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Inheritance In Christ
By David A. DePra
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? …. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. (Gal. 3:3-9)
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:26-29)
In the above passages, Paul references Abraham in his epistle to the Galatians. Obviously, he wants to contrast the faith of Abraham over and against the works of the Galatians. This is clear from the context. Paul says, "Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed by the flesh?…..So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." But upon closer inspection, there is more to this contrast than that of faith vs. works. In fact, in it is the very definition of Christianity, and the purpose of God for His people.
You will notice what Paul says about those who are, "of faith." He says they are, "the children of Abraham." (3:7) He likewise says that they, "are blessed with faithful Abraham." (3:9) In fact, Paul goes on to say that those who believe are, "Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise." (3:29) All of a sudden, we are talking about a whole lot more here than merely a lesson on faith. We are talking about what a Christian IS, and what is his destiny.
But before we go on to see what Paul says about all of this, we need to remember the context. This epistle was written to a church that was trying to keep themselves righteous before God – indeed, maintain their salvation – through the works of the law. Paul is about to show them that they have a complete misunderstanding about what Christianity really is. The Galatians thought it was a religion of do’s and don’ts – resulting in rewards and punishments. Paul intends to show them that it is a new birth as a new creation – and that rather than need to work for a reward from God, he is going to show them that through this new birth as a child of God we obtain an inheritance that cannot be earned.
Have we recognized that IN CHRIST we are to inherit all that Christ has inherited? So why are we trying to EARN it? Why are we trying to do through works what is ours by birthright? This is what Paul is asking the Galatians. He is saying, "You are IN Jesus Christ, and as a result, heirs according to promise. But you don’t believe that or understand it. So you are trying to WORK your way into the things of God. You are missing the Truth."
When God started His nation through one man, Abraham, He made him promises and worked a purpose. But ultimately, it was the GOSPEL that God preached through Abraham. Paul says, "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Gal 3:8) Paul is trying, once again, to bring the Galatians, and the legalists among us, back again to the one and only true gospel.
The Seed of Abraham
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. (Gen 17:7)
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Gen 22:18)
In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul makes it clear that the SEED spoken of in these verses is not Isaac. The SEED is Christ.
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He says not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Gal 3:16)
The SEED OF ABRAHAM is Jesus Christ. Everything depends upon this. When God made His promise to Abraham of a son, yes, this promise was to begin with Isaac, but it was to be fulfilled in Christ.
But that is not all. For if Christ is the seed of Abraham, to whom the promises pertain, then Paul states that all of us who are IN CHRIST are likewise the seed of Abraham. If you are born again, you are made ONE with Christ. And because you are made ONE with Christ, you are a child of God, and by definition, have, "put on Christ." This makes you – because you are IN CHRIST – Abraham’s seed, and an heir according to the promises of God.
For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:26-29)
So here’s the question: How does one become an HEIR? Well, normally speaking, there really isn’t anything you can do to become an heir. For the way you become an heir is by being BORN into the right family. Thus, rather than by works, it is by birth that you become an heir.
This is precisely Paul’s point to the Galatians. He is saying, "If you are in Christ, you are already Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise. So why are you trying to EARN something from God? He already offers it to you freely through Christ."
But you see, we don’t believe that. We really don’t. When you read that last paragraph, what was your reaction? Probably that you don’t see how this is possible – that God offers us all things freely through Christ? And why don’t we see how this is possible? Well, perhaps because we don’t seem to have much of the riches of Christ -- and so how can they be free? Where are they? Or maybe you have prayed and prayed for this inheritance God has for you, and you don’t seem to have come to possess it. Why? Or maybe you feel unworthy of the things of God. Or perhaps you are one of those people who think that just because you are saved you can take possession of the things of God and use them as you please. One way or another, the question remains: If God gives us all things freely, what is wrong? Why don’t we seem to have what God offers?
If an inheritance is an inheritance, and the Bible says that this is what God has for us in Christ, then you must be born again IN CHRIST to receive it. That is a given. But is our inheritance REALLY free at that point? God says it IS:
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Cor. 2:12)
If there is one thing a Christian needs to see it is this – that in Christ God has given us all things FREELY. In fact, it is our failure to see this that is the root cause of so much that hinders us in the Christian life.
There is something about this tremendous free gift that runs so contrary to not only the way we THINK, but the way we RELATE to God. In fact, I would submit that it takes quite a work of the Holy Spirit to get us to see – not only that the things of God are free – but that the things of God MUST be free. They must be free because they are beyond a price. Indeed, Jesus had to give His life to pay for them. And in that we see God’s justification in giving them freely. "God’s riches, at Christ’s expense," someone once said.
