Hebrews 1: 1-4
Psalm 2: 7-9
Romans 8: 16, 17
Ephesians 1: 10-14
Hebrews 11: 8-10
I desire to speak about heirs and what is inherited; the inheritance. The scriptures speak a good deal of inheritance and of those who inherit. And it is indeed a subject with which all of us are quite familiar. Generally, an inheritance is obtained upon the death of somebody, and in man’s eyes the greatness of the inheritance may be an index of the social standing of a person. Certainly it indicates something of the disposition of the one who bequeathed that inheritance. Normally the inheritance goes to a son; it may go to the firstborn son. That is a thought that we find in scripture, is it not, that the inheritance really belongs to the son? You remember that Abraham was in deep exercise before God. He says, “I have no son, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus”, Gen 15: 2. Think of poor Abraham, all that he had acquired; the massive riches that he had acquired, the wealth and greatness of his possessions; and he says to God, 'I have no son, no one to whom I can leave all this. It is going to go to a Syrian', “the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus”. God had an answer to that, and God’s answer came on the line of promise. It did not come through the working out of natural reasoning, it came on the line of promise. God had one Man before Him. God had one Man before Him right from the outset.
We read here in Hebrews about One by whom God made the worlds, the very creation - the worlds. I take it that that embraces the whole physical creation; and in making the worlds, God had in mind to create a place where He could set men with a testimony to His glory, and present Christ to them, present His own Son. And so we have in this scripture here the greatness of Christ. “God having spoken in many parts and in many ways formerly to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days has spoken to us in the person of the Son”. Think of the speaking of the Son! He came into the creation that He had made - “whom he has established heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds”. You see the skill of the Holy Spirit in presenting to the writer here the glories of Jesus. It is manifest that He could not be referred to as Heir other than as Man, because God could not inherit anything, for He is the source of everything; and yet, “by whom also he made the worlds” - you see the greatness and the skill of the Holy Spirit here: the One who made the worlds came into them as a Man. Oh, what majesty there is in that, beloved! Think of it! Think of the greatness of the incoming of Jesus, coming into this scene, this scene that He had created. It is almost as if you can think of a divine Person rising up and going forward and coming into this very scene.
Forth from the regions of light unapproachable,
Leaving the heights that no mortal can ken.
Emptying Himself for the pathway of service,
Jesus is found in the likeness of men.
G H Stuart Price (1941)
What greatness, that there was One who could dwell in that light unapproachable, His own sphere, and in glorious majesty He could come forth, leaving those heights that no mortal can ken, come into this world and be seen here and known here, and be acknowledged by some as the Son. It brings out the greatness of His Person, the Son, known in manhood. He has spoken to us in the Person of the Son; the Man who was here was none other than Himself. The Son, “whom He has established heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds”. The One who created the worlds, the earth and the heavens and everything that we can take account of; He created it all. He made all things, yet He is the Heir of all things. As Man He inherits everything that, as God, He created - He inherits it all as Man. Think of the greatness of One such as that! God has established Him in that way. You might say that God has issued a decree ‘This is my heir, this is my Son’; He inherits all things. “By him were created all things, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth … whether thrones or lordships or principalities or authorities” (Col 1: 16), all things have their being through Him. That is the greatness of His divine Person, and as a Man He inherits it all. What an object! an object for our affections to take account of. We could not take account of Him in such a way had He remained in deity - all would have been simply unapproachable. He has come into manhood. He has been made known as Son and, as having come into manhood, He is Heir of all things. He relinquished nothing by coming into manhood, though for a time He laid His glory by, yet, absolutely, He relinquished nothing. We often quote those words of Mr William Johnson, 'He never ceased to be what He was, by reason of what He became, but He was perfect in what He became’ - how great! How great such a One is! He never ceased to be what He was but He “emptied Himself”, Phil 2: 7. You remember that we get that beautiful picture in John 13. Jesus rises from supper and lays aside His garments; and there, beloved, He served His own by washing their feet. What a picture that is of the One who came down, 'leaving those heights that no mortal can ken, emptying Himself for the pathway of service - Jesus was found in the likeness of men'. I have been affected by those words. They were written by a young brother, one who served Him, at 29 years old. Think of what an impression he had of One who came forth from that light unapproachable, here to serve men; but the greatness of that One remains.
