Matt Carter speaks on Ephesians 1:11-20.
Series: Raised to Life
I read an article written in 2008. It's a true story about a college kid in Germany named Sergey Sudev. He was a normal college kid working to put himself through college living on around $240 a month. He got a knock on the door by a man in a suit with a briefcase. Sergey let him in to talk. The guy brought him some bad news about his uncle dying. Sergey though this was weird, because he had only met his uncle one time.
The man was a lawyor and informed Sergey his uncle had no heirs. Back when Sergey was a child, he had met his uncle at a family reunion and left such an impression his uncle decided to leave his entire fortune of $975 million dollars to Sergey. Sergey went from having nothing to having almost a billion dollars in the bank.
I don't know what happened to Sergey after that. However, we do know two things from the story. First, be nice to your uncle at family reunions. Second, you have to believe an inheritance like that would change everything. Your life would be radically different.
If you're a follower of Jesus, believing in Christ, His work on the cross and His resurrection to forgive you of your sin, you're going to receive an inheritance one day. The Bible is a little vague about it, but if God promises to give us an inheritance, then we have to believe it will make that $975 million dollars look a little insignificant.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses... Ephesians 1:7 (ESV)
If you believe in Jesus then you have two things, redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of your sins.
8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 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. Ephesians 1:8-11 (ESV)
God saves us from our sin and restores us back to Himself, but He doesn't stop there. He also wants to give us an inheritance. You don't just obtain salvation, but an inheritance also. That ought to excite you, but it should also produce some questions. I want to spend today walking through some of those questions.
It would have been enough for God in His love just to save us. Scripture says we've sinned and fallen short of His glory. Before He saved us we were enemies of God. We ran from Him, but He came in His grace and gave us Jesus. But He didn't just stop there, He also gave us an inheritance, why?
God doesn't just save you from your sins, but He also says He wants to make you His son or daughter. He wants you to be in His family.
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7 (ESV)
Not only does He forgive you, but He also makes you His son or daughter. Not only His son or daughter, but an heir.
You receive an inheritance because you are a son or daughter of the King.
Sripture doesn't stop there. It begins to talk about this idea of us being heirs of God. But what kind of heirs are we?
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ... Romans 8:15-17a (ESV)
You are a fellow heir with Jesus. That means we're not just getting any inheritance. We are co-heirs with Jesus. You're not a second rate heir or a B-Team heir. You're not the red-headed step child heir. If you're in Christ, everything that belongs to Christ is going to be yours one day. Everything Jesus is going to receive as His inheritance at the end of the age, you will receive also.
If that's true, then it begs another question. What is this inheritance going to look like?
We found out we're going to get an inheritance. We found out we are co-heirs with Christ, God has adopted us into His family. But what's the inheritance going to be?
Interestingly, the Bible is unclear about what it will look like. It only gives us clues. I think that's because the English language has a hard time of explaining how unbelievable it will be.
9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV)
Nobody can even begin to imagine what God has prepared for those He loves.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV)
Peter tells us four things about our inheritance:
On earth, anything you receive is going to be perishable, defiled and will fade. Any inheritance you receive here on earth will get old, spent and used up. You can't take it with you when you die.
Our lives are a lot like the game Monopoly. We get the board out, get in the car and go around the board a few times. Along the way we make some money, pay some taxes, try to stay out of jail and acquire some property. The problem is at some point the game ends. It doens't matter what you've acquired during the game, whether you're building motels on Boardwalk or just collecting rent on Baltic Avenue. There's coming a day when the game is going to be over and you have to put everything you got back in the box.
Our life is just like that. You get to go around this thing a few times, but there's coming a day when you're going to die and none of the stuff is going with you. It's all perishable.
Anything we get here on earth is also defiled. Sin is involved with all the stuff we get here on earth.
Have you ever noticed why nothing really truly is able to fully satisfy us? We have the idea that if we could just have this one thing then life will be good and we'll be happy. So we work real hard to obtain it, we get it and it's just life. So we decide there must be something else we need. So we work harder to obtain that thing only to get it and realize it doesn't fulfull the deep needs of your soul either.
The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes that God has placed eternity in the heart of man. Not just in the heart of Christians, but He put it in every man and woman's heart. The reason nothing on earth can truly satisfy us is because non-eternal inheritance cannot satisfy an eternal longing.
Our inheritance on earth will also fade. Anything you acquire will fade.
The other day I was driving down the road and saw a brand new corvette. It looked like the Batmobile. I kinda lusted after it. I could imagine myself driving it. As I was thinking about how beautiful it was, this other Corvette came breezing past me, but it wasn't a brand new one. It was probably a '97. It had one of those convertible rag tops that was ratty looking and had seen better days. The color was an ugly, gross gold. The first thing that went through my mind was that the second wasn't as cool as the first one I saw. The license plate was customized. It said, "OhhhMan". I know the guy who was going through his mid-life crisis back in 1997 and bought that car walked onto the lot and saw that cool rag top and awesome gold color and thought, "Ohhhh Man!" I get it. I thought the same thing when I saw the newer one. But when I saw the older corvette go by, I thought, "Awww man?" Why? Because it fades!
Everything we get fades. Except in heaven.
Scripture promises us the inheritance we're going to get, because we're in Christ, is imperishable. You won't have to put it back in the box. It's undefiled, there is no sin in it. You'll get to enjoy it and it will satisfy the deepest longings of your heart. It's unfading. The day you die and wake up in the arms of Jesus He gives you Himself and you're going to say, "Ohhh man!" Three billion years later it'll still be, "Ohhh man!"
Charles Spurgeon described our inheritance when he was preaching on this same text. He said:
We have obtained an inheritance and the man who can truly say that the Lord is mine has an inheritance which death cannot wither, which space cannot contain, which time cannot limit and which eternity cannot explore.
I can't wait for that!
The greatest clue the Bible gives us about what our inheritance will be like is found just a couple verses later.
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it. Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV)
The word pledge in Greek is arrrabon. It was a very common term in business back in ancient Greece meaning down payment. It was a little piece of the whole price as a promise that you're giving them a piece now, but you will come back and pay it in full later. The Bible is saying the Holy Spirit is the arrabon, the down payment of your inheritance. God is giving us the Holy Spirit now, but He'll come back later to take us home and give us all of Him forever.
We get a little taste of what this inheritance is going to be and feel like through the Holy Spirit. Some of the most amazing moments in my life have been when I'm aware of the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. My salvation, the day I believed. The day I surrendered to preach. The times I've been in the closet, praying and talking to God. Nothing gets close to how the presence of God in my life feels. I've never felt more at peace, or at home, or have more joy than in the moments when I know I'm experiencing God's presence. Nothing, not money, sex, good food, Christmas morning or vacation. None of it gets close to what it feels like to experience the presence of the Lord.
We get a little taste through the Holy Spirit now, but God promises there's coming a day when we will get to experience the fullness of His presence forever.
I don't know what our inheritance is going to be like, but I know Paul says that no eye has seen, no ear has heard and the heart of man has not imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.
I want to end today with looking at one more verse where Paul drops a bomb on us. It's one of the greatest verses in the whole Bible. He's talking about an inheritance, but no longer ours.
18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:18 (ESV)
Through the entire first chapter, Paul is talking about our inheritance. Then all of a sudden he stops and prays that we would know the riches of the glory of His inheritance. He doesn't say the glorious riches of our inheritance, but rather God's inheritance. Who are the saints? We are.
We are God's inheritance.
God has everything in heaven, but one thing. He already has the imperishable, undefiled, and unfading glory of heaven. He has the Trinity, Himself, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The only thing God has to look forward to in heaven that He doesn't already have is you.
God wants you. He wants to spend eternity with you.
I know you're thinking how can that be? You're thinking of all you've done. You're struggling with the idea that God even loves you, much less that He would make you His son, a co-heir with Jesus and give you an inheritance.
I don't care what you're in, what sin you're involved with or how unworthy you feel. That is why Jesus died on the cross, to pay for all that stuff. That is why He rose from the grave. That is why God looks at you and says, "I want you to be my inheritance!"
If you will trust in Jesus today as your Lord and Savior, you will be saved, you will be a son or daughter, you will be an heir with Christ, and you will receive an inheritance. Not only that, but you're going to be God's inheritance, spending eternity with Him.
He will be yours and you will be His.