Salvation, Rewards, Heirship
Ephesians Lesson #034
July 7, 2019
“Father, we’re so thankful for Your Word, that it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path and as the psalmist prayed, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”
“Father, we need to take Your Word and internalize it. We need to memorize and meditate upon it. We need to saturate our souls with Your Word that we might live more consistently, that we might glorify You, and that we might be a testimony before the angels and before our neighbors of Your grace in Your goodness.
“Father, we thank You that we are saved by grace, and it has nothing to do with anything that we do, anything that we bring to the table. It has only to do with what Christ did on the Cross and we accept that by faith.
“Now Father, as we study Your Word today, continue in our understanding of Ephesians, we pray that You would help us to comprehend what is being taught, what Your Word says, and that we may be transformed into the character of Christ, as You use Your Word in our life. We pray this in His name, amen.”
We are studying Ephesians 1:14 in the opening statement of blessing in the berakah—the Hebrew word for blessing. In that we have learned a tremendous amount about God’s plan, God’s purposes for us, but the focal point is upon Christ, what we have as Church Age believers in Christ.
Part of what we have in Christ is the fact that we have been made an inheritance, which means a possession of God, in Ephesians 1:11. I have corrected that translation, “In Him also we have been made an inheritance …” or possession.
When we get to the last two verses, Ephesians 1:13–14, the focus is on God the Holy Spirit, and it emphasizes that we have been sealed by the Spirit. It is this sealing by the Spirit that stamps us with His ownership: that we are His possession, His inheritance as it is stated in Ephesians 1:11.
I’ve retranslated Ephesians 1:13 to clarify it, “In Whom—that is, in Him, in Christ—in Whom, you also, when you heard the word of truth—that is the gospel of your salvation—in Whom—he takes up that thought again—in Whom, when you believed—so this is what happens at the instant of salvation—when you believed you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.”
The issue always for Phase 1 salvation is just trusting in Christ as Savior. At that instant we have these things that happen to us:
- We are baptized by means of God the Holy Spirit.
That means that we are identified with Christ. That’s the sense of baptism; it is literal.
The denotation is the idea of immersion, but its significance, its connotation, is identification with something, especially with relationship to a new state, a new direction, something of that nature. This is why John the Baptist came saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Those who were baptized by him became identified with that kingdom, with that new message.
In the Church Age there is this non-experiential reality. By that I mean we don’t feel anything. Nothing seems to change in our lives. We don’t have this sense of euphoria and happiness and everything as a sign that we have been baptized by the Spirit. Some people feel certain things at the time of their salvation. That has nothing to do with verifying it.
Some people are just in a miserable state, and when they get saved it’s such a relief to know they’re saved, that they have a natural emotional response. But that is not necessary and is not a sign of their salvation or baptism by the Spirit—not speaking in tongues, or healing, or any other sign gift is part of it. It is simply a legal transaction that occurs. Jesus Christ uses the Holy Spirit to identify the believer with His death, burial, and resurrection.
- At the same time, we are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. He makes each and every believer a temple, a place where God takes up residence. God the Father and God the Son both take up residence in the believer. Christ in us the hope of glory.
- We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. That is, we are marked as God’s possession. We are identified as His, and this determines our eternal destiny. We can never, ever lose that. It never will be set aside.
Slides 5 and 6
About the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:14 says He “is the guarantee of our inheritance—that’s what we’re talking about: last week, this week, and next week is this whole concept of inheritance—until—that is pointing to the future—the redemption of the purchased possession …”
The guarantee has to do with a pledge or down payment for something that will take place in the future, and that is our inheritance: when we realize those eternal possessions that God has promised us. This is realized in the future. The redemption that takes place when we realize the result of the payment for sin, and we enter into glory. And it’s the redemption of the “purchased possession—that’s you! That’s me! And that’s—to the praise of His glory.”
Last week I started teaching “What the Bible Says About Inheritance.” What I’m covering this week depends on you remembering what I taught last week. Some of you may not have been here. Some of you didn’t get enough sleep last night, so you’re just glad you made it here this morning. Others of you are, “Well, I just need a little help.” So we’re going to review those four points I covered last time rather quickly, so we set the framework for where we’re going to go this morning.
1. In Ephesians we have these two word forms. (There are at least two other words in this word group that reference inheritance or heirship):
- KLEROO the verb, in Ephesians 1:11 is when God has made us His possession.
- The noun KLERONOMIA, which refers to inheritance or possession.
