Our Inheritance in Christ

June 14, 2015 Series: Ephesians Scripture: Ephesians 1:11-12 by Chris Strevel

God Has Given Us All Things in his Son

Our merciful Father has promised us an inheritance: heaven’s joys, his fellowship, love and peace with his saints forever. We need to think often of our future in Christ. Without hope of a “better country,” how can we overcome the many temptations that assail us or endure faith’s trials? We are certainly called to serve the Lord here, and any thought of retreating to our spiritual caves should be anathema to us, for our hearts should long to see the name and gospel of Jesus Christ confessed by all around us. Each one of us should aspire to honor Jesus Christ and pray that the Holy Spirit will fill our hearts with his love so that we seek for him to be praised in all we do. The more love for Jesus Christ grows in us, the more we shall speak of him personally and winsomely. The greater our zeal for him will be and the deeper joy and contentment we shall have in following him wherever he calls us to serve him. Love for Christ also strengthens us to give up everything that we may be found in him, anything that we may please him. Especially our idols.

Since we are weak and beset by so many infirmities, our Father has revealed the mystery of his glorious gospel to us (v. 9). In mercy, he has redeemed us through the blood of his Son (v. 7). Equally exhilarating, he has revealed his purpose to gather all things under our Savior’s headship (v. 10). Heaven and earth have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and he will be confessed Lord of all. This is the progressively unfolding reality that now dominates all of human history, and each one of us has a part to play in it. Men and women, marriages and families, businesses, institutions, relationships – all things must be brought to the obedience of the faith; every thought must be brought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5). There is no limit to our Savior’s Lordship, so there is no limit to where we must seek his honor. Where we are lazy, defeated, weighed down by our circumstances and failings, we must remember what God is doing and then consider how we may live in step with his purposes. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17). “Do all to the glory of God.” This is the great unifying motive that all Christians share, however differently they are positioned, called, and gifted in God’s kingdom. Where the Lord of the harvest places us in his vineyard, there we must be faithful to him, love him, work for gospel increase, and pray for gospel blessing so that all things may be gathered under our Savior’s headship and blessing.

An Inheritance Obtained in Christ (v. 11)                                              

This is the disciple’s life, and our sluggish hearts require the strongest motivations to live as those who shall soon stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. Should we not aspire to cast many crowns at his feet? To gather much increase from his grace and gifts to us? Settling for survival is no credit to our Savior. We should aspire to offer him that which costs us much, for he has paid all our bills up front! To walk worthily of our calling and to contribute in some way to the gathering of all things under his headship, we must avail ourselves of every incentive to faithfulness that his word gives to us. One of the strongest is our heavenly inheritance. Our inheritance in Jesus Christ is brought forward to encourage us. The process of all things being brought under Christ requires patient obedience on the part of the church. God is in no “rush.” The regular metaphors he uses for kingdom growth are seed and fruit, sowing and reaping. We often sow in tears, and thus we must see what God promises us in Jesus, lest we faint by the wayside and forget that we shall reap with joy (Ps. 126:5)! Because we do not yet “see all things put under us,” we must “see Jesus” (Heb. 2:9). We must remember that the cross comes before the crown, for our Savior sets the path for all the children of the kingdom coming after him. If we forget that we are “companions in the kingdom and tribulation” (Rev. 1:9), we are likely to despair of the progress of God’s kingdom in our lives and pursue with little hope our responsibilities in the world.

So, he directs our affections to things above (Col. 3:1-3). The verb translated “obtained an inheritance” implies something that is chosen or determined by lot. It is a passive verb, which should arrest our attention, for this inheritance is not something we earn but a gift God gives us through his Son. Since he has determined by his grace to give us an inheritance, we may be certain of receiving it. Thankfulness for his mercy and love are far more effectual incentives to faithfulness than seeking merit before God and living to overcome guilt. If we are to endure all the tribulations through which we must pass on the way to God’s eternal kingdom, we must keep before us the inheritance we have already obtained by virtue of our Savior’s obedience and sacrifice. He has secured it for us! Our inheritance is being reserved by the power of God (1 Pet. 1:4). Heaven and all its blessings are the Father’s reward to his Son’s friends. When we believe upon his name, his reward becomes ours. In the endless stretches of heaven, we shall never forget that every new joy was purchased for us by Jesus Christ. We must not forget it on earth. His merit and worthiness kept before the eyes of faith will preserve us from some dark places of despair and frustration. Due to our sinfulness and weakness, nothing seems less likely than that we shall reach heaven. But we do not fight again sin and the flesh hoping to obtain but because we have already obtained. God has so joined us to his Son that we have entered into our Savior’s joys, glory, exaltation, and reward.