But in order to actually SEE this Truth, and just as importantly, to RECEIVE the things of God, it requires something of me. Did I say, "REQUIRES?" Am I introducing a PRICE I must pay? No, not really. What I am saying is that in order to receive the things of God freely, I have to be changed. But it isn’t that I must become BIG enough. Rather, I must become SMALL enough. I will never SEE the Truth, and I will never EMBRACE the things of God until I am brought down to the place where I am spiritually bankrupt. Thus, the, "requirement," isn’t that I earn anything – it is that I stop trying to earn. The, "requirement," isn’t that I qualify for anything – it is that I come to know I can never qualify. So you see, the price I have to pay to freely receive is that I must see I have nothing to pay WITH – and I must rejoice in Him because of it.
What I am really saying is that I have to become RELATED to Christ in such a way that I am able to embrace, and LIVE IN, the inheritance. And fundamental to this is that I must become someone who is content to be NOTHING – not a NEGATIVE, "nothing," or a morbid, "nothing" – but a wonderful nothing. I’m talking about simply being a RECIPIENT – about realizing that we are here talking about GOD and all He IS, as compared to US.
We are all obsessed with ourselves. For centuries, Christianity has either been focused upon telling people how rotten they are, or upon telling people how great they really are. Both are wrong. The message is supposed to be how wonderful Christ is. Now, in the process we will see how bad we are – for that is where we start in Adam. But the normal Christian life – the one described in the Bible – is that we are to be focused upon Jesus Christ. And if we are focused upon Christ, we don’t think of ourselves as evil, and we don’t think of ourselves as great. Really, we less and less think of ourselves – period! THAT is freedom. Yet almost no one talks about it at all anymore.
God wants to get us to the place where we will receive everything He freely gives. The problem isn’t with God, and it isn’t with what He wants to give. The problem is with US. We won’t take what He freely gives – we try to merit it. And the moment we do try to merit it, we are on a completely wrong basis. We won’t even get started. Or, perhaps we think we merit it, and think that we have the right to do as we please with the things of God. In that case, we are still on a wrong basis. We won’t get far.
The problem here is clearly US – but more specifically, with our relationship with God. How are we going to live and move in the things God freely gives if we don’t know Christ Himself? Or if we cannot be trusted with the things of God? The solution is to become rightly related to God. Then the THINGS of God will follow. But fail to do this – fail to line up with God Himself – and you will not embrace what God freely gives. Worse, you won’t even know your failure to do so.
Much of what is doing with us in the Christian life is geared to making us able to RECEIVE what He freely gives – by making us become rightly related to Him. Thus, we could save ourselves much time and trouble if we would just stop trying to get things from God, and stop trying to enter into the THINGS of God, and instead get into business with God Himself. Get into business with God Himself and you cannot fail to receive the THINGS of God. Indeed, that is the ONLY way you can receive them. This is the key to all inheritance.
God, Not Things
We are talking about freely receiving what God freely gives – and how this seems to be something that we don’t often experience. We don’t often SEE them, understand them, or experience them. Or we experience a substitute or counterfeit. For some of us, we have long ago given up on these things. We just don’t believe it is possible to experience very much of God in this lifetime. But we are now seeing the key and the answer – STOP trying to get God to give you THINGS, and stop trying to get God to do THINGS. Seek you first GOD HIMSELF – His will and glory. The THINGS can come in no other way.
Now, I would never say that God won’t do THINGS, or that we should not pray to God for our needs. But I’m laying down a principle that is the primary way in which God works. In fact, if you have encountered the silence of God, this is probably why. God wants to reveal HIMSELF to you. God wants to change you so that you can be rightly related to Him. You and I cannot imagine how deeply this need goes in our spirit. Thus, as we cry out for THINGS, God is working on a relationship. This might make it seem like God isn’t hearing us. But He is.
There are many ways to state this same Truth. For example, we often cry to God for INFORMATION – we want God to tell us the facts about our situation. But rather than information, God wants to give us a REVELATION of Himself. Then we WILL understand – but we will understand in a way that was impossible before that revelation. Get a revelation of Jesus Christ and along with it will come much understanding and information – because NOW you can grasp it, and because NOW you can be trusted with it.
There are other times when God may put you in a trial that seems to drag on and on – and your constant cry might be, "God, if you would just tell me what to do, I would do it!" But again, this is a cry for information, and probably God will answer with silence. The real answer, and if we read the Bible, this would hold us, is that God doesn’t want us to do anything. In fact, the goal might be to get us to the place where we realize that there is nothing we CAN do. God would tell us that what He wants us to do is nothing more complicated than to BE IN THE TRIAL WITHOUT EXPLANATION – and to trust Him anyways.
