Inheritance Can be Earned and Lost
1 Peter 1:3-4
1 Peter Lesson #024
August 27, 2015
“Father, help us to understand that inheritance has two different aspects; and how You use inheritance to motivate us, encourage us, and stimulate us to understand that there is a reason and a purpose for our spiritual growth today. It is in preparation of how we will be used in eternity. Father we pray that You will help us to focus and concentrate this evening. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Okay, we are studying actually in 1 Peter 3 but we are not going to be there except just as a kick-off point because as we go through the Scripture, what I like to do, especially on certain key terms, is explain them. In 1 Peter the idea of inheritance goes all the way through this epistle because it is related to suffering. Why must a believer overcome in suffering by using the Word of God? Because it is preparing us spiritually. It prepares our character. It builds in our souls spiritual capacity for righteousness to prepare us to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in eternity. That’s the focal point. We have been studying this in terms of inheritance.
Tonight we are going to look at the fact that the Bible clearly teaches that inheritance can be earned, and it can be lost as well. There is always that warning against failure. The problem that we run into is that many of these passages are taken out of context, especially within the Calvinistic framework. Reformed theology, and especially Reformed soteriology. The five points of Calvinism come under the acronym TULIP. The “P” in TULIP stands for the idea of perseverance, the perseverance of the saints. Under a lordship salvation view, perseverance does not mean that Christ perseveres in keeping us. Now there are some Calvinists in history who have taken it that way which means their understanding of perseverance is more along the lines of eternal security. That was how Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder and first president of Dallas Seminary, understood the “P” in TULIP.
There is a much larger segment, especially today, due to the influence of a number of prominent Calvinistic Bible teachers like R.C. Sproul, John McArthur, and others. They look at the “P” to mean that if you as a believer do not persevere in obedience, if you fail and you go into a backslidden state, and you do not repent and recover, then that would not indicate that you lose your salvation, but that you didn’t have the right kind of faith. In their view, saving faith is a gift, so you did not have the right kind of faith and you were not ever truly saved. You had a false faith in Christ. That is a view that they teach - that a person can have a false faith in Jesus that’s not a saving faith.
They use some examples, primarily from John 2, where many Jews believed on Him because they saw His miracles during the Passover when He was in Jerusalem. Then it said that Jesus did not entrust Himself to them. That does not have anything to do with whether or not they were saved. It has to do with the fact that even though they had accepted Him as the Messiah, they still thought that He was going to bring in a political kingdom. They were still confused about the role of the Messiah. That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with personal justification. They take that and they extrapolate it, and they say, “See, a faith that is based on signs and wonders is an inadequate faith.”
The problem with that is that John writes his gospel and he says at the end that “these are written…” These what? Well, if you go back to the previous verse in John 20:30, John said that Jesus did many other signs than these, but that these are written. These signs. There are eight signs in the gospel of John. These signs are written that you might believe. The Bible clearly states that faith based on signs can be saving. It is not some kind of lesser, diluted, inadequate, non-saving faith. There are a lot of problems with the Calvinistic, perseverance view of salvation that we call lordship salvation. In lordship salvation, they believe that all inheritance, all rewards, go to all believers and there is not a distinction. They would also say that all believers are overcomers, not understanding that there is a difference there - that overcomers are believers who overcome the world. That is how the term is used in relation to Jesus in John 16 when He says, “Don’t be afraid for I have overcome the world.”
It is a perfect tense verb there, which means that before He went to the Cross where He dealt with sin, He had already had victory over, or overcome, the world. That had to do with how He lived His life. How He lived His life is not part of what He did to pay the penalty for sin. There is a difference between spiritual life and salvation or justification. There are some critical issues here in how these things are understood.
