Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Rayola Kelley

       Last month I talked about what man has become lost to, and how redemption was the means in which God would be able to restore what was lost. What has been lost in the Garden of Eden was man’s relationship with God, the essence of life, paradise, and purpose or direction. There is also something else that became lost to all mankind because of the action of the first parents and that is spiritual inheritance.

       What inheritance did God intend for our first parents? We know that the inheritance promised to the children of Israel was comprised of a physical and spiritual inheritance. The physical part of the inheritance had to do with the Promised Land in order to bring forth the Promised Messiah, but the spiritual part of their inheritance had to do with the Law as well as the promises attached to the covenants that God made with such men as Abraham and David.

       For Christians, our inheritance is mainly spiritual. In fact, we have been given a seal until the fullness of our inheritance can be realized. The seal is the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:11-14). This brings us to our inheritance as Christians. What is it? Consider what Ephesians 1:14 states about this matter: “Who is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” The earnest or down payment of our inheritance is the Holy Spirit, but our inheritance as believers is the fullness of redemption in light of complete restoration.

           It is vital to understand how our inheritance works. Let us consider the implications of inheritance. When you study it in light of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, it is associated with possession, purpose, portion secured by acquisition, heritage, lots, part, allotment, assignment, privilege, and heirloom. It points to distribute, something divided, bequest, occupation, and mode of descent.

       We know that others often acquire an inheritance, but if we are somehow related to or recognized by the one who acquires it, we can benefit from it. However, to benefit from an inheritance usually means the benefactor is dead. In many cases an inheritance is divided; thereby, those who are on the receiving end will receive a portion of the inheritance available. This portion points to some type of law or regulation governing how an inheritance will be broken up and divided. In the case of God, this is where covenants and promises often come into the picture. As Christians, we are part of a covenant that has been carefully outlined in the New Testament.

       In most cases inheritance is meant to serve as a point of heritage that is attached to birthright, custom or legacy. It clearly becomes a point of identification. However, it is also meant to be passed down in some way to maintain a legacy.

       The other aspect of inheritance is that of possession. Sometimes the rules and regulations governing the inheritance will have stipulations attached to them. Conditions must first be met before those who can benefit from it can actually possess it. In some cases, these regulations reveal that the benefactor is trying to maintain the integrity of the inheritance. People have been known to squander or neglect the inheritance instead of wisely using it to establish an ongoing legacy that will also benefit others down the line. Hence enters the warning to Christians not to neglect the salvation that has been entrusted to them (Hebrews 2:3). In other situations the conditions can also imply that the benefactor is still trying to control matters from the grave.

       We see with the children of Israel that their inheritance was actually acquired by God. It did involve Him purchasing them through the sacrifice of the first born of Egypt, even though He laid claim to them long before they became totally lost to their inheritance and purpose as a distinct people.

       A Passover Lamb was also sacrificed. The children of Israel were to utilize every bit of it to ensure their deliverance. The blood of the Passover Lamb also identified those who were to be spared from the judgment that was about to befall the people of Egypt.  We know that the Passover Lamb pointed to Jesus.

       When our first parents became lost to their inheritance, they primarily became lost to the very life God had ordained for them in the Garden of Eden. When they became lost to the life that was ordained for them, they also lost their identity in light of God and their legacy. Without identity we do not know who we are, who we can become, and who we are meant to be. Without identity, we have no legacy that will have any real meaning or purpose. Even though man was meant to live forever, there was still a legacy to obtain where he would come to realize his full potential and purpose as one who was uniquely formed by the Creator. The Apostle Paul put it best when he stated that all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

       In Adam’s initial stage he was formed in a state of innocence, but there was more he could have discovered as to the glory he could have experienced if he had become  more God-oriented instead of more earthbound. Time and time again we see where the more man becomes caught up with the earthly creation and the activities around him, the more he becomes earthbound. The more earthbound he becomes, the less spiritual he strives to be.

       It was clear that there was something amiss in the Garden of Eden when in the beginning of creation, the Lord declared all things to be good, and then we see where it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 1:31; 2:18). Man was not alone in the garden for he had God, but somewhere along the way God ceased to be enough to man.