Can we see that this kind of thing is what BUILDS our relationship with God through Christ. Bible study cannot do that. Faith and surrender can. For the nature of every one of these things is to bring us to the place of utter dependence upon Christ. THEN we may begin to see the grace of God. THEN we might start to value our inheritance for what it is.
The bottom line is this: God has given us all things in Christ – and only IN CHRIST. This means that it is only as we are related to Christ unto God’s will and glory that the THINGS of God emerge into our experience. You cannot experience the things of God, or have a reward from God, as things independent of Christ. You can have them only as the outcome of your relationship WITH Christ.
So why don’t we seem to experience an inheritance? Because we don’t know Christ, or see Him, or come to be possessed by Him. The key is our relationship with Christ. "In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Know Christ, and what is hidden IN HIM is made plain to you.
As noted, one of the biggest mistakes we make in the Christian life is to ask God for THINGS – and to separate those THINGS from Christ Himself. For example, we ask God for a job. That’s good. But do we want a job as a THING God gives us – to the disregard of Christ in us – or do we want a job that is an extension of, and part of, God’s overall purpose of forming Christ in us? There is a big difference. My point is – God has a great inheritance for each of us. It is ALL free. But we cannot experience it as a THING. No. Only to the degree that we are rightly related to Christ, and KNOW HIM – is our inheritance of value. Our inheritance is IN CHRIST – it is not a THING aside from Him. We must become rightly related to Him.
It doesn’t take long, if you read scripture, to see that DOMINION is a big part of our inheritance in Christ. The parables of Jesus, and many promises of God, going all the way back to the beginning, bear witness to this. Man was created to have dominion. Indeed, before the sin, God said to Adam:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Gen 1:26-28)
Adam lost his dominion when he sinned. But why did he lose it? Did he lose it because God got so mad at him for sinning, that God yanked this dominion from him as a punishment? No. Adam lost his dominion over this earth because he rebelled against God’s dominion over him!
Here we see the same principle again – that all things must emerge from being rightly related to Christ. You cannot divorce dominion from Christ. It is only to the extent that I am under the dominion of Christ that I can have dominion.
This is a Truth that has been totally distorted today. Many today are teaching that in Christ we have dominion – well, that much is right, at least as a fact. But they make dominion into a THING God gives us in Christ – and completely divorce it from a person’s relationship with Christ. The fact is, you have NO dominion, NO rights, and NO authority at all – even as a child of God – you have no rights except to LOSE EVERYTHING. You must LOSE all, and THEN you can have dominion in Christ. In fact, I submit that, in the end, when all is said and done, you and I will have dominion in Christ over only that which we have LOST. You have to LOSE to FIND. It is the way it works.
I’m going to say that again: Our dominion is over what we have voluntarily LOST into the hands of God. THEN Jesus is Lord – not just of IT, but of US. Then we have dominion. But our dominion is then only an extension of HIS rule. And God offers it on NO OTHER BASIS.
You have the authority of Christ only to the extent that Jesus has authority over you. But don’t just think of this in terms of DOING – as if your obedience earns you authority. No. Jesus has authority over me when I have BECOME His will, and when I live for Him. Then He can exercise dominion THROUGH me – to HIS will and glory.
The idea that God has handed out authority as a reward, either here, or in the eternal ages, and sort of turned us loose to use it as we please, is utter nonsense. There never was, and never will be, ANY authority given to anyone, except the authority to do the will of God, to speak the Truth, and to LIVE in power. The moment you and I begin to operate with the authority of God – or what we think His authority is – the moment we do so independent of Jesus Christ, we are NOT in God’s will.
So if you want to talk about our eternal reward – our inheritance for eternity – we now see the key. Our eternal reward is determined by how well Jesus rules over US. We will only inherit eternally what we have LOST here – lost into His hands. Try to keep authority, or try to keep anything, and you will lose it. Lose it into His hands, and you will find it. Jesus guaranteed this fact.
Well, Adam lost dominion over the earth to Satan. But Jesus, as The Last Adam, came and won it back. Before He ascended, He said, "ALL authority has been given to Me." That doesn’t leave ANY for us, does it? No. But if we will come UNDER the authority of Jesus, then all that He has will be OURS.
The Body of Christ has always corrupted this Truth about the authority of Christ. We have everything from the sin of the Nicolatians (Rev. 2), to Papal authority. And then, in more recent times, we have the heresies of the Shepherding Movement of the 1970’s, much of which is still with us today. We also have false teachers such as Bill Gothard, not to mention C. Peter Wagner’s new apostolic movement. All error and heresy.
The Truth of God on this matter of authority, indeed, on this matter of church authority, is clear in the Bible. God has stated that there is ONE Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus. There are not TWO mediators. There are not SUB-mediators. In other words, you do NOT have to come through any group, church, leader, or teaching, in order to get to Christ, be more right in Christ, or to be under God’s supposed, "umbrella of protection." I will state without apology that anyone who teaches otherwise is teaching error.
