The Believer's Inheritance (Eph. 1:11-14)
· Please open with me once again to Ephesians 1. We come this morning to the final verses in Paul’s opening prologue. His extended prayer of praise to God and list of the believer’s blessings.
· Salvation can be expressed as an event that is past, that is present, and that is future. In one sense, salvation is a past event. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith… There is a finality to what Christ accomplished on the cross, and has credited to us. Yet in another sense, salvation is a present process. 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is [the power of God] to us who are being saved. However, there is also a very real sense in which we are still awaiting for our salvation. Hebrews 9:28 so Christ…will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
· We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. How can all three be true? Let me try to explain by way of analogy. Imagine you are a passenger on the Titanic, one of the 700 who were fortunate enough to survive and be rescued. Suppose you are floating along in a lifeboat, waiting to make it back to shore. At that moment, you have already been saved, escaping the flames of the sinking ship. You are also currently being saved as you drift along in a small vessel that is your only hope of survival. Yet you are also waiting for the full reality of your rescue when you arrive safely back to shore and embrace your loved ones. It is this third sense of our salvation, our future redemption and “inheritance” that we want to consider today.
· Read Eph. 1:11-14
· A key word here is “inheritance.” Mentioned 2x (v. 11 and again v. 14). What is it? Simply put, it is eternal life. But even this is vague. I like to be a bit more specific and say it includes our resurrection from the dead and a role in Christ’s future kingdom.
· THREE ELEMENTS OF OUR INHERITENCE…
It is decreed by God (11)
It is decreed by God (11)
· Earlier in this chapter we learned about the mighty hand of God in salvation. He chose to save us not because of anything we had done, or ever would do, but simply out of his own sovereign grace. We were predestined for adoption, meaning this transaction had already been “decided ahead of time” according to the purpose of his will (5). And now, as we turn to the subject of inheritance, we should not be surprised that this too, is by God’s own good and sovereign choice.
· Notice the language– we are “predestined.” Just as our adoption was predestined, so was our inheritance. Paul goes on to use three words to describe God’s pre-determined plan.
· According to the purpose (11) – Gk prothesis. A plan, a setting forth. In Rom. 9:11, he speaks of “God’s purpose of election.” Nothing in God’s economy happens by chance or by accident. Everything has a purpose.
· According to the counsel (11) – Gk boule. A definite, well-thought out plan. In Ac. 4, the believers lift their voices together to God in praise that Jesus had died and risen again. Even though King Herod and Pontius Pilate, the Jews and the Gentiles had all been complicit, ultimately, God himself has set the plan in motion. “Sovereign Lord, who made heaven and earth…[you have done] whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” In the same way, our inheritance is part of God’s sovereign plan. Nothing can thwart it.
· Spurgeon: “God is so far sovereign that he has a right, if he likes, to save anyone in this chapel, or to crush all who are here. He has a right to take us all to heaven if he pleases, or to destroy us. He has a right to do just as he pleases with us. We are as much in his hands as prisoners are in the hands of Her Majesty when they are condemned for a capital offence against the law of the land; yea, as much as clay in the hands of the potter. This is what he asserted when he said, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” This doctrine stirs up your carnal pride, does it not? Men want to be somebody. They do not like to lie down before God, and have it preached to them that God can do just as he wills with them. Ah! you may hate this doctrine, but it is what the Scripture tells us. Surely it is self-evident that God may do as he will with his own.”…Elsewhere, he wrote, “There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than the doctrine of divine sovereignty.”
· Of his will (11) – The most common word of the three. What one wishes or desires to happen. Speaking of man, it can be fickle or mistaken (2 Pet. 1:21), but when speaking of God, this will is perfect, and it will be accomplished. An apostle by the will of God (1:1). Eph. 5:17 it is our duty “to understand what the will of the Lord is.”
· How much does God work out according to the counsel of his will (11)? All things. What about your health? All things. What about the election? All things. Young people, what about your career, and your future spouse? All things. He works all things according to the counsel of his will. And this includes our eternal inheritance.
· Our inheritance is purchased and secured by none other than God himself. It is as sure as the rising of the sun tomorrow. It is more secure than the gold held in fort Knox.
· 1 Peter 1:4–5 to 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.
· >>But how does this inheritance become ours?…
It is obtained by faith (12-13)
It is obtained by faith (12-13)
· Notice that the same Apostle who speaks so highly of the sovereignty of God also teaches that salvation only becomes ours through faith to the gospel. God is sovereign, but man is responsible. God is the agent of salvation, but he has chosen to use faith as the means.
· In verses 12-13, Paul refers to two categories of believers. In v. 12 he speaks of “we who were first to hope in Christ.” Apparently, he belongs in this first category. Then he speaks of “you also believed in him” (v. 13), referring to his readers in Ephesus. The “first to hope in Christ” probably refers to the Jews, while the “you also who believed” is referring to the Gentiles. After all, the gospel did come first to the Jews. Only later was it expanded to include the Gentiles.
