An inheritance is something sons and daughters receive when a parent dies. Throughout the New Testament, this language of inheritance is used to describe what has been made available to believers in Jesus because of His death and resurrection. Sometimes it has been taught that this inheritance is something believers get in eternity when we die, but that is only partially true. What is different about this inheritance is that, because Jesus already began to usher in the Kingdom of God and continues to do so through those who belong to Him, much of the inheritance is available to us before we die. It is available now!
Paul starts his letter to the Ephesians trying to explain this to them. He writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). In other words, as believers our inheritance in Christ is already in the heavenly realms collecting interest. It is already ours because of Christ.
Some of this inheritance is already being poured out to us. Paul lists some of the pieces of the inheritance that are ours now: “adoption to sonship,” “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace,” “the mystery of his will ….which he purposed in Christ,” being “included in Christ” (Ephesians 1:5,7,9,13).
All of these things are part of the inheritance, but maybe the best part of the inheritance that we get to experience now is this: “you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession”(Ephesians 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit is a foretaste, a deposit, of the full inheritance that is awaiting us in eternity.
Paul isn’t done listing all the pieces of our inheritance that we get to experience now. So much of the letter to the Ephesians is Paul helping the Christians there understand all that is rightfully theirs as sons and daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords. If we don’t understand how our inheritance works and its significance in our life right now, we’ll never step into all that is available to us in Christ. We’ve been given so much more than salvation. That certainly would have been enough! But our gracious Father has given us so much more!
And we’ve been given so much more so that we could give it away. Jesus told His disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give”(Matthew 10:8). If we don’t know all that we’ve been given in Christ, we’ll never be able to give it away to the world!