There is something exciting coming that we should all talk about more than we do. It’s our inheritance. Not from our parents or relatives, but from God. But truth be known, we should also aware that there are some concerns, or moments of clarity, about that inheritance. Something is fast approaching that is, as John Piper once said, “spectacular and scary”. Spectacular because the Bible promises that all the children of God are His heirs, but scary because of the things that will precede that inheritance.
Here’s how Paul put it: “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14, NIV. Isn’t that incredibly good news. We have been promised by God Almighty the inheritance of HIS Kingdom! Hallelujah!
My parents left me an inheritance, and I am leaving my sons an inheritance—land, property, money. It’s theirs because of their last name. They are a part of my family. But with God, who never dies, its a bit difference. We receive it when we die. It’s ours because we have put our trust in Jesus Christ and have desired to be His adopted sons and daughters.. God, who knew we would choose Him, has prepared something beyond awesome for us. Jesus once said, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34, NIV. He, who has known you before your parents, or your ancestors as far back as the Adam and Eve were born, knew you, knew you would trust Him and has been waiting to present you with an inheritance you cannot imagine—but one that represents His love for you.
There’s nothing more incredible and spectacular than this inheritance from God. Are you a part of the family? Have you become an heir, with Christ, the Son of God, to the most incredible gift you could ever hope for?! And if you are aware of this great gift, are you living like it? Paul said, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24, NIV. Does that describe your level of excitement and your preparation to do the work, regardless what it is, to glorify Him?
But a part of this inheritance and promise that should cause is pause is found in Romans, “Now if we are His children, then we are His heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17, NIV. If you’ve adopted as a brother or sister of Jesus Christ, welcome to the family. But the family of God is one that endures suffering, insults, set-backs and frustration as all members of the family must. This is part of being a Christian and sharing in the great inheritance—but we often neglect to read this in the will. When you suffer, realize that it’s part of the deal and the process of being prepared for an unimaginable gift of your inheritance as a son or daughter of God. NOTHING should cause us to shirk from that hidden joy—no matter how scary the suffering or testing. It pales in comparison to what’s coming!
But don’t be mistaken: some folks will not receive God’s inheritance. Consider as a practical matter parents, living among us, in this very community, that pass away and leave their children nothing but debt. I know of parents that don’t leave enough of an inheritance to pay for their own funeral when they pass. Proverbs 13:22 tells us that, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.” If you’re a parent are you preparing to leave your children an inheritance…something with which they can start their own lives? Or are you spending your children’s inheritance.
Our Father is a good father—-the very best! Think about that, because we have an example of how we should also be good fathers and take care of those we call our heirs. Are we looking after them like our Father in heaven is looking after and preparing for us? One day it’s going to happen, you, now, we’re going to get what He promised us! Get all excited! “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32, NIV
Those that won’t receive a wonderful, eternal inheritance have a sorry father, he’s called the devil or Satan. You’re either a child or God or a child of the devil—there’s no middle ground. Default, or the place we begin at birth, is being a confused child of the devil. It’s only by adoption and the blood of Christ you become a true child of God. Now you might consider yourself unaffiliated or an orphan, but it’s not true. “Who’s your daddy?” There’s an easy way to find out.
Here’s how you can find out if your father is the devil. “Now the works of the flesh (or of Sstan) are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21, NIV.
And how do you know if you are a child of God? The Holy Spirit testifies to the truth—-you can be sure of the truth, and here’s how: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” If you belong to Jesus Christ, you have the Spirit of Christ. And what does He do in you? He testifies that you are the child of God.
Paul said that, “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Friends, that’s your sign! Do you see things differently than you used to? Do the sins you commit grieve you during the night and throughout the day? Do you do things that you know you should not do and feel overcome with remorse? Good!
Second, the Holy Spirit causes us cry “Abba, Father!” Paul remarked that, “You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!’” This is the work of the Holy Spirit and proof that you’ve been adopted! When the urge within your heart the cry, “Abba! Father!” It is the testimony of the Spirit that you are a child of God. Do you look around you and realize that nothing is progressing, spiritually and morally speaking, in our nation and the world as it should? If you do, that’s a good sign!
Clearly, we have reason to rejoice! The word of God does not tell us this spectacular news about our future to discourage us. It’s fantastic almost to the point being frightening.
But hear this again, “If [you are] children, [you are] heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” There are two great truths in this verse: one is that we are going to receive a great inheritance, including our own glorification; and the other is that we are going to have to suffer—but that again is the proof that we have a great day coming!
What is the inheritance promised here? As you face the pleasures and the pains of what remains of your life here on earth, what are you hoping for beyond all this? Do you have a hope beyond this life that makes the present pleasures look smaller than the present pains look insignificant? This was the hope that Paul had. The Holy Spirit inspired him to write these words for your and my edification: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Paul wants us to share this tremendous hope: the inheritance on the way to us is so great that it makes every trouble in life seem small by comparison.
Jesus said it. Luke 9:23: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Hebrews 12:6–7: “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons.” 1 Peter 4:13, “To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of his glory you may rejoice with exultation.”
No pain, no gain. No cross, no crown. No suffering, no inheritance. That’s the way it is. And if you ask, “What kind of pain? Persecution, calamity, disease, death. Any suffering that you meet on the road to heaven and endure by trusting in Jesus. Any hardship that might test your faith or try to lead you away from God.
If there were no afflictions and difficulties and troubles and pain, our fallen hearts would fall ever more deeply in love with the comforts and securities and pleasures of this world instead of falling more deeply in love with our inheritance beyond this world, namely, God himself. Suffering is appointed for us in this life as a great mercy to keep us from loving this world more than we should and to make us rely on God who raises the dead. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
But imagine that someone was on his way to an inheritance worth billions and billions, but as he got closer to the attorney’s office to have the will read, the car broke down and they had to walk blocks and blocks to get to the office. And imagine how silly he would look, and short-sighted he would be if the entire time he walked to the law office to pick up his inheritance he whined, complained and shook his fist at God about the broken car. Good grief! Perspective and a vision of what’s surely coming is so important!
With our inheritance secure, assured and fast approaching, how should we be living right now—this very moment of this very day…and henceforth? “…be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” Titus 3:1-8, NIV