· Here he is echoing what he wrote in Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
· [Maybe save for later] 2020 has been a tough year for many reasons, not the least of which have been several very high profile altercations between African Americans and law enforcement. I’m not here today to take sides and say what should have been done in each situation. But we can all agree racial tension has risen to a level not seen in America since probably the early 70s. It should concern all of us. At its root is a clash of worldviews. On one extreme is a very dangerous Marxist ideology that is attempting to deconstruct our culture and erase the virtues and blessings of our past. At the other extreme is a denial that racial disparity exists at all, as if there is no room for improvement. Most people fall somewhere in the middle, but aren’t sure what to do. Let’s begin by admitting these are complicated issues, that harm has been done on both sides, and that Christians are in a unique position to talk about justice – not mere social justice, but biblical justice. It is also helpful to put our contemporary problems into a historical perspective. We are not the first ones to deal with racial tensions in society and even in the church. This was one of the most common issues in the early church. Paul is going to deal with the issue much more in this letter to the Ephesians, as he speaks of a gospel and a Savior who is able to “break down the dividing wall of hostility” (2:14) between both sides. Here, he simply introduces the concept, saying that whether you are a Jewish Christian or a Gentile Christian, you equally share in an eternal inheritance. And he will say in Eph. 3:6 … the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.]
· And how is that inheritance received? In both cases, it is not received by ancestry, or wealth, or even by good works. It is received by faith. Romans 1:16 the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
· What a wonderful promise! To everyone who believes. It doesn’t matter if you’re Jew or Gentile. It doesn’t matter if you’re slave or free. It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black. No matter who you are, there is one way into heaven, and that is faith in Christ.
· R.C. Sproul explains there are three layers to faith: “knowledge, agreement, and trust. First is knowledge or acquaintance with the content of the gospel. That is to say we must first know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a personal act directed towards propositional truth that speaks to us concerning a personal Savior. Then second, it is agreement or recognition that the gospel is true. So, not only must I know the truth, but secondly, I must agree that this is the truth; and there is assent and consent in my heart. There is a persuasion that this is true. Third, faith is trust, the essential step of committing the self to God. So, it must go beyond the mind and beyond the emotions. It must go all the way to affect the will, where there is a decisive decision and choice that is made whereby I commit my life and surrender my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. And I place my life in His saving hands, and I trust Him and Him alone to save me from my sins and to justify me before the Father in heaven”
· I wonder, have you trusted in Christ today? We have spoken of an inheritance. I want that to be yours! But the Bible teaches it only belongs to those who trust in Jesus Christ as their savior and Lord. Paul lists himself among the Jews who “were the first to hope in Christ.” It’s nice sometimes to be at the front of the line. But frankly it doesn’t matter if you’re at the front or at the back of the line. The most important thing is, are you in the line at all, and do you have a ticket to get in? Strive to enter through the narrow door. Repent of your sins, and trust in Jesus as your savior today. For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
· >>When you have done that, Paul says a wonderful thing will happen…
It is sealed by the Spirit (14)
It is sealed by the Spirit (14)
· A “seal” was a sign of ownership and authenticity. A letter for example may be sealed with a drop of hot wax and then a stamp to from its sender.
· When Jesus ascended into heaven, he instructed his disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father, when the comforter would be sent. Ten days later, on Pentecost, the discipes were all together in one place, worshipping when the Holy Spirit arrived in the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and he has remained with us ever since. He is with us here even today. And he is the seal of our redemption.
· V. 14 also says he is the “guarantee of our inheritance.” A down payment. Harold Hoehner says (BKC), there is “A little bit of heaven in believer’s lives with a guarantee of much more yet to come.” Cf. 2 Cor. 1.
· Oh how much God has already given us! New birth and new life. Comfort and strength. Spiritual gifts. Virtues like love, joy, peace and patience. The illumination and ability to understand Scripture. The miraculous bond of unity. Constant assurance that we are adopted and loved by God. All of this available through the Holy Spirit. And yet God says there is much more yet to come.
· A lot of people call Dave Ramsey asking for financial advice on how to get out of debt. But one person called with the opposite problem. “I will be inheriting $2 million dollars soon.” Ramsay said this is what he did with his kids, and what he encouraged the caller to do. Sit your kids down and explain to them that they are about to receive a large amount of money. We want you to feel the weight of responsibility of how much you are going to receive, and how you are going to manage it for God.
· You too have an inheritance waiting for you that cannot be touched by any illness or any recession, not even by the devil himself. You have eternal life, and a prominent role in Christ’s kingdom. When Jesus returns to fulfill all the promises he made to Abraham and David long ago, you and I will be given the privilege of ruling with him.
· Matthew 5:5 says“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
· Matthew 8:11 says I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,
· Jesus speaks of this day in Matthew 25:34–35 when the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…,
· This kingdom is decreed by God, it is obtained by faith, and it is sealed by the Spirit. Let us put our hope in Christ and be faithful in the little things now, so that he will entrust us with even more at his promised return.