Are you an heir of God?

Will you receive “an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith”? (Acts 26:18).

An heir is someone who is entitled to a legacy because of a family relationship or a testament. Although an inheritance is a gift, a testament can require that certain conditions be met.

Some people imagine how grand it would be to inherit a fortune from some unknown, wealthy relative.

As they dream, they fail to realize that their heavenly Father has willed them a fortune worth more than all the world. “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5).

This inheritance is received in the resurrection. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed -- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:50-52). This inheritance is an eternal kingdom where death will be no more.

There are conditions. They who live according to the flesh will not inherit the kingdom. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Only by the power of God and with the help of His Son, Jesus Christ, can we be restored to a close family relationship with the Father. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “Your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2).

Christ bore the punishment for our sins so we could be reconciled with the Father and receive the inheritance: “He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15). The New Testament grants the inheritance and states the conditions.

Christ told Paul to preach to the nations: “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:17, 18).

Only by faith in Christ can one become a child of God. Believers must be baptized into Christ to receive the inheritance. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).

God saves us by grace through a rebirth at baptism. “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

We are reborn to an inheritance in heaven: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3, 4).

Through Christ we are freed from bondage to sin so we can be adopted into the family of God. “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!' Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:1-7).

To receive the inheritance, we must be led by the Spirit: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:14-17).

God leads us through His word: “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

To inherit eternal life we must love God: “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?'

So he answered and said, '“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.”' And He said to him, 'You have answered rightly; do this and you will live'“ (Luke 10:25-28).

Keeping commandments is not enough. To inherit eternal life we must take up the cross and follow Christ: “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, 'Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?' So Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not bear false witness,” “Do not defraud,” “Honor your father and your mother.”' And he answered and said to Him, 'Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.' Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, 'One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me'“ (Mark 10:17-21 // Luke 18:18-22).

Jesus promises blessings and eternal life to those who put Him first in their lives: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).

To inherit the kingdom we must do good: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me'“ (Matthew 25:34-40).

This inheritance is in Christ: “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-14). The Holy Spirit is a seal, a guarantee of our inheritance.

As we grow in the knowledge of Christ, we better understand how great this inheritance is. Paul prayed that the Ephesians would “know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).

The New Testament explains how you can be an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. To receive the inheritance you must be rich in faith and you must love God will all your heart. Through the death of Christ your sins can be forgiven so you can be in the family of God. You must be baptized into Christ to become an heir. By the mercy of God through the washing of regeneration you are reborn to an incorruptible inheritance in heaven. To inherit eternal life, you must be led by the Spirit through the guidance of God's word. You must do good, keep God's commandments and follow Christ.

God gives this great promise: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:7).

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive