The concept of “inheritance” has been fought over by people for not just centuries, but for millennia. We need only look to the Scriptures to be reminded of Jacob and Esau and all of the bitterness that their conflict engendered. And there is the story of the prodigal son who squandered his inheritance before coming home to the father and his own very bitter brother.
I’ve seen this is my own extended family system. Adding an adopted child was not welcomed 100% by all related parties, because the future inheritance was presumably then going to be watered down with a smaller fraction going to the earlier and older heirs.
A problem also with an estate inheritance is that it can be very unsure. Though it may appear that an estate is going to be quite large, many unforeseen factors could enter into it evaporating before any heirs may receive benefits. Earthly estates are fully subject to the corruption and disintegration of the material world.
But corrosive insecurities and uncertainties do not exist in the spiritual world. Those who know Christ are repeatedly spoken of in Scripture as heirs of an inheritance that cannot fade away or be dissolved. We could really point to nothing in the Word that is more absolute than the promises of eternal rewards and blessings to be inherited by those who are of God’s family.
One of these passages is in Ephesians 1:11-14. To understand this passage more clearly, let me give you one pointer as you read through it. Verses 11 and 12 use the pronoun “we,” but then it changes to “you” in verses 13 and 14. Here’s the way to see this: Paul is talking in the first two of these verses about “we” who are Jews – the first of those in the early church to become followers of Christ. And then in these final two verses the “you” is directed toward the larger number of Gentiles who came along later and found salvation in Jesus…
Ephesians 1:11 – In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
The “predestined” in verse 11 is not the same word as was used of the “chosen” or the “elect” in the beginning of Paul’s letter. This word has more to do with the casting of a lot, looking back to God’s divine will in picking out Abraham and his family among all the families of the earth. It was their lot that God would work through them to accomplish his great plan of redemption.
And then, later, Gentiles trusted in this same message and thereby became included in the plan of God just as were the earliest Jewish disciples. Now becoming a part of this spiritual family, they too were in line to receive the inheritance of eternal life and blessing that came with this faith.
The certainty of this was certified by the “seal” of the Holy Spirit. The concept here includes words like: authentication, certification, identification of ownership, security stamp of acceptance and belonging. There is nothing that can take this away. The Holy Spirit is like a deposit – and not one that can or will be returned. It is rather a first, down-payment of more that will come. Our experience of the indwelling Spirit is a taste of what more is to come ultimately in eternity. So it is like a first piece of heaven that we can know even while here in the material world.
This is a wonderful truth that informs everything about our perspectives on life in the material world. We’ll have disappointments, but there is a certain reward that is yet to come and that is literally out of this world. It cannot be squandered by crazy relatives or assigned to someone else. Our identity as an heir of God, through Christ, is absolutely certain.