Are We Living in Light of Eternity?
Ephesians Lesson #036
July 21, 2019
“Father, we’re so thankful we can come together and teach Your Word, learn Your Word, reflect on Your Word, that we may be reminded that You have a tremendous plan for our lives, a plan that does not simply focus on our redemption—our salvation, determining that we will go to Heaven at the time of physical death—but a plan that includes every aspect of our lives here on earth today, a transformation of our souls according to Your Word, that we may exchange the truth of Scripture for the fantasies and the myths and the misunderstandings and lies that dominate our souls from our sin natures.
“Father, we’re thankful that we have Your Word that teaches us the truth. It is the light that shines in our souls, that illuminates our lives, so that we can learn to live on the basis of the reality that You created and that You rule over.
“Father, we pray that we might learn to live today not in light of our passions or emotions, not in light of what is good for today or for tomorrow, but that we might learn to live in light of Your eternal plan, a plan that starts with our salvation, our trust in Christ, and continues through our spiritual growth, focusing on our preparation for not just service in this life but also serving You in the coming Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then on into eternity.
“Father, we pray that as we study our inheritance and that which pertains to our future destiny, that we might be challenged and motivated to live more consistently for You. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
We are in Ephesians 1:14.
We are continuing a study that I began three or four lessons back, focusing on understanding the concept of inheritance from Ephesians 1:14, “… who”—that is the Holy Spirit—“is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” This idea of our inheritance is a doctrine, a teaching of Scripture, that we find running throughout the Scripture. As we will see in part of our study this morning, it started back in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, and continued through most of the Old Testament books. It is also a vital part of the teaching of the New Testament.
Since the New Testament was written on the foundation of the Old Testament, it is important to understand this whole concept of inheritance and heirship from an Old Testament perspective. When the writers of Scripture came along and began to apply and teach this in relation to who we are in Christ, our inheritance in Christ, our heirship in Christ, they built on the presupposition that we understand all that had been taught and revealed in the Old Testament, that the Old Testament is the foundation for understanding everything in the New Testament.
We have seen in these passages in the New Testament that teach about inheritance one aspect that focuses on God’s work in providing us with an inheritance. Ephesians 1:14, our passage, is one of those critical passages about the Holy Spirit, who was given to us at the instant of salvation. He indwells us. He has sealed us, that is, He has sort of branded us with the ownership of God. As part of that, He is our guarantee of a future inheritance that will be realized at the Judgment Seat of Christ for believers, according to 1 Corinthians 3:12 and following.
1 Peter 1:3–4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance …” We are born again to an inheritance, to a future goal. Again, that focuses on the work that God did in providing that inheritance. That is one side of this important doctrine, which has been given to us.
In 1 Peter 1:4, it is “an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” Our future possession is not dependent on who we are or what we do. It is totally dependent on what we have in Christ. On the other hand, passages talk about the fact that we are to work for our inheritance. We are to serve for our inheritance. There is a reward that is in addition to that basic inheritance package.
I’ve retranslated Colossians 3:24, “because you know that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” Salvation is a free gift according to Ephesians 2:8–9. It is not worked for or earned, but a reward is earned. “We will receive the reward of the inheritance.” What’s the conclusion? The command, “You all”—or y’all as we say in the South—“y’all serve the Lord!” That’s the command.
Serving the Lord in this life is the key to this reward of the inheritance. Salvation is a free gift, but a reward is earned. This is important for understanding so many of these passages, and I bring our attention, each time I’ve done this, to three passages that seem to be problems and are poorly understood by many people today.
1. 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God.”
To give you a preview of what we will see when we get there, “inherit the Kingdom” is the problem for interpretation. If “inherit the Kingdom” means to enter into Heaven and to have eternal life, this seems to contradict other passages that say that salvation is a free gift, not related to any sins or failures in our lives because sin was all paid for at the Cross. I’m spending so much time talking about inheritance ahead of time because this concept of inheritance is critical for interpreting the phrase “inherit the Kingdom.” It is not inheriting salvation or possessing eternal life. It is inheriting the Kingdom.
The Kingdom in the New Testament is always based on the Old Testament prophecy that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would come to the earth and establish the Kingdom on this earth, where He would rule and reign from Jerusalem from the throne of David. When that Kingdom is established, we as Church-Age believers will return with the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth and rule and reign with Him. Inheriting the Kingdom has to do with those ruling and reigning responsibilities, not being in the Kingdom. Ten sins are listed here. Those who do not understand God’s grace, who do not truly understand salvation, seek to make these contingent for salvation. This does not have anything to do with eternal life, which is by faith alone in Christ alone.
Ephesians 5:5 summarizes those ten sins by saying, “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.” Ephesians 5:5 is located in the second half of this book that we’re studying. Understanding that verse is based on first understanding Ephesians 1:14. Again, there is a condition of human behavior based on realizing this inheritance of the Kingdom.
2. Galatians 5:19–21 lists seventeen sins and concludes by saying, “that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Again, this is one of those passages used to strike fear into the hearts of believers, that if you sin, then you will not see eternal life. The threat is of either a loss of salvation or that you were never truly saved if you continue a lifestyle pattern of these sins. The reality is that this is a misunderstanding of both salvation, that Christ paid for all sins, which means that sin is not the issue for eternal life, and a misunderstanding of the Kingdom and what is involved there.
In the past several weeks, we have looked at different aspects of inheritance. Last week, we looked at the various passages in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:7, where Jesus was talking directly to believers. He was not talking to unbelievers. It specifically states at the beginning of Matthew 5:1 that Jesus took His disciples apart and began to teach them.
As we studied in Matthew, He was teaching them in the Sermon on the Mount how the repentant believer should live. By repentant believer, I am referencing what John the Baptist said when he came, “Repent.” He was addressing Israel, the nation of Israel. He said, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Kingdom of Heaven, as we saw, is that Messianic Kingdom that was promised and prophesied in the Old Testament.
John was the forerunner of Jesus. He was announcing that the King was at hand and the Kingdom was being offered on the basis of repentance, of changing their minds, returning to obedience to the Law and accepting Jesus as the Messiah. Those who responded to that message were those who were given instructions by Jesus in Matthew 5–7 as to how that repentant believer, the person who had responded positively to John the Baptist’s message, should live.
Embedded within Matthew 5–7 are a number of different contrasts between the superficial righteousness of the Pharisees and that which the believer in Jesus would experience. He said the superficiality and public demonstrations of religious behavior by the Pharisees would bring them their own reward. They were going to be viewed and talked about by people. That was their reward, but that was all they would get.
If you pray in secret, if you give in secret, and if you live your spiritual life before the Lord, He is the One who will reward you. You may be persecuted, you may be reviled and ridiculed, you may even give your life, but the Father gives the rewards, so trust Him. That’s the background.
Again, we see that there is a difference between the gift of salvation, the free gift of salvation, and these rewards that are based on behavior. The big take-away from all of this is that when inheritance is the focus, there are two aspects. First, what God provides for every believer is not ever threatened or at issue or anything like that. It is our secure inheritance. A second category of inheritance is in addition to that and is referred to by the term rewards that are based on our behavior, our pursuit of spiritual maturity, our service to the Lord, and our preparation for that future role to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ.
We’re going to continue our study about what the Bible teaches about inheritance as possession. For background, in our culture, we think of inheritance as something we get as a result of a will when somebody dies, leading to a property exchange. The concept of inheritance in the ancient Near East was quite different. Property exchange might be part of it, but it primarily focused on ownership or possession of property.
I’m establishing this morning that this idea of two aspects of inheritance is not new to the New Testament but was part of the understanding of inheritance going all the way back to the Old Testament. The Old Testament taught these two aspects of inheritance. One inheritance went to all Jews and could not be lost. I’m not talking about all believers because we will see here that within the structure of the Abrahamic Covenant, there is the promise of the land to Israel, the promise of many other things to Israel as a corporate entity.
Believers and unbelievers were in Israel, so the analogy is not going to be directed toward the church. It is not talking about inheritance in relation to salvation or faith. It is talking about inheritance in relation to that covenant. All Israelites were recipients of the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant, so there was an inheritance for all. There was a realization of an aspect of that inheritance, that possession, that was based on their obedience, which I’m developing this morning.
1. The Old Testament teaches two aspects of inheritance. One, the inheritance to all, is not lost, analogous to the inheritance that all believers have in Christ. The passage in Ephesians 1:14 will be referred to again in Ephesians 1:18 and in 1 Peter 1:3–4.
