The Holy Spirit and Our Inheritance
October 14, 2018
Praise be to our God. Praise be to our God because this morning he helps us with our assurance of salvation.
Christian life is not easy. And one big thing that believers struggle with is their assurance of salvation. Sometimes we are not sure if God really loves us. Sometimes we doubt that we are really saved. And so we can lack assurance and be very afraid. This is a very real thing.
But our God is good. And he helps us with our assurance of salvation by speaking to us about two things: first, the inheritance that we have in Christ, and second, the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of the inheritance that we have in Christ.
Praise be to our God. Let us look at these two encouraging and reassuring truths right now.
First, we have an inheritance.
The word inheritance is a very beautiful word in the Bible that brings to mind the story of Israel in the Old Testament. After God redeemed Israel from Egypt, he brought her to the Promised Land. And that land was Israel’s inheritance. It was set apart by God for Israel. It was full of cities and fields, flowing with milk and honey. And it was a place for Israel to have communion with God and rest in him. That was Israel’s inheritance.
Israel’s inheritance was beautiful. But it was only a picture. It was a beautiful but temporary picture of a more beautiful and ultimate reality.
When God tells us through the Apostle Paul here in Ephesians that we have obtained an inheritance in Christ, he is not talking about a plot of land in the Middle East. He is talking about the new heavens and the new earth. He is talking about the kingdom that is to come. He is talking about a time and a place without sin or death or tears or pain. He is talking about our true home.
But he is also talking about God himself. He is talking about our true home where we will see the Lord Jesus Christ face to face.
All the tribes of Israel in the Old Testament had land as their inheritance from God. All the tribes, except one. The tribe of Levi was unique because they were to serve as priests for all of Israel. They were to serve in the tent and tabernacle and temple before the presence of the Lord. And they were not given any land as an inheritance. This may seem like a very bad thing, until you see what God said in Numbers 18 and Ezekiel 44.
And the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.” (Numbers 18:20)
This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession. (Ezekiel 44:28)
This is amazing. The inheritance that we have is not just the new heavens and the new earth. The inheritance that we have is not just a time and a place without sin or death or tears or pain. The inheritance that we have is God himself. God is our inheritance.
This is why when in Exodus 33 Israel was in danger of entering the Promised Land without God because of their sins, Moses interceded on behalf of the people and asked God to go with them. Moses understood that if God did not go with them to the Promised Land, then the Promised Land would be worthless and empty. Moses understood that the inheritance is really a relationship with God. Our inheritance is God himself.
Let us not be like the prodigal son in the parable story of Luke 15:11-32, who at first cared not about his father but only the part of his father’s inheritance that would go to him. The son didn’t want to wait for his father to die so that he could have his inheritance. The son said, “Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.” Given that inheritances were inherited upon the death of the father, the son was really saying, “Father, you are dead to me. It was never about you. It was only about your inheritance.”
Brothers and sisters, do not be like the prodigal son. Do you know why you must not be like the prodigal son in this parable? The reason is because you actually already were like the prodigal son in real life. You sinned against God the Father. You took your own journey. You had your own country. And you lived recklessly as an orphan. But the Father had compassion for you and was merciful and gracious to you. You were once dead. But now you are alive. You were once lost. But now you are found. For God the Father sent his one and only Son to live and die and resurrect and ascend for your salvation. You cannot be like the prodigal son of old because that was your old life. Now you have a new life. Now you have the inheritance of salvation and a relationship with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For according to Galatians 4:4-7, when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Brothers and sisters, God wants you to know what you have for your inheritance. You have the kingdom of the new heavens and the new earth. And you have its king. Your inheritance is a future time and place without sin or death or tears or pain. And your inheritance is Christ himself.
This is such a help for the assurance of our salvation. For the word inheritance means that you are part of God’s family. It means that you are a child of God. It means that you have his sonship. It means that you are an heir. People can inherit all kinds of things: money or land, dimples or male pattern baldness, rings in Lord of the Rings or thrones in Game of Thrones. But whatever it is that people inherit, they inherit it all in the same exact way - by being a part of the family. You are a part of the family of God, now and forevermore. You are a son, a daughter, to him. You are an heir of the promise of salvation (Hebrews 6:17). You are an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith (Hebrews 11:7). You are an heir of the kingdom (James 2:5). You are an heir of God’s grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). This is all your inheritance.
And the reason why this is all true is because you are united with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And the inheritance is yours because the inheritance is his. Jesus is the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15). Jesus is the Son of the Father (John 3:16). Jesus is the heir of God (Romans 8:17). And we you fellow heirs, co-heirs, with him. Christ earned all the spiritual blessings in the Bible. And then he shares it with us. The inheritance first belonged to him. But now that we are united with him, the inheritance also belongs to us. What a great help for our assurance of salvation!
But perhaps a greater help for our assurance is knowing that the inheritance goes in reverse as well. Up to this point, I have stated that we have an inheritance. We have the kingdom of the new heavens and the new earth. And we have God himself. That is our beautiful inheritance. But our salvation is covenantal. And the relationship goes both ways. God has an inheritance too. And God’s inheritance is us. You are God’s inheritance.