There have always been those in the Body of Christ who have exalted themselves as being a special conduit unto Christ – these people think they have the, "real Truth," to the exclusion of others. They appoint themselves as, "special ones," before the Lord. They gather to themselves many, or few, and the goal is to use the things of God to CONTROL. Of course, many of these people are so blinded by their spiritual pride that they are self-deceived. But the bottom line is this – anyone who suggests that you cannot have your full inheritance in Christ, or come into the full purpose of God, unless you get it through THEM – get away as quickly as you can. Anyone who suggests that leaving their church, or their group, is going to bring upon you a curse from God, walk OUT NOW. Anyone who, in any way, makes themselves a mediator unto God – this is a false teacher. At worst, you may be looking at a cult. At best, you are looking at a deluded soul who is unbroken by God.
God has put in His church leaders and gifts. But these NEVER result in controlling people, or in exalting man. They absolutely STAND for the Truth – but they EDIFY in Christ. I don’t care if a person raises the dead or calls fire down from heaven – if by this they make themselves a mediator unto God, they are false. A true servant of God will be like Paul. He will do all he can to make Christ known. And he will leave the rest to God.
I say all of this to once again point out that it doesn’t matter what OFFICE a person holds – what does matter is whether they are speaking the Truth. The one doesn’t guarantee the other. The moment a person speaks error, they have no authority from God. Indeed, the moment they speak the Truth, there IS authority, but the authority is in the Truth, not vested in the person. Again – Paul said he had authority, "to edify." It ends there.
Just as will be the case in the eternal ages, it is only to the extent that a person is under the authority of Christ, and speaking the Truth, that they are an extension of Christ’s authority. The moment I speak IN THE FLESH, the Spirit of God is NOT with me.
On judgment day, there are going to be many surprises. We are going to find that many who had no position of authority HERE, will be given much THERE – because HERE they were under God’s authority. They can be trusted with God’s will and glory. We will also find that many how seemed to have great authority HERE will come up empty – for what God did give them they used for their own glory. They cannot be trusted. But hey, no one believes this anymore today. Most Christian people JUST DON’T CARE – or perhaps just don’t KNOW to care. But you can absolutely bank on the fact that every word, and every warning – indeed, every PROMISE of God – is going to come to pass on these matters. They are going to come to pass MORE than we can possibly know. And there won’t be a one of us with an excuse if we have heard.
Incidentally, if there is a question in your mind as to what God requires of you regarding the authority of man – whether secular or in the church – the solution is simple. Yield to God. Get under Christ in all ways. THEN, you won’t have any trouble lining up with men. But never make your HORIZONTAL relationship with others the MEANS by which you get right with God! NO. Get your VERTICAL relationship with God straight FIRST. Go to God ABOUT men. Not the other way around. If you and I line up with God FIRST, we will line up with men. But to mechanically follow principles that line us up with the commands of men, and then think that this commends us to God – well, that is the very definition of legalism. It is always my personal relationship with God first – and anyone who teaches otherwise is teaching grave ERROR.
Our eternal inheritance is Christ Himself – and then, as an extension of Christ through us – all that belongs to the kingdom of God. I inherit the kingdom of God only if Jesus, who is the King of that kingdom, rules over me. It is so NOW, and will be evermore THEN.
Inheritance is not a reward, or pay-back, for doing good works. It isn’t a THING God gives us in exchange for the THINGS we do for Him. Rather, inheritance is the result of relationship. Indeed, we might rightly say that inheritance IS relationship with God. Everything else emerges from this as the basis.
Paul tried to teach this Truth to the Galatians. He said to them, "Having begun by the Spirit of God, are you now going to be completed through works?" In other words, he was saying, "You are trying to maintain, qualify for, or earn your inheritance. But if Christ is in you, your inheritance is already in you – through the new birth. You are Abraham’s seed because Christ is Abraham’s seed and you are IN HIM. So instead of trying to DO things for God in exchange for an inheritance, start living IN the inheritance you have in Christ."
It is impossible to see GRACE – in a way that sets you free – unless you come to the place where you see that there is nothing you can offer in return. I’m not talking about getting depressed over yourself and throwing up your hands and saying, "Well, I guess I’m a no good sinner. I will accept God’s grace." No. I’m talking about seeing THE TRUTH about God, and about His purpose, and realizing that our number one problem is that we have NOT BELIEVED HIM, and have sinned against Him by trying to make things right by our own works.
God really does offer us all things freely IN Christ. But you have to grow IN Christ to be small enough for your inheritance.
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