In Romans 8, verses 16-17, the apostle Paul writes this: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” Isn’t that an amazing thought? You are the recipient of an inheritance that God has prepared. So the question then becomes, what have you inherited? Would you like to know?
“Our Incredible, Immortal Inheritance”
“Berti” Adams was 71 years old when she died in West Palm Beach, Florida on Easter Sunday, 1976. The coroner’s report read: Cause of Death –Malnutrition. One police officer who inspected her apartment declared it to be a veritable pig pen. Trash, stench . . . old clothing . . . not much furniture. Berti had begged for food at her neighbors back doors and had purchased all her clothing from the salvation army. From all outward appearances she was a penniless, forgotten, unwanted woman by a family who no longer cared.
As officials sifted through her pile of rubble and belongings to find identification and connection to her family, two keys were found. These two keys led officials to safety deposit boxes at two different local banks. What they found was almost unbelievable.
At one bank, they found in her container more than 700 AT&T stock certificates, financial securities and bonds not to mention a stack of cash amounting to nearly 200,000 dollars – just what you need to finish Christmas shopping, right?
At the second bank they opened her container and discovered no certificates or bonds – just stacks of cash – 600,000 dollars to be exact. CBS radio reported that the estate would be inherited by a distant niece and nephew, neither of whom dreamed they would be the heirs of a million dollar windfall.
R. Kent Hughes, 1001 Great Stories & Quotes; (Tyndale Publishers, 1998), p. 359
Can you imagine the phone call to that nephew?
Your Aunt Berti’s died - the one who never took a bath – the one you hoped wouldn’t show up at Thanksgiving – she died and left you and your sister all her wealth.
Her wealth . . . we have completed our investigation and she has left you and your sister an inheritance of just over one million dollars.
Misers may be strange people, but they make wonderful ancestors!
Imagine being an heir or an heiress to a fortune.
The Apostle Paul reveals the believer is that and more.
He announces in Romans 8:16. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17. and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ!
We are the recipients of the inheritance of God through Christ – who died, leaving us in His will; but he then rose again, able now to deliver the benefits of His family’s inheritance to all who believe.
And just what have we inherited?
First of all, we are inheriting everything of God.
In verse 17, Paul writes, “we are heirs of God.”
This Greek expression can be understood two ways – as a subjective genitive or an objective genitive.
If Paul is using a subjective genitive he is saying, “we are heirs of God”, meaning “we inherit everything that God owns” – which is, a lot!
Or “we are heirs of God” placing God as the object of the genitive meaning, “we inherit God!” Our inheritance is God Himself!
The truth is, both interpretations would be correct, thus we really don’t have to decide. Both are substantiated in scripture.
Just as Boaz transferred the benefits of his families wealth to Ruth so that, upon their marriage, she no longer went out in to the fields to glean, but owned the fields and all their produce, so also, the benefits of the wealth of God’s family is transferred to us, the bride of Christ.
The value of an inheritance is determined by the worth of the one who bequeaths it, right?
I you were my heir, and I died tomorrow, you’d inherit a mortgage, a stack of bills and a pickup truck with a leaky radiator – and 3,000 books.
It’s all yours . . . enjoy!
One writer wrote tongue in cheek, “I owe much, I possess nothing . . . I give the rest to the poor.”
Consider this, God owes nothing . . . He possesses everything and He gives everything away to His children!
The Christians inheritance comes from God – the Creator of everything, the Sustainer of everything and the Owner of everything.
That’s the subjective side of it . . . there is the objective side.
God is not only the source and the supplier of this inheritance, He is the prize of the inheritance.
John, on the island of Patmos, “heard a loud voice from the heavenly throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them.” (Rev. 21:3)
David wrote, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)
We not only inherit everything that belongs to God but we inherit God!
David said, “and in your presence oh God, is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures for evermore!” (Psalm 16:11)
Paul also writes in verse 17 that we are co-heirs of Christ.
Now, this doesn’t make us little christs . . . little gods . . . equal in deity to Christ . . . equally divine. He simply means “that we will receive, by our joint inheritance with the Son of God, all the blessings and grandeur that the Father has given the Son will be shared with us.”
John MacArthur, Romans Volume One(Moody Press, 1991), p. 445
Which is a wonderful thought, far different from the Roman idea of adoption and inheritance.
In the Roman family, the adopted son received the family fortune. All of it! It could be shared with siblings, but the Roman father had the right to decide. Even if the other children received some of the inheritance it would be divided.
In the Jewish family, the first born received a double portion while siblings received a lesser portion by splitting the remainder.
In our own culture, the inheritance would probably be shared equally with all the children.
