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Ephesians Lesson #033
June 30, 2019
“Our Father, we’re thankful for Your Word. We’re thankful for the way it opens our eyes to truth, and it helps us to understand reality as You have created it. It helps us then to orient ourselves to reality and not to our own fantasies and our own wishes and hopes that things would be according to the way we want them, which is according to our own sin nature lusts.
“But, Father, we’re thankful that we have Your Word. It washes us, cleanses us, teaches us, instructs us, and enlightens us. It gives us great wisdom and skill for living.
“Father, this comes not only on the basis of what You have provided; but helping us to understand the future. That all of this is pointed to a destiny that we each have in Christ—and that we have been appointed to—that we might glorify You and rule and reign with our Lord Jesus Christ in His kingdom.
“Father, help us as we begin to develop this and come to understand how all this is explained in Your Word, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 1:14. We come to a word that has already been used, at least in different forms, in this great section of blessing. As we look at this, it helps us to understand the destiny that God has for us in this word “inheritance:” that we are heirs of God, as Paul says in Romans 8, and joint heirs of Christ.
What does that mean to be an heir of God and a joint heir of Christ?
We have passages—as here in Ephesians—that talk about the fact that we have been given an inheritance. He has made us an inheritance, as we saw a couple of weeks ago and we are His possession.
We learn in Ephesians 1:14 that we been given the Holy Spirit, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance. So we are going to now look at what this involves.
I want to contextualize this again for you, because as we have gone through this opening part of Ephesians, it is so easy to read it according to certain Calvinistic presuppositions on the basis of how some of the keywords have been used. As we have studied, when we look at these words, we see that there are several other nuances to these words that are overlooked.
When we take them in that way, there is a connection—a significant connection here—in terms of the fact that God has appointed us to a destiny, and that destiny is related to the fact that He has made us His possession. That’s the idea of inheritance: that there is a seal. The sealing by the Spirit is also a sign of our ownership by God. And that we have also been given a possession. The idea of property and possession related to God’s plan and purpose for those in Christ just runs through this whole section.
1. The Church Age believer in Ephesians 1:11 is made a new possession of God’s “in Christ.”
He owns us. We have been bought with a price and we are not our own. That was correctly translated, and as I’ve pointed out, I am not the only one who translated it this way. There are a number of different translations that have handled the grammar in this particular way. The NET, the ASV, Gordon Olson’s Resurrection New Testament all have translated it that way.
That’s not the limit of it; I haven’t gone through every single one. But it faithfully translates the verb as a true passive and not going through some circumlocution to try to make it into a middle voice or an active voice.
It should be understood as this: “In addition, it was through union with Him—union with Christ is the means to the end; the end is that—we are made His possession …” Translating it that way we will see, fits the context better. “… we were made His possession by His laying claim to us”—that’s the idea in PROORIZO, the word normally translated “predestination”, which is not its meaning at all. “… His laying claim to us according to His purpose who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
I think the great take-away here is God has a purpose for our life. As long as we’re still alive there is a purpose for us, even if we have some fatal disease, even if we are confined to a bed, even if we can do very, very little, what we can do is what we should do. Until the Lord calls us home, until that nanosecond occurs, we have a mission to serve the Lord with whatever we have.
It may be simply in prayer. It may also be in terms of witnessing to those who take care of us when we reach the end of our life and we are under care. Wherever we end up, whether we are in a hospital, whether we are in a retirement home, whatever it is, we are there and have people who need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The same is true if we are young and healthy. We work at a place where we should be developing relationships, and when we have opportunities to give them the gospel, we can do that. The workplace is not necessarily the time and the place to be giving the gospel to other people, for we are working for somebody, but as we develop relationships there, then these opportunities will manifest, and we can take advantage of them. We are God’s possession for a purpose.
There’s an analogy here that is important that runs through these last two verses in this blessing section in Ephesians 1:13–14. It is a comparison between this new body of believers, the church, and the people of God in the Old Testament. There was a corporate selection of that body, and they became a possession, an inheritance.
As Deuteronomy 4:20 says, they were “… brought out of Egypt to be His people, an inheritance” or as a possession.
Deuteronomy 14:2, 9 also talk about this, and the keyword I want to point out that we’ll see here, “the Lord’s portion,” that’s talking about the people. That term is an inheritance term. It usually refers in legal documents to the share of an inheritance. It talks about a possession.