A lot of believers are confused over these things. You often hear this when you hear a person talking about someone who has committed some sin or they’ve done something wrong. Sometimes it is a Hollywood star. Sometimes it is the President of the United States. They say, “Well, that person just cannot be saved. Just look at their life.” A lot of people said that and still say that about President Clinton. “Look at what he has done. He has lied and he has committed adultery and he has done all of these things.” Well the pastor of First Baptist Church of Little Rock, when Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, was a solid, doctrinal Bible teacher. He had several conversations with President Clinton about his belief in Jesus Christ as his Savior. I read about this in an article in Time or Newsweek. It was very clear according to Dr. W.O. Vaught that Bill Clinton was a believer. He clearly understood that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for his sins.
It does not matter regarding his sins or failures, or how he may fail over the course of his spiritual life. Scripture says that if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior then you are saved because of your possession of Christ’s imputed righteousness. You are not saved because of what you do or what you do not do. Your salvation is not confirmed by what you do or what you do not do. Our faith is not in our perseverance but in the promise of God and the character of God and His ability to keep us. That is what Peter talks about in this same passage.
Inheritance is the issue of the warning passages in Hebrews and the issue in many other warning-type passages in the New Testament. Inheritance can be lost. It does not mean we do not spend eternity in Heaven but it does mean that we do not receive rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We enter Heaven yet as through fire. This is what we are covering as we are developing our doctrine on inheritance over the last couple of weeks.
(Slide 4) The passage in 1 Peter is talking about the fact that God has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The term “living hope” focuses on the future. Verse 4 says we have been born again to an inheritance. That inheritance is described by three words in the Greek. It is incorruptible, it is undefiled, and it is unfading and it is put on reserve in Heaven for us.
That is going to bring in an important aspect of this doctrine. “Who are kept?” This means all believers are kept by the power of God through faith. We are not kept by our own power. We are kept by the power of God. Once we trust in Christ as Savior, then we are justified and we can never lose that salvation, which we’ll see is Phase 3 when it is revealed in the last time.
We saw another connection to this in Titus 3:7 (Slide 5), “That having been justified by His grace we should become heirs…” There is a potential for inheritance. It is not guaranteed here. “Should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
(Slide 6) So we begin our study of the doctrine of inheritance. We’ve gone through the first three or four points. We stopped last time under point 4. This time we are going to take up at point number 5. (Slide 8). Inheritance was given positionally, or potentially, which is the idea of inheritance that we realize only on the basis of obedience, on the basis of grace, but the realization and enjoyment of the inheritance was a reward for obedience. Salvation or justification is a gift, “for by grace you have been saved [Phase 1 salvation] through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God.” Salvation is a gift. It is not a reward. Reward is something that is given for meritorious behavior so rewards are given on the basis of what we do. Salvation is given on the basis of what Christ did on the Cross. There is a distinction between salvation or justification as a free gift, and inheritance as something that comes on the basis of obedience, and on the basis of our walk with the Lord.
We want to look at this like we have been doing, going back to the Old Testament where the concepts of inheritance are laid out for us and we will start there. Last time we looked at Abraham and how he was justified by faith in Genesis 15:6. That verse is not talking about his belief in context, his belief in the promise of God that he would have numerous heirs that would come through himself and Sarah and not through Eleazar, his servant. Many people misunderstand that because they do not look at the Hebrew.
Just this last week someone was asking me a question about what someone else taught. They said, “Listen to this or go read what he says about this.” It was about Genesis 15:6. This individual said that it was Abraham’s belief in the promise that his seed would come, not through Eleazar but through Sarah. That misses the point as I pointed out last time. There is a verb tense shift in verse 6. There is a break in the narrative. It goes “and this happened and this happened and this happened” which uses about four qal imperfects. Then it shifts to a qal perfect in verse 6. That shows that it is shifting. The author is telling us to remember something. When you look in your Bible, everyone in this church ought to have parentheses around Genesis 15:6 because it is a parenthetical note saying, “Now remember, Abraham had already been justified by faith.” That is referring back to his original justification which occurred prior to God’s promise in Genesis 15.