That’s the word in Ephesians 1:14; we will see it again in Ephesians 1:18 and Ephesians 5:5. This is a key concept that’s repeated two more times in this epistle.
2. Inherit has the core semantic meaning of possession, property, or ownership.
This is recognized by a number of scholars in a number of different articles that I could quote and provide for you, that this is the main idea. It doesn’t have to do with someone dying, but it has to do with ownership, possession, or property, and that’s the core idea, as we will see again in our study this morning.
Acts 7:5 shows this parallel, where God gave Abram no inheritance in the land—no possession. He promised land; we went to Genesis and we traced it through the initial introduction to the promise in Genesis 12:1–3. Then Genesis 12:7, where God promised him the land. Genesis 15, then Genesis 17, tracing out that promise in the Abrahamic Covenant.
Stephen, just before he died—stoned for this sermon: Acts 7:5, “And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He—that is God—promised to give it to him for a possession.”
That’s a different word. The first word is KLERONOMIA for inheritance. The second word, possession, is a synonym KATASCHESIS. What that shows is that the main idea here is possession of what has been promised.
We looked at Genesis 12:1–3 as sort of the foundational summary of the Abrahamic Covenant that God promised Abram. It’s an eternal covenant.
Genesis 12:7, “To your descendants I’ve given this land.” That’s the one focus of the promise.
3. Inheritance in relationship to Abraham can be related to the land promise or the seed promise; that is, the descendants culminating in the Descendant, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Inheritance is always related to that idea of a divine promise, as we saw in Galatians 3:18,
“For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer is a promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”
4. Inheritance is related to rewards for what is earned for service. Rewards are earned salvation is a free gift.
That’s the conflict that people run into as they read the New Testament. Without clarity on this particular teaching in the Scripture, people get confused because there are passages that talk about work, there are passages that talk about service, there are passages that talk about behavior, and they think that that talks about how to get saved.
That is talking about how a saved person lives, and for our service to God, we will receive rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. To get to the Judgment Seat of Christ, you have to be saved. You have to be justified. Justification is by faith alone. As I recited from Galatians 2:16 [JH1] this morning, we are justified not by the works of the law, but by faith in Christ Jesus. That is a gift, but rewards are something that are earned.
Colossians 3:24, “because you know that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” Then he gives the command, a second person plural, “Y’all serve the Lord Christ.”
This is our command—that we are to serve the Lord.
The problem is that we have three or four verses that are really at the heart of a lot of cultural discord today and a divided understanding among evangelicals because of the issues related to the whole LGBTQ issue. There are branches of very legalistic Christians that are not biblical at all in their understanding of Christ’s work on the Cross, and they make it sound as if homosexuality or any of the sexual sins will cause you to lose your salvation, and so they are very hateful and spiteful, and they say some very nasty things because they don’t understand grace, they don’t understand the Cross, and they don’t understand that all sin is sin and all sin separates us from God.
These are the passages, and why we need to look at them in this study.
1 Corinthians 6:9, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”
Now to the un-learned, it appears that this is talking about Heaven. It is not. It is not saying, do you not know that the unrighteous will not go to Heaven? It says, “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
“Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites …” And it goes on with quite another list of sins including various sins of the tongue and mental attitude sins, that those who commit those sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The point is that if this is talking about getting into Heaven, then we’re all sunk, because we all commit some of these sins and will commit some of the sins, and if this is talking about Heaven, then Christ’s death really wasn’t sufficient. But we have to understand what this passage says.
It’s interesting, kind of a side humorous note, that in the printing of the Bible over the years, there were various mistakes that were made. One Bible translation was actually called the “‘Adulterers’ Bible” because they left the “not” out and it says “Thou shalt commit adultery.”
This passage was part of what became known as the “Unrighteous Bible” for it was printed, again losing the word “not,” and it said, “Know ye not that the unrighteous SHALL inherit the kingdom of God.”
We always have to make sure we look at those little words. Sometimes they can be important.
The problem is that some of these passages that speak of inheritance as a gift, but others speak of inheritance as a reward. So, we have to remember:
- A gift is free
- A reward is earned.
One has to do with simply for trusting in Christ to be saved, receiving that free gift of eternal life. The other is serving the Lord after we are saved.
Now another problem passages in Ephesians 5:5. It’s very similar to 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, a list of sins. Here Paul says, “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.”
So, if that means Heaven, then we’ve got a problem, especially in this culture. Because I can name you a lot of pastors who are covetous, and they would just not be going to Heaven if that’s what this means. And they also seem to be the same ones who misunderstand the passage.