2. A second category of inheritance is based on obedience.
For example, all of the land was given to Israel positionally according to the Abrahamic Covenant and God’s promise in Genesis 12:7, but the realization, the possession, the enjoyment, the reception of blessing from that land was predicated on obedience. At the end of the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 26, God warned that if they disobeyed Him, He would bring different levels of judgment, discipline, against the nation. If they continued in disobedience, He would remove them from the land.
Israel still had ownership rights to the land, as they do today, but because of disobedience to God, they would not realize the blessings of that ownership. They would be removed from the land. This is built on a principle that we can trace through the patriarchs that shows that this possession is part of the inheritance. A principle underlies this. I remember to the year, even the time of the year, when I first heard this taught and was fascinated by it. It’s built on the understanding that God used His own standard rather than the normal human standard in terms of this inheritance. The principle is that the elder will serve the younger.
3. In the ancient world, a principle that dominated throughout most cultures and empires was that the firstborn, the elder, would receive the double blessing of the inheritance. Other sons would receive other aspects of inheritance, but the double blessing would go to the elder.
Rather than basing His blessing on the human cultural standard, God changed it so that the elder served the younger, not the younger serving the elder son. I want to give you some examples because this is often not clearly understood. In the normal situation, the firstborn would receive the double portion. In the case of Abraham, we must remember that God called him out of the Chaldees. He eventually followed God’s command and ended up in the land God promised him. God promised that He would give him this land and that He would multiply his descendants, and his descendants would be a blessing to all the world.
Abraham was old. He was past the years of childbearing. His wife was past the years of childbearing. He was trying to figure out ways to make this work for God. He was trying to help God. Often, we try to help God bless us, and we muck things up just as Abraham did. One way he attempted to do it at the beginning in Genesis 15 was saying, “Lord, I don’t have any children. How in the world are you going to fulfill this promise? Why don’t we take the simple route here? I have a servant who is faithful. I’ll adopt him and make him my son, and we will make Eleazar the promised son.” God said, “No, he will be a son of you and Sarah.”
A few years went by and still no son. Sarah was now way past the years of childbearing, so she said, “I’ve got an idea. Let us help God. I have a servant woman here, Hagar, who is Egyptian. Why don’t we make her a concubine, and you have relations with her, and her son will be the firstborn?” Abraham listened to Sarah and said, “That’s a good idea. Let’s try it.” Hagar gave birth to a son named Ishmael, who became the firstborn, but Ishmael was not the promised seed.
God corrected him and said, “No, once again, you and Sarah will have a son.” That led to the birth of Isaac. God created a miracle for Sarah to be able to get pregnant, all the things involved physically for a woman so far past menopause and past childbearing years to have her whole womb and reproductive organs regenerated. I’ve heard medical doctors talk about this at length. It’s unbelievable. Yet, God did that, and Sarah gave birth to a son named Isaac.
Isaac was the younger. Ishmael was the older, but Ishmael was not given the birthright. He was still given a special blessing from God. Often, Ishmael gets a bad rap because later we’re told that Ishmael was a wild ass of a man and that the descendants of Ishmael would be antagonistic to the descendants of Isaac. Many read the text superficially and think, “That means Ishmael wasn’t a believer,” but if you carefully read the Scripture, God blessed Ishmael. He just didn’t get the blessing of the firstborn.
In Genesis 21:12, God instructed Abraham, saying, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman.” He was talking about Ishmael. At this point, God directed him to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Sarah had recommended this as well. God said, “… listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed”—your descendants—“shall be called.” A Jew is not Jewish because he is a descendant of Abraham. He is not Jewish because he’s a descendant of Abraham and Isaac alone; but he’s Jewish if he’s a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The seed line went through Isaac. God said in Genesis 21:13, “Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.” Ishmael was richly blessed by God, but he didn’t get the blessing of the firstborn.
We look ahead and see Esau in the same kind of situation. Esau was Isaac’s son. Isaac married Rebecca. Rebecca got pregnant with twins. Esau was the firstborn. He came out just ahead of Jacob. Jacob is referred to as the heel grabber because he was grabbing. He wanted to supplant Esau, which seemed to be a trend of his sin nature. He was going to get that birthright by hook or by crook. He was not going wait for God. That was Jacob’s problem.
Esau lost the birthright. We all should be familiar with that story, where Isaac sent Esau on a mission. Esau was a hunter. He was hairy. He was a man’s man. He was going to hunt wild game and come back and prepare a meal for Isaac. Rebecca got the idea to help God so Esau didn’t get the blessing. She disguised Jacob and sent him to secure game. She made the animal taste good so that Isaac would be fooled.
