Divine Inheritance Guaranteed
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trustedb in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (1:11–14)
Intro. In this passage Paul shows us the awesome and wonderful potential of Christian believers. The apostle gives us a glimpse of the glorious blessings God has planned for and promised to those who come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
· It is human nature to break promises. Governments make and break promises. Advertisers and politicians make and break promises. Employers and employees, preachers and church members, parents and children, husbands and wives, and friends and relatives all make promises to each other which often are broken.
· Some are made with the best of intentions, and some are made in order to deceive and exploit. But all of us find ourselves both making and receiving promises that, for whatever reason, do not materialize.
· We can be eternally thankful that God’s promises are not like ours. Every promise He makes, He keeps. The promises Paul mentions here that our heavenly Father makes to His children not only are wonderful and exciting but absolute and certain.
· As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23). Like Abraham, every believer should be fully assured that what God promises He is able and certain to perform (Rom. 4:21), Ours is a God who will not and cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
· At the completion of this longest sentence in the Bible (Eph. 1:3–14), in which Paul pours out his heart in praise to God for His immeasurable grace, he presents to us the Father’s guarantee of His divine promise to His children. They are certain to receive the full, undiminished inheritance of Jesus Christ.
· Just as we have been blessed “with every spiritual blessing,” chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world,” “predestined … to adoption as sons,” given “redemption through His blood,” and shown “the mystery of His will” (vv. 3–5, 7, 9)—so we have also obtained an inheritance.
· Our inheritance is the aspect of salvation which is primarily future. We were elected, or predestined, before the world or time existed; we have been redeemed in this present age; and we will receive our completed inheritance in the ages to come, when we enter fully into the Father’s eternal heavenly kingdom.
· Here we are shown the ground, the guarantee, and the goal of our incomparable inheritance in Jesus Christ.
1. The Ground of Our Inheritance
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trustedb in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: i, (1:11–13a)
a. In whom refers to Jesus Christ (v. 10), who is the ground or source of our divine inheritance. Apart from Jesus Christ, the only ultimate and eternal thing a person can receive from God is condemnation.
1. God bestows sunshine, rain, and many other good things on all men, the righteous and unrighteous alike (Matt. 5:45).
2. But His spiritual blessings are bestowed only on those who are: in Him (cf. vv. 1, 3–4, 6–7, 10). Acts 4:12 (KJV) 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. ”
3. In Romans 6, Paul gives the spiritual biography of every believer. “Do you not know,” he begins, “that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” (v. 3). “Therefore,” he continues, “we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (vv. 4–5).
4. By a marvelous miracle that only God can comprehend, every believer has been to the cross of Calvary, been nailed there spiritually with the Savior, and been buried and raised with Him. Jesus Christ not only was crucified, buried, and raised for every believer but with every believer.
5. Not only that, but “we know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). On that glorious day we will finally and fully “become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).
b. We have obtained an inheritance translates a single compound word in the Greek (eklērōthēmen). When something in the future was so certain that it could not possibly fail to happen, the Greeks would often speak of it as if it had already occurred (as here, where Paul uses the aorist passive indicative).
1. In chapter two Paul uses a similar Greek tense (aorist active indicative) to speak of God’s having “seated us with Him in the heavenly places” (v. 6), although the apostle and those to whom he wrote had not yet entered into that glorious experience. Their dwelling eternally with the Lord was just as certain as if they were already in heaven.
2. The passive form of the verb in 1:11a allows for two possible renderings, both of which are consistent with other Scripture.
3. It can be translated “were made an inheritance” or, as here, have obtained an inheritance.
a. The first rendering would indicate that we, that is, believers, are Christ’s inheritance. Jesus repeatedly spoke of believers as gifts that the Father had given Him (John 6:37, 39; 10:29; 17:2, 24; etc.). Jesus won us at Calvary—as the spoils of His victory over Satan, sin, and death—and we now belong to Him. “ ‘And they will be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession’ ” (Mal. 3:17). From eternity past the Father planned and determined that every person who would trust in His Son for salvation would be given to His Son as a possession, a glorious inheritance.
b. Translated the other way, however, this word means just the opposite: it is believers who receive the inheritance. Peter speaks of our having been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for [us]” (1 Pet. 1:3–4).
c. Both of the translations are therefore grammatically and theologically legitimate. Throughout Scripture believers are spoken of as belonging to God, and He is spoken of as belonging to them.
d. The New Testament speaks of our being in Christ and of His being in us, of our being in the Spirit and of His being in us. “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). Paul could therefore say, “For me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).
e. The practical side of that truth is that, because we are identified with Christ, our lives should be identified with His life (cf. 1 John 2:6). We are to love as He loved, help as He helped, care as He cared, share as He shared, and sacrifice our own interests and welfare for the sake of others just as He did. Like our Lord, we are in the world to lose our lives for others.