We focused on the inheritance that was promised to Abraham but its realization, when it came to Genesis 22, came as result of his obedience. That is part of the promise. In Genesis 15:1 God said to Abraham, “I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Reward is something that is given on the basis of obedience.
(Slide 8) Under this next point, we see that inheritance is given on the basis of grace but it is not realized until we obey Him. There are conditions placed on it. We are going to see that there are two categories of inheritance that apply to every believer: one where God is our inheritance, and one which is distinct, related to our spiritual growth and our spiritual maturity. What we are going to see is there is this same kind of distinction in the Old Testament. That is what I am laying the groundwork for under this particular principle.
We want to look at a couple of examples to understand that in the Old Testament, the promise of the land was given to Abraham as an additional blessing beyond his salvation. The same thing is true for the Exodus generation. Here is a generation of people, the majority of which were justified and were believers. We are going to have to establish that fact, because a lot of people think that because they failed to enter the land, they were not saved. Maybe you have heard that. That too, comes out of the allegorical interpretation of Reform theology.
In Reform theology, Canaan or the Promised Land represented Heaven. How many times have you heard in Negro spirituals or in other things this illusion to “crossing the Jordan” to enter into Heaven. Crossing the Jordan is used for dying in an allegorical sense. That is not how it is used in the Old Testament. Crossing the Jordan was crossing the literal river to go into the land that God promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants. It is not going into Heaven. Entering into Canaan, or the Promised Land, is not used typologically or allegorically to refer to going into Heaven. That is how it is used in numerous Reform theologies, and it is used that way in some hymns which, of course, we don’t sing in this church.
It was even part of the dying statement of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, otherwise known as General Stonewall Jackson, when he was shot accidentally by friendly fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville. His dying words had to do with “crossing over the river and lying in the shade of the tree.” He was a convinced and confirmed Presbyterian. He taught Sunday school every Sunday afternoon to the slaves on his plantation. He was an evangelist and he was a strong believer in Reform theology. When he is talking about crossing over the river, he is using an allegorical sense because he knows he is about to die.
We have to look at what the Bible teaches; that Canaan is not Heaven. Crossing the Jordan is not an allegory for crossing from this life into Heaven. One of the things we have to understand, that the Bible makes very clear, is that most of the Exodus generation were justified believers even though they became disobedient, rebellious believers and they lost their inheritance. They lost their inheritance. They jeopardized it by their disobedience and they were not able to enter the land. It does not mean they were all unsaved. How do you know that? Who were the only the two people who were allowed to enter the land and realize their inheritance? Joshua and Caleb. We will look at that in just a minute. Well, what about Moses? Did Moses lose his salvation? Does that mean that Moses was not saved because he did not enter the Promised Land? Not at all. See how their theology just breaks down once you start looking at things. Aaron did not make it into the Promised Land. Does that mean that Aaron does not make it into Heaven? No.
Miriam did not make it into the Promised Land. Many, many others did not make it into the Promised Land. It does not mean they are not going to make it into Heaven. It means they did not realize the blessings of the inheritance because they failed to obey. The only two that were obedient out of that whole generation and were therefore qualified to fully experience their inheritance were Joshua and Caleb.
(Slide 8) First of all, we want to establish this principle on this slide that most of the Exodus generation were saved by faith alone in the Messianic promise, not just in some vague promise that God would save them. They had an understanding based upon promises from Genesis 3:15 up through Genesis 49, when Jacob is pronouncing prophecies over each of his sons in the tribes, and he talks about the scepter that would not pass from the tribe of the Lion of Judah. Judah would be the tribe from which this ruler would come, the Lion of Judah. They had an understanding of this seed that would come and provide redemption for people.
As you move through the Old Testament, from Genesis all the way through Malachi, the promise became a little more clear, a little more clear, and a little more clear. By the time you get into the New Testament when Jesus is born, eight days later when He was presented and dedicated at the Temple, there is this really, really old guy named Simeon who has been hanging around because he read the Old Testament. He understood that the Messiah was about to come and he had prayed for God to allow him to see the Lord’s anointed, to see the Messiah. There clearly was enough information to give him the time, and the time frame. He is waiting.