       Jesus is meant to become our all in all (Colossians 3:11). The Lord is what man needs, and is able to be all that is necessary to satisfy the desires of the inner man. He alone is man’s real legacy. However, there is something that became lost to man, even before his fall. Whether he became lost to his real purpose or legacy is hard to know, but in the end his rebellious actions towards that which represented his real inheritance showed that he was willing to explore the possibilities outside of a life with God and his purpose within creation.

       This brings us back to the restoration of what was lost. It could only be obtained through redemption. Man could once again have his inheritance or legacy restored to him. However, the legacy would not be about restoring man in light of regaining the Garden of Eden, but in light of reaching his potential in relationship to the life and glory that God wanted man to initially experience.

       Oswald Chambers explained how Adam was intended to reflect the glory of God in creation, but because of rebellion he failed to reach his potential. Therefore, the second man, Christ Jesus, represented what God intended man to become. He reflected in His teachings, example and ways the distinction and excellence of the glory of God in the midst of creation. For this reason the Apostle Paul penned these words: “But we all, with open face beholding in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

       We know for the children of Israel, it cost the Egyptians dearly and an innocent lamb its all. In relationship to Christians, it dearly cost God His Son, and cost His Son His all. Hebrews 9:14-22 tells us that Jesus is our benefactor. Until His death, the testament had no strength. Redemption could only come by way of His death. It was upon His death that we were able to receive our eternal inheritance by faith. We are also told the inheritance that has been made available through Jesus is a much more excellent inheritance than the one that the children of Israel were allotted.

       This brings us to our inheritance as Christians. We will inherit the fullness of Christ’s life. His life in us will reflect His heavenly glory. As Colossians 1:27 stated about our real hope: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Clearly, redemption allots believers not only eternal life, but reaching their potential in regard to the heavenly glory that will ultimately be unveiled in their lives.

       As Christians, we need to understand our real inheritance because many believers have been erroneously led to believe that much of their inheritance is wrapped up in the things of this world. In some cases these individuals believe that worldly goods reflect how rich and blessed they are when it comes to God. Although God may entrust Christians with worldly blessings, such blessings do not represent their spiritual status before God. The Apostle Paul actually counted all ties or blessing in regard to this present world as dung in light of gaining Christ (Philippians 3:7-9). The Laodiceans, who were rich with the things of the world, were considered wretched to the Lord, and that believers who are often poor in light of the world’s standards were found to be rich in faith towards God (James 2:5; Revelation 3:14-19). Once again, we as believers must remember that the more we become earthbound to the ways and things of the world, the more we will lose our edge as spiritual people. We must never lose sight that our blessings are spiritual, our hope heavenly and our inheritance is eternal.

       What do we need to understand about the spiritual inheritance to ensure that we as believers will actually receive it? Here are some points that we need to keep before us.

       Identification: Inheritance serves as a point of identification. People who fail to be identified by the life of Christ and the seal of the Spirit will not be privy to this inheritance. Like the first born of Egypt so many years ago, these people will be marked for death and damnation because they have not been properly marked by the blood of the Lamb of God. These individuals may have a worldly inheritance, but they do not have the eternal inheritance that will mark them to receive the inheritance of the world to come.

       Status: As Christians, we have been legally adopted into a heavenly family to ensure that we will receive this inheritance. We hold the status of being a child of God, part of the royal heritage of Christ and designed to experience the fullness of His glory. Our moral quality, as God’s children, must clearly be distinguished by how we conduct ourselves in the way we live the life that has been entrusted to us. We must not lightly esteem, be flippant or dishonorable as to the legacy we have been entrusted with.

       Possessing it: It is not enough to have an inheritance allotted to us, we must be prepared to take possession of it. The children of Israel each had a personal inheritance, but they were instructed to go in and possess it (Joshua 18:3-10). For some, that first meant walking the land to understand the value of what they were entrusted with. Most Christians do not understand how rich and valuable their real inheritance is. They have failed to walk out the very life of Christ in order to possess it as their inheritance. Some are actually tarrying instead of occupying until their possession somehow falls into their lap. However, we are told that we must inherit this prized possession (Galatians 5:17-21). Paul instructs us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Although our inheritance has been secured and is freely offered to us, we must personally possess the life it promises. Clearly, our goal should be to prepare in this age to properly embrace the fullness of this legacy in the next world to come.

       Do you somewhat understand the inheritance that is truly awaiting you? Are you preparing yourself to properly receive it? These are questions we need to answer honestly, for it will determine our attitude in regards to possessing it.