There are three chapters in the Bible that we often refer to that bring out the greatness of the Lord Jesus: John 1, Colossians 1 and Hebrews 1. In John 1, we find an only begotten in the bosom of the Father; in Colossians 1, we find the One who was the firstborn; and in Hebrews, we find that He is the Heir. Think of the greatness of One to whom God could commit all things! He is the Heir of all things. Now, that is going to be seen in the coming day. I read in Psalm 2 where the psalmist speaks of what God has done, “I will declare the decree: Jehovah hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; I this day have begotten thee.” How great that was, the greatness of the incarnation! “Ask of me,” he says, “and I will give thee nations for an inheritance”. That will be seen in a day to come when His power will be manifested, when the church has gone to be with Christ, and the terrible times come upon the earth and a godly remnant of Israel will come to light, and they will acknowledge the wrong, the wickedness of what they did in rejecting their King. They will look for His return, and they will take account of Him with broken hearts, there with the marks of His wounds. They will look for His coming but God says, “Ask of me, and I will give thee nations for an inheritance”. The influence of Jesus will spread across the whole earth, the whole world will be full of His glory; Isaiah anticipates that, the earth will be full of His glory, Isa 6: 3. How wonderful that is! What a contrast to the poor world we live in, a day when the whole earth will be full of His glory; and that glory will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea, Hab 2: 14. It will be His glory, His glory will shine out over His inheritance. God says “Ask of me, and I will give thee nations as an inheritance” - why? Because He is morally equal for it and it is right that it should be His. What a glory will be seen in that day. I believe, beloved, something of that is to be anticipated today. I believe that it is to be known even today. We take account of one another, and I suppose most of us have come from what the scriptures refer to as the nations, those who had no claim upon God, no relationship with Him. The gospel has gone out where the Gentiles were and hearts have been subdued and souls have received the Lord Jesus. You might say He has an inheritance among the nations today? He has it in His assembly. Is that not a wonderful thing to take account of, that there are hearts that make way for Him? There are hearts which are bound to Him, that acknowledge His greatness, acknowledge His own rights. Is every heart here amongst those? Are your heart and mine among those who not only accept Him as a Saviour but bow to Him? I am sure everyone here knows what it is to have to do to Him because of our sins. If any one has not, I urge you, dear friend, you have got no time to lose. You have to do with Him, and I say this, that every soul will do with Him, and it is better to do with Him now as a Saviour. But has your heart bowed to Him, has it owned that He has a right over you? He has an undisputed right over your life and over everything that you do. Christ has a right over you. If He is your Saviour He has a special right. He has a right because He is your Creator, but He has a special right because He is your Redeemer, and, beloved, what a blessing there is in bowing the knee to Jesus and owning Him as Lord and seeking to be here for Him. It is part of His inheritance, it is what He has secured. You might say, can we really speak about it as an inheritance for Jesus? Now, indeed we can! In fact the scripture even speaks about God’s inheritance, and God’s inheritance, the scripture tells us in Ephesians, is in the saints. It is in the saints, it is what God has secured, chap 1: 18.