There were others as we have seen in our study of Matthew. When Jesus would show up, people would see the miracles, and see Him heal the blind and heal those who were cripples and they would say, “Could this be the Messiah?” They understood that these were Messianic credentials indicated by the Old Testament. There was not just a vague promise. It became more and more specific as time went by.
The Exodus generation is saved because they understood the Messianic implications of what was going on, especially in terms of the Passover. (Slide 8) Let’s just look at a couple of things that are said about this generation. In Exodus 4:22–23, God is giving instructions to Moses on what to say. “You will say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.’ ” What He is saying here is that the nation corporately is His firstborn. God is addressing them in terms of the fact that they are His firstborn, not because every single individual was justified, although most of them were.
(Slide 9) Then we get into Exodus 4:31 just a few verses later as Aaron and Moses have now gone to the Israelites and performed signs and wonders, demonstrated their credentials, and what was the response of the people? They said, “Aw, get out of here, Moses, we know you. You killed that Egyptian. Go on.” Is that what they said? That is not what they said. Exodus 4:31, “And the people believed.” They are believing the promise of God to deliver them temporally because these people are already justified. They believed. “When they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.” We are going to see this again and again throughout Exodus as to how the people worshipped. They also really rebelled, horribly rebelled, went into idolatry and had Aaron build a golden calf for them. They really were apostate at times and extremely rebellious. This is why they did not realize their inheritance.
(Slide 10) We get to Exodus 12:7-8 when we see the instructions for the Passover, the tenth plague, that God would send death in Egypt to their firstborn. The solution to survive was the application of the blood of the lamb to the door posts. The instructions in verse 7, “And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.” This is a picture of trusting in God’s deliverance from death and the application of the blood.
(Slide 11) Then we go on from there and in Exodus 12:17 when God passed over, what is the response at the end of verse 27? “The people bowed the head and worshipped.” And then they went away and left Egypt. In Exodus 14:31, we read, “And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant, Moses.” Again and again, it said they believed. That is the condition for salvation.
(Slide 12) Then in Exodus 19:8, they are all before the Lord at Mt. Sinai and they are given instructions as to what they must do before they listen to the Lord give them the Law, the commandments. “And all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.’ ” They are going to be obedient, which indicates that they understand the issues and they are already saved and already justified.
(Slide 13) The New Testament treats them as saved and justified also. We get into 1 Corinthians 10, a great passage, and at the beginning talking about the Exodus generation, Paul writes, “They were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” The cloud is a reference to the shekinah glory, the presence of God leading the people with a cloud by day and a pillar by night. The sea is the mark of their departure from Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea on dry land. “And they did all eat the same spiritual meat.” Note that word “all”. That’s an important word. They all ate the same spiritual meat. When did they do that? We just saw that in Exodus 12. They ate the lamb which represented the Lord Jesus Christ on that first Passover. They did all eat the same spiritual meat. “And did all drink the same spiritual drink for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ.”
Now remember this verse. Today is Thursday night. Sunday is coming. Guess what our passage is going to focus on Sunday morning. It is that great passage in Matthew 16 when Jesus starts talking to Peter about, “On this rock, I will build my Church.” There is a lot of debate over whether He is talking about Peter and the word play with PETROS and PETRA. Is Jesus referring to Peter? Is Jesus referring to Peter’s statement that He is the Messiah? Or is He referring to something else? Remember we studied in Samuel how God is viewed as the Rock. That was one of the alternate names for Yahweh. He is the Rock. Here this is applied to Jesus, that Rock was Christ. Guess who Jesus is referring to when He says, “On this Rock, I will build my Church?” I will let you know for sure on Sunday morning. The last point there is that in 1 Corinthians 10:4, all are baptized, all ate, all drank, but with many of them God was not pleased. There is a contrast between the fact that they are all saved, but many of them displeased the Lord; in fact, all but two.