Jacob brought it to Isaac, and Isaac accepted it. He was a little dubious. He was blind by that time and couldn’t discern whether it was Esau. He was a little suspicious. He said, “Wait a minute! You’re not acting like Esau.” Jacob had put fur over his arms so that he could say to his father, “Feel my arms, how hairy I am. I’m Esau!” He deceived his father Isaac, but God had already announced before their births that Jacob would be the seed, that the blessing would go through the younger and not through the older. Jacob was trying to manipulate the situation.
Earlier, Esau had sold his birthright. He came back from hunting. He was tired. He was hungry. Jacob had a pot of lentil soup. Esau said, “That smells good. I want that soup. I’m famished!” Jacob was still manipulating the situation. He said, “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll give you the lentil soup if you sell me your inheritance rights.” Esau said, “That sounds good to me. I’ll make a trade.” He treated his inheritance rights casually and with disrespect. This background will help us understand a passage we will go to in Hebrews. He sold His inheritance right to Jacob.
Jacob got the double blessing of his father through chicanery. He manipulated the situation with his brother Esau and tricked him into selling his birthright. According to the customs and the laws of that time, Esau gave up his birthright, and it went to Jacob, but God blessed Esau richly. When Jacob had to leave for a while and go north into Syria, which is where he married his two wives, Leah and Rachel, Esau was threatening to kill him because of these previous deceptions. Jacob was worried that Esau would still hate him.
When he came back, he sent flocks and herds ahead of him, all these gifts to Esau. When Esau came and finally met him, he said, “I don’t need all of this! God has richly blessed me. I have so many possessions that I don’t know what to do with them. God has taken care of me.” This was Esau later in life. God blessed him, but he didn’t have the blessing of the double portion. He didn’t have the inheritance right.
The same thing happened with Reuben. Jacob had twelve sons. The firstborn was Reuben. According to the Primogeniture Law, Reuben would get the double portion, but he lost the birthright. 1 Chronicles 5:1 says that though he was the firstborn, he defiled his father’s bed, and his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph: Ephraim and Manasseh. Reuben lost the birthright, but he still got an inheritance, just not the inheritance of the firstborn.
Manasseh was the older; Ephraim was second. In an interesting scenario, Jacob had now come from the land. We all know the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors, how he was sold into slavery, went to Egypt, then through various happenings, was thrown in prison. He was brought out of prison by God and elevated by the Pharaoh to the second highest position in the land. God was using Joseph to protect his family and protect his brothers during a famine.
They come down to Egypt. When his father came, who all this time thought that Joseph was dead, Jacob was introduced to his grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim. He was going to bless them. As he reached out to bless them, Joseph made it clear that Manasseh would be on the right side of Jacob and Ephraim on the other side, but when Jacob blessed them, he crossed his hands so that his right hand went to the younger, his left hand to the elder.
Genesis 48:17–19, “Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, ‘Not so, my father, for this one is firstborn …” In other words, he was going to interfere in the process, forgetting the principle of the elder would serve the younger. “But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son. I know. He also shall become a people…’ ” There was still blessing to the firstborn, but it was not the primary blessing. The firstborn blessing went to the younger, Ephraim, but still a blessing, an inheritance, went to the other.
My point is that we have to understand that one blessing is the full blessing, but the one who doesn’t get that is not disinherited. He doesn’t lose everything. He just doesn’t get the blessing of the firstborn. There are two categories of blessing.
We see it illustrated again in the history of Israel.
1. In the Exodus generation, the whole nation was identified as God’s firstborn. In Exodus 4:22, Moses announced to the Pharaoh, “Israel is My son, My firstborn.”
They were the firstborn. They had the inheritance rights, but that generation, the Exodus generation, failed to trust God at Mount Sinai while Moses was up on the mountain for forty days and forty nights receiving the Law. What happened down below? The people got restless. They were bored. They said, “We want to have a little excitement,” and so they shifted away from trusting God even after all the miraculous things God had done for them. They convinced and intimidated Aaron into making a golden calf so that they could worship Him in the style of the pagans. They had a big orgy. As a result, God brought discipline on the nation. That generation did not realize the possession of the inheritance in the land. With the exception of two, Caleb and Joshua, they all died in the wilderness. Only the next generation trusted God and obeyed God and realized the actual possession and ownership of the land.