But that isn’t the idea here – through the infinite power and lavish grace of Christ – every believer gets it all. You don’t inherit 1/10th or 1/millionth of heaven – you inherit it all – heaven belongs to you. You don’t inherit a fraction of God – God belongs entirely to you, you don’t inherit a portion of Christ’s rule and reign, you inherit it all!
When Paul announced that we are the heirs of God, he meant that we inherit not only the things of God, but God Himself.
Let me give you 5 more things the believer inherits as the heir of God and co-heir with Christ;
2. I mentioned it earlier, but let me say again – the believer inherits heaven.
You say, yeah I already know that – I’m going to heaven.
What does that mean? If I asked you to write one paragraph on what you’ll do in heaven, what would you say?
We’ll worship God.
We’ll play harps and fly around.
We’ll talk to Abraham and Isaac.
We’ll ask Jesus all those tough questions.
We’ll spend time with all our relatives and friends.
Well, how long you gonna talk to your relatives. How long you gonna talk to Abraham. How long you gonna sing? What if you’re not musically inclined – I’d prefer you don’t sing in heaven.
The truth is, we hardly know anything about heaven.
Heaven is so indescribable that most of what we know about heaven is what is not there – no pain, no death, no mourning, no sadness, no separation. These are all negative ideas, no doubt because we cannot fully comprehend the positive things [that will occur throughout eternity].
James Boice, Romans Volume 2 (Baker, 1992), p. 862
That’s why Paul, who had been given a personal vision of heaven, wrote to the Corinthian believers, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared form them that love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)
In other words, you just won’t be able to comprehend it – it’s impossible to fully describe it.
We talk about Christmas gifts – Christmas surprises – heaven is one huge surprise!
I will tell you though, we have several myths about heaven. One is that there is no more time.
A popular hymns speaks of that moment “when the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and (what) time shall be no more.
Certainly the heavenly city receives its light from the glory of God (Rev. 21:23) and will never experience darkness or night; “There shall be no night there” Rev. 21:25). But this does not mean that heaven will be a place where time is unknown, or where things will not be done one after another.
In fact, the events of heaven recorded in the Book of Revelation require a sequence of events, one happening after another. We read that “the kings of the earth shall bring into heaven the glory and honor of the nations.”
That indicates events and pageantry like we’ve never seen.
Furthermore, we’re told that the tree of life has 12 kinds of fruit, “yielding its fruit every month.” There are monthly cycles without the moon – where the tree of life will produce a crop of 12 fruits each month – which implies the existence of a year. (Rev. 22:2).
The idea of spending eternity sitting around talking contradicts the idea of eternal service to God. What we do know from Revelation is that music is prominent! We can only imagine that both musical and artistic activities will be accomplished and performed to the glory of God.
Leadership and responsibility exists in the new heaven and earth, seen in John’s description of nations and rulers walking in the light of the Lamb (Revelation 21).
Wayne Grudem, a wonderful theologian writes, “People may [serve God] by working at the whole range of investigation and development of the creation by technological, creative, and inventive means, thus exhibiting the full extent of the excellent creation in the image of God. Moreover, since God is infinite and we can never exhaust his greatness, and since we are finite creatures who will never equal God’s knowledge, we may expect that for all eternity we will be able to go on learning more about God and about his relationship to his creation. In this way we will actually be able to continually increase in the knowledge of God.”
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), p. 1162
Let me just say it again – as it relates to your incredible, immortal inheritance of heaven, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared form them that love him.”
2. You are also, secondly, an heir to the throne and rule of Christ.
Paul reminded Timothy that they would reign with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12).
What does that mean?
While we’re not given a full explanation, we are told that our authority will extend to exacting judgment along with Christ.
It’s an amazing thought that the believer will actually be given the right and ability to judge at the end of the world, but that’s exactly what the Bible teaches.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? Do you not know that we are going to judge the angels?” (I Corinthians 6:2-3)
Peter wrote that rebellious angels have been committed to pits of gloom until the judgment (2 peter 2:4). Jude adds that rebellious angels or demons have been kept by God “until the judgments of the great day” (Jude 6).
We’re not told how, but we are told that we will be involved with Christ, seated on thrones as judges – which is implied in Revelation 20 – judging the unbelieving world . . . and pronouncing judgment on the evil of the demonic world – one demon at a time.
We will judge the world . . . we will judge the angelic world, both demonic and holy.
Can you imagine that righteous day? Can you imagine that awesome responsibility and high calling to support and defend and extend the righteous judgment of God upon all of humanity who refused to acknowledge their Creator God?
You – the heir of God – will speak for the justice and holiness of God!