4. Although either rendering of eklērōthēmen can be supported, Paul’s emphasis in Ephesians 1:3–14 makes the second translation more appropriate here: we have obtained an inheritance.
a. Our inheritance with Christ is yet another of the amazing and magnificent blessings with which the Father has blessed us in the Son.
b. As Paul makes clear in verse 3, our inheritance includes “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
c. In Jesus Christ, believers inherit every promise God has ever made.
d. Peter tells us that God’s “divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” and “has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises” (2 Pet. 1:3–4).
e. Paul says with absolute inclusiveness, “For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes” (2 Cor. 1:20).
f. Our every conceivable need is met by God’s gracious provision in accordance with His divine promises. We are promised peace, love, grace, wisdom, eternal life, joy, victory, strength, guidance, power, mercy, forgiveness, righteousness, truth, fellowship with God, spiritual discernment, heaven, eternal riches, glory—those and every other good thing that comes from God.
g. Paul says, “The world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor. 3:22–23).
h. Because we have been made joint heirs with Christ, we are guaranteed possession of everything He possesses. We are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (cf. Rom. 8:17).
i. Jesus Christ is therefore the ground of the inheritance that we have obtained. Paul first shows that inheritance from the divine perspective and then from the human.
2. The Divine Perspective
predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trustedb in Christ.. (1:11, 12b)
a. God’s predestination. having been predestined according to His purpose. As Christians we are what we are because of what God chose to make us before any man was created. From eternity past He declared that every, elect sinner—though vile, rebellious, useless, and deserving only of death—who trusted in His Son would be made as righteous as the One in whom they put their trust.
1. As Paul has already established, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (v. 4).
2. William Hendriksen’s comment on this passage is helpful and concise:
Neither fate nor human merit determines our destiny. The benevolent purpose—that we should be holy and faultless (verse 4), sons of God (verse 5), destined to glorify him forever (verse 6, cf. verses 12 and 14)—is fixed, being part of a larger, universe–embracing plan. Not only did God make this plan that includes absolutely all things that ever take place in heaven, on earth, and in hell; past, present, and even the future, pertaining to both believers and unbelievers, to angels and devils, to physical as well as spiritual energies and units of existence both large and small; he also wholly carries it out. His providence in time is as comprehensive as is his decree from eternity. (New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Edphesians [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967], p. 88)
b. God’s power. who works all things after the counsel of His will.
1. Works is from energeō, from which we get such English words as energy, energetic, and energize.
2. God’s creating and energizing are one in His divine mind. When He spoke each part of the world into existence it began immediately to operate precisely as He had planned it to do.
3. Unlike the things we make, God’s creations do not have to be redesigned, prototyped, tested, fueled, charged, and the like. They are not only created ready to function, they are created functioning.
4. Energizing is an indispensable part of His creative plan and work. Because in His wondrous grace God chose us to be His children, citizens of His kingdom, and joint heirs with His Son, He will bring all of that to pass. “For I am confident of this very thing,” Paul declared, “that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
5. God works out what He plans. He energizes every believer with all the power necessary for his spiritual completion. It is not sufficient to think that God only makes the plan. He also makes it work out.
c. God’s preeminence. should be to the praise of His glory.
1. The Lord’s perspective and working are seen in His predestination, in His power, and, as we see here, in His preeminence.
2. Man is redeemed for the purpose of restoring the divine image marred by sin. Because God’s intention in creating men was that they should bear the divine image, salvation’s goal is creation’s goal.
3. God desires creatures that will give Him glory by both proclaiming and displaying His glory. For that reason He redeems men.
4. Scripture always presents salvation from God’s side, in order that He should have full credit.
5. In our humanly–oriented society, God’s wanting exclusive credit seems inappropriate—but only because men have no concept of His greatness, holiness, and glory.
6. What views they may have of Him are simply projections of themselves. The praise and glory that men so much desire are totally undeserved, and their motives for wanting them are purely sinful.
7. But God seeks glory for the right reasons and because He alone is deserving of it. His seeking glory is a holy desire of which He is supremely and singly worthy.
8. Our predestined salvation, including our attendant eternal and boundless blessings, are therefore designed that they should be to the praise of His glory.