2. Though not all have an inheritance in the land, all of Israel had God as their inheritance and possession.
In passages such as Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is my strength of my heart and my portion,” heleq in the Hebrew indicated the portion of an inheritance.
Psalm 119:57, “The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Thy words.”
Psalm 142:5, “I cried out to Thee, O Lord; I said, ‘Thou art my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.’ ” The inheritance here is God, the possession of God. A secondary inheritance had to do with blessing for obedience.
3. Conclusion: Though not all had an inheritance in the land, all had God as their inheritance and their possession. Thus, the Old Testament teaches two categories of inheritance, the inheritance of God for all believers and the inheritance restricted to obedient believers.
That takes us to the next step in understanding inheritance, especially as it relates to us as Church-Age believers.
Three questions come to mind as we address this whole topic:
1. Is inheritance a synonym for receiving eternal life? When we get into the three passages that I talked about in 1 Corinthians 6, Ephesians 5, and Galatians 5, those who commit the sins will not inherit the Kingdom.
2. Is that phrase “inheriting the Kingdom” a synonym for salvation, for receiving eternal life, for going to Heaven when we die? Is an inheritance earned, is it given freely, or is it both? That’s what the text seems to indicate, that it is both. One inheritance is freely given. Another inheritance is based on our actions, our behavior.
3. What exactly is the meaning of inheritance in the phrase “inherit the Kingdom of God?”
These are key questions because this is this is so crucial. When we read passages in Scripture, we live in this little bubble where we’re concerned about today and tomorrow and maybe next week, but the Scriptures teach us that it’s a long game. We need to live in light of that long game, that this is just a dust particle in the whole timeline of eternity. Although we think everything is focused on today, it isn’t. It is to focus on eternity. It’s not just that we will spend eternity in Heaven but that there will be distinctions. Rewards and privileges and responsibilities will be based on what happens in this life.
1. Christ is designated as the heir of all things. Hebrews 1:2, “In these last days …” God is the subject of the first verse. “… He has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” Christ is appointed as the heir of all things.
2. Our heirship, then, will be based on various doctrines in Scripture, such as the teaching of adoption, that we are adopted into the family of God.
We become sons of God at the instant of faith in Christ. John 1:12, “For as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to be called the sons of God.” The question is are you a child of God? Not everyone is a child of God, for as Jesus confronted the Pharisees, He said, “You are of your father the devil.” They were unbelievers, as we all were at one time, and were under the control and authority of Satan. When we trust in Christ, we’re transferred into the family of God. We are adopted into His family, and we become heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:29, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed …” We are spiritual descendants, for we follow Abraham in his faith. Genesis 15:6, “Abraham trusted God and it was imputed to him as righteousness.” When we trust in God, that instant we are given the righteousness of Christ. We are also placed in Christ. As a result of being in Christ, we share that heirship from God.
3. Heirship is based on the grace promises of the Abrahamic Covenant ultimately. Galatians 3:29, “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Abraham believed that promise. When he was saved, he believed God’s promise of eternal salvation; therefore, he was given righteousness.
4. Heirship demands eternal life because the son must have the same life as the Father. If we are inheritors of God, then we must share His life, so we are given His life through regeneration and the renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5, “not on the basis of the works of righteousness which we have done.” We are building case-by-case as we move through this that we are to understand what God has provided for us.
He saves us, not on the basis of works but on the basis of regeneration. We are given new life, eternal life in Him. Titus 3:5–7 continues, we become “heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” That is our possession. As part of being heirs of God, we have eternal life.
5. Heirship means that we share the destiny of Christ. We are in Him in the Church Age.
If you remember, as we read through Ephesians 1, again and again Paul said in Christ, in Him, We have blessings because as Church-Age believers, we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, which means we are baptized, immersed, identified with Christ, so we are now new creatures in Him. We have a new life, and so we share in the destiny of Christ. That’s our context in Ephesians 1:14.
6. Inheritance is both a present reality and a future possession. That’s what we see in the other verse we looked at in Ephesians 1:3–5. It is our present possession, but it’s focusing on a future reality, which leads to the basic point that we live today in light of the fact that we are heirs of God, looking forward to participation in a joint heirship with Christ.
Not only 1 Peter 1:3–5 but also Ephesians 1:13–14
7. Heirship means that we are eternally secure, Ephesians 1:13–14, an inheritance undefiled. We cannot lose our salvation. It’s based on God the Holy Spirit being given to us.
