Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Righteous Will Inherit the Land

Psalm 37:29 gives us this good news. But it's bad news as well. None of us are righteous, right?

I had the pleasure of discussing theology with a couple Jehovah's Witnesses last night. We chatted for 45 minutes or so, and I commended them on their zeal in evangelizing the lost. What I didn't say to them, though I thought it repeatedly as their false doctrine was displayed during our conversation, was that their zeal was not based on knowledge (Romans 10:2).

We discussed lots of things - from the truth of creation (the current issue of their Awake! Magazine is devoted to the support of a form of Intelligent Design and I shared with them some materials from Answers in Genesis) to eshcatology. Every time I stepped on their toes, they changed the subject.

We discussed election and predestination at length. I was surprised to learn that they do not believe that God knows the future. They did not believe that God knew Adam would sin prior to creation. This, however, should not have surprised me, as it is remarkably consistent theology. Obedience is a choice. And we must obey Jehovah, right?

I was surprised to learn, as they upheld Psalm 37:29 (mentioned above) and as I questioned them on who fits that definition of righteous, that they think the righteous are those who try really hard to do the right thing. Wow! Ouch!

They tried to explain Abraham's righteousness as based on his efforts to please God despite his repeated failings. I was pleased to show them from Romans 4 and Hebrews 11 that Abraham's righteousness was found in Christ through faith and not in himself in any sense of the word. Christ alone is righteous; Christ alone inherits the land. Amazingly, those united to Christ - the last Adam - by faith are co-heirs of the inheritance of God.

In the end, my time with these zealous folks was cut short as their co-workers (there were 2 teams of 2) finished with all of the surrounding houses and were ready to go. I wish I had been more confrontational on the core issues (like Jesus' identity and the substitutionary atonement of Christ and all of the workings dealings with soteriology), but instead we had a "friendly" conversation of the peripherals. It was edifying to me, as I was able to defend my faith and give an answer for the reason for the hope that I have.

And I rejoice with the Jehovah's Witnesses that the righteous will inherit the land - though for very different reasons. They think they are righteous in and of themselves by their striving. I stopped striving when God's Holy Spirit regenerated me and I received the Gospel of Christ's righteousness applied to me through faith. Christ alone is righteous, and He will inherit the land. And by His grace and mercy, He will share it with me.

Romans 4:25 says, "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." Thank you Lord.

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