25/10/12  No. 4979

Christ’s Inheritance

As Christians we are truly greatly blessed by God!  We are not blessed because we are more deserving than others nor because of anything we have done.  God’s blessings are free gifts from our loving creator.  It is God that chooses who is to become a member of the body of Christ (“chosen by the grace of God.  But if it is by grace, then it does not rest on deeds, or grace would cease to be grace” – Rom 11:5-6).  We did not choose to become a Christian of our own volition; it was God that called us.  We are all born with a sinful nature and the Bible says that no sinner seeks God - “There is no one righteous; no, not one; no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Rom 3:10-11) - so we only become Christians because God reaches out to us.  Jesus said “No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me” (John 6:44), and “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never turn away” (John 6:37).  “For it is by grace you are saved through faith; it is not your own doing.  It is God’s gift, not a reward for work done.  There is nothing for anyone to boast of; we are God’s handiwork” (Eph 2:8-9).

God calls us to salvation through our hearing or reading the gospel: “God chose you to find salvation in the Spirit who consecrates you and in the truth you believe.  It was for this that he called you through the gospel we brought, so that you might come to possess the splendour of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 2:13-14).  We know we are called by our response to the gospel – “My dear friends, beloved by God, we are certain that he has chosen you, because when we brought you the gospel we did not bring it in mere words but in the power of the Holy Spirit and with strong conviction.  You know what we were like for your sake when we were with you.  You, in turn, followed the example set by us and the Lord; the welcome you gave the message meant grave suffering for you, yet you rejoiced in the Holy Spirit; and so you have become a model for all believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1Th 1:4-7).  Those that hear the gospel (which means ‘good news’) and believe it have been chosen: “And in Christ you also – once you had heard the message of the truth, the good news of your salvation, and had believed it – in him you were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph 1:13).  We were sealed with the Holy Spirit when we believed the gospel – it’s a completed transaction, our salvation is assured!

Having accepted God’s calling, we have been begotten as new creatures in Christ.  God’s purpose for us will be realised after we have been born again as new creatures and will be with Jesus in heaven: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1Pe 1:3, AV).  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Co 5:17, AV). “Dear friends, we are now God’s children; what we shall be has not yet been disclosed, but we know that when Christ appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1Jo 3:2).

Even before God created man he chose us to become members of his family: “Before the foundation of the world he chose us in Christ to be his people, to be without blemish in his sight, to be full of love; and he predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ.  This was his will and pleasure in order that the glory of his gracious gift, so graciously conferred on us in his Beloved, might redound to his praise” (Eph 1:4-6).  This predestination is God’s guarantee – Jesus said, “My own sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.  I give them eternal life and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my care” (John 10:27-28) and the apostle Paul said, “For I am convinced that there is nothing in death or life, in the realms of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths – nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).

In Israel boys were no better off than servants until they came of age, only then they were adopted as sons.  Only at that point did they have the freedom, rights and privileges of a son and could inherit their father’s property.  This is what the Bible is referring to when it says that we become adopted as sons of God.  Having become adopted sons of God, our obedience is not the forced obedience of servants, but the loving obedience of sons, and we have an inheritance in Christ: “so long as the heir is a minor, he is no better off than a slave, even though the whole estate is his; he is subject to guardians and trustees until the date set by his father.  So it was with us: during our minority we were slaves, subject to the elemental spirits of the universe, but when the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to buy freedom for those who were under the law, in order that we might attain the status of sons.  To prove that you are sons, God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, crying ‘Abba, Father!’  You are therefore no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, an heir by God’s own act” (Gal 4:1-7), “fellow-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17).

Although Paul talks of us as having been adopted (for it is a done deal), nevertheless we are not actually adopted until our resurrection as new spirit creatures: “we also, to whom the Spirit is given as the firstfruits of the harvest to come, are groaning inwardly while we look forward eagerly to our adoption, our liberation from mortality.  It was with this hope that we were saved.” (Rom 8:23-24).  When we are born again (in the resurrection) we will receive the spiritual nature of a son of God, then we are adopted as sons and we will receive the position, status and rights of a son of God.  Once again, it is all God’s work in us: “For those whom God knew before ever they were, he also ordained to share the likeness of his Son, so that he might be the eldest among a large family of brothers; and those whom he foreordained, he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:29-30).

As Christians we can have a share in Christ’s inheritance.  However, although our eternal life is assured, note that we can lose our share in that inheritance.  Paul said (comparing to training for an athletic race), “I do not spare my body, but bring it under strict control, for fear that after preaching to others I should find myself disqualified” - or not fit enough to win the prize (1 Cor 9:27).

We know that our inheritance will include a perfect immortal spirit body, a perfect righteous, loving character and a share in Jesus’ kingdom rule, but it will be more than we can imagine.  “No eye hath seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those that love him” (1 Cor 2:9, NIV).

Jesus has an additional inheritance - the Church.  We are part of God’s gift to his son Jesus (John 17:24).  That should make us try hard to be as perfect, righteous and loving as we can be.

[Scripture quotations are from the REB (Revised English Bible) unless otherwise stated.]

Article by Keith Robichaud, Bournemouth.