The Greek word that the rabbis chose to translate it is MERIS, which relates to this idea of the share or portion designated in a will as the inheritance. But the Hebrew word is nahalah. We will see that, so hold onto it; just kind of file away in the back of your mind because this is a word that shows up again and again and again.
Especially in context related to inheritance, it connects the dots: New Testament teaching on inheritance is grounded upon this understanding in the Old Testament.
The second thing we saw last time in Ephesians 1:14 is that we are marked as a new possession. That’s the sealing ministry of God the Holy Spirit. That idea of SPHRAGIZO means to mark something as a possession.
In Ephesians 1:14, “Who—referring to God the Holy Spirit—is the guarantee of our inheritance until …” That is a phrase in the Greek that indicates its purpose. It’s focusing on the destiny. It’s the preposition EIS which indicates long-term purpose of reaching the ultimate goal of “… the redemption of the purchased” price.
We have been redeemed in one sense at the Cross where the price was paid, but in another sense that redemption is not fully realized until we are in our resurrection bodies face-to-face with the Lord with our fully realized Phase 3 salvation.
All of this reinforces the idea of a corporate election. That this isn’t talking about individual selection for who will go to Heaven and who will not go to Heaven. It is talking about the destiny God has chosen for each believer in Christ. What He has appointed us or ordained us to as members of the body of Christ, and that it is in Him that we are made a possession.
2. The idea of being made His possession in Ephesians 1:11 connects very nicely with the idea of being sealed by the Spirit in Ephesians 1:13.
It’s marking a possession it is being made a possession. He is the One who owns us.
3. This reinforces the teaching of eternal security, that all of these things that God does for us at the instant of salvation are irreversible.
The idea that somehow we can commit a sin that Jesus forgot about on the Cross or that God didn’t know about, that wasn’t paid for on the Cross, that somehow it got missed, it was too great for the grace of God, puts the ultimate basis for salvation on us and not on God. Somehow, we have to keep ourselves free from at least some sin; otherwise, we really aren’t truly saved.
We are saved because we are in Christ, because He paid for every sin. God’s omniscience didn’t forget one. Jesus didn’t avoid one. They were all paid for on the Cross. There is no such thing as an unforgivable sin in terms of God’s plan for salvation.
That always brings up a question: isn’t there an unforgivable sin? For eternal salvation there is no unforgivable sin. The mention of a sin that would not be forgiven by Jesus in the challenge by the Pharisees in Matthew 12 had to do with a temporal sin and temporal consequences, that because they rejected Jesus as the Messiah, they would face the judgment that would come in AD 70.
That was not going to be reversed. It does not have to do with their eternal salvation. It had to do with what would happen to the nation because they rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
At the Cross, when we are saved, we are instantly identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. That is indicated by the phrase “baptism by means of the Spirit.” It is described in Romans 6:3–6 that we’re identified with His death, burial, and resurrection, so that we are now free from the power, but not the presence, of the sin nature; and we are “in Christ.”
At the same time, we are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, which has never happened before in human history. The first time was on the Day of Pentecost in AD 33, where God the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside of every believer, and that is never lost.
The other thing that happens by the Spirit is what we studied in this passage; we are “sealed by the Spirit:” we are marked as God’s own possession.
In re-translating, correcting some of the errors here and there that have shown up, I pointed out how different parts of the way I translated this can be found in different translations.
“In whom—that is a reference back to Jesus. ‘In Him’—you also”—now ‘in Him’ is not positional. Some translations, I pointed out last time, say, ‘when you heard the word of truth, you believed in Him.’ The grammar here is always talking about position here. “In whom—Paul starts this thought—In Him you also”—and then he stops and he brings in another idea: “when you heard the word of truth—that is, the gospel of your salvation—In Him—that is, in whom (Him) when you believed, you are sealed …”
There is an intensification here as he starts the sentence, adds something to it, “when you heard the word of truth.”
He then comes back to that main thought, “in whom when you believed you were sealed—the main idea—in whom you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.”
Promise is going to be a keyword for us because promise is related to grace. We saw in our reading earlier in Galatians 3 that Paul brings out an aspect of promise in relation to Abraham, that it emphasizes grace and not law.
We will see the same thing as we develop this in Ephesians 1:14. We’re sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. Promise relates to grace. It’s God’s unmerited favor that He has given us the Holy Spirit. It is not something we earn or deserve.
