:5.
No End to the New Earth
And in the new earth “shall I know even as also I am known.” ( 1 Corinthians 13:12.) Friends and loved ones long separated by death will there be reunited, and they will know each other there just as they have known each other here. Their love and their sympathy for each other will be increased and will continue throughout the ages of eternity, never again to be broken by death. All the faculties of the human mind will be developed there, and our capacity for knowledge will be constantly increased. There will be no enterprise into which we can enter there that will be too great to be carried forward to completion. There will be no aspiration which cannot be reached. There will be no ambition which cannot be realized. There will be no end to the acquirement of knowledge. It will be possible then to travel from planet to planet and from system to system in the study of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge of the universe of God. Our companions will be the angels of God and the unfallen intelligences of the other worlds.
And to all this there will be no end. As the ages of eternity unfold, there will never be any fear that the years to come will bring an end to the happiness of the redeemed. When myriads of ages have rolled by, still all beyond stretches eternity.
Oh, my brother, I want a place in that glorious new earth. Do you not want to be there? It will soon be here. It will not be long before sin and sinners will be no more. The day of the Lord hasteth greatly. Do not be deceived by the wiles of Satan. He will take you captive if he can. The message of the coming of Christ is even now in the earth and is being proclaimed far and wide. There is salvation in that message for you, and a preparation to meet the Lord in peace. Come, then, to Christ, who rescues the perishing, who saves the lost. Seek for His mercy. Cast away the sins which offend Him, forsake the thoughts which insult Him, and take Him for your Redeemer and Friend. For you He has given His life that you may have a part in this glorified new earth. Oh, delay no longer. The time is short. The Lord is at hand. May He say to you who read these words, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:24.
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