(Slide 14) Then in Hebrews 11:29–30, that great Hall of Faith chapter, the writer of Hebrews treats them as justified, “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land; which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about for seven days.” So they are a justified generation. The first verse refers to the Exodus generation. The second verse refers to their descendants, the conquest generation. So what we have seen is that both Exodus and the New Testament passages treat that Exodus generation as justified believers. The vast majority of them, if not all of them, were justified. But they failed to realize their inheritance.
That is the pattern. There are many who are justified, many Church Age believers who are justified, but they are not going to realize their inheritance at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They can lose that because they do not understand things like confession of sin. They live their lives mostly in carnality, walking according to the flesh, not walking according to the Spirit. They do not understand the importance of knowing the Word and living the Word. They are just glad they are going to go to Heaven and they have bought into this lie that as long as they are in Heaven, they do not care whether they are in a hovel, or a ghetto, or whether they are in some mansion. Our goal is to glorify God to the maximum. That is realized at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is not that we are trying to get anything, but that we want to be prepared and properly motivated and developed in our spiritual life so we can rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in the kingdom and on in to Heaven.
(Slide 15) There were only two people who actually realized their inheritance. Of the two or three million Jews who came out of Egypt, and that is a pretty substantial number, there were only two. Not even Moses made it into the Promised Land. The closest he got was on top of Mt. Nebo on Pisgah and God supernaturally allowed him to see all of the land. It says he could see all the way up to Galilee. This last year when we were there, even though it was crystal clear and we had a remarkable view from Mt. Nebo across the Jordan and we could see the high ridgeline where Jerusalem was. We could see those white stone buildings reflecting the morning sun which was at our back. You could see the glint of the sun off the steeple on the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives. It was just magnificent but you could not see all the way to Galilee. You could see towards Galilee. You could not see the Mediterranean but God allowed Moses to see all of the Promised Land. “This is what you could have had but you disobeyed Me. You violated My commandment when you struck the rock out of anger the second time. Because of that disobedience you lost the right to enter the land.” That does not mean that Moses did not get to go to Heaven, but he did not realize an earthly part of his inheritance.
The only two who did were Caleb and Joshua. Now you remember the story in Numbers when God gave them instructions to spy out the land, He did not say [this is where literal hermeneutics is so important] to go see if they could conquer the land. He told them to spy out the land that He was going to give them. There is a promise there. He was going to give it to them. Go check it out. Do a recon. The recon is not to see if you can do it. The recon is to see how you are going to do it and what the issues are that you are going to face once you invade the land. They went in and they saw these fortified cities. They saw giants in the land and they saw a lot of different things. Ten of them came back and said, “The circumstances are overwhelming. We just cannot do it.” Two of them said, “It is not up to us. It is up to the Lord. We can trust the Lord and God will give us the victory.” That was Caleb and Joshua. Because of that, God said, “no one is going into the land except the two, Caleb and Joshua.” It was forty years later when Caleb and Joshua were in their eighties that they finally realized that temporal part of their inheritance and entered into the land.
In Numbers 14:24, God said, “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” (Slide 16) Then Joshua also was distinguished. In Joshua 14:8–9, “Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me [those ten wimpy spies who did not have the spiritual courage to trust God to vanquish the enemy] made the heart of the people melt with fear.” That is the trouble. When you have bad leadership it causes people to fear. We saw a great example of this just recently when the Senate Majority leader, a Republican, came out and said, “We are just probably not going to win on this Iran nuclear treaty thing. We are going to try hard but we are not going to do it.” That is not a leader. A leader comes out saying, “It is going to be tough. We need to work harder. Let’s overcome the obstacles. Let’s get better organized but we are going to defeat this thing.” That is what a leader does. Joshua and Caleb were leaders but the other ten were like Mitch McConnell and they caused the peoples’ hearts to be discouraged and to melt with fear. We do not need those kinds of leaders. We need leaders who are focused on winning the battle, not being ready to give up and lose the battle.