Never before in human history has God the Holy Spirit been given to a believer. In the Old Testament, they were not indwelt by the Spirit. In the Old Testament, they were not sealed by the Spirit. In the Old Testament, they had a different kind of relationship with the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, every single believer at the instant of salvation is given the Holy Spirit, who indwells them. 1 Corinthians 3:16. He makes us a temple to God. The Holy Spirit dwells within us and seals us, giving us that brand of ownership that we are not our own, but we are God’s.
8. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of that inheritance. Galatians 4:6
When you buy a car and pay your down payment, you know that eventually that car will be fully yours. It is the beginning of the process. God the Holy Spirit is a down payment on what we will eventually realize, which is the redemption of God’s own possession at the end of Ephesians 1:14. “Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance with a view to redemption of God’s own possession …” It’s the starting point of a process that will always end in our secure eternal glorification and life eternal.
Conclusion: The two aspects to this inheritance are inheriting the Kingdom (Ephesians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10) and inheriting salvation (Hebrews 1:14).
We all inherit salvation, Romans 8:17, a passage I’ve gone over many times with you, so you’re familiar with this. Some of you are not. In Romans 8:17, Paul said, “if we are children …” If we trust in Christ as I said, John 1:12, we all become children of God. We are called sons of God. “If we are children, we are all heirs of God,” the passage says, “and joint heirs with Christ.” I removed the punctuation from this verse. The Greek text has no punctuation. Greeks didn’t use periods and commas and colons and semicolons and em dashes and all the other things that we use. It was indicated generally by syntax and by context. We have to read with understanding to know where the pauses are and where the sentences break.
In this passage, if we take out the commas, we have to decide whether the term “heirs of God” and the phrase “joint heirs with Christ” are synonyms or are two different categories of inheritance. That depends on where we put the commas.
This statement doesn’t have any commas, “Woman without her man is nothing.” I’ve got to come up with another statement. Y’all are getting too used to this. I had one at one time and forgot to write it down and lost it. Some of you are new, so you need to learn this.
You can punctuate this a couple of different ways. You can put a comma after “woman” and a comma after “her.” That would make “without her” secondary, and so the main phrase would be “man is nothing.” “Woman, without her, man is nothing.” You’re basically saying that without the woman, man is lost. He’s nothing. He isn’t going to get anywhere. The women like that.
If you punctuate it a different way, and you say, “Woman, without her man, is nothing,” now you’re saying woman is nothing. You’re either saying man is nothing, or you’re saying woman is nothing. It all depends on where you put the commas. Commas are important.
Romans 8:17 has no comma in the original, so you have to decide. If you put a comma the way it’s normally translated, a comma after Christ and no comma after God, then it reads as if there’s one heirship. You are heirs of God AND joint heirs with Christ. It’s all the same. That is all dependent on this conditional clause “if we suffer with Him.”
Now wait a minute! That seems to contradict Ephesians 2:8–9 and Titus 3:5. They say that we’re not saved by works of righteousness. We’re not saved by works. Galatians 2:16, “It’s not by the works of the law that we are justified, but by faith in Christ.” All these passages indicate salvation is a free gift. It is not dependent on suffering with Jesus. It’s not dependent on a being moral. It’s not dependent on being sinless. It’s a free gift.
If we say, “It’s a problem translating that way. Let’s take out the second comma and put it over here behind “God,” (where I’ve got it on the slide), then we have two types of inheritance, heirs of God (all believers in Christ) and a second category of inheritance that’s dependent upon suffering with Him, joint heirs with Christ, those who grow spiritually. That doesn’t mean going out and being a martyr or making sure you’re going to be thrown in jail for being a street preacher or something like that. It is that if we are living in this life in this fallen world with our sin natures, and if we are seeking to trust Christ and live for Him, we will encounter adversity. We will encounter opposition, resentment, rejection to one degree or another, simply because we are identified with the truth of Scripture. A second category of inheritance is promised to those who grow spiritually.
9. Just as Christ inherits the Kingdom in Psalm 2:8–9 due to His loyalty to God the Father, so will the joint heirs with Christ. Hebrews 1:8–9, quoting from Psalm 45:6–7.
The point is that if we are walking with the Lord and growing to maturity in Christ, we will be rewarded, 1 Corinthians 3, at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Those rewards have to do with our roles and responsibilities as resurrected Church-Age believers when we are serving with the Lord in the Millennial Kingdom.
