Our Inheritance in Christ
The first chapter of “Ephesians”, which mentions “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” also speaks of the gathering together of all things in Christ “ … even in Him: in Whom also we have obtained an inheritance …”
The chosen ones are His inheritance: to be chosen, ours; His inheritance is to possess us: ours to be possessed by Him; His joy is to place His Name upon us: ours to be called by His Name.
The Promise of Eternal Inheritance
When God made His covenant with Abram He promised him the land — a temporal inheritance; but under the new covenant God has given to those who are the called, “the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15). The apostle Peter praised God for this grace when he wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you …” (1. Peter 1:3-4).
In contrast with earthly inheritances, ours can neither spoil nor be spoiled; it will not fade away nor can it be stolen from us; even we ourselves cannot waste it for it is reserved in heaven for us. This is real estate that is real indeed, for it is eternal, and of much greater value than all the treasures of earth.
Three of the qualities of this inheritance are mentioned in Ephesians 1:3-6: He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing; He has chosen us in Him that we should be holy; He has predestinated us in love to be His sons.
Every Spiritual Blessing
God revealed Himself to Abram as “El Shaddai”: the All-Sufficient God (Genesis 17:1); and in His subsequent dealings with his descendents He used the title “Jehovah.” Down the years, as the various needs of the people became evident, God disclosed further aspects of His sufficiency when He referred to Himself as: “Jehovah our Maker”; “Jehovah will provide”; “Jehovah that healeth thee”; “Jehovah my banner”; “Jehovah that doth sanctify you”; “Jehovah our God”; “Jehovah thy God”; “Jehovah my God”; “Jehovah send peace”; “Jehovah of hosts”; “Jehovah my shepherd”; “Jehovah most high”; “Jehovah our righteousness”; “Jehovah is there.”
When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, He made additional revelations of His ability to meet the needs not only of Israel but of all mankind when He linked the Divine Name “I Am” (Exodus 3:14) with several familiar metaphors: “I am the bread of life”; “I am the light of the world”; “Before Abraham was I Am”; “I am the door”; “I am the good shepherd”; “I am the resurrection and the life”; “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; and when He presented Himself to the temple guards in the garden of Gethsemane, the word He spoke, grand in its simplicity and superbly significant was, “I Am!”. In resurrection glory He supplemented these with further claims when He said: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” and “I am the first and the last: He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death”; and finally, in prospect of the breaking of the day: “I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star.”
These different expressions of the Name of God emphasize the fulness of His sufficiency and make known something of the infinite resources behind the assurance, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). In Christ all things that pertain to life and godliness are ours. The Levites (Numbers 18:20) lost nothing by having the Lord alone as their inheritance; neither do the people of God today. Men of this world “have their portion in this life,” but we who are His can say in truth, “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (Psalm 17:14, 73:26).
Elected In Holiness
Pre-eminently, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the “Chosen of God” (Isaiah 42:1, 1 Peter 2:4), but in the exceeding riches of His grace we were chosen in Him — that we should be holy and without blame before Him. God wishes to perfect His love in us as it is perfected in His Son. Should He tolerate one sin in us, that would be sufficient to cause us to doubt His love for it would separate us from Him for ever.
If there is one word more than any other which aptly describes the nature of God, that word is “holy.” The Spirit of God uses the word frequently for this purpose. The Lord Jesus Christ, Who expressed the Holy Name of the Father, is identified as the Holy One of God, while the Spirit Himself is the Holy Spirit. God has not left us in any uncertainty as to His character, for He has embodied it in a human life. The life of the Lord Jesus Christ fully demonstrated the character of God; but the contemplation of the glory and the beauty of that life would but cause us to despair were it not for the further revelation of His purpose that His own children shall partake of His holiness experimentally. God has predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His Son: the beauty of the Lord our God shall be upon us and He shall come to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all them that believe in the day of His glory (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
The presence of the Holy Spirit within us is evinced by the desire for holiness and a “hunger and thirst after righteousness”; and we have His assurance that these longings shall be satisfied for He will present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. “Just as we have borne the image of the mail of dust, we shall also bear the image of the Man of Heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49, RSV).