The passage we read this morning in Galatians 5:19–21 lists a number of sins, sexual sins, such as adultery, fornication. Here it doesn’t mention homosexuality, but it mentions these other sexual sins. They are in the same category as homosexuality. Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, all of those have to do with some sort of sexual sin.
Galatians 5:20, “idolatry,” and in Colossians and in Ephesians Paul identifies greed or covetousness as one form of idolatry. Worshiping money or the things that money can buy, thinking that it will purchase you happiness and joy in the things that only God can give you. It is worshiping the things of the Creator rather than the Creator Himself.
“Sorcery” is the Greek word PHARMAKEIA, and this has to do with using various hallucinogens and pharmaceuticals in order to escape reality. In some cases, it was used in demonic idolatrous practices in order to worship idols, which as Paul says, quoting from the Old Testament, are demons.
“… hatred, contentions, jealousy …” So, if you get into arguments, if you’re ever jealous or envious, if you ever lose your temper, have an outburst of wrath, or if you have selfish ambitions. I’m not going to have anybody hold up their hands ... “… dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like … those who practice such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Now if “inherit the kingdom of God” means getting into Heaven, then like I said, we are all sunk. The problem is this legalistic mentality that doesn’t really understand grace or understand the Bible marks these sins out as super sins, and if you do them—they seem to hone-in on just one or two of them, not all of them; they are not consistent.
This has created a level of hostility, especially in light of those who are sexually licentious in our culture. That has created hostility and antagonism that is just being exacerbated, so that those who are in this movement are pushing back very hard and demanding that Christians and pastors should no longer identify their favorite sins as sins.
One of the things going on right now is—of course, most of you know—is that there’s been a nonbinding resolution in the California legislature that was passed by their house and it’s gone to the Senate that strongly encourages a whole group of people, including pastors and religious teachers, not to identify these sins in the LGBTQ movement as sins, and that encouraging them to change their teaching. Now this is nonbinding, but it is shows there is a direct assault on this.
I started teaching, as part of a special on the 4th of July, our Independence Day, about Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is important for a lot of reasons, but in this area, he’s important because he wrote a letter to the Association of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, who were concerned that the state would interfere with what they were doing, which is a problem we are facing today.
In that letter he said basically don’t worry about it. There is a wall of separation between the church and the state. What he meant by that was this wall of separation was to keep the state out of the church and not the church out of the state, and that is essentially it, but there’s a whole lot more to that.
When I covered everything on Thursday night, I came right to this point, then we’re going to spend this coming Thursday night looking at the very fascinating and interesting background and the circumlocutions and distortion of evidence that occurred in the Supreme Court in 1947. And as they started using this phrase totally out of context to reinterpret the first amendment, so you don’t want to miss that.
Interestingly, I received an email from a man in Canada who has been listening for a number of years. He pointed out via a link to a blog that he’s written—which I haven’t had time to look at yet. But he says that pastors are prohibited by law in Canada from talking about politics, from saying anything about how the Word of God impacts the political issues, and so this is related to several pieces of legislation.
We have freedom here yet, so it is important to get this information out. It is one of the hot-button issues of the day, so we need to understand what this means, and to do that we have to understand what the Scripture teaches about inheritance as possession.
We need to go to the Old Testament, go to the Book of Numbers in the Pentateuch. It’s right before Deuteronomy, and we’re looking at Numbers 36, the last chapter in Numbers.
1. In the Old Testament, inheritance referred to the ownership of property.
The basic thing that I’m going to be developing here is this important reality: inheritance means possession. We’re going to see, eventually, that there are two areas of inheritance: being heirs of God and beyond that, heirs of Christ.
We see the same thing in the Old Testament. There are many passages that refer to those who are heirs of God. God is their possession; that is, God is in possession of every believer. Then we will see that there is an additional reality beyond that. So in the Old Testament it refers to ownership of property, especially property that’s passed down from one generation to another, but the emphasis is on ownership, not the death of the person, but the possession of the property.
This is a situation that occurs in Numbers 36, when a man by the name of Zelophehad dies and he has no male heirs.
Numbers 36:2, the conflict, “And they said: ‘The Lord commanded my lord Moses to give the land as an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel, and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters.”