That is exactly what happened with Joshua. He said, “I followed the LORD my God fully.” Caleb in Numbers 14:24 followed the Lord fully and Joshua followed the Lord fully. It goes on to say in Joshua 14:9 that “Moses swore in that day saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance to you and to your children forever [to Caleb and Joshua] because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’ ” That is the condition. The realization of inheritance is on the condition of obedience. This takes us to a full understanding of why that generation lost all inheritance including Miriam, Moses, and Aaron. Only Joshua and Caleb followed the Lord fully.
(Slide 17) We also have passages which indicate a loss of blessing. One passage indicating that you can forfeit your inheritance rights was the case of Reuben. Reuben was Jacob’s first born who lost his inheritance rights according to 1 Chronicles 5:1, “now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel—he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright.” So he lost his inheritance because of his disobedience, because of his sin.
We learn from these passages that realization of inheritance is based on obedience. Justification is a free gift by faith alone in Christ alone but inheritance that goes beyond the inheritance common to every believer, the rewards, are based on obedience. (Slide 18) Deuteronomy 6:18, “And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee.” The implication is that if you do not do right, it will not go right with you. “Do right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and you may go in and possess the good land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers.” What is this saying? [I just noticed that I changed the text I was using to the King James Version. Wait a minute. That sounds King James-ish, not New King James. That is why some of these verses sound a little more antiquated.] Moses is talking to the conquest generation. His last words to them before he goes up on Mt. Nebo, and before they cross over the Jordan into the Land, are that you have to do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord and then you will possess the land. Possession of the land is based on obedience.
(Slide 19) Deuteronomy 11:22, “For if you shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave unto Him; then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you and you shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.” It is conditioned upon obedience. If you are disobedient you will not dispossess these nations. Verse 24 says, “Every place where the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.” The potential was that they would realize the full control of the Promised Land but they did not because of disobedience. They conquered some areas, they partially conquered other areas, and then if you are familiar with Joshua and Judges, they just completely compromised, at least some of the tribes did. Like Dan – they never possessed their inheritance down along the coast and several generations later they had to send out a search team to find a place where they could move where the Canaanites were not so strong. They found a place up in the north called Laish and the whole tribe moved up there and conquered Laish.
(Slide 20) Deuteronomy 19:8–10, “And if the LORD thy God enlarge thy coast as he has sworn unto thy fathers.” Notice this language “enlarge your coast”. He’s talking to them about expanding their real estate rights. How many of y’all remember this garbagy book that came out called “The Prayer of Jabez”? It was about ten or twelve years ago and it was very popular. I remember a guy named Gary Gilley wrote a little refutation of it and the title of it was, I Just Wanted More Land. When you look at the prayer, that is what Jabez wanted. He prayed to the Lord to enlarge his inheritance. He wanted more land. He wanted to be able to exploit what God had given him to the max. He was not looking for prosperity. He was not asking for more money or more health and all these other things that came across in that little book. It was so disappointing that Wilkinson wrote that book. It was such a departure from everything else he had done before in his ministry with “Walk through the Bible” ministries and his heritage from Dallas Seminary.
Moses says if you obey, the Lord thy God will enlarge thy coast. That is that idea, just give you more land. “. . . as He has sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which He promised to give unto thy fathers. If you should shall keep all these commandments to do them…” See, it is predicated upon obedience. Realization of our full inheritance means walking in obedience to the Lord. That is not legalism. There are some people who think that if you start talking about the fact that you need to obey the Lord to realize His blessing, then that is legalism. It is biblical. It is not legalism. It is recognizing the fact that if you do not develop the capacity to enjoy and utilize the prosperity that God gives you, it will destroy you. God is not going to give you those blessings unless you develop the capacity to enjoy them and to use them correctly.
