Obtaining an Inheritance
And so we now come to the most wonderful benefit of our election, which is that we have “obtained an inheritance.” Now the Greek is subtle in this place. Bruce translates the Greek, “we were claimed by God as his portion” (NICNT, 262), emphasizing the passive voice of the Greek verb; that is, not so much that we have obtained an inheritance but that we have been obtained as an inheritance (portion, heritage) by God. Imagine that: We are His heritage, His portion. Thus, whichever translation we choose, the outcome is the same: We have a heavenly inheritance waiting for us, to which we have been predestined as God’s chosen ones. After all, our Lord said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
I once heard an earnest Christian gentleman, who was yet a babe in Christ, say that heaven was just the icing on the cake—that living this life as a Christian was that good. Well, I confess that I’ve certainly lived a “charmed” life compared to the rest of humanity but to suggest that being with God and beholding His glory for all eternity is simply the topping of a wonderful Christian life on earth is, well…ridiculous. As Paul said, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). And the Christian doesn’t just desire heaven as a wonderful place to be; the Christian desires heaven for God Himself, to behold His glory. And he desires God’s reign for the vindication of God’s great name. He desires Christ’s return ruling the nations with a rod of iron that our Lord’s kingship be made manifest for all the nations to see—that they see the One whom they pierced and mourn (Revelation 1:7). To sum: As the Christian draws closer to God, he desires heaven not so much for his sake, but God’s sake—whose sake then becomes his own.
And we are told again that all of this is “according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” I take comfort in that. I would rather be subject to God’s will than man’s will, any day. For heaven’s sake (literally), I would rather be subject to God’s will than mine own! And that we may know this, God has been gracious to give us of His Holy Spirit abiding within us, “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.” The Christian has the witness in himself that he is a child of God as the Holy Spirit bears such witness within him (Romans 8:16). As such the Spirit is our “down payment” of heaven, and this “to the praise of His glory.” It’s all about God’s glory, from beginning to end, from predestination to glorification and everything in between. And all cry “Glory!”