Predestinated to Sonship
“He destined us in love to be His sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5, RSV).
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!” (1 John 3:1). Without question, if we would understand the true dignity of sonship we must consider The Son. That blessed relationship which exists within the Being of the Godhead was made known to mankind when the Son of God became the Son of Man. He was entrusted as Man with the honour of the Father. He came in His Father’s Name to manifest that Name. Everything He was and said and did had this purpose in view and it was abundantly fulfilled. He counted it the greatest honour to be the Son of Man, for as such He became the Servant of God. He delighted to carry out His Father’s will, even though it involved the depths of degradation and sorrow: physical, mental, and spiritual. His love was proved by His obedience, even unto death.
The walk of the Son of Man was marked by dependence upon His Father. That dependence was shown by His regard for the fulfilment of the things which were written concerning Himself. By the written Word He knew all the things which were to come upon Him; and when those things were all accomplished He said, “It is finished”: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost. His dependence upon the Father was also shown by His prayer life. His whole life was spent in the conscious presence of His Father, yet He set apart days and nights for the purpose of using His lips for supplication, thanksgiving, intercession, and the adoration of His Father’s Name. These occasions must have been the most enjoyable which He spent upon earth, for He loved the presence of God.
Sonship implies love, communion, guidance, counsel, sharing of resources and interests, provision, instruction, training, discipline: and all these He experienced at the hands of His Father; and all these are also included in our sonship: which is a closer and dearer relationship than any earthly bond. Our Father expects us to believe this and to love Him and obey His will. “… because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father’” (Galations 4:6).
Our inheritance is in Him. “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; (He has been appointed heir of all things) if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
The Earnest of Our Inheritance
Our inheritance is reserved in heaven for us; but we do not have to wait for heaven before we can enjoy it, for God has given to us an earnest — a pledge. The presence of His Holy Spirit in our hearts is the hope, or assurance of coming glory.
When God said to Abram, “I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it”, Abram answered, “Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” God then instituted His covenant with him: which covenant became the basis for all God’s dealings with the chosen seed (Genesis 15:7-8). When, in fulfilment of His promise, He redeemed His people from Egypt, He did not leave them to make their own way to their inheritance. He assured them of His presence among them and promised to lead them, supply their needs and defend them until they entered the land of promise. “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” was God’s promise to Moses. “… He made His own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And He led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. And He brought them to the border of His sanctuary, even to this mountain, which His right hand had purchased: He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents” (Psalm 78:52-55).
Thus, by “example and shadow” God established the principle that His presence would be with His heavenly people during their pilgrimage. Tabernacle and Temple, designated as God’s dwelling place, foreshadowed the “Greater and more perfect Tabernacle”: the Lord Jesus Christ.
He revealed Himself as the true Temple of God when He said, “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me” (John 14:11). He first revealed the truth of the indwelling of the Spirit in His own with the words: “… the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17). Since Pentecost the Holy Spirit has been both in and with the people of God: dwelling in their hearts individually and in their midst collectively: in their bodies His temple, and, since this is so, the Church His body, bound together in the unity of the Spirit: the habitation of God. (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20, Ephesians 2:21-22). It can be truly said of every believer, “In Him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14, RSV).
The Reward of Inheritance
“Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23, RSV).
Nothing can be more certain of fulfilment than the promise of God. His written word is the title-deed of our inheritance. The time will surely come when the Lord will say: “Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world …” (Matthew 25:34).
God made a promise to Abraham regarding his inheritance and his posterity at a time when all appearances were against the possibility of the promise being fulfilled. Nevertheless he believed God in spite of appearances: “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able to perform … and so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (Romans 4:20-21, Hebrews 6:15).
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:35-36).
* * *
We have no promise that the road
Of life has no detours;
But that the love and grace of God
We have no promise that our way
Will not be hard and long,
But that, at last, will dawn the day
Of endless joy and song.