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What is our inheritance in Christ?
The Bible is full of references to the inheritance believers have in Christ. Ephesians 1:11 says, “In [Christ] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (ESV). Other passages that mention a believer’s inheritance include Colossians 3:24 and Hebrews 9:15. Our inheritance is, in a word, heaven. It is the sum total of all God has promised us in salvation. Words related to inheritance in Scripture are portion and heritage.
First Peter 1:4 describes this inheritance further, saying that we have been born again “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” According to the apostle Peter, our inheritance is distinguished by four important qualities:
Our inheritance in Christ is imperishable. What we have in Christ is not subject to corruption or decay. In contrast, everything on earth is in the process of decaying, rusting, or falling apart. The law of entropy affects our houses, our cars, and even our own bodies. Our treasure in heaven, though, is unaffected by entropy (Matthew 6:19–20). Those who have been born again are born “not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).
Our inheritance in Christ is unspoiled. What we have in Christ is free from anything that would deform, debase, or degrade. Nothing on earth is perfect. Even the most beautiful things of this world are flawed; if we look closely enough, we can always find an imperfection. But Christ is truly perfect. He is “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26), and our inheritance in Him is also holy, blameless, exalted, and pure. No earthly corruption or weakness can touch what God has bestowed. Revelation 21:27 says that “nothing impure will ever enter [the New Jerusalem], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful.”
Our inheritance in Christ is unfading. What we have in Christ is an enduring possession. As creatures of this world, it is hard for us to imagine colors that never fade, excitement that never flags, or value that never depreciates; but our inheritance is not of this world. Its glorious intensity will never diminish. God says, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).
Our inheritance in Christ is reserved. What we have in Christ is being “kept” in heaven for us. Your crown of glory has your name on it. Although we enjoy many blessings as children of God here on earth, our true inheritance—our true home—is reserved for us in heaven. Like Abraham, we are “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). The Holy Spirit guarantees that we will receive eternal life in the world to come (2 Corinthians 1:22). In fact, “when you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13–14).
Jesus prayed for His followers, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name” (John 17:11). We are secure, being guarded by the Almighty Himself, and surely our inheritance is equally secure. No one can steal it from us. John 10:28–29: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” See also Matthew 6:20.
As God’s children, “adopted” into His family, we have been assured an inheritance from our Heavenly Father. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17). This heavenly heritage is God’s purpose and will for us (Ephesians 1:11). We receive the promise of our inheritance by hearing the word of truth and believing in Christ (Ephesians 1:13).
One day, we will take possession of our portion, our heritage, our full inheritance. John Calvin writes of our inheritance, “We do not have the full enjoyment of it at present. . . . We walk . . . in hope, and we do not see the thing as if it were present, but we see it by faith. . . . Although, then, the world gives itself liberty to trample us under foot, as they say; although our Lord keeps us tried with many temptations; although he humbles us in such a way that it may seem we are as sheep appointed to the slaughter, so that we are continually at death’s door, yet we are not destitute of a good remedy. And why Seeing that the Holy Spirit reigns in our hearts, we have something for which to give praise even in the midst of all our temptations. . . . [Therefore,] we should rejoice, mourn, grieve, give thanks, be content, wait” (from Calvin’s Ephesian sermons, delivered in Geneva, 1558—59).
When we understand and value the glory that awaits us, we are better able to endure whatever comes our way in this life. We can give God praise even during trials because we have His guarantee that we will receive all He has promised: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Revelation 21:4 gives us a brief but beautiful description of our inheritance: “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” God and man will dwell together. Everything will be made new. The bejeweled city, New Jerusalem, will be our residence. The river of life will issue from God’s throne. The healing tree of life with twelve kinds of fruit will grow there, too. There will be no night there, because the eternal light of the Lamb will fill the new heaven and new earth and shine upon all the heirs of God.
David writes, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; / you make my lot secure. / The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; / surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Psalm 16:5–6). And that is why “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).