Where did Christians ever get the notion that they need anything other than Christ? Is He somehow inadequate? Is His gift of salvation somehow deficient? Certainly not. We are children of God, joint heirs with Christ, and therefore beneficiaries of a richer legacy than the human mind could ever comprehend: “We are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16–17). Christians are rich beyond measure. All true Christians are heirs together with Christ Himself.
Scripture has much to say about the Christian’s inheritance. It is, in fact, the central point of our New Covenant relationship with Christ. The writer of Hebrews referred to Christ as “the mediator of a new covenant, so that … those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15).
We were chosen for adoption into God’s own family before the world began (Ephesians 1:4–5). And with our adoption came all the rights and privileges of family membership, including an inheritance in time and eternity that is beyond our ability to exhaust.
This was a key element in the theology of the early church. In Acts 26:18 Paul says he was commissioned by Christ to preach to the Gentiles “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in [Christ].” In Colossians 1:12 he says that God the Father has “qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” Paul viewed the believer’s inheritance as so enormous in scope that he prayed the Ephesians would have the spiritual enlightenment to comprehend the richness of its glory (Ephesians 1:18).
The concept of an inheritance from God had great significance to early Jewish believers in Christ because their Old Testament forefathers inherited the land of Canaan as part of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1). Theirs was for the most part an earthly, material inheritance (Deuteronomy 15:4; 19:10), though it included many spiritual blessings. Our inheritance in Christ, however, is primarily spiritual. That is, it is not a promise of wealth and material prosperity. It goes far beyond temporal or transient physical blessings.
Believers inherit God. This concept was key to the Old Testament understanding of a spiritual inheritance. Joshua 13:33 says, “To the tribe of Levi, Moses did not give an [earthly] inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as He had promised to them.” Of the twelve tribes of Israel, Levi had a uniquely spiritual function: It was the priestly tribe. As such, its members did not inherit a portion of the Promised Land; the Lord Himself was their inheritance. They literally inherited God as their own possession.
David said, “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance” (Psalm 16:5). In Psalm 73:25–26 Asaph says, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. … God is the strength of my heart and my [inheritance] forever.”
The prophet Jeremiah said, “The Lord is my portion … therefore I have hope in Him” (Lamentations 3:24). That Old Testament principle applies to every Christian. We are “heirs of God” (Romans 8:17). First Peter 2:9 describes believers as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” We are His, and He is ours. What a joy to know that we inherit God Himself and will spend eternity in His presence!
Believers enter into an eternal oneness with Christ. Christ Himself indwells them (Colossians 1:27). He prayed to the Father “that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me” (John 17:22–23). Someday “we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2) and we will reign with Him as joint heirs (Romans 8:17).
Ephesians 1:14 says that the Holy Spirit “is given as a pledge of our inheritance.” That is, He is the Guarantor of our inheritance. The Greek word translated “pledge” (arrabōn) originally referred to a down payment — money given to secure a purchase. It came to represent any token of a pledge. A form of the word even came to be used for an engagement ring. The Holy Spirit is the resident guarantee of our eternal inheritance.
Peter said our inheritance includes “a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). The Greek word translated “salvation” (sōtērian) speaks of a rescue or deliverance. In its broadest sense it refers to our full and final deliverance from the curse of the law; the power and presence of sin; and grief, pain, death, and judgment. No matter how difficult our present circumstances might be, we can look beyond them and bless God for the ultimate fullness of our eternal salvation.
Jesus said in Matthew 25:34: “The King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”
And so, we inherit God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, eternal salvation, and the kingdom. Still, the fullness of our inheritance has not yet been revealed to us. John wrote, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be” (1 John 3:2). Paul said, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
We’re like a child prince who is too young and immature to understand the privileges of his position or the royal inheritance that awaits him. Consequently he may struggle with petty wants and throw tantrums over trinkets that pale in comparison to the riches he has access to, and will receive when he assumes his father’s throne. As he grows up, his parents must discipline and train him so he learns to behave like someone of royal lineage. Throughout that training and maturing process he begins to understand the immense value and implications of his inheritance.
We, too, will someday experience the fullness of our inheritance. In the meantime we must learn to act like children of the King, and let the hope of future blessings purify our lives (1 John 3:3).