FIRSTBORN SONSHIP OF CHRIST
THE NEW BIRTH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
NOAH AND THE NEW BIRTH
This will continue Article 38 from page 8 of the October issue of The Midnight Cry. We hope each reader will review this article from its beginning in the October issue in order to better appreciate this continuation of the article.
THE BODY OF CHRIST
"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!
16 "Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,' He says, ‘shall become one flesh.'
17 "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit (body) with Him," 1Co 6:15-17.
The members of the church in Corinth were called the members of Christ, meaning the members of the deified body of Christ, See also, 1Co 10:16-17; 12:12-27. This is a metaphor. The human, physical body of Christ that we commemorate in the Lord's Supper is the "body" in mind. The fruit of the vine represents the blood that was shed from this body. The bread of the Lord's Supper represents the physical body of Christ that is now a glorified, divine, heavenly body, 1Co 15:44-50.
When the Lord instituted the Lord's Supper, He blessed the bread, broke it, gave to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body," Mt 26:26. This is the Lord's body that was crucified and died on the cross that we are commemorating. In the metaphor, the members of the church are the members of this glorified, heavenly, divine body of Christ.
In the metaphor, God uses water baptism to join us to the body of Christ. We must not try to explain away the explicit language of Rom 6:2-6 and context. Metaphorically, the believer is baptized into the body of Christ, and thereby becomes joined to the body of Christ as a member of Christ's glorified body.
Jesus called His disciples His church and His "body" when He instituted the Lord's Supper before He was crucified, Mt 16:13-19; 18:15-18; 26:26-28. The church being the body of Christ and the members of the church being the members of His body, they were all metaphorically crucified together with and in Him as the members of His body, they all died together with and in Him as the members of His body, and they were all buried together with and in Him as the members of His body. Furthermore, they were all raised together with and in Him as the members of His body, and were all thereby metaphorically born again together with and in Him as the members of His body. Indeed, Christ's body was born again in His resurrection. And in the metaphor the members of the body of Christ were born again together with Him at that time.
In the metaphor, the church was then qualified to receive the first-fruits of the Holy Spirit, because they were counted (in the metaphor) as being glorified (therefore deified) members of the glorified (deified) body of Christ, Jn 7:39; Gal 4:5-6; Rom 8:23.
BAPTISM SAVES US
"There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ," 1Pe 3:21.
This passage says that baptism saves us, similarly as the waters saved Noah and all in the ark. Baptism has a saving efficacy, as a major factor in the salvation of the Christian life. The Christian life cannot be saved without John's baptism: so much so that those who reject John's baptism have rejected the counsel of God against themselves:
29 "And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John.
30 "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him," Lk 7:29-30.
John's baptism is also called the circumcision of Christ, therefore those who reject John's baptism have thereby rejected the circumcision of Christ. By rejecting the circumcision of Christ, they have rejected Christ in the metaphor of the body of Christ, Col 2:11-17. The church, in this figure, is the body of Christ, not literally but symbolically. John's baptism is also a figure, a type and an antitype with the waters of the flood of Noah's day.
John's baptism is the door into the body of Christ. In the metaphor the believer is baptized into the church as the body of Christ, Rom 6:2-6-13. And on the basis of the church being the body of Christ and the members of the church being the members of the body of Christ, the Holy Spirit was and is literally given to the church to perform the New Covenant ministry of the church.
The church could not receive the Holy Spirit until Christ was glorified, Jn 7:39. The church could not receive the Holy Spirit until the members of the church (therefore the church) were delivered from the slavery of the Law Covenant into the freedom of the glorified or deified body of Christ, Gal 4:1-7; Rom 8:23.
The members of the church, as the body of Christ, were held as servants under the Law Covenant, Gal 4:1-4. Christ still had to be made sin, die on the cross, His body be buried, and be born out of the grave into a divine body, Col 1:18; Rev 1:5; Act 13:29-33; Heb 1:5-6; 5:5. And in the metaphor, the church was and is the body of Christ, and the members of the church were counted as members of the body of Christ, and were counted as being born again into divine bodies as His body was born again into a divine state of being.
The firstborn sons only will be conformed to the divine image of Christ, while the other sons have forfeited the birthright of the firstborn and will remain as servant sons who will serve the firstborn sons, Gen 27:27-37; Gal 4:21 thru 5:5; Heb 12:1-29.