10. We see a difference in another difficult passage in Scripture between living with Christ, living as believers, and reigning with Him. 2 Timothy 2:11
Let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:11, which says “It’s a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.” When did we die with Christ? When did you die with Christ? The instant you trusted Christ as Savior. Romans 6:3–6 says we were identified with Christ in His death. We died with Him the instant we trusted in Christ. “If we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.” That applies to every believer.
2 Timothy 2:12, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” That’s a condition. If you endure, you will reign. There’s a difference between living and reigning. Living with Him is having eternal life and being in Heaven forever and ever. Reigning with Him has to do with those responsibilities and privileges that will be given to those who were advancing to spiritual maturity. The second part of 2 Timothy 2:12, “If we deny Him, He also will deny us …” isn’t talking about losing our salvation. It’s being denied rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
11. The Kingdom has been promised to those who love God. Not all believers love God. Some are just glad they’re going to Heaven. They become rebellious and treat their inheritance lightly, so they give up that joint heirship with Christ, but they are still heirs of God.
Remember, love for God is expressed through obedience to God. We see that in many statements in Scripture, John 14:21–24 being one of them. Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments.” That’s not how to get saved but our growth and spiritual maturity.
12. Esau is an illustration of the believer who fails to appreciate his inheritance.
The warning comes in Hebrews, “… that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau …” This isn’t talking about Esau later in life but about Esau at the time that he was willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup. At that point, he treated his inheritance lightly. He was willing to sell it. Afterwards, he regretted it. He went back to Isaac to beg for the inheritance, to be given the blessing, and Isaac said, “It’s too late. The deal is done. You’ve given up that first-born right. That blessing goes now to Jacob.” That pictures the believer who is at the Judgment Seat of Christ. He is an heir of God. He has eternal life, but the blessings that he could have had if he had walked with the Lord during his life have been lost.
Genesis 27:38–40 reflects the begging of Esau. I believe he genuinely regretted what he had done, but we reap the consequences for some decisions we make in life.
Esau lost his inheritance blessing, but not his position as Isaac’s son and not all blessing from God. The same is true for us. That’s the warning we have to understand. As we go to these passages, as we talk about our inheritance, as we talk about Ephesians 1:14, we have a secure inheritance in God that is based on what Christ did on the Cross and God’s giving us the Holy Spirit as the One who is the guarantee of that inheritance.
Paul wrote about another aspect to that inheritance in Ephesians 5:5. We have two aspects to inheritance. One is that we can rest and rely on in confidence that if we trusted Christ as Savior, we have eternal life, but we are not saved just to have eternal life. We are saved as God’s own possession to serve Him in this life for an eternal purpose, and part of that has to do with reigning with Christ in the Kingdom and on into eternity.
These are the two important decisions in life. Have you trusted in Christ as your Savior? The second is, are you willing to follow Him day by day as a disciple? We have to make that decision many, many times every single day every week throughout our lives if we are going to live to serve the Lord.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to learn about You today, to learn about Your plan of salvation, Your plan for the spiritual life, Your plan for spiritual growth, to recognize we’ve been given great privileges and great teaching in Your Word, great information.
It depends on us. Are we going to live for You, or are we going to live for ourselves? That’s a decision we make every day. Are we going to follow the process of Romans 12:2 to not be conformed to the world, not behave like everybody else, not follow the trends and all of the things that are being done that are popular today, but are we going to live for You, which means we have to come to understand who You are? If we’re going to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, we have to focus on Your Word and let Your Word and God the Holy Spirit transform us.
“Father, we pray that if anyone is here or anyone is listening to this lesson, that they would be very clear on salvation. Our eternal lives are based not on our sins or on cleaning up our lives or being moral or a ritual or any other human factors. They are based on what Christ did on the Cross. He paid the penalty for our sins. Paul said, “He who knew no sin was made sin for us that the righteousness of God might be found in us.” Jesus Christ bore in His own body on the tree our sins, so that we do not have to be concerned about sin in terms of our salvation. We simply trust in His death for us, and we are eternally saved.
“Father, that gives us new life, and we must nurture that life, nourish that life, and we must grow. That’s the focus of this message. Are we willing to grow and mature as believers making Your Word and our relationship with You our number one priority?
“Father, we pray that You would challenge us with this. In Christ’s name, amen.”