About the Holy Spirit, then we come to Ephesians 1:14, “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession to the praise of His glory.”
If we just look at that, even in the English anyone ought to be able to gather from that the sense that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance. That means that He guarantees that we will receive that inheritance. We can’t lose it. It’s ours eternally.
That’s why I ended up last time giving a summary of eternal security; that we do not lose our salvation because we commit some sin. There are always folks who come along with their terrible two, fearsome five, nasty nine, whatever it might be, that if you commit—usually some sexual sin of adultery or homosexuality or lesbianism—that somehow that cancels out your salvation.
In this day and time that’s the terrible sin. Go back 150 years ago, it was slavery, or it was drunkenness. There are always legalists who try to take away from the grace of God. But Jesus died for every sin. It’s become sort of a cliché now, but Christians hate the sin, but we love the sinner. God loves the sinner; He hates the sin.
Too often we see today—in the way the LGBTQ community pushes the country and forces the country and bullies the country into recognizing and legitimizing their behavior—for the biblically based grace-oriented Christian, it’s not their homosexual behavior that’s really the problem.
The problem is their attempt to make me say that it’s okay. That’s what I object to. It’s not my business what they do in the bedroom. It’s none of our business because I have my sins and I need to deal with them, and they need to deal with their sins, and that’s between them and the Lord and my sins are between me and the Lord.
We have to deal with them in grace, just as we hope they will deal with us in grace in terms of whatever our sins are. Because Jesus Christ paid the penalty for every sin. So that sin, in one sense, is not really the issue. But it does become an issue if you have somebody, for example, who wants to legitimize arrogance: “it’s not wrong for me to be arrogant and I’m going to be an arrogant bully and bully everybody else and that’s okay because arrogance is really not a sin.”
We all know that’s fallacious. We know that other sins are sins and homosexuality is just one of those sins. It doesn’t cancel out your salvation, neither does adultery, neither does arrogance, neither does lying, neither does being corrupt in other areas of life. These things don’t cancel out our salvation. We have to treat all people with grace and kindness even when they are opposed to us. That is part of our eternal security. Christ died for those sins.
There’s a guarantee of our inheritance because our sins—your sins, my sins—are just as bad as anybody else’s sins in terms of separating us from God. But God loved us in such a way that “He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is that belief in Him that is critical.
The Holy Spirit is given as a guarantee of our inheritance. The two keywords I’ve underlined here help us to focus on this. The word “guarantee” is ARRABON, and it refers to a down payment on something that is fully realized in the future.
So, if you look at a present you want to buy somebody, maybe you don’t have all the money right now, but you want to get this for them at Christmas. You go down and place a down payment on it now, and then you may pay in installments, that doesn’t fit our analogy, but then at the end there will be a final payment and you’ll realize it. That’s part of this analogy.
It’s a pledge that it will be realized, and we recognize a redemption at one level. In Christ we have been redeemed, we have the forgiveness of sins, but we’re not fully there. That’s Phase 1. Phase 3 occurs when it is fully realized: when we are absent from the body and we are face-to-face with the Lord.
It is a down payment. We receive the Holy Spirit now, but what we will receive in the future is guaranteed by that down payment. That is KLERONOMIA, “inheritance.” It is the down payment of what we will receive in the future “until.”
Let’s look at three other passages where this word “guarantee” is used:
2 Corinthians 1:22, “who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
That uses the same two concepts: the idea of being sealed or marked as a possession and then being given the Holy Spirit as a down payment, as a guarantee of that which will come eventually. It will come, we can’t lose it.
2 Corinthians 5:5 also relates this to the giving of the Spirit, “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
Every believer is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. That is our guarantee of our future inheritance in salvation.
Ephesians 1:14, “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.”
Those are the only three times in the New Testament that the word ARRABON is used.
In the next phrase, it is “until” or “towards the purpose” of the redemption, APOLUTROSIS. There are several different words used in the Greek for redemption. They all relate to the payment of a price, but this is focusing on the future full realization of our redemption at Phase 3.
Then it states “of the purchased possession …” PERIPOIESIS, which simply means a possession. That is related to the word “inheritance,” KLERONOMIA. KLERONOMIA refers to not just an inheritance, but a possession. So, think of inheritance not in terms of somebody dying and you receive something in the will, but as property, as possession.
This is what we’ve seen, going back to Ephesians 1:11, that we have been made God’s possession. Now we see here that we have a guarantee of our possession, our inheritance, as a guarantee of our property “until the redemption of the purchased possession to the praise of His glory.”