Numbers 36:3 “ ‘Now if they’re married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and it will be added to the inheritance of the tribe in which they marry; so it will be taken from the lot of our inheritance.’ ”
The point here is that if somebody dies, and they just have daughters, then when that property goes to the daughters and they marry outside the tribe, then the property would go outside the tribe, so that would mean that the tribal portion of land would diminish over time as the properties transferred out of the original clans to other clans via marriage.
This is going to be resolved in this passage. We’re looking at Numbers 36:2. The first word “inheritance” is the Hebrew word nahala, which just simply means inheritance, heritage, or possession.
2. The idea of inheritance in the Old Testament is defined in an article in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology: “The Old Testament terms for heir or inheritance—and here’s the important part—do not necessarily bear the special sense of hereditary succession and possession, although they are found in laws concerning succession.” It goes on to explain that the main idea is just possession. So, the issue here is to keep the land under ownership within the clan.
The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible says that “in many instances of biblical usage, the theological meaning of the word goes beyond the legalistic.” (That doesn’t mean legalistic in the sense that you normally hear that word. That is in terms of the law. The theological meaning goes beyond the meaning used in legal precepts.) “Apart from any legal processes, it may characterize the bestowal of a gift or possession upon his people by a merciful God, in fulfillment of a promise or as a reward for obedience.”
That was what we studied last time. The land is given as a reward to Abraham even though he never realized its actual possession. When he died the only part of the Promised Land he owned was the cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased from the Hittites, where he buried Sarah. So he never realized the ownership of the land that God had given to him, yet he had the title deed. Ownership would be realized only on the basis of obedience.
3. “Inheritance,” “property,” “possession,” and “ownership” are interchangeable ideas. They are synonymous words that are used in Hebrew, as well as in Greek, and these ideas are all parallel.
4. In the Old Testament certain categories of people lived in the land, but they did not own the land. They were called sojourners or strangers.
They were not Jews but were living in the land. Some of them were proselytes, but they did not have ownership of land rights that belonged to the tribes.
Levites did not have a possession. Exodus 12:48–49; Numbers 18:20, 24. Levites lived in the land, but they were not given a separate tribal allotment, so they have a responsibility for the spiritual leadership of the nation, but they do not have ownership in the land.
The point I’m making here is that, when we apply this to the future, you can be in the Kingdom, but not have ownership in the Kingdom. Just as there were those in the Old Testament who were in Israel but did not have ownership in Israel.
Numbers 18:20, “Then the Lord said to Aaron, ‘You shall have no inheritance.’ ” There’s that word nahala again, which means inheritance, heritage, or possession.
“You will have no possession in their land, nor own any portion among them; I am your portion.” That’s the Hebrew word heleq. We studied that a couple of lessons back. It is translated into the Septuagint with the Greek word MERIS, which indicates a portion or share of inheritance in a will, for example.
God said to the Levites, “I am your portion. I’m your inheritance.” There are those who are heirs of God in the Old Testament. He is their inheritance.
Numbers 18:24, “For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance.”
They got 10% of the annual tithe. There were two annual tithes, and one of them went to the support of the Levites. In a theocracy, the priesthood was basically the bureaucracy. So they were supported through the tithe, and that was their possession. They did not have land, so there were distinctions.
5. Even in the Millennial Kingdom not all who dwell there will possess it.
There are going to be distinctions in the Kingdom. There are those who teach that when we go to the Judgment Seat of Christ, God pats everybody on the head, and everybody gets the same package of rewards.
It is clear from 1 Corinthians 3 that that’s not true. There are those who will receive rewards for that which they’ve done walking by the Spirit, and they are rewarded. Those rewards are summarized as gold, silver, and precious stones. Then there are others who lose rewards because they have so much in their life that is not done by walking by the Spirit.
It’s called wood, hay, and straw. In other words, their production, whatever they did in this life, is burned up, yet they enter Heaven, yet as through fire. They have no production. They lived their lives totally on their own, apart from walking by the Spirit, lived it according to the flesh, and pursued their own desires and wishes. Yet they are still justified. They still enter Heaven, but they have no possession of the kingdom.
We also see that there will be those who survived the Tribulation and enter into the Kingdom, but they still have sin natures, so they don’t become possessors of the Kingdom either. They are living in the Millennial Kingdom, but they are not inheritors of the Kingdom.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:50, “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”
Those who survive the Tribulation still are in their mortal body, their corruptible body, still have a sin nature. They will enter into the Kingdom, but they will not be inheritors of the Kingdom.
