Have you ever seen something so amazing that all you can do is stop, stand, and stare? The mountains of Georgia have done that to me. I’ll never forget the reaction I had when I first saw them. My wife and I parked our car on the side of some road and looked over a canyon and saw a huge waterfall flowing into massive rock formations, and all kinds of trees everywhere. Words fail to do justice to that sight. I remember the greatness of those mountains and how they revealed the reality of how small I am. Now, think about that reaction to the Georgia mountains I had and you will have a taste of the glory that is in Ephesians 1:11-14. In just a few phrases we learn of the Christian’s inheritance, God’s sovereign freedom, and the down payment of the Spirit to name a few sights. I want to focus though on this subject of the Christian’s inheritance (as it seems to be emphasized in the text) while touching on the other subjects as much as I can. So in three posts I want to look at these four verses. First, we’ll look at the design of the Christian’s inheritance in verses 11-12. Next week, the seal of the Christian’s inheritance in verses 13-14. And after that, we’ll see the purpose of the Christian’s inheritance in the text as a whole. So, in summary what we’ll look at is the design, the seal, and the purpose of the Christian’s inheritance.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believing in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
The Design of the Christian’s Inheritance – Now, what do I mean by a design here? I mean a blueprint, or a plan that shows how something will come to be. That’s what we’re looking at – the how of a Christian’s inheritance. I think that many Christian’s know that they have an inheritance in heaven. However, few I’m afraid understand the plan or design that was behind it and the reality of what it will look like. This text has some answers and the first thing we are told is that we have obtained an inheritance in him. Christ is the vital piece for solving this inheritance puzzle. Apart from faith in him, there is no inheritance, whatever it is. It is through Christ that one receives it, and the reason why someone receives it is simply amazing. The reason why you’ve received it is because God freely chose to give it to you! And by the way, that’s the only reason. We see that when Paul says, “having been predestined according to the purpose of him.” It was not our purposes that brought us to salvation, it was God’s. And God doesn’t just save us from our sins, he saves us to himself and to our inheritance. And this all according to the council of his will. And by the way, adds Paul, his council and sovereign will extends not just to your life, but to all things, “who works all things according to the council of his will.” In one sentence, we see that everything in he universe stands or falls according to God’s will. I’m pretty sure all things means all things, so there’s nothing left outside his control. And if you believe God is good (and he is), then there may not be a more comforting thought than the sovereign council of God ruling all things. How is that? Because even if something terribly bad is happening to you, you know it’s in the hands of someone who is totally good, so you think it out and conclude that “all things work together for good to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28). Fear not Christian who is going through the heat of trial, God will work it out for your good.
Now, in continuing to think through the inheritance, we should ask: what is it? The what of the inheritance is knowing God and living in his everlasting kingdom forever. That’s the summary of it. One of my favorite Scriptures on this is Hebrews 11:16, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” The city of God, waiting for you. Can you imagine it? What’s it like? Everything good on this earth must be as dust and ashes compared to the glory and beauty of God’s kingdom. No more sin. No more mourning. No more grief. All your pain, gone. All your sorrow, gone; swallowed up and turned into joy. All your fears, gone. Now is the birth pains, but then is the child. Now is the suffering, but then is the Savior’s face. Everlasting and pure joy await you with God in his kingdom. This is the city of God, and one day the heavens will open, and the new world will come and the King will return in all his glory. All will see the splendor and greatness of King Jesus and how we should long to see him glorified like this. After he is, we will live forever in the true utopia: the city of God. It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. Christian, take heart. With every day that goes by we get closer to this reality. Let this reality sink into your soul and marinade like a steak. And as it does say with our brothers and sisters of old, “I desire a better country…” Your inheritance is so great that it’s nearly impossible to imagine it, but do try, and try with all your might.
Now, the word predestination is a word that cannot be passed over here, just like any other word of the Bible. So, let’s deal with it. It’s often viewed as a word of debate for Christians when it should be a rock of refuge. Why? Because it’s all about love. Yes, love. Often predestination is thought of as an unloving thing, but it’s the complete opposite in the Bible. “In love he predestined us” (Eph. 1:4-5) says the Scriptures. The love of God is the foundation of predestination. But what is predestination? Before anything else existed, God in his freedom decided who he would save, and who he would condemn (Rom. 9). And if your a Christian today, it is because of God, not because of you. He said to you in his planned hour, “Rise, get up and walk.” And what happened? His irresistible grace was manifested to you and you willingly and necessarily believed. The hymn-writers of old captured well the human condition, and God’s predestination moving into action,
Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast-bound in sin and natures night, thine eye diffused a quickening ray, I woke the dungeon flamed with light. My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Now, go listen to that hymn (And Can It Be), and enjoy the reality of your salvation and look forward to the reality of your future inheritance. Let the thought of it marinade in your soul. Don’t stop thinking about it until you taste some of the joy of it. Let the design of your inheritance be a chief delight to you until you acquire possession of it. After all “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17:21). You have the appetizer of it within, and one day the full meal will be given. Soon, it will be fully visible and complete. The great inheritance we have in Jesus Christ who will bring with him the fullness of the new heavens and earth gets closer every day.