We see through the language that is used throughout these verses, from Ephesians 1:3–14, that God has a plan and a purpose, and He has made us His own. And because we are in Christ, as the mark of that, then we have a particular purpose and destiny as members of the body of Christ.
What I want to do, because I have not taught on this in some time, is to go through what the Bible teaches about inheritance, because this is often confused. We have passages—1 Corinthians 6, Galatians 5 —that list a series of sins, including homosexuality and adultery and being divisive and murder and covetous, and a host of other sins, carousing, all of these things, ending with the statement that “… he who does these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Now that seems to fly in the face of what I’ve taught about eternal security. That seems to suggest that those who engage in certain sins—and it’s not just the sexual sins—it involves arrogance, mental attitude sins, and sins of the tongue—a range of sins and not an exhaustive list—that if you commit these sins, you can’t inherit the kingdom. So, we have to understand what “inherit the kingdom” means.
It does not mean getting into Heaven, I’ll tell you that to start with. It doesn’t mean having eternal life. It has to do with full possession of the Kingdom in terms of realizing that in our life. But to understand the dimensions of what I just said, we have to back up and look through the Scriptures to understand this inheritance concept. We will look at this two or three different ways this week and next week.
1. In Ephesians we have the following forms of the word; the root is that K-L-E.:
- KLEROO, verb
- KLERONOMIA, noun
There are some other forms of it, but the root idea here always goes to something in relation to possession or something that we’ve been appointed to.
The verb is used in Ephesians 1:11 and has that idea of being appointed. KLERONOMIA has the idea of inheritance, possession, or property as in Ephesians 1:14, Ephesians 1:18, and again in Ephesians 5:5.
That’s just the root forms. It’s sort of the semantic range from which these different words mean. They don’t all mean the same thing, but they are related to each other, so we have to look at usage to understand its meaning in any particular passage.
2. Inherit has the core semantic meaning of possession, property, or ownership.
When we see “inheritance” or “heir of God,” don’t think in terms of what we think of in our culture as a death occurs and now you’re the heir, you receive something, but it has the idea of possession, property, ownership. We see that whether we’re talking the Old Testament passages or New Testament passages.
But one that is really clear in the way it is used in a synonymous sense is in Acts 7:5.
The speaker here is Stephen. Stephen is challenging the Pharisees, and he gives this very pointed and convicting sermon in Acts 7, rehearsing the failure of the spiritual leaders of Israel to lead according to truth. As he does so, he goes back and talks about Abraham and Moses and other events in the history of Israel.
In Acts 7:5 he says, “And God gave him—talking about Abraham—no inheritance in it …” The previous verse is talking about the land that God promised, but God gave him no inheritance in it.
So right there, if you’d think in terms of the English meaning, you’d be struggling to find out who died or what’s going on here. The idea of a death and receiving something as a result of a death is not part of the imagery.
“… God gave him no inheritance in it.” This is the word KLERONOMIA; the same word we have in our passage, and it means possession here.
We could even translate it “property.” “… God gave him—that is, Abraham—no property in it.”
He had promised the land to Abraham, but Abraham never owned any property there until the death of his wife, Sarah. Then he purchased the cave in Machpelah in Hebron, and that is where Sarah was buried. That’s the only piece of real estate he purchased.
God promised the land, but it had not yet been given to them. God gave him no property in it, not even enough to set his foot on.
“But even when Abraham had no child, He promised—that is, God promised—to give it to him for a possession …” This is the second word here, KATASCHESIS, which just literally means a possession. So these words KLERONOMIA and KATASCHESIS are synonyms. And He gave it, “… to his descendants after him.”
Let’s do a quick review of the Abrahamic Covenant. It’s summarized in Genesis 12:1–3. In there we see that God promised to Abraham a specific piece of real estate, the land. He put gave him a promise that through his descendants the world would be blessed, the promise of the seed, and that he would bless the whole world.
Those are the three elements, and as we know from all of our studies, each element was further expanded in a subsequent covenant:
- The Land Covenant, Deuteronomy 29
- The Davidic Covenant, 2 Samuel 7—which we’ve been studying on Tuesday nights
- The New Covenant, Jeremiah 31
Genesis 12:1–3, “Now the Lord said to Abraham: ‘Get out of your country—he’s living in Ur of the Chaldees at this point, down in the southern part of what is today Iraq—… Get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.’ ”
Now Abraham was partially obedient. He took his father with him and his nephew Lot with him. He didn’t leave everything or everybody, but he’s partially obedient.
