Have you ever inherited anything? I run into people often that talk about things they inherited from a parent or some family member. Sometimes they will talk about some item of jewelry or some property, such as house they inherited. But most often it is about a certain amount of money that was willed to them by someone that loved them. One of the most unusual occurrences of an inheritance was a person telling about receiving an inheritance for several thousand dollars from a distant relative they had never met before. The person was a cousin to a parent who hadn’t seen any of them since childhood but they didn’t have any children of their own so when the time came to make a will they decided to give a part of the inheritance to them since they were children of someone they cared about.
The Bible talks a lot about our inheritance. We are heirs of God and joint heirs of Christ Paul declared. When Jesus described his ascension into glory and promised that he was going to prepare a place for us that would have plenty of room and that he would return to take us to himself so that we could be with him forever, he was talking about our inheritance. In Hebrews 9:13-18 the New Testament is described as a will that was sealed for us by the death of Christ on the cross.
In I Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul discussed the notion of our inheritance as it relates to the kingdom of God. Notice what he said, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
As we’ve studied the things the Bible teaches on the kingdom of God it is clear that his kingdom is the realm where he reigns as king. If we make Christ the Lord and king of our lives and hearts we will be part of his over all kingdom or reign. When we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” we are praying not just that his kingdom will spread or be established but that his reign will be in us and in the whole world around us.
There are many people that make a commitment to Christ, by filling our their card or raising their hand or saying a short prayer and feel certain that all is well between them and God even though no real change has been made in their lives. But the Holy Spirit led Paul, who preached on God’s grace and kindness toward us more than any of the other apostles, to tell us that being saved by grace didn’t mean that God doesn’t require a change in us to be right with him and to receive an inheritance from him.
He made it abundantly clear that you are not in the group to receive the kingdom as an inheritance if you are living in some immoral relationship whether homosexual or heterosexual. You can’t set up some idol in your heart, whether it is money or stuff or whatever and still get the kingdom. You can’t be one that steals or slanders, is greedy or gets drunk and inherit the kingdom of God. You may well have been one or all of them in the past and still be in the kingdom. But you can’t go on living that same life and have Christ reign as king over you.
Notice what he said would change it all in our lives. “That is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God.” We can come to God and His kingdom from anywhere. It isn’t about what we have done or even who we are. The question is, are you ready to be changed? Will you be washed in the blood of Christ? Will you be washed in pure water as the writer of Hebrews says? When we are baptized according to Ananias in his conversation with Saul, we wash away our sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16). It isn’t just a matter of going through some ritual in which I enter a baptistry and am pushed under the water with the right words said over me. It is a question of our burying the old man of sin and being raised up a new man ready to live for God daily. (Romans 6:1-5) Have you been washed?
It is vital also that I be sanctified. Paul said to the Colossians in chapter 3:1, “If you are risen with Christ seek the things that are above. Set your heart on the things that are above and not on the things of this earth. For you are dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Earlier in chapter 2:12 he described how we were buried and raised when we are baptized into Christ. We are buried with him and raised with him through faith in the operation of God. When we are raised from that grave of baptism it is to live a new kind of life. Our old man is buried and a new man is raised and we are to set our mind, our affections on the things above and no longer on the things of this world. Sanctification is being set apart from the world and from our life of sin, for God. We become part of His family, part of the body of Christ and are his special people. In I Peter 2:9 we are described as a “Chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that we might proclaim his praises, who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” We are changed. We aren’t sinless or perfect but we are different and in the process of growing more like Jesus all the time.
Also, we are justified when we turn to God. We are washed from our old sin, set apart as one of God’s chosen ones and we are declared just or right with God. Justification is something that happens in heaven. It is the action of God as the judge of all the earth who declares us as justified based on the actions and the offering of Jesus in our place on the cross. He took in his body our sins and allowed God to punish the sins of humans on him as the innocent one. In Romans 3:23-26 Paul described this whole process. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith. he did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Do we suddenly become just or righteous because we have faith in Jesus and are washed in baptism to become clean? No, but based on His grace and our faith, God looks at the agonizing death of Jesus and declares us just because of what he did.
To inherit the kingdom of God involves our becoming a part of God’s family. Notice Paul’s description of how this happens in Romans 8:14-17. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 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.” You may never have or may never in the future receive an inheritance in this life. But if you turn from what you were in sin and turn to God by faith to be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God you become a heir of God Almighty. The richest person in the universe is now your father. You are adopted into His family and become the younger brother of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Wow, what kind of inheritance do you receive from the one who owns it all? “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it.”