The Apostle Paul has a great prayer for the gentile believers at Ephesus, “that you may know…what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). Has this prayer been answered? Is the gentile church aware of the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance? Sadly, I am afraid that we not only do not know of the riches of the glory of this inheritance, but we blatantly teach a complete fabrication of God’s inheritance.
Our Fabricated Idea of God’s Inheritance
Ask just about any preacher, “What is God’s inheritance?” If I was a gambling man, I’d put money on the line for this one: you’ll get the wrong answer. The answer will be heart-felt, sincere, ill-informed, and doggedly adhered to (a bad combination!)
Here is a sampling of answers I discovered in just a few minutes of internet research (emphasis mine).
“Just as Canaan was Israel's inheritance, and Hebron was the best of Canaan, so it is with the church which is the greatest of all the things that Christ will inherit.”
“We, the saints, are God's inheritance. What we are by nature, however, cannot be God's inheritance. God does not desire to inherit our nature, our flesh, our natural being. He desires to inherit all that He has wrought into us of Himself. Therefore, whatever God has wrought into us of Himself becomes His inheritance.... (The saints need to) know Him as the One operating in them to make them holy, to constitute them the sons of God and to cause them to become the inheritance of God....God will work within us to make us worthy, precious, and valuable, a unique treasure in the universe as an inheritance for Him…. God is the treasure, and He is working Himself as the treasure into us that we may become a treasure to Him” Witness Lee
“Yes. We are God's inheritance. The God who created and who rules the entire universe has in inheritance in us. Let's get to work for God here on earth so we can give Him the inheritance in us that he deserves, shall we?”
“You are a beloved child of God; you are the heir of God's inheritance.” Charles Stanley
“The idea that God, by His grace, makes us into His inheritanceis incredible.” RC Sproul
I could literally go on for pages and pages with quotes from preachers and bloggers, professors and laymen, famous and unknown. Each of them would celebrate the wonderful glory God is going to enjoy when He receives….us!
Sadly, it is all wrong. It is a fabricated “truth” (that is, a lie!) Those who wrote it do not realize it is wrong, and they did not set out to deceive. Rather, they simply repeated what they had been told…and told…and told. We have all heard the line so long that we assume it must be true.
And Satan smiles!
Remember that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. He is the father of lies. His lies are evil in nature and always directed against God’s ultimate plan which leads to His reign and Satan’s defeat.
The Biblical Revelation of God’s Inheritance
When we come upon a passage like the one at hand, we should always use Scripture to interpret Scripture. In the case of God’s inheritance and Ephesians 1:18, this practice is almost never done. Instead, we just take the first thing that comes to mind and run with it as if it is the “Gospel truth,” using the verse as a proof-text.
In this case, however, the truth shouts out with almost unequalled clarity. There are at least 38 Scripture passages which unquestionably define God’s inheritance. I’ll share few, and then ask you if you know what God’s inheritance is—
“But the Lordhas taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as today.” (Deuteronomy 4:20, NASB95)
“For the Lord’sportion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 32:9, NASB95)
“Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.” (Psalm 28:9, NASB95)
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12, NASB95) [Incidentally, this is one of the most often misused and misquoted passages from the Old Testament].
This is just a sampling of the 38 passages which speak of Israel as God’s possession and His inheritance.
So when Paul prays that we would know, “what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance,” we cannot just assume ourselves into the inheritance position. A good Bible student will ask the Scripture, “What is God’s inheritance?” The Scripture will answer with clarity, “it is the redeemed nation of Israel.”
Undoubtedly someone will bring up the fact that Ephesians speaks of “His inheritance in the saints.” From here, they will argue that His original inheritance rejected Him and now His new inheritance is in the church. If they don’t want to go that far into replacement theology, they will claim that the church is now added into His inheritance, Ephesians 1:18 proving the matter. This objection is easily solved, however, when you realize that the word “saints” is an English translation (and an unfortunate one at that) of the word Greek word that means “holy ones.” Who are the Holy ones? You can either make up an answer (which is the American way!) or you can let Scripture make the interpretation. Allowing Scripture to do its work, you will find that Israel was chosen as, “a chosenrace, a royal priesthood, a holynation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9, NASB95). The “Holy ones” in Ephesians 1:18 are “God’s Inheritance” which is consistently revealed by God to be the redeemed nation of Israel.
The Riches of the Glory of God’s Inheritance
Paul’s prayer is that the gentile believers would be enlightened to know “the riches of the glory of His inheritance.” That is, Paul wants gentile believers to recognize the glory God will receive in the Jewish people at the conclusion of this age.
The glory, still yet to come, of God’s inheritance in Israel is also spoken of numerous times in Scripture. Here is a sampling—
“… At the proper time it shall be said to Jacob and to Israel, what God has done!” (Numbers 23:23, NASB95)
“The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise.” (Isaiah 43:21, NASB95)
“Shout for joy, O heavens, for the Lordhas done it! Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it; For the Lordhas redeemed Jacob And in Israel He shows forth His glory.” (Isaiah 44:23, NASB95)
“Then all your people will be righteous; they will possess the land forever, the branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified.” (Isaiah 60:21, NASB95)
“‘I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first. ‘I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me. ‘It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.’” (Jeremiah 33:7–9, NASB95)
Each one of these Scripture passages speaks of the glory of God in Israel. Each passage is a prophetic passage that is yet to be fulfilled. Each one speaks to the fact that God will enjoy “the riches of the glory of His inheritance” in a coming day.
A Therapeutic Hermeneutic
Hermeneutics is the fancy word that means “set of rules for interpretation of Scripture.” Each person has to build their own set of rules, but every “hermeneutic” will not lead to the same interpretation. Since Scripture can only have one correct interpretation, it is important that our hermeneutic be carefully thought out. I am afraid that today’s American Christian has a “therapeutic hermeneutic” in which Scripture is read looking for something that will encourage the soul, boost self-esteem, and bless the heart. Those are all nice things, but it is only the truth that will set us free!
A quote from Witness Lee, Ephesians 15:137, 138 http://www.jesusloversincleveland.org/English/bible/greek/jim/inheritanc...