It is like you may have a lot of money and you are extremely wealthy and you have a son who is the apple of your eye. You want to give him a classic Corvette for his pleasure. So you buy it for him. You go out and you buy a 1960 Corvette and you have it all set aside for him, but you do not give him the keys when he is six years old. You may not even give him the keys when he is 16 or 26 years old because he may not have the capacity to do anything but wrap it around a tree. You wait until he has reached maturity so he can use it responsibly. That is not legalism. That is just wisdom. God does not distribute many of our temporal blessings unless we grow to maturity so we can properly use them. If we do not, then like Moses we’re going to lose those temporal blessings and maybe eternal blessings.
(Slide 21) Now the sixth point [that was all point five] is the possession of the land therefore, was conditioned on obedience – it was merited. Therefore as a possession, it could be lost. Let’s go back, for example, in Genesis 17:14, Abraham is warned that an uncircumcised male “Who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” If they did not follow the law of circumcision, which is related to the Abrahamic covenant, not the Mosaic covenant, then they would be removed from the land and cut off from their people.
(Slide 22) Deuteronomy 28:1–2, “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, then the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God.” See, that is the first half of the chapter. The rest of the chapter details all the ways God is going to judge them if they are disobedient.
We often go to Leviticus 26 and the last half of Leviticus 28 to talk about the five cycles of discipline. The flip side of the five cycles of discipline is the blessings. In the five cycles of discipline God says if you are disobedient, I am going to take you through this series of different judgments on your nation. That is no more legalistic than the first half which says to “Obey Me and I will increase you in the land and give you additional blessings.”
(Slide 23) Another passage that indicates we can lose that inheritance is a passage that comes at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the defeat of Judah in 586 B.C. In Lamentations 5:2 Jeremiah says, “Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, and our homes to foreigners.” Inheritance can be lost. They were removed from the land under the 5th cycle of discipline because of their disobedience to God. So inheritance can be lost again, just as we saw with Moses.
(Slide 24) The seventh point states that though not all have an inheritance in the land, all have God as their inheritance and possession. This is related to the Mosaic Law. Everyone had some kind of inheritance, but not everyone had a possession of land. So we see in Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” That word for portion is heleq which is like the word MEROS in the New Testament. It means “that share in your inheritance.” He is saying that God is his inheritance forever.
Psalm 119:57, “The LORD is my portion; [that’s that same word again] I have promised to keep Thy words.” Psalm 142:5, “I cried out to Thee, O LORD; I said, ‘Thou art my refuge, my portion [my inheritance] in the land of the living.’ ”. (Slide 25) Then we have passages such as Deuteronomy 18:2, which says that the priests and Levites, the whole tribe, had no land possession in the Promised Land. All the other tribes were given land, but not the priests and the Levites. Therefore, God says in Deuteronomy 18:2, “Therefore they [priests and Levites] shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the LORD is their inheritance.” That is that one category of inheritance. It is the Lord as He said to them.
(Slide 26) We have this emphasis on the fact that there are two things going on under the Law in Israel. It is the precedent, the background, for understanding what I am saying when I get to the New Testament. Everyone has an inheritance, but not everyone enjoys ownership of the land, and land rights, within the land. You have the inheritance of God, which we will see in Romans 8 is called “heirs of God,” and then you have those who have additional rights and ownership in the land, and that is what we will see under the categories of “joint heirs with Christ for those who suffer with Him” in the New Testament. But in point 8, let’s turn to Luke 15, and we are going to do just a quick review of what happens with the prodigal son. This is where we will wrap up.