I have been speaking about the Lord Jesus, and we love to speak about Jesus, but in Romans the apostle is speaking about what we have. For everyone who believes, and has their faith in Jesus, and owns Him as Lord, and has received the gift of the Holy Spirit - without which we can never be found pleasing to Him - there is a testimony and a witness. “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God.” Peter tells us that we have been born again, 1 Pet 1: 23. That is different from being born anew in John 3, but we have been born by the living and abiding word of God. That is, that through God's word, and your acceptance of His word, and your embracing through faith that His word is true and right, and your having bowed to it, there is something in your soul which God can identify as entirely of Himself. It was a great day for me when I realised that there is something in the soul which is entirely of God. It can never be damaged, it can never be broken down, and God is entitled to look at you as if that precious work was all that there is of you. God is entitled to look at you in that way. How wonderful! The Holy Spirit links on with that and He bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. It is because of this great work that has gone on in the soul, which we may not understand when it first takes place, that the Spirit is bearing witness with us that we belong to a family, and it is the family of God. Now that is not a very small company; who can say how many the children of God are? The coming day will declare it, there are myriads of them. The Spirit bears witness with us through it that we are children of God. Then the apostle goes on, he says, “if children” - it is not just having a part in the family, you see. You think of families and you think of our relations together, how you get on and all that sort of thing, but there is more to it. God has more in mind: if children, heirs also. In other words, you have been brought into this family and you are going to inherit something. You have something to inherit. You might say, ‘how is that coming’, it is “heirs of God”. All the blessing that is in the heart of God! He goes on, ”and Christ’s joint heirs”. Now that is what I would like you to take away - Christ’s joint heirs. Everything that the Lord Jesus inherits in heavenly glory, in heavenly blessing, is yours as well. You might say ‘but it is His! and He has inherited it, He has inherited it on the basis of worth,’ Yes, but it is yours - Christ’s joint heirs. Is that not a blessed thing to take account of? All that Christ enjoys, all that He has in the presence of God, the Father’s love, the Fathers heart, His links with the Father, all that He has (and all that He has is what speaks to Himself), that is all for you, it is all for me. Is that not blessed? Christ’s joint heirs. So there is the One who inherits everything; He is the Heir of all things; that is, all things are committed to Him, the greatness of that blessed One, but He is now in glory in the Father’s presence and we are joint heirs with Christ. Joint heirs - that is our inheritance! There is nothing small about our inheritance, nothing diminished, nothing reduced, Christ’s joint heirs. Well, you say, ‘Where do you see it?’. The apostle goes on and he just mentions “if indeed we suffer with him”, that is the character of the day in which we are - “that we may also be glorified with him. For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed to us” v 17, 18. You say, ‘Well, in that case, is my inheritance something which is a long way off?’ Well, physically it might be, if you had a relative in Australia who left you large estates, it would do you no good at all unless you could go out there and see them, or administer them, or at least get some income from them. But the believer can enjoy his inheritance before he actually enters into it in finality.
In Ephesians we have a reference to the “Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance”. Now the ‘earnest’ is an interesting word. It is not a word that we often use in everyday life - “the earnest of our inheritance”. What the earnest means is not just that it is a reminder of our inheritance, not at all, the earnest is really part of the actual thing for our enjoyment. Some of us had a word on Tuesday night and a brother made a reference to the heavenly spies who went into the land. You will remember Moses sent in those spies and they came out laden with goods from the land, pomegranates and all manner of fruits and that great bunch of grapes as well, Num 13: 23. They came out laden with goods from the land - that is like the earnest. They might have said ‘Look, this is the land, this is the product of it, this is it. If you go into the land this is what you will see, this is what you will enjoy, this is what will sustain you’. How much greater the Holy Spirit of promise who is the earnest of our inheritance, a divine Person Himself. I think you might say that the earnest is equal to the inheritance because our inheritance is the enjoyment of God Himself and our enjoyment of Christ in blessed and holy relationships.