They were no longer "servants" under the Law Covenant, but "firstborn sons," delivered from a slave son status into the freedom of Christ in deified bodies, Gal 4:19 thru 5:6. Study this passage and see that God's purpose in the last will and testaments was and is to produce two kinds of sons: 1) firstborn sons who qualify by grace through faith for the life of the tree of life, and 2) slave sons who will merely be servants under the firstborn sons and will not receive the divine life of the tree of life, Gal 4:21 thru 5:5.
The firstborn sons are divine sons, and are free from all the laws of the physical universe, (Gal 4:3,8,21 thru 5:5; Eph 4:22-24; Col 2:8 thru 3:10; 1Co 15:44-50), while the other sons are mere flesh sons who do not qualify for the divine life of the tree of life.
The firstborn "free" sons will be born into a divine "oneness" with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; 5:31-32; 1Pe 1:4; Jn 10:30-38; 14:8-11; 17:21-23), while the "servant" sons will be cut off from the covenants, cut off from the covenant promises, and therefore cut off from Christ as High Priest of the New Covenant, Gal 4:21 thru Gal 5:4. They will be left in mere flesh bodies eternally (2Pe 1:4), will receive only the "crumbs" from the children's table (Mk 7:28), and will be in the saved nations on the new earth, Rev 21:23-26.
A GOOD CONSCIENCE
"There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the request for a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ," 1Pe 3:21.
The Scriptures do not provide for the believer to have a good conscience before God until after being baptized into the body of Christ. The believer is not "in Christ" until he is baptized "into" the body of Christ. Being "in Christ" in the usual Bible use of the expression, means being in the body of Christ, and one must be in the church to be in the body of Christ. Otherwise, the expression is used a few times stating that all creation is in Christ, in the sense that Christ has been made Head over all creation on behalf of the church, Eph 1:18-22; Col 1:15-18. Christ is the firstborn from the dead that He should have preeminence over all things, Col 1:15-18; 2:9-10.
Those who have not received John's baptism have rejected the counsel of God against themselves, and cannot have a good conscience before God. Likewise, John's baptism is the circumcision of Christ, without which one cannot have a good conscience toward God. John's baptism is an integral part of the doctrine of Christ, without which one cannot enter and remain in the doctrine of Christ. These do not have the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit, nor a good conscience before God, 2Jn 9-11.
John's baptism is God's appointed instrument by which we are transported from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God, Act 26:17-18; Col 1:12-14. The kingdom of God currently exists on the earth only in the church, the body of Christ. When a church member is scripturally put out of the church, he is delivered back out of the kingdom of God into the kingdom of Satan, 1Co 5:5; 1Ti 1:18-20; 1Jn 5:19.
THE REMOVAL OF THE FILTH OF THE FLESH
"There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ," 1Pe 3:21.
5 "Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus," 1Co 5:5.
The destruction of the sinful flesh nature can be attained only in the body of Christ, which the church is counted to be in the metaphor. It is in the body of Christ that the members of the church are counted to be the glorified members of the glorified body of Christ, 1Co 12:12-27; et al.
As members of the body of Christ, our bodies are counted to have been crucified, dead, buried, raised, and deified together with the human-now-deified body of Christ. This reckoning applies only to those in the body of Christ. Only they can scripturally say "I am crucified, dead, buried, raised, and glorified together with Christ." God appointed that John's baptism serve as His instrument to join us to Christ in this crucifixion cycle, Rom 6:2-13.
As members of the body of Christ we are counted as being "unleavened," although we are really
"leavened," 1Co 5:6-7. We are to purge out the old leaven, because in reality we are still sinners and sin every day. We are only metaphorically counted as being unleavened (1Co 5:7), or dead to sin, Rom 6:2-13. Here we have our actual condition in our sinful flesh bodies, and our unleavened condition according to the metaphor of being the glorified or deified body of Christ.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE FLESH
"Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus," 1Co 5:5.