This inheritance is the eternal kingdom that God has promised to us in his Son. We begin to enjoy it as soon as we believe in Jesus, as verses 13-14 make clear. We have peace with God through Christ’s saving work and intercession for us at God’s right hand. We have free access to the throne of grace, the promise of pardon for our many sins, and the promise of mercy and grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16). God himself guides us, dwells with us by his Spirit, speaks peace to our hearts, and teaches us his ways that we may walk in his paths. Constant supplies of grace are guaranteed to us through Jesus Christ; he is the living water and the anchor of our soul within the veil. And he has gone there to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-3). Awaiting us is his “Well done, good and faithful servant,” the resurrection of the body, and the enjoyment of God forever in the new heavens and earth wherein righteousness dwells. No tears, no pain, and God himself for our sun is our destiny in Christ. We shall have a seat at the marriage feast of the Lamb, at which he will drink with us the new wine of everlasting joy and gladness. We shall serve God forever with our gifts and callings, without sin, without a cloud upon the horizon. Above all, we shall have God as our reward. He is our inheritance, even as by his grace we are his. It is impossible now to understand or to feel what it shall be like to live in perfect communion with our Maker and Savior. We must strain our souls to meditate often upon the inheritance awaiting us, bless God for it, and live as those who shall soon have fullness of joy unspeakable and full of glory. Far from making us useless on earth, or wistful, or disengaged, the hope of our heavenly inheritance inspires to faith, works of love and mercy, diligence in our callings, and joy along the way. We are marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion, God’s eternal city. Jesus has purchased it for us. Our inheritance lightens every sorrow and hardship. If we set our affections upon it and not the things of the earth, we shall find that “continual feast” to sustain us in trials, give courage and patience when suffering for Christ’s sake, and be strengthened to a wise use of God’s earthly gifts, “using without abusing,” as the apostle directs us (1 Cor. 7:31). The fashions and very structure of this world is passing away; we have an inheritance awaiting us that is incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading.

The Eternal Roots and Security of our Inheritance (v. 11)

Our merciful Father has revealed our inheritance to encourage us as we pass through “many tribulations” (Acts 14:22). He would not have us to be his sad servants, for this would be a very poor witness of him to the world and deny our Savior’s joy in us (John 15:9-11). Joyful anticipation of our inheritance, however, depends upon it having a foundation so solid that no troubles we experience in this life can shake our confidence. Thus, as the Holy Spirit so often does in these opening lines, he turns our attention to the fact that we have been chosen in Christ and predestined to be God’s children. It is a wonder that men balk at these truths or would sacrifice our security on the altar of man’s will and fear of losing what he thinks is his freedom. If we are to have security and therefore joy, we must continually return to predestination. God has marked us out, chosen us to be his children. This word “predestination” is specifically the redemptive side of God’s election. God knew and chose us to be his children. “The Lord knows those that are his” (2 Tim. 2:19). He knows because he chose. His choice was not based upon foreseen goodness or any consideration other than his own grace and mercy to undeserving sinners. This is the highest ground of our security and of the joy each one of us should have in our inheritance. Nothing can separate us from God’s love or from our eternal blessedness in him because no one can resist the will of God. Satan cannot overturn his purposes. Our own failings cannot overturn his eternal will.