3. The Human Perspective
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trustedb in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation:, (12a, 13a)
a. In the Greek text this passage is continuous, the last part of verse 12 leading directly into verse 13. Here we see the believer’s divine inheritance in Jesus Christ from our own human perspective.
1. Throughout Scripture there is tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s will, a tension that, in his limited and imperfect knowledge, man is incapable of fully reconciling.
2. As with all the other antinomies and paradoxes in God’s Word, our responsibility is to believe both sides of them without reservation, just as they are revealed. We know the truths are in perfect accord in God’s mind, and that knowledge should satisfy us.
3. Someone has pictured the divine and human sides of salvation in this way: When you look toward heaven you see a sign that reads, “Whosoever will may come,” and after you enter heaven you look back to that same sign and read on the other side, “Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.”
4. Whatever God’s reasons for designing such humanly irreconcilable truths, we should thank and praise Him for them.
5. For the very reason that they are completely true while seeming to be contradictory, we are humbled in His presence as we stand in awe of that which to us is incomprehensible.
6. To the trusting believer such truths are but further evidence that Scripture is God’s doing, and not man’s.
b. That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trustedb in Christ is the first statement given here about the human side of our divine inheritance in Christ.
1. The Greek has a definite article before Christ, and a more literal translation is hope in the Christ.
2. The meaning is not changed, but the definite article emphasizes the uniqueness of our hope: it is in the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ.
3. It also stresses the idea that the apostles and other first–generation Jewish believers were the first to receive the Messiah.
4. Therefore, Paul continues, In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, …
a. As the apostle explains in his letter to the Romans, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (10:17). Faith comes from a positive response to the message of truth, the gospel (cf. Gal. 1:6–9)—the good news that God has provided a way of salvation through the atoning work of His Son, Jesus Christ.
b. To “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
c. Man–made systems of religion, which rely on ritual or works or both, not only do not lead to God but can become great barriers to finding Him.
d. The only way to come is through His Son. “For with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed’ ” (Rom. 10:10–11).
4. The Guarantee of Our Inheritance
ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory, (1:13b–14a)
a. Men have always wanted assurances. Because the promises of other men are so often unreliable, we demand oaths, sworn affidavits, surety bonds, guarantees, warranties, and many other such means of trying to assure that what is promised is received.
b. God’s simple word should be sufficient for us, but in His graciousness He makes His promises even more certain—if that were possible—by giving us His own guarantees. Here the Lord guarantees His promises with His seal and with His pledge.
c. This is reminiscent of Hebrews 6:13–18, in which God gives His promise of blessing and then confirms it with an oath to provide what the Holy Spirit calls “strong encouragement” (v. 18) to all who hope in Christ.
5. God’s Seal
a. Because we do not directly and immediately receive the fullness of all God’s promises when we first believe (since it is “reserved in heaven for us,” 1 Pet. 1:3–4), we may sometimes be tempted to doubt our salvation and wonder about the ultimate blessings that are supposed to accompany it.
b. While we are still in this life our redemption is not complete, because we still await “the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). Because we have not yet received full possession of our inheritance, we may question its reality or at least its greatness.
1. As one means of guaranteeing His promises to those who have received Jesus Christ, God has sealed [them] in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.
2. Every believer is given the very Holy Spirit of God the moment he trusts in Christ. “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwell-s in you,”
3. Paul declares (Rom. 8:9a). Conversely, he goes on to say, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (v. 9b). Incredibly, the body of every true Christian is actually “a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in [him]” (1 Cor. 6:19).
4. When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his life. Life in Jesus Christ is different because the Spirit of God is now within. He is there to empower us, equip us for ministry, and function through the gifts He has given us. The Holy Spirit is our Helper and Advocate. He protects and encourages us. He also guarantees our inheritance in Jesus Christ. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17). The Spirit of God is our securing force, our guarantee.
- The sealing of which Paul speaks here refers to an official mark of identification that was placed on a letter, contract, or other important document. The seal usually was made from hot wax, which was placed on the document and then impressed with a signet ring. The document was thereby officially identified with and under the authority of the person to whom the signet belonged.
- That is the idea behind our being sealed in Him [Christ] with the Holy Spirit of promise. The seal of God’s Spirit in the believer signifies four primary things: security, authenticity, ownership, and authority.
1. Security. In ancient times the seal of a king, prince, or noble represented security and inviolability. When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, King Darius, along with his nobles, placed their seals on the stone placed over the entrance to the den, “so that nothing might be changed in regard to Daniel” (Dan. 6:17). Any person but the king who broke or disturbed that seal would likely have forfeited his life. In a similar way the tomb where Jesus was buried was sealed. Fearing that Jesus’ disciples might steal His body and falsely claim His resurrection, the Jewish leaders obtained Pilate’s permission to place a seal on the stone and to guard it with soldiers (Matt. 27:62–66).In an infinitely greater way, the Holy Spirit secures each believer, marking him with His own inviolable seal.