For our spirit to be born again along with our body when the Lord returns, we must present our body a living sacrifice by being transformed by the renewing of our mind into the image of Christ on a daily and con-stant basis, Rom 12:1-2; 2Co 3:18; 4:4-12; 4:17 thru 5:5. Both body and spirit of those who qualify for the firstborn sonship will be born again into a divine state of being when Christ returns, 1Co 5:1-5; 15:1-2,29-55; 2Co 6:14 thru 7:1; 1Pe 1:3-9; 2Pe 1:3-11.
The only place the flesh (sinful flesh nature) can be destroyed is in the church, the body of Christ, as our lives are daily being renewed into the image of Christ by the renewing of our minds, Rom 15:18-19; Rom 12:1-2; 2Co 3:18; 10:3-5; 4:6; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:1-10. We must therefore be in the church, the body of Christ, where the Spirit is dwelling, in order to put to death the deeds of the sinful flesh body, Rom 6:2-13; 8:13.
When a church member is scripturally removed from membership in the church, he or she is delivered to Satan for the destruction of the sinful flesh nature. However, Satan will destroy that person in the wrong way. The purpose in putting unfaithful church members "without" or "outside" the church is that the disciplined persons may be awakened to their sinful life by the church action, grieve over the matter, repent, return to the church, and be faithful. It is only in the church that the Spirit is appointed to work toward destroying the sinful flesh nature and preparing one for the divine birth when Christ returns.
The result is that (in the church) the sin nature of the whole person (spirit and body, 2Co 7:1) is being destroyed after the scriptural pattern or blueprint, Rom 6; 7; 8; 12:1-2; 2Co 3:17-18; 4:6-12; et al. Our minds must undergo a daily transformation into the image of Christ, for it is the mind that governs the emotions, words, and deeds of the body, Mt 15:18-19; Rom 12:1-2; 2Co 3:18; 4:6-12; 10:3-5; Gal 5:16-25; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:1-10. The Covenant or last will and testament disciplinary training was appointed by God in the church. This is the only place where the Spirit works to qualify people for the firstborn sonship of Christ. Those who have not been properly baptized into Christ, or have been cut off from Christ, cannot qualify for the firstborn sonship unless they return to the church, Rom 6:2-23; Jn 15:1-6; Gal 4:21 thru 5:4; 2Pe 1:3-10.
Man is a two-fold being: spirit and body. The mind is an integral part of the spirit, as the brain is to the body. The mind can be carnally minded or spiritually minded; and whatever state the mind is in, that is the state of the whole person – body and spirit, Mt 15:17-20; Mk 7:14-23; Rom 8:5-6; 1Co 3:1-4; 2Co 7:1. Though the spirit with the mind are separated from the body at the death of the body, the mind is never separated from the spirit, Lk 16:19-31. They form an indivisible "life" entity, Lk 16:19-31; Rev 6:9-11.
THE DIVINE IMAGE AND LIKENESS
The waters of the flood in Noah's day and the waters of baptism are associated together in the Scriptures, 1Pe 3:20-21. The ark God had Noah to make was and is a type of Christ, who is the Seed of the woman: Christ is therefore the ark of salvation into the firstborn sonship of Christ, and is thereby the divine image of God for all the faith descendants of Adam. The new birth is seen in the case of Noah, more perhaps in the burnt offerings than in the new world where Noah and his family were dead to the old world and alive in the new world.
The slaying of clean animals and clothing Adam and Eve with their skins clearly renewed the promise of the divine life of the tree of life, Gen 2 & 3. Throughout the Scriptures God has promised to share His fullness with His faithful covenant people through a last will and testament, Gen 15:1; Ps 17:15; Isa 54:5,17; Jer 23:5-6; 2Co 5:21; Rev 19:7-8.
Abel offering the firstborn of his flock is to be associated with the promise of the divine life of the tree of life, and also with the firstborn sonship of the Seed of the woman. Likewise the burnt offerings of Noah are to be associated with the promise of divine life in the tree of life. The birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Seed of the woman fulfilled the promise of the divine life in the tree of life.
The "faith" of Abel, the "faith" of Enoch, and the "faith" of Noah, etc., reveal clearly that the promise and hope of the divine life (divine "image," divine "likeness," divine "oneness") still held fast in the promise of the Seed of the woman dying and rising back to life in the divine image. The Seed of the woman, as the divine Redeemer, would crush the head of Satan and deify all who held fast by grace through faith down through the centuries until the seventh millennium of "rest," Heb 3 & 4 (Heb 4:3-4).
JOB AND THE NEW BIRTH
"Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?'" Job 1:8.
20 "Even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness," Eze 14:20.
Emphasis is here specifically placed on the "righteousness" of Noah, Daniel, and Job, as being foremost among men from Adam to the days of Ezekiel. In the beginning of the book of Job, God spoke of Job as being the most upright or righteous man on the earth at the time of his trial. Job's life was supremely exemplary in just about every way. Therefore his extremely bitter trial uniquely serves as the ideal example for righteous servants of God, who are patiently suffering and holding fast under God's severe covenant training and testing. This covenant training and testing is God's instrument to refine the covenant people into His own divine image and likeness, Isa 48:9-12; Rom 8:13,28,36; Heb 12; et al.
Job was still under God's covenant with Adam; the covenant with Abraham began rejecting the other nations because they were following the pattern of ungodliness that developed before the flood of Noah's day. The covenant with Abraham therefore began restricting the covenant people to the descendants of Abraham – to all who would faithfully obey and walk by grace through faith in the strait and narrow way of the covenants, which are last will and testaments.
The Law Covenant pronounced the nations as unclean (Ex 19:4-6; Lev 20:22-26; Deu 26:26-29), and Israel alone is the elect covenant nation, Rom 11. The Law Covenant ended the covenant with Adam, and incorporated into the Law Covenant all the promises of the earlier covenants, which promises are the same as the promises of the birthright of the firstborn.
Furthermore, all the promises of the former covenants and the birthright were likewise incorporated into the New Covenant (last will and testament) when it was confirmed and ratified by Christ (Heb 9:11-28), 1) as the Seed of the Woman (Gen 3:15; Isa 7:14; Gal 4:4),2) as the Kinsman Redeemer (Gen 3:15; Job 19:25-27; Isa 7:14; 9:6-7), 3) as the Seed of Abraham (Gen 12:3; 17:21; 18:18; 22:18; 16:4; 28:14; Gal 3:8), 4) as the Son of David (Isa 9:6-7; Mt 22:41-46), 5) as the Son of God (Isa 7:14; 9:6-7), (6) and as the "Servant" of Jehovah, Isa 42 thru 53.
Now the New Covenant is restricted to a local church: one that has a history all the way back to the first church that Christ established. This line of true local churches, though often waivering dangerously, has barely but sufficiently held to the doctrine of Christ, 2Jn 8-11.
JOB HAD NO RIGHTEOUSNESS OF HIS OWN
"But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away," Isa 64:6.
This verse and truth applies to all of Adam descendants, including Noah, Daniel, and Job. All of Adam's descendants, except Christ, are "like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags," before God.
10 "As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one,'" Rom 3:10.
23 "For we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," Rom 3:23.
12 "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned," Rom 5:12; 3:9-19.
Job was a righteous man only by God's righteousness being credited to him by grace through faith. As we walk by faith, step by step, God's righteousness is being progressively credited to us. Justification is progressive (Rom 4), with a view to being born into God's righteousness when Christ returns, Mt 6:33; 25:31-46; 2Co 9:10; Gal 5:5; Phi 3:9; 1Ti 6:11; 2Ti 2:22; 4:6-8; Heb 12:9-11; Rev 19:7-8. Furthermore, we can fall away and lose that promise of divine righteousness, Eze 3:20-21; 18:25; 33:12-13.
JUSTIFICATION AND GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS
"For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness,'" Rom 4:3.
Justification is not God counting His faithful covenant people as righteous on the basis of righteousness which we have done – "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," Isa 64:6. Conversely, God is crediting His righteousness (the full range of His divine attributes) to the covenant people on the basis of "by grace through faith" obedience, Rom 3; 4; Ja 2; 1Co 15:10; Phi 2:12-13; Mt 10:19-20; Eph 2:8-10; Ti 3:8; Mt 5:16;Heb 4:16; 12:28; 1Pe 4:10.
