We mentioned last time “the Holy Spirit of promise” which is the earnest of our inheritance. We are in Ephesians now. And there is so much here that we will just have to break midstream into Paul’s thought. He says that in Christ:
…we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will;
That we should be to the praise of His glory who first hoped in Christ;
In whom ye also, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,
Which is the earnest of our inheritance unto the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1.13,14).
(Let’s bookmark for the moment that twice-repeated phrase “to the praise of His glory.” We’ll come back to it.)
The Holy Spirit, then, “that Holy Spirit of promise,” is given us as the earnest of our inheritance—the pledge, the seal, the guarantee, that assures redemption of the purchased possession. Paul has already told us back in verse 7 that in Christ we have “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” But forgiveness of sins, wonderful as it is, is only the negative side of our redemption. Now Paul shows us the positive side– the giving of the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest, the pledge, of an inheritance fully purchased… but not yet fully in our possession. Yes, it is ours—the earnest of the Holy Spirit guarantees it, guarantees that in due time the holders of the pledge will be able to redeem in full the purchased possession. In fact the Greek for earnest is arrabon, which can also mean engagement ring. The Holy Spirit is, then, our engagement ring—the pledge of a coming marriage. The bride-to-be rejoices in the ring, and holds out her hand to show it off. But no bride or groom would be content to settle for the engagement ring alone. It’s the bridegroom himself she has in mind, total union with the bridegroom—and so does he. We too must not put the pledge for the whole. By the engagement ring of the Holy Spirit we are sealed unto the marriage—total union with Christ our bridegroom in the day when all that He has—and is—becomes ours. Let this be our consuming desire, as it is His.
Meanwhile the Holy Spirit is the earnest, the seal, the pledge, “unto the redemption of the purchased possession.” Let us keep our seal inviolate till the wedding day. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4.30). Israel in the wilderness came to the place where, in spite of all that God had done to fit them for their inheritance, they “vexed His Holy Spirit,” they “grieved Him in the wilderness” (Isa. 63.10, Heb. 3.17). We can’t go in, they said. “We are not able…” (Num. 13.31).
We are able, said Caleb. “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13.30).
We too are able! Delivered from sin and death, and being given the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are meet, we are sufficient, are competent, are well able, to partake of our portion of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Which is? God Himself. “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” If we are children of God, we are His heirs, Paul says, “heirs of God…” All that He has is ours—all that He is. What can this mean? It is so high and so vast a thought as to be largely incomprehensible to us. It means, I believe, that we are to come to know God—the depths of God. “For the Spirit searcheth all things, the depths of God” (1 Cor. 2.10). It humbles us and fills us with awe when the implications of this passage dawn on us. This is something the angels don’t have—the Spirit of God in such a way as to enable us to search out the depths of God… because we share His very nature. For, as Paul explains, it’s only the spirit of a person that knows all about that person. Even so, it’s only the Spirit of God that knows all about God (1 Cor. 2.11). Paul’s point is that– wonder of wonders– we have received His Spirit (vs. 12). We are born of God, share His nature. We are His children, and so His heirs. The Holy Spirit is our guide, then, leading us to search out and explore and make real in our experience… the very depths of God. We are to come to know Him—and this in such a way as only those who are partakers of His nature can come to know Him. It is a wondrous hope, and the very thing that the New Covenant promises. “They shall all know Me from the least of them to the greatest.”
But know Him to what degree? Paul goes on, “…Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” We are to know God the Father just as the Son of God knew Him when He walked here on earth. We are joint-heirs with Christ; all that is His is ours.
The Christian’s inheritance, then, with Christ Himself, is the heart and mind of God, the mountains of His righteousness, the vastness of His love. We are to know Him with the kind of knowledge that makes us like Him. We are to be like Him in this world (1 Jn. 4.17). This is the end of all the teaching, the talking, the preaching, the praying—all that now makes up Christianity. Sons in God’s image. Partakers of the divine nature, which angels are not heirs of. Only fallen men now made meet are heirs, men once held in the bondage of darkness but now made fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in a realm of pure Light… unto which no sinful man can approach. Only these are the heirs of God. Sons, daughters, who think like He thinks, who feel as He feels, who walk as He walks, who talk as He talks, and act as He acts.
…I pray for an awakening of the saints of God. Oh that we might see that with our Passover experience and our Pentecost experience we are but in our beginnings. Yes, God has delivered us from the authority of darkness. That was what the Passover accomplished. What about the rest of the sentence? He has “translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” He has “made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” Translated? The word simply means, transferred. This is what God accomplished in Christ on our behalf. We need not spend years in a wilderness, like Israel of old in their disobedience. God’s intent at Sinai was to equip his people to immediately enter into their inheritance. “Let us go up at once and possess it,” said Caleb. “We are well able.” We too are able. This is God’s intent in the pouring out of His Spirit at Pentecost. Strengthened with all might by His Spirit in the inner man we are well able to begin immediately to apprehend our inheritance.
I pray for an awakening. It ought to provoke us that we Christians are so short of what is our own. Why are we content with so little? We should be jealous for what is our own. We spend our days wandering in a wilderness, like Israel of old. Yes, God looks after us in the wilderness, as He did them. But oh how straitened they were in that wilderness… as are we. This is what accounts for the condition of the church these days—the Christians, the saints of God. We mourn sore like doves over the condition of things—the problems, the carnality. There is scarcely a Christian who doesn’t have problems of some kind. Quite simply, we have not yet apprehended the awesome inheritance Christ purchased for us at Calvary, and our present condition reflects it. Instead of total conquest over God’s enemies and casting them out of the heavenly heritage which is our own, our enemies spoil for themselves. They are able to do that from their heavenly vantage point—that belongs to you and me. We must take our inheritance! Really, it’s a matter of life and death—and as the Day draws nigh it’s going to become more so—that those in the world around us be able to find a Christian who is walking in his or her inheritance and knows their God, and has authority in heavenly places. It’s far from a selfish thing that we enter into and take our inheritance.
Let us press on, then, and press in. We are thankful that Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us; we rejoice in our Pentecost. But like Israel of old, at this stage we are yet in our beginnings. These are but to make us meet for our inheritance. The Passover has dealt with the past; the earnest of the Spirit is just that—the earnest, the pledge, the deposit that guarantees us the fullness of the purchased possession “to the praise of His glory.”
Let us note this last phrase well, which we bookmarked earlier. It is only as we come into our inheritance and abide there that we become those in whom the Lord is glorified. Only then does the glory of the Lord shine forth from our lives for all the world to see.