This ground is so high and holy that we must walk carefully, with fear and trembling. Our predestination to sons and to eternal glory is God saying to us, “I will reveal a little of my eternal counsels to you, my children. You know this only because I reveal it to you, but I want you to know it. I want you to see how secure you are in my love. I want you to have many foretastes of eternal joy in your earthly pilgrimage. I want you to know that nothing you go through – no suffering, pain, loneliness, sorrow, persecution, sin – can prevent my loving, saving will from being realized.” Here is a precious, powerful truth by which we may shield off Satan’s insinuations, the flesh’s corruptions, and the mind’s doubts. God has predestinated us to be his children. No one can resist his will. We are secure. Here is a comfort to us when the world hates us, when men run amok in wickedness and the very foundations seem to be destroyed. God has determined to make us his own and bring us to himself. God gives in the truth of predestination a foundation for joy and peace that is grounded not in our circumstances and experiences but in his own sovereign, eternal will. Armed with this hope, we may endure every hardship with the confidence that our Father is working out his purposes through them. Our inheritance in Christ, like our faith, is not grounded upon the wisdom of men but upon the power and faithfulness of God. Should we not sing and rejoice? Be faithful to God? Love Jesus Christ and seek to do our part to see him glorified? Our Father has done great things for us. Blessed be our Rock, and let the God of our salvation be exalted!

God’s Will the Cause of our Inheritance (v. 11)

Since God’s will is eternal and untouchable, and we may be tempted to think of it as impersonal and disconnected from the concerns of daily life. Therefore, the Holy Spirit reminds us that God is “working all things according to the purpose of his will.” “Working” is a present participle. It embraces all the details, all the facts of everything that happens in the world. Great care must be exercised here, lest we think of God working some kind of cosmic machine, responding and tweaking his will to respond to a universe that is swirling around him. It is not swirling. God’s will is not responsive in this fashion, for he has purposed and directs all things according to his eternally fixed will. At the same time, he is actively working to bring his will to fruition. Not that there is any doubt of his will being done on earth as it is in heaven, but he is a personal, active, and “involved” God. He did not wind up everything and walk away. He is provident, watchful, a constant, loving shepherd to his people.

It does seem at times as if our lives are swirling out of control. We wonder how this event or that trouble can be part of God’s will. Changes come to our circumstances or hardship in our closest relationships, and despair lurks. We begin questioning, doubting, or wondering where God is. Let us always fall back upon this precious promise: He is working according to the counsel of his will. We plan; God directs. The disposing of every matter, the direction of every detail, the falling of every tear is part of his purpose to redeem and finally to bring us to our inheritance. We do not see how many of the details of our lives, especially the hard providences, are part of God’s will. We often doubt, but we must walk by faith. God has predestined us to be his children. Nothing prevents his purposes from being realized; everything contributes in some way to that realization. Ours is not to question but to rejoice. If we are crying, he is collecting our tears in his bottle. If we are suffering, an eternal weight of glory is being prepared. If we are joyful, those joys will build toward heavenly bliss. His working should never make us presumptuous, for our responsibility is to obey his revealed will in Scripture. In fact, his working should make us very careful, for our sins and foolishness have consequences. He will correct our faults. We must learn to respect God’s sovereign will, not fearing it as slaves trying to escape a hard master but as children delighting that their lives are so upheld and directed by their loving Father that everything that happens is contributing to our eternal joy in Jesus Christ!

Our Glorifying of God the Goal of our Inheritance (v. 12)

All of this is so that we should be to the “praise of his glory!” It is hard for us to take this in, for Satan’s deception – “Ye shall be as gods” – is so much a part of our fleshly corruption. Many around us make his lie their chief confession. Everything should go as we want, with as few inconveniences as possible. If something bad happens, Satan, not God, is responsible. We certainly are not responsible, for we are good people! We should try to make life as problem-free as possible. This is stupidity talking, Satan’s original lie deceiving. Rather, we should see our redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s saving mystery revealed, our inheritance in Christ, and God’s working all things according to his purpose as having this sole end: that he will be all in all. This is his world, not ours. He sets the parameters for joy and peace. His purposes, not ours, are being worked out. If we are to praise him, endure trouble patiently, and live as the joyful redeemed of the Lord in all seasons, we must recover the God-centeredness of life. He will be glorified. He is being glorified. Our deepest joy is his glory!

To have peace and purpose, we must live to glorify him. This will give us incredible peace – my Father is working all things together for good! Joy – my Savior has redeemed us and is preparing a place for us! Hope – God is working out his purposes and will always do what is right according to his wisdom! Courage – I am completely safe in my Father’s care as I obey him. Praise him for his grace! We deserve judgment, but he has chosen us to be his children. Praise God for his love! Praise him for sending his Son! Praise him that he watches over us with unceasing vigilance and will surely bring us to our eternal inheritance in Christ.