From the beginning, God has been working through His last will and testaments to qualify a special nation of "by grace through faith" people, Gen 12:1-3; 18:17-19; 22:15-18; 25:2-5; 28:13-15; Ex 19:4-6; Deu 7:6-11; 26:16-19. It is with this special nation, and with this nation only, that God will share the fullness of His divine image and likeness, Gen 1:26-27; 5:1l 9:6; 2:24 (Eph 4:31-32; 1Co 6:15-17; 11:7); Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; Col 1:19; 2:9-10; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23.
JUSTIFICATION IS PROGRESSIVE
"What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh?
2 "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3 "For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness," Rom 4:1-3.
But Abraham had been walking by grace through faith and was being justified day by day for many years prior to Gen 15:6. Stephen spoke of God calling Abraham to leave his relatives and homeland in the land of the Caldeans in Mesopotamia "before he dwelt in Haran," Act 7:1-4; Heb 11:8.
Abraham was already a man of faith, and probably had been from his youth. God was here calling him into a more unique covenant (last will and testament) relationship. God told this man of faith to leave his father, his relatives, his country, and He would make a special nation out of his descendants, Act 7:1-4; Heb 11:8-16; Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-18; 17:1-21; 18:17-19; et al. Abraham was probably 60 years old at the time he was first called to leave his family and kindred. He was already saved and walking by grace through faith obedience to God. This was 25 years before Gen 15:6.
As soon as a person believes and begins to walk by faith, the process of progressive justification begins and continues as long as the person continues to walk by faith. The scriptures do not say that Abraham was justified until he was 85 years old, but he had been walking by faith for many years, evidently from his youth.
Abraham continued walking by faith for another 15 years until Isaac was born, and then the Scriptures say, with regard to Abraham's patience toward the birth of Isaac, "And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness,'" Rom 4:22. Observe that this statement in Rom 4:22 applies both to Abraham when he was 85 and again at the birth of Isaac 15 years later, with emphasis on Abraham's persevering faith, Rom 4:1-22.
Yet more, still another 25 years later, Abraham continued to be progressively justified by his faith-works (by grace through faith), for the Scriptures say:
21 "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
22 "Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
23 "And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God.
24 "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only," Ja 2:21-24.
The "works" are plural and require more than one act of faith. This period covers probably 65 years or more from the time Abraham was about 60 years old when God first called him (probably earlier), until he was 125 years old (when he in a figure offered up Isaac), Act 7:1-4; Heb 11:8; Ja 2:21-24. Abraham was progressively being justified all the time.
CAN LOSE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF JUSTIFICATION
"Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: 'The righteousness of the righ-teous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.'
13 "When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die," Eze 33:12-13; 3:20-21; 18:24.
Carefully study all three of these passages. This righteousness is the righteousness of justification, and we must not turn away from it. However, our own righteousness is as filthy rags, and we must turn away from that, Isa 64:6. The righteousness of the Pharisees (Lk 18:9-14; Rom 10:1-3) is man's righteousness, and is rejected by God.
The righteousness of justification is God's righteousness, which is being progressively credited to the covenant people by walking in the steps of Abraham's faith, Rom 4:12. We cannot read Rom 4 and construe this chapter to infer a single act of faith – no more than we can interpret Heb 11:9-16 or Ja 2:18-26 as a single act of faith. Justification is progressive, and the unfaithful lose it, and will stand before God without it.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF JUSTIFICATION IS FUTURE
"But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the END, everlasting life.
23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 6:22-23; Gal 6:7-9; 1Ti 6:12,17-19.
18 "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life....
21 "So that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness into eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," Rom 5:18,21.
Wherever there is faith there is grace. Both faith and grace have reigned from the Garden of Eden, and will reign till Christ returns for His faithful covenant people. The Law Covenant required man's works to prove he could not keep the perfect and divine Law. But the Law Covenant also required faith through the sacrifices that were offered. The result was that the faithful covenant people, including Moses, Daniel, John the Baptist, and all under the Law Covenant walked by grace and faith.
4 "For Christ is the end of the Law (Covenant) for righteousness to everyone who is constantly believing," Rom 10:4.
Christ in His human flesh ful-filled the Law Covenant and set it aside. However, everyone under the Law Covenant with the true faith, brought the proper sacrifice, just as Abel (long before the Law Covenant) brought the proper sacrifice, Gen 4:4. The result was and is that all who walk by faith are credited with God's righteousness, as Abel was, Heb 11:4.
Just as the Law Covenant brought condemnation to all who broke the Law, so also God credited His righteousness, His divine life, and all His divine fulness to all who walked by faith under the Law Covenant. Observe, in Rom 5:21 that God's "grace" must "reign" through God's "righteousness" in our daily lives in order for us to receive that divine "life" in "the end" when Christ returns, Rom 5:21; 6:22-23; Mt 25:31-46; Gal 6:7-9; 1Ti 6:12,17-19; et al.
God's divine righteousness and God's divine life (or God's fullness altogether) are both God's free gift and God's reward for our walking by grace through faith:
10 "For we are His workman-ship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before-hand that we should walk in them," Eph 2:10.
These "good works" are not our works, but are the works of grace: they are the works of the Holy Spirit in and through us "by grace through faith," 1Co 15:10; Phi 2:12-13; Mt 10:19-20; Heb 4:16; 12:28; 1Pe 4:10; Mt 5:16; Ti 3:8. They are "grace works," and therefore are a "gift." They are also "grace works," and therefore a "reward."
The "righteous" in Mt 25:31-46 will be rewarded with the gift of divine life, because, as Jesus said:
35 "For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 "I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me...
"...Assuredly, I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to the least of one of these My brethren, you did it to Me," Mt 25:35-36,40.
The "gift" of divine life will be the "reward" of divine righteousness (divine fullness), because they did the "good works" stated in the passage. Of course, these "good works" are all by grace through faith, because they are the works of the Holy Spirit in and through us.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF JUSTIFICATION IS STILL FUTURE
"But be you seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you," Mt 6:33.
5 "For we through the Spirit are eagerly waiting for the hope of righteousness by faith," Gal 5:5; Mt 5:6; 1Co 9:10; 1Ti 6:22; 2Ti 2:22; 4:6-8.
A crown of divine righteousness is being laid up for those who are 1) hungering and thirsting for it (Mt 5:6), 2) ministering to the needy that qualifies one for it (Mt 25:31-46), 3) eagerly waiting to receive it (Gal 5:5), 4) patiently laboring for the harvest of it (2Co 9:10), 5) earnestly pursuing after it (1Ti 6:11; 2Ti 2:22), 6) keeping the faith that ensures it (2Ti 4:6-8), and 7) faithfully striving to overcome the required covenant discipline in order to be clothed in it, Rev 3:4-5; 7:9-13; 19:7-8.
We are only credited with having God's divine righteousness now, and must faithfully overcome the harsh and constant discipline of the last will and testament in order to be crowned with God's fullness, Isa 48:9-12; Heb 5:8-9; 12:1-29. Our hearts are deceitful above all things (Jer 17:9), and the Scriptures reveal that the majority of the covenant people fail to make their calling and election sure, 1Co 16:l-12; Heb 3:6-10; 2Pe 1:3-10.
GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS IS DIVINE CLOTHING
"Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.
8 "And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints," Rev 19:7-8.
The Lord will clothe His bride people in fine linen, clean and white. But the fine linen is not a physical garment: it is the divine righteousness of God worked in and through us by the Holy Spirit. The saints have no righteousness of their own (Isa 64:6), therefore the righteous acts of the saints are the workings of the Holy Spirit in and through us, 1Co 15:10; Phi 2:12-13; Mt 10:19-20.
The righteousness of the saints is God's righteousness (His divine nature) which is being progressively credited to the covenant people in justification. And justification is a progressive process in which we are being justified on a continuing basis, as we daily walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham, Rom 4:12 (1-25); Isa 46:12-13; 54:17; Mt 6:33; 2Co 5:21; Phi 3:9.
Adam and Eve were clothed in the skins of the slain animals, Gen 3:21. The animals represented the Kinsman Redeemer (Heb 10:5-10), and their skins represented His righteousness which the Kinsman Redeemer performed in perfectly fulfilling the righteous demands of the Law Covenant during His human life on earth, Isa 42 thru 53. The Law Covenant portrayed God's righteousness (Rom 3:21-26), which is being credited to the saints in justification (Rom 4), and which will be received by them in the resurrection birth into God's divine state of being, Isa 61:10 thru 62:3; Gal 5:5; Phi 3:9-11.