After God redeemed Israel from Egypt, he brought her to the Promised Land. But before he did that, he gave them these words through Moses in Deuteronomy 4:20. “But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.” And throughout the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is called God’s heritage (Psalm 33:12) and God’s possession (Malachi 3:17). It is covenantally true that God belongs to us. But it is also covenantally true that we belong to God. You could say then that inheritance goes both ways. God is our inheritance. We are God’s inheritance. God is our love. We are God’s love.
Our God is good. He helps us with our assurance of salvation by speaking to us about the inheritance that we have in Christ. But he also speaks to us about the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of the inheritance that we have in Christ. For it is written that we “were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
What does it mean for us to be sealed with the Holy Spirit? It means that we are for real. In the old days, kings would mark something as real and authentic and trustworthy by pressing his royal name onto clay or wax. In our salvation and in our moment of adoption, we have been given the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit verifies that we belong to God. Listen to Romans 8:15-16. It says, “… you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God….” And consider the supplementary words of the Westminster Confession of Faith. In chapter 18, titled “Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation, it says this, “This certainty is… an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, … [and] the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God.”
This is awesome. You can know that you belong to God because the Holy Spirit bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God. You are not going to know this from a mere gut feeling, from a praise song that sweeps you off your feet, or from the warm physical touch of a loving hand. You are going to know this when you listen to God’s word read and explained and the Holy Spirit makes you believe it all. This is how you know. It is downright mysterious. But it is true. The Holy Spirit is a royal seal of our royal salvation. And the Holy Spirit dwells in us. It doesn’t get any better than this. Many Christians ask: Can a true believer be possessed by a demon? The best answer is another question: Can the royal seal of the Holy Spirit be tampered with or broken? The Holy Spirit is a royal seal of our royal salvation. And the Holy Spirit dwells in us. It doesn’t get any better than this. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs and seals of the covenant of grace. They are earthly and visible signs and seals of heavenly and invisible realities. But the Holy Spirit is not a piece of bread or a cup of juice. The Holy Spirit is not earthly or visible. The Holy Spirit is God himself, the third person of the Triune God. Don’t get me wrong, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are awesome. But God’s final seal, God’s seal of all seals, is the seal of himself.
And what does it mean for the Holy Spirit to be the guarantee of our inheritance? It means that our inheritance is for real. In the world of finance, a guarantee was a down payment. It was a first installment. A guarantee is therefore a preview of the whole because it is the beginning of the whole. A guarantee is a foretaste of the end because it is the beginning of the end. You might thing that an engagement ring is a good analogy for the idea of guarantee. But it is technically not. The Holy Spirit is less like an engagement ring and more like the beginning of a wedding ring. The Holy Spirit is technically not saying to us, “I promise to give you eternal life.” The Holy Spirit is technically saying to us, “You have eternal life right now.”
Therefore, we cannot lose our salvation. It’s been committed. The down payment has been made. And it’s not a 20% down payment. It’s a 100% down payment. You didn’t get 20% of the Holy Spirit. You got 100% of the Holy Spirit. Redemption has been accomplished. Redemption has been applied. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of your inheritance of salvation. You cannot disinherit your inheritance. You are a child of God the Father, and you will never be disowned by him. Christ says in John 10:27-28 these words: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” And Paul tells us in Romans 5:5 these words: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Brothers and sisters, I want you to have a strong assurance of your salvation in Christ. And I want you to be able to speak the words of King David in Psalm 16. Feel free to follow along in your Bibles or just listen carefully. I close with eleven beautiful verses of assurance. May these words be your words too.
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Soli Deo Gloria
Summary of Sermon
God helps us with our assurance of salvation by speaking to us about two things: first, the inheritance that we have in Christ, and second, the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of the inheritance that we have in Christ.
First, we have an inheritance. Our inheritance is the kingdom of the new heavens and the new earth. And our inheritance is God himself.
Let us not be like the prodigal son before he turned back. For him, the inheritance was only about the property and not the father.
The word inheritance means that you are part of God’s family. You are a child of God. You have his sonship. You are an heir.
And the reason why this is true is because you are united with the Son of God. Christ earned all the spiritual blessings in the Bible. And then he shares it with us. His inheritance is our inheritance. We are fellow heirs, co-heirs, with him. What a great help for our assurance of salvation.
But the inheritance goes in reverse as well. Our salvation is covenantal. And the relationship goes both ways. God has an inheritance too. And God’s inheritance is us.
Second, we have the Holy Spirit who is a guarantee of our inheritance. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit, who himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
And the Holy Spirit is a down payment of our inheritance in Christ. We cannot disinherit our inheritance. We cannot be disowned by our Father. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! May we have a strong assurance of our salvation in Christ.
Questions for Small Groups
We have obtained an inheritance in Christ. And God’s inheritance is us. How might these two amazing facts change the way that you live as you wait for the return of Christ?
We are assured of these two amazing facts by the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance in Christ. Why is the assurance of salvation of great importance for believers? What impact might the Spirit’s assurance of salvation have on our Christian lives?