6. Inheritance was given positionally or potentially on the basis of grace; that is, possession.
In the Law, the Israelites were told that if you are obedient, you will stay in the land, you will be owners of the land, but if you’re not obedient, you will be removed from the land. The military from foreign nations and from Gentiles will come in and defeat you and destroy your cities, and you will be taken captive and scattered among the nations.
They would still have a right to the land. We saw that in the first disciplinary action of God upon Israel in 722 BC, when the Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom: they’re taken out and they’re scattered among the Assyrian people.
In phase 2 of that judgment, in 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Southern Kingdom; he destroyed the temple, burned it to the ground, and destroyed Jerusalem. He took captives and scattered them around the Babylonian Empire. But after 70 years they were restored. They didn’t lose their right to the land. They just lost their ownership of the land and their enjoyment of God’s blessings.
That same thing happened in AD 70. The Jews rejected Jesus, there was divine discipline; they were removed from the land. But the land is still theirs, just as the land was still theirs in 722 and 586 BC. The land is still theirs, but there’s no enjoyment of the land.
That is why we are so adamant that Israel has a right to the land. It is their land. God gave it to them, and it is the job of believers to support the Jews and the Jewish people in their claims to their historic homeland.
That doesn’t mean we approve of everything they do. Most Jews don’t approve of everything that Israel does. It means that we recognize their historic claims to their homeland, that they have a right to it, that they have a right to defend it, and that they have a right to exist. We bless Israel—praying for them and in many, many other ways.
The inheritance, the possession, is given to Abraham as a part of promise, as part of grace. But the realization of the blessings, the ownership is not free grace, it is earned. If they are obedient, they will stay in the land. If they’re disobedient, then they will lose those blessings.
The fact of ownership and the issues there with relation to obedience are illustrated by the Exodus generation. When they disobeyed God in Numbers 13 and failed to go into the land—a fascinating story—they sent in 12 spies to do a recon who misunderstood or misinterpreted God’s directions. God had already promised to give them the land. He sent the spies in, so that they would be able to come back and give an eyewitness report of the land to the people.
Ten of the spies thought they were there to see if they could conquer the people that were living there. That wasn’t the mission. They came back and they said, “We’ll never do it. There are giants in the land. There are fortified cities. There are too many people. We can’t do it.” Two of them came back and said, “Yes we can because God has already given it to us. We just have to obey God and it will be ours.”
Because the people followed the 10 spies, they lost the ability to enter into the land. God said that there would be two, Joshua and Caleb, who because of their faith, would enter the land and own the land.
We see that promise in Joshua 14:9, “So Moses swore on that day saying, ‘Surely, the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance to you and to your children forever because you followed the Lord my God fully.’ ”
See, because of obedience there is the inheritance and possession of the land.
7. The possession of the land was therefore conditioned on obedience; it was merited. Therefore, as a possession, it could be lost as seen in the case of Zelophehad’s daughters.
If you go back to that passage and read it, there is a qualification of how that land was going to stay in the tribe, but that’s beyond the scope of our study this morning.
8. The entire Exodus generation became God’s firstborn son. That’s important. That’s analogous to salvation. The nation is God’s firstborn son. It’s adoption. We’re going to see that adoption is related to inheritance in Exodus 4:22–23. Yet the entire generation, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, forfeited that inheritance due the firstborn.
Are they still the firstborn? Yes.
Do they still have inheritance related to being the firstborn?
Yes, but the reward of the land is not going to be theirs.
In Joshua 14:8–9, Moses said that the land would be theirs as belonging to Joshua and Caleb.
Exodus 4:22–23, our passage related to the firstborn, that Israel is God’s firstborn. So as the firstborn they have an inheritance. If there’s obedience, then you get a double inheritance, and double inheritance is the full realization of all the blessings related to the possession.
9. Though not all have an inheritance in the land, all have God as their inheritance and possession.
We see the first category of inheritance in the Old Testament. If you’re a believer, it talks about the fact that you are an heir of God. God is your possession.
For example, in Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion—heleq, that’s designating the share of the inheritance—my portion forever.”
God was the heir of every believer in the Old Testament.
Psalm 119:57, “The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Thy words.”
God is the heir of every believer, whether they are obedient or disobedient.
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 Old Testament is the background for the New Testament. We always have to understand that the precedent for the words in the New Testament, for the illustrations in the New Testament is always the Old Testament. When the New Testament talks about inheritance and rewards, and talks about salvation, all of this is predicated on how these terms are developed and illustrated in the Old Testament for us.