God makes a promise, “ ‘I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be …’ ” This is a command. He’s not just making a statement that “Well, in the future you will be a blessing,” He’s saying, “You be a blessing!”
Genesis 12:3, “ ‘I will bless those who bless you—literally—and I will curse him who curses you—literally, I will treat harshly or judge harshly those who treat you with disrespect—and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ ”
This is in the format of what the ancient world called a Royal Grant Treaty. There are two basic covenants or treaties:
1. A Suzerain Vassal Treaty
2. A Royal Grant Treaty.
Suzerain Vassal is like the Mosaic Law. But a Royal Grant is something that a master would give a servant who has already demonstrated his faithfulness and loyalty, and it’s something that’s freely given. It’s analogous to just pure grace. God just selected Abraham, not on the basis of anything that he had done per se, but just as Abraham had been loyal to God, God rewarded him with this covenant.
He hasn’t earned it, but from his obedience, God freely gives him of this particular covenant for a purpose. And part of it includes the idea of this land: the promise of a nation, the promise of blessing, and the promise of land, which comes up in Genesis 12:6–7.
Genesis 12:6 gives us the context, as Abram is now traveling into this land that God has promised him. He’s moving from north to south, and he “passed through the land to the place of Shechem …” Shechem is now incorporated within the city of Nablus, and he goes to Shechem,
“… as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land.—So he doesn’t own it—Then the Lord appeared to Abraham and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ ”
It’s a free gift. It’s grace, and it’s a promise. It is not based on Abraham doing anything or performing in a certain way. It is just a gracious promise.
Now the covenant itself really gets developed more in Genesis 15. You may want to turn with me in your Bibles; we will be looking at Genesis 15, then Genesis 17. These are your two key passages for understanding the covenant.
God appeared to Abram in Genesis 15:1 in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
God portrays Himself as our reward. The rich blessing of God. But Abram is still hung up on this idea that I’m going to have a seed, but at this point I’m childless and I’m too old. My wife’s childless. She’s too old. Maybe we will work this out through my servant. I’ll adopt Eliezer and he can be the one. So, he’s going to help God fulfill the promise. We never help God in fulfilling His promise of salvation. He does it all by Himself. God fulfills His promises His way.
Genesis 15:2, “But Abram said, ‘Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ Then Abram said, ‘Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!’ ”
What he is saying is, “I don’t have a physical descendant. I’ve got Eliezer. He was born in my house. He is a servant. Let’s make him the heir. I’ll help you, Lord.”
Genesis 15:4–5, “And behold the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And God said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ ”
This is a promise! God is saying, “You may be well past the age of having children, Sarah may be past the age of having children, but this is how many you’re going to have. Look at the stars. You can’t count them. That’s how many you are going to have.”
Genesis 15:6. A lot of people in English read that as the fact that Abraham is believing that promise. What happens is you have a series of verbs that are structured one-way, imperfects, and then Genesis 5:6 shifts to a perfect. That means it’s not in the flow of the previous verbs.
It’s a parenthetical statement, and it is a reminder to the reader that Abraham had already at some indeterminate time in the past, believed in the Lord, and He imputed it or counted it to Him as righteousness. It’s referencing back to the fact that Abraham was saved at some time in the past before Genesis 12 and before Genesis 15, obviously. And God is giving this as a free gift, as grace, to someone who’s already a believer, already justified.
Genesis 15:7, “God goes on to say, ‘I am Yahweh, who brought you out of the Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it.’ ”
The idea there is to possess it, to own it, it’s your property, it will be your property.
Genesis 15:8–9 “And Abram said, ‘Lord God, how shall I know that I will inherit it?’—Give me a little guarantee here—So God said to him, ‘Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ ”
They go through this covenant ceremony with the sacrifices, and what Abram does is, he kills these animals and splits them in two. The way that a covenant cutting ceremony would take place is when these animals were laid out, if two humans were making a covenant, then they would walk together between the two halves of these sacrifices, indicating that they are both bound to the covenant by walking together through the sacrifices. But what God does is different.
Genesis 15:12–13, “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land …’ ”
The first thing He warns him is they’re going to be strangers in a land, a foreign land. They will be out of here for 400 years, which is what happened during their enslavement in Egypt.