2. Authenticity. When King Ahab tried unsuccessfully to get Naboth to sell or trade his vineyard, Queen Jezebel volunteered to get the vineyard her way. “So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal” and sent the letters to various nobles who lived in Naboth’s city, demanding that they arrange false accusations of blasphemy and treason against him. The nobles did as they were instructed, and Naboth was stoned to death because of the false charges. The king then simply confiscated the vineyard he had so strongly coveted (1 Kings 21:6–16). Despite the deceptions contained in the letters Jezebel sent, the letters themselves were authentically from the king, because they were sent with his approval and marked with his seal. The seal was his signature.When God gives us His Holy Spirit, it is as if He stamps us with a seal that reads, “This person belongs to Me and is an authentic citizen of My divine kingdom and member of My divine family.”
3. Ownership. While Jerusalem was under siege by Nebuchadnezzar and Jeremiah was under arrest by King Zedekiah for prophesying against the king and the nation, the Lord gave special instructions to His prophet. Jeremiah was told to buy some land in Anathoth for which he had redemption rights. The contract was agreed on, and the stipulated payment was made in the court of the palace guard before the required number of witnesses. In the presence of the witnesses the deed was signed and sealed, establishing Jeremiah as the new legal owner of the property (Jer. 32:10).When the Holy Spirit seals believers, He marks them as God’s divine possessions, who from that moment on entirely and eternally belong to Him, The Spirit’s seal declares the transaction of salvation as divinely official and final.
4. Authority. Even after Haman had been hanged for his wicked plot to defame and execute Mordecai, Queen Esther was distressed about the decree that Haman had persuaded King Ahasuerus to make that permitted anyone in his kingdom to attack and destroy the Jews. Because the king could not even himself revoke the decree that was marked with his own seal, he issued and sealed another decree that permitted and even encouraged the Jews to arm and defend themselves (Esther 8:8–12). In both cases the absolute authority of the decrees was represented in the king’s seal. Those who possessed the sealed decree of the king had the king’s delegated authority set forth in the decree.
5. When Christians are sealed with the Holy Spirit they are delegated to proclaim, teach, minister, and defend God’s Word and His gospel with the Lord’s own authority.
6. God’s Pledge Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, (1:14a)
a. The Holy Spirit not only guarantees our inheritance in Jesus Christ with His seal but also with His pledge.
b. An arrabōn (pledge) originally referred to a down payment or earnest money given to secure a purchase. Later it came to represent any sort of pledge or earnest. A form of the word even came to be used for engagement ring.
c. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit as the divine pledge of our inheritance, God’s first installment of His guarantee that the fullness of the promised spiritual blessings “in the heavenly places in Christ” (v. 3) will one day be completely fulfilled.
d. They are assured and guaranteed with an absolute certainty that only God could provide. The Holy Spirit is the church’s irrevocable pledge, her divine engagement ring, as it were, that, as Christ’s bride, she will never be neglected or forsaken (cf. 1 Cor. 1:22; 5:5).
7. The Goal of Our Inheritance
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (1:14b)
a. Although our divine inheritance in Christ is a marvelous, awesome, and guaranteed promise to us from the Lord, it is not the primary purpose of our salvation.
b. Our salvation and all of the promises, blessings, and privileges we gain through salvation are first of all bestowed with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
c. The great, overriding purpose of God’s redemption of men is the rescuing of what is His own possession.
d. All creation belongs to God, and in His infinite wisdom, love, and grace He chose to provide redemption for the fallen creatures He had made in His own image—for His own sake even more than for their sakes, because they do not belong to themselves but to Him.
e. As Paul has already twice declared (vv. 6, 12), God’s ultimate goal in redeeming men is the praise of His glory.
f. We are not saved and blessed for our own glory but for God’s (cf. Isa. 43:20–21).
g. When we glorify ourselves we rob God of that which is wholly His. He saved us to serve Him and to praise Him. We are saved to be restored to the intended divine purpose of creation—to bear the image of God and bring Him greater glory.
h. This is fully accomplished at the believer’s glorification, when we receive full glory and redemption and are made the perfect possession of God.
b trusted: or, hoped
b trusted: or, hoped
cf. confer (Lat.), compare
b trusted: or, hoped
b trusted: or, hoped
b trusted: or, hoped