What Spiritual Blessings Belong to God’s People in Christ? (Part 5)
This is the fifth part of a five-part blog series.
Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians (after he greets them, of course) with these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (1:3).
God’s blessings are not primarily material but spiritual, Paul says, and he tells the Ephesians (and all followers of Christ) that in Christ they have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. But what are those blessings? Paul describes at least five in Ephesians 1:3-14.
Blessing #5: Inheritance
In Ephesians 1:11, Paul says that in Christ the people of God “have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
There are two events that Paul describes here, one in the past and one in the present. In the past—as in, before the world was ever created, prior to Genesis 1:1—God predestined his people to receive an inheritance from him. He decided beforehand that certain people would be the recipients of his grace. And now, in the present, as those whom God chose beforehand repent and believe and enter into the life of Christ, they finally receive what God, before the ages began, had determined to give to them. When parents draw up a will that declares what they will leave to their children at their death, the children don’t receive their inheritance until some specific time in the future (as in, when their parents die and leave them their estate), even though the document is finalized and official in the present. At some point, however, the inheritance that was predetermined in the past (and was theirs in principle) actually becomes the possession of the children (and now is theirs in fact). This is similar to how we receive our inheritance from God. It was always ours in principle (we were predestined to receive it), but when we enter the family of God it becomes ours in reality (we finally obtain it).
And in 1:13-14 we see that there is not only a past and present dimension of our inheritance, but a future dimension as well, because God’s people have at this point received only a partial inheritance—the rest is yet to come. In order to assure us that we will in fact receive the rest of what he has promised us, Paul says we “were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.” In case we ever worry that maybe God isn’t going to give us the rest of what he promised us, the Holy Spirit within us is the down payment that lets us know the rest is indeed coming!
So what does this inheritance consist of? The new heavens and new earth, where we as God’s image-bearers will be restored to our rightful place as rulers of the good world God created (Gen. 1:26-28; Matt. 5:5; 25:34; Rev. 21:1-7). And the greatest part about this new creation is that God himself will live among his people there (Rev. 21:1-8). The Bible even speaks of God himself as being our portion, or inheritance. Psalms 73:25-26 says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My heart and flesh may fail but you are the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” God is our portion, our share, our inheritance. He is our God (whereas before we had no God and no hope in this world [Eph. 2:12]) because we have been brought near to him through the bloody sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:13). This is the greatest blessing that God could give us—himself!