I received the following question:

Are fearing God and working righteousness required of us today? And if so, if someone who does not believe that Jesus died for their sins, but fears God and works righteousness (i.e. religious), what is their standing in the kingdom?  Thanks.

Well, this would be entirely dependent upon what they did know of God. Anyone who hears the true message about Christ, understands it (is generated by God to understand it,) and rejects it cannot be said to be fearing God. Anyone who refuses to believe is not a God-fearer. Of course, there could be many extenuating circumstances. If some (like many Israelites) have been persecuted in the name of Jesus Christ by those who take His name emptily, if they then hear the truth about Christ, we can well understand why they might not believe it and reject it. But assuming there really was a God-given understanding of the truth, no unbeliever can be described like Acts 10:34-35.

If we assume that the one in question has not heard the true message about Jesus Christ or received any further revelation of Him, however, then yes, if he fears God and works righteousness, he will be accepted by God. I do not know that I would describe this as “being religious.” Religion tends to be man’s attempt to approach God on his own terms. The only true religion ever was the one God gave Israel. One who fears God may attempt to approach him in wrong ways, it is true. But those misguided attempts will not be what helps him, but simply that he fears God, and works the things that he knows to be right.

As far as their standing in the kingdom, no special privileges are reserved for one who simply fears God and works righteousness. These are reserved for those who have received greater light, and therefore are under greater responsibility, but also have greater opportunity for rewards. Those who have had no opportunity but to follow their conscience, if they take that opportunity, will be citizens in the kingdom of God. Yet I would expect that they would be simply that, and will have no exalted position in that kingdom. Certainly nothing like what is thrown open to those who are “in Christ” by believing in Him today.

I pray that helps and answers your question. May the Lord continue to bless you in your studies of His Word!

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