“In him we have obtained an inheritance…” (Ephesians 1:11)
Bible Reading: Ephesians1:11-14
It follows closely from God’s purpose to reunite everything in Christ that we should be heirs of the things to come. This is what Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1:11-14.
Of course, it is not “natural” that this should be the case. Having an inheritance in the age to come is our privilege only as we are “in Christ” and adopted sons in him. Paul links these two things – sonship and inheritance – in Romans 8:16-17. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit”, he writes, “that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…”
The idea of “inheritance” has an important place in the Bible. While it often refers to an interest in a portion of the land of Canaan in Old Testament times, here the term is used more widely of the world to come as a whole. “Blessed are the meek,” Jesus said, “for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Once again, this comes about through the eternal predestining act of God. We have obtained an inheritance, Paul says, “having been predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:11, 12). It is God’s purpose, arising out of the counsel of his will for all things, that lies behind the inheritance in store for us. And it is all to “praise of his glory”, a praise that will resound through the endless future to come.
Paul speaks of those who were “first to hope in Christ” (v. 12). In all likelihood, he is referring to Jews who put their trust in Christ in both old and new covenant times. But this inheritance is not limited to them but embraces those from the nations who believe the gospel. “In him [Christ] 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 the possession of it…” (vs. 13-14).
This is what the Bible constantly keeps before us – the fact that our existence on earth is temporary, but that there is an inheritance “that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4-5).
Life for us now is never easy. It has been given to us, Paul writes to Philippian Christians, “that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake…” (Philippians 1:29). God uses our present sufferings and trials to prepare us for heaven, even as we accomplish the work he has for us to do in the world.
And it is the inheritance that awaits us that enables us to bear those sufferings patiently and with joy.
- Do you think of the inheritance that awaits you in the age to come?
- Does this help you bear the struggles and sufferings that you experience now?
- Andrew Young