We don’t have time to delve into the following points, but let me at least give you them:
We will inherit not only heaven, not only a throne of rule and responsibility with Christ, but we will also inherit:
3. A transformed earth (I Cor. 15:19-22)
A new heaven and a new earth. We will inherit paradise – the earth as God first created it for Adam and Eve. (Rev. 21)
And the beauty of God’s creation will be ours to explore and travel and discover and learn and connect to the creative genius of our Great God.
Jesus Christ gave his followers the amazing promise in His very first recorded sermon that His followers would inherit the earth (Matthew 5;5)
Imagine that – we get earth too!
C. S. Lewis wrote, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither heaven or earth.”
Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 2000), p. 415
I don’t know how much real estate you own now, but it’s nowhere near what it will be one day . . . in fact, why are you sweating so much to get more of right now, when one day, you will have the title deed to the entire planet.
4th. We have inherited temporary trouble.
17b. if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
The word “if” can and should be translated “since.” Suffering in some way is a fact!
Paul says that we will also inherit temporary tribulation. Jesus said in John 16:33b. “In this world you will have trouble, but take comfort, I have overcome the world.”
And that’s the kind of perspective Paul seems to move to in the very next verse of Romans 8. In other words, in light of your inheritance, consider this!
18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
That word compared is a Greek word that refers to a system of measuring with weights and a scale.
Paul said – put all my troubles and trials on one side of the scale – and Paul knew trouble, didn’t he? Beaten, shipwrecked, abandoned, mistreated, misrepresented, criticized, maligned, abused, stoned to death, imprisoned . . . you name it – put it all one side of the scale and it is a feather compared to the coming glory!
Paul says, “I am convinced that no matter how painful and difficult life gets . . . it can’t compare to the glory that’s coming.”
Ray Stedman said it this way . . . “The hurts are gonna be followed by the hallelujahs.”
You are an heir of God.
A couple of days ago I heard a Bible teacher tell this story – I’ve wanted to tell you it – I thought it was so funny and poignant;
A young man was visiting Amish country in Pennsylvania – he happened to see an old Amish couple coming out of a store, walking over to get into their horse drawn cart.
He ran over and said, “Hello, sorry to bother you but I’ve always wanted to meet an Amish couple.”
The woman elbowed her husband in the ribs and said, “What did he say?”
The farmer looked at his hard of hearing wife and said, “He wanted to meet us.”
The young man went on, “So you farm nearby?” Yes
the man politely said, we’ve been farming here all our lives.”
His wife ribbed him again and said, “What did he say?” “He wanted to know if we had a farm around here.”
The young man asked, “Do you have children living nearby?” Yes, the man said, “We have 7 sons and 3 daughters living near us . . . some of them living with us.”
Before he could finish, his wife interrupted, “What’d he say?” “He wanted to know if we had family around here.”
Then the young man confessed, “I actually dated
An Amish girl once . . . but she was so bossy and wanted to tell me what to do and never would let me make up my own mind.”
Again, the wife interrupted and said, “What’s he saying now?” “He said he thinks he knows you.”
I’m gonna have to work real hard to make that story fit into my sermon . . . but it was worth it.
What do you know . . . what do you think you know about your benefactor – what are you expecting out of your inheritance?
Can we even begin to grasp one corner of the tapestry of our eternal experience; it is an ocean of truth and we, like little children, stand at the edge with our little bucket and our little shovel with hopes of capturing some of it.
We won’t . . . for the most part, we’ll have to wait . . . but in the meantime, oh that we would develop Paul’s heavenly perspective regarding life on earth.
Our temporary trouble can’t compare to our eternal treasure.
John Piper commented on this text, “Picture this life as a journey on your way to receive a spectacular inheritance. It will protect you from idolatry and make all your burdens lighter, and quiet all your murmurings.
Here's the way John Newton put it: Suppose a century ago a man was going to New York to take possession of a large estate which he had just inherited. It was vast and wealthy estate with a huge home complete with gardens and a staff of men and women to keep it all]. But a mile away from the city his [carriage] broke down, which obliged him to walk the rest of the way; what a fool we should be to think that, should we see him on that mile long walk, he would be ringing his hands, and blubbering out all the remaining mile, "My [carriage] is broken! My [carriage] is broken! [What shall I do . . . I have lost my old carriage?]”
Richard Cecil, Memoirs of the Rev. John Newton, in The Works of the Rev. John Newton, Vol. 1 (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985), p. 108.
No matter the injury, the trial, the abandonment, the loss, the betrayal, the abuse, the ridicule, the illness, the suffering, the pain . . . glory is just around the corner.
We are moving from the hurts of earth . . . to the hallelujah’s of our incredible, immortal inheritance.
You are an heir of God, a fellow heir of Jesus Christ.