Well, those two spies went into the land and it says in Numbers that they came to the city Hebron, Num 13: 22. The inheritance that you have is something which was in the heart of God before time was. You see, those men, and I take it all ten of them had come out of Egypt - that land which, even in their day, was noted for its antiquities. Mr Evershed used to tell us that when Abraham went down to Egypt the pyramids would have been very old, even in his day. Egypt was noted for its antiquities, yet when they went into the land they found that there was something older than Egypt, that went back before Egypt. Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt. Before the world was, before the foundation of the world, there was something that existed in the purpose of God. That is why we say Hebron speaks to us of God’s purpose. It was founded before the world system. You know, one of those spies remembered Hebron - Caleb, forty-five years later, when they went into that land. They fought for it and then eventually, as if he could not wait any longer, Caleb went to Joshua and he said “I am this day eighty-five years old….. give me this mountain”, Josh 14: 10, 12. He said, ‘This is what my heart is set on, it is the purpose of God’. And Joshua gave him Hebron. He had seen that city, he knew that there was something that was far more stable than the whole world system, he knew that there was something that was established before anything of man existed and he said, ‘That is where I want to live’. It is like a believer saying, ‘I want to enjoy the purpose of God’ and you know, the inheritance is what was in God’s heart before time was, that is what it says here. It speaks about the Lord Jesus and the place He will be given, God will “head up all things in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things upon earth; in him, in whom we have also obtained an inheritance, being marked out beforehand” - beforehand - when was that? Before when? Before the foundation of the world. (The footnote to verse 5 will help you.) It was in God’s heart, it was the purpose of God. Your eternal portion is something that was in God’s heart before the foundation of the world. It is not an answer to the incoming of sin, it is not an answer to man’s failure, it is what was in God’s heart before the foundation of the world. Rest upon it, rest your soul upon that, that you have that which God had purposed before the foundation of the world, and you think of God’s purpose to bring it to pass. It involved all His ways in grace. This section here is so full, but it just touches on certain things and it speaks about the Lord Jesus as the One “in whom we have redemption through His blood”, verse 7. Think of it, that it should involve that, that the inheritance should be yours, that God should give up His own Son. He delivered Him up for us all, in order that we should gain our inheritance and in order that His purpose in relation to your inheritance and mine should be established. What a God we have to do with! How much it should make us desire then to enter into that inheritance, how much it should stimulate our affections, that we have this that was established before the world was, and the way to enter into it now is the Holy Spirit of promise who is the earnest of our inheritance. We need the Holy Spirit to enter in.
In Hebrews 11 we have something else, we have faith. You need to lay hold of it in faith. Abraham was called to go out and he went out. He was a great man in that city, a great city indeed. I believe it was a seat of learning and Abraham, as secular history tells us, had quite a prominent place in it. A great man indeed, and he had a word to go out and he obeyed God. He had faith, faith in God. Think of that! God’s word can be taken without any discussion, without any argument. God’s word can be taken and accepted. That is what faith does.
I work opposite a man who told me that he will not believe. I have heard this from others as well, he will not believe anything that cannot be proved. And when I said, ‘So you do not believe that your wife loves you?’ he said, ‘Well, I do not know’. There are things we accept, but it is not just accepting things, but faith is acknowledging God’s word, that it comes from God, without any questioning, and acting on it because it is God’s word. That is what Abraham did. God said to him, ‘Go out’ from this place and leave your father’s house' (Gen 12: 1) and he went out. “By faith Abraham, being called, obeyed to go out into the place which he was to receive for an inheritance, and went out, not knowing where he was going.” Abraham owned very little of this earth. He bought a field to bury his dead, Gen 23. I think that was the only ground that he owned. He speaks to us of a man of faith, a man who walked here by faith knowing that this world was not for Him; He had another world. You say, ‘How could Abraham have had a life like that?’ “He waited for the city which has foundations of which God is the artificer and constructor.” Abraham had seen many cities; he had seen the cities of Mesopotamia, he had seen the cities of the Philistines, he had seen the cities of Egypt and he had seen the danger that lay in all these cities - he was waiting for another city. What was the city that Abraham was waiting for? We get a description of that city, a detailed description of the city Abraham was waiting for in Revelation 21 and 22. You see that city which has foundations of which God is the artificer and constructor in all its glory. Abraham will have a place in that city; he will have a place there. You say ‘I thought the heavenly city was the assembly?’ Yes, but every heavenly family will have a place there. What a blessed sight we see in that chapter. “Her shining was like a most precious stone, as a crystal like jasper stone” Rev. 21: 11. The glory is there, shining out of that city. Why? Because it is God’s handiwork. God is the artificer and constructor. I suppose the artificer reminds us of the skill that has gone into every bit of divine handiwork, every bit of divine workmanship. What skill has gone into that; and God is the constructor. Think of the greatness of what that city is. We have measurements in Revelation. We cannot take them literally; it is symbolic. If you were to take the measurements literally, you would see that the walls of the city were a thousand miles in each direction. Of course the whole thing is symbolic, because what God has constructed, in that sense, cannot be measured by man’s standard. It cannot be measured according to men’s measures. It speaks of a man’s measure in relation to the city; that is one blessed Man, His measure. The city is to be the expression of Christ Himself. Abraham was looking for this inheritance; he went out and all that time he walked in faith. Now faith is a wonderful thing. Without it, it is impossible to please God, verse 6. You cannot please God without it. That was the great problem in the wilderness for the children of Israel: when they heard the report of the land, they did not receive the word with faith. They heard about the enemies, and the great cities, and the fortifications and all that, and they said ‘Oh no, we do not want it!’ and God was angry with that and He said ‘not one of those people who have rejected my testimony will go into that land, not one of them will go into that inheritance', Num 14: 22, 23. Two men went in who did not reject it. Without faith it is impossible to please God. But faith is not just a once only thing. We say ‘Yes, I have faith in the Lord Jesus, and I have faith in His work, and I have faith in His precious blood’; that is wonderful, but these people in this chapter here, they walked by faith. It is a principle for every day, to walk by faith, and the more we walk by faith, I believe, the more we will see the things of earth loosing their grip and the more attractive our heavenly inheritance will be to us. What does that mean, ‘to walk by faith’? It is really acknowledging your place before God, acknowledging that you cannot walk here without Him, without His word, without His guidance, without His company. You need to walk by faith and these people here in this chapter walked by faith.
Now another thing they had was company of one another. “By faith he sojourned as a stranger in the land of promise as a foreign country, having dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise”. Our inheritance is never intended to be entered alone. We were never meant to have a glorious future and something that we could enjoy, alone; “the heirs with him of the same promise”. When the apostle Paul left the elders of Ephesus he said “Now I commit you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all the sanctified”, Acts 20: 32. The sanctified - that is the saints, the sanctified ones, those who have been set apart - the inheritance is among the sanctified. I think that our greatest enjoyment of eternal blessing is when we are among the sanctified, among those who have been secured. You come together, you receive impressions from one and another, it is something that is being built in to your constitution enabling you to enjoy what God has prepared. God has prepared His own inheritance, prepared it for those that love Him. But whenever you meet a believer and you speak to them, you get something, do you not? There is an inheritance among the sanctified, and here we see this great man, Abraham, the father of those who had faith. He was dwelling with those who were the heirs with him of the same promise. We are not only joint heirs with Christ, we are joint heirs with one another. We will enjoy eternal things together, we know that. It is our blessing to be able to enjoy eternal things together now. It is not a hardship, it is a blessing to enjoy eternal things in the company of the saints. What a blessing it is and God in His goodness has put us in circumstances where that can be known. There are those who are alone, there are those who do not have such a blessing but it is part of our inheritance. I look around this room and I am heartened to see faces of many who will form that great company with whom we will share eternal joy. Beloved, this is our portion now.
Well, I realise that there is a lot more that could be said but I had this impression - the heirs and the inheritance. Christ is established Heir of all things. Nothing can change that can it? The glory and greatness of that blessed One, He is the Heir of all things. In the fulness of time He will wind up everything, dispose of everything according to the will of God; how wonderful that will be. As saints we are brought into that wonderful privilege of being joint heirs with Christ; Christ’s joint heirs and all that that involves. What was established in purpose, what is entered into through the Holy Spirit now and enjoyed through faith, is our blessed portion, beloved. May we enter into it more for His Name’s sake.
8th September 2007