Genesis 15:14, “ ‘And also the nation whom they serve I will judge …’ ” I’m going to judge the Egyptians, which, of course, He did, so that prophecy came true.
Genesis 15:16, “ ‘But in the fourth generation, they will return here”—in other words He’s giving time to the Canaanites and the Amorites to turn to Him. He’s being very patient with them.
Genesis 15:17, “… when the sun came down and it was dark, that behold, there was appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between the pieces.”
That symbolizes God. Abram’s fast asleep. God is the only One who is bound by this covenant. That’s what makes it an unconditional covenant. God alone is bound by it. There’s nothing that Abram can do to violate the covenant because he didn’t enter into it as a covenant maker. It is freely given to him, which is the pattern of a Royal Grant.
Genesis 15:18, “On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.’ ”
That goes from a wadi down in the Sinai, Wadi el-Arish to the River Euphrates, which is over in Iraq. All of that land God gave to them. They’ve never possessed all that land. God gave it to them as an eternal possession, but they have never fully possessed it, but it is their inheritance. They will one day.
This promise is repeated in Genesis 17:7–8, “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession …”
This is a different word, in the Hebrew ’achuzzah, which means just a possession. It’s just a synonym for nachala. “Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be your God.”
We see that the main idea of inheritance is that of possession. Throughout various passages in both Old Testament and New Testament, the word “inherit” is then juxtaposed to a synonym, “possession” throughout the text.
3. Inheritance in relation to Abraham can be related to the land promise or the seed promise, but it is always related to promise, which reflects grace. It’s not related to Law.
That’s the point that Paul develops in Galatians 3:18, “For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise—because if it’s of the Law, it’s something you earn. If it’s promised it’s a free gift—but God gave it ...” Whenever you see the word “God” with the verb “gave,” it always speaks of grace—“but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”
This is also what Paul says later on in Romans 4:13–14 after talking about Abram as the pattern for justification, he says,
“For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith—that is the result of grace. “For those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect.”
This inheritance, this possession, is related to God’s grace, promise, and so it is not something that we earn, but is something that is freely given.
But there’s a second kind of inheritance:
4. Inheritance is also related to rewards for what is earned for service, whereas salvation is a free gift.
We will get to the passage in Romans 8 that talks about the two categories of inheritance, being an heir of God #1, and #2 being a joint heir of Christ if we suffer with Him: we’re building to that. Inheritance is also related to rewards for what is earned for service, where salvation is a free gift.
Colossians 3:24 starts with the causal participle “because you know something.” So many times, Paul uses that causal participle. He is telling them, “Remember! I’m say this because you already know this. I’ve taught this to you.”
“Because you know that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.”
This is something that’s a little different. It’s a reward, and salvation is free; but a reward is earned. A reward is given for faithful service.
In the English translation it says something about, “for you serve the Lord.” But that’s a bad translation. There’s no “for” there. There’s not a participle there. There’s an imperative verb there. It is a full-stop period after “the inheritance.”
“… you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” Then a command, “Serve the Lord!”
Why do you serve the Lord? Because serving the Lord relates to the reward of the inheritance. Salvation is free, but rewards are earned.
Next time we will develop this a lot more, working through Old Testament passages on inheritance, and about Christ as the heir of God. Then talking about two categories of inheritance for the believer. That will open up the meaning and the significance of Ephesians 1:14 for us.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to begin this remarkable study, opening our eyes to this rich arena of teaching in Your Word related to inheritance, related to ownership, possession, related to grace, related to our spiritual life and earning rewards, and all of the many different aspects of this teaching. Help us to understand this.
“Above all we pray that if there is anyone listening that has never trusted in Christ as their Savior, they’re just not sure that if they were to die today that they would go to Heaven, we pray that God the Holy Spirit would make clear to them what we’ve taught this morning—that salvation is a free gift.
“Jesus Christ paid the price. That sin is not the issue. The issue is Jesus Christ. It’s believing in Him. As John 3:18 says, if we have not believed in Him, then we are still condemned.
“Father, we pray that we might understand that, that those who have not been saved will understand that, and that the only solution is faith in Christ, trusting in Him, believing that He died on the Cross for our sins, and that if we trust in Him that we have eternal life.
“Father, we pray that You would make these things very clear to us. Help us as we think through this vital doctrine in Scripture, that You might be glorified in the way it transforms our lives. In Christ’s name, amen.”