10. For the Church Age, Christ is given ownership of all things and the believer shares in the ownership as a joint heir in Christ only as we mature as believers.
We are heirs of God, every single believer, but this additional heirship, joint heirs in Christ has to do with our spiritual growth, and that is what is described in Romans 8:17.
The issue here is this phrase in Romans 8:17, “… heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”
The way we have it typically translated is to put a comma after “children,” and then there’s a comma after “joint heirs with Christ.” There are no commas in the Greek.
What that does is it makes “heirs of God” and “joint heirs with Christ” look as if they’re the same thing, and that’s how many people teach it. That if we’re children, we have two categories of heirship automatically: We’re heirs of God and we’re joint heirs with Christ.
The problem is that there’s a conditional clause after that, “… if indeed we suffer with Him, that we also may be glorified together.”
If we’re saved by faith alone in Christ, then this would seem to suggest, “No, you’re saved by faith alone in Christ and suffering with Him.”
But wait a minute! That that sounds more like works! See, that’s where works and faith in Christ get conflated. This is a problem in many systems of theology, but especially in what we call “Lordship theology.”
I always love this illustration. If you have this phrase,
“Woman without her man is nothing.”
Where do you put the commas to punctuate the sentence? Where do those commas go?
Well, if you are a woman, you probably put the commas here:
Woman, without her, man is nothing.
But if you’re a man, you probably put the commas here:
Woman without her man, is nothing.
So you have two completely different sentences based on where you put the commas.
That’s what happens in Romans 8:17. If you put the commas the typical way, that is, just one comma after “children,” then “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” become synonyms.
But if you put a comma after “heirs of God,” we read, “if children, then heirs of God,” that’s a first category; and the second category is “joint heirs with Christ if we suffer with Him.” That conditional clause applies only to the category of being a joint heir with Christ.
That means there are two types of heirs:
- Heirs of God: all believers
- Joint heirs with Christ: those who are growing and maturing spiritually.
Paul says to Timothy in 1 Timothy that all who desire to be godly will be persecuted. In 1 Peter, again and again Peter talks about the fact that if you’re growing and maturing as a believer, you’re going to run into problems in life.
The suffering here isn’t martyrdom. Some people read intense suffering into this. It’s just that you’re going to face problems. You’re living in the midst of the angelic conflict and there are going to be difficulties, challenges, and heartaches that are related to the fact that you’re trying to grow spiritually, and there’s opposition from the devil’s world.
We have two categories of heirship. You have the same thing in the Old Testament: being heirs of God and also those who were advancing to maturity and experience a richness of blessing by God in this life.
That takes us up to dealing with some of the complicated passages, and we have to deal first of all with this whole issue of what the Bible teaches about heirship. We will come back next time and get into this next topic. Then we will be able to set up our understanding of those difficult or problem passages that are so often abused and misinterpreted.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study the Word, to be reminded of Your grace, that in the gospel, there’s no condition. It is simply, ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.’ There’s no condition of adding: ‘and if you are obedient, and if you repent of your sins, and if you change your life, and if you join the church, and if you are baptized.’
“There’s nothing else. It is just simply believing in Jesus Christ. The instant we believe in Christ, we are saved, we are justified. We are given new life in Christ. We are given the righteousness of Christ and declared righteous, and we are given eternal life, so that we may have eternity in Heaven.
“But Father, there’s something that occurs after we are saved, after we are born again, after we are given new life. And that is, the nourishment and the nurturing of that life: growing to spiritual maturity and desiring the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby.
“That becomes the next important decision in our lives: Are we saved and are we going to grow and mature as believers? Are we going to serve You? That’s the second area of inheritance.
“Father, we pray that if there’s anyone listening to this message, anyone here who’s never trusted in Christ as Savior, that You would just make the gospel very clear to them. That’s the issue. It’s not about sin, it’s not about failure, and it’s not about behavior. It’s about trust in Jesus Christ as Savior for He paid for every sin that we commit. There’s none that was left out, it’s all paid for at the Cross.
“If we believe and trust in Him, then after that we have a second decision to make as to whether or not we are going to exploit our new life, whether we’re going to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Or whether we are just going to be happy we’re going to Heaven, and then live according to our own desires for the rest of our life. That’s the second challenge that we need to decide, whether or not we are going to be truly disciples—followers of Jesus—or not. And that’s a decision we make every single day.
“Father, we thank You for Your grace, for Your goodness, for what You have revealed to us in Your Word that we may live today in light of eternity, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”