I am not going to give you a full-bore exposition of this. Chapter 15 is a great chapter. It has been misunderstood by some people. Even among some Dallas Seminary professors there were different views. Some people took the view that when you see these three categories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, they understood the concept of loss in a soteriological sense; that someone who was lost was someone who was not saved. But that is not true because the shepherd who lost the sheep owned the sheep. It was already his. The sheep just wandered off course and got lost; not unsaved, because he is still owned by the shepherd. The lost coin owned by the woman is a coin that the woman already owned. It was her possession. All of these, the shepherd, the woman, all represent God. The lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son all relate to what happens when a believer wanders off course and God’s care and concern for the disobedient believer.
You have this parable that is told about a man who has two sons. One son is very obedient and responsible. (Slide 27) But the younger son comes to his father and says, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.” Now the word for portion there is the Greek word MEROS which we’ve studied many times before. It is the same word that is used when Jesus is talking to Peter and He says that if Peter does not let Him wash his feet, you will have no MEROS, or portion, or inheritance with Me. You will invalidate your inheritance if I don’t get to cleanse you on a regular basis. That is related to 1 John 1:9 cleansing. That is the key word in 1 John 1:9; not to confess, but to be cleansed.
This man wants his inheritance. What does he do? He takes all of his inheritance and cashes out at that point in his life. He takes what is his, puts it in the bank, heads off, and he squanders it all. He loses everything. He wastes it on wild living, wild women, and whatever his pleasures are. He wakes up one day and he is living in a land where there is a famine and he has no money or resources. He is down and the best job he can get is feeding the pigs, and all he eats is what he feeds the pig. The point of what we are saying is that he has lost his inheritance.
When he comes to his senses and thinks that his father’s servants are fed better than he is, he decides to go home. He goes home and we are all familiar with the story. As he comes, his father hears him coming, and his father runs out of the house and wraps his arms around him. He is so excited that the son he thought was lost has returned to him. He throws just a huge party for him. He is welcomed back into the family. He is going to be able to work with the family and all of these other things, but guess what? The money that he spent, the money that he lost, is gone. He will never get it back. He squandered his inheritance.
Is he still his father’s son? He sure is. Is he forgiven? He sure is. But there has been a loss of what he could have had, and what would have been his, if he had not squandered it. That is what we have when we get down to Luke 15:18. (Slide 28) That is when he has his turnaround. He says, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you.’ ” That is confession of sin. He turns back and there is recovery, but he has lost opportunity. There is lost privilege, lost potential, and lost opportunity. He has lost that.
Next time, we’re going to come back and wrap up – well, I think I can go through this really fast. (Slide 29) Ninth point: Inheritance is related to rewards for what is earned for service, whereas salvation is a free gift. The key passage for this is Colossians 3:24, “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” The reward of your inheritance is related to Christian service. It is not related to trusting in Christ as Savior. That is a free gift.
(Slide 30) Tenth point: Our heirship is based on adoption and sonship, therefore inheritance is related to positional truth. A key verse for two different kinds of inheritance is Romans 8:16-17. It is important to understand the punctuation there. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Every person who believes in Jesus Christ is a child of God and has certain privileges. “And if children, heirs also.” Then Paul lists two categories of heirship but the way it is punctuated with a comma after “heirs also” and “heirs with Christ,” makes it look as if “heirs of God” and “fellow heirs with Christ,” are synonymous. Now this is important. We have to understand where the commas belong. There were not any commas in the original Greek text.
We have to understand how to properly punctuate it because if we punctuate it wrong, we’re going to have wrong doctrine. (Slide 32) You have the sentence: A woman without her man is nothing. Where do you put the commas? (Slide 33) Well, if you put your commas like the first example what you’re saying is, “A woman, without her, man is nothing.” So basically what that sentence says is man is nothing without a woman. If you move the commas where you only have one comma after man, then it is saying a woman is nothing. So the commas change it from a statement about man being nothing to a statement about a woman being nothing, just depending on where you put your commas. So the whole meaning of the sentence shifts on the basis of commas. Punctuation is important.
Punctuation is based upon how an interpreter understands the meaning of the verse. It has just been tradition to punctuate it the way we have it. (Slide 34) It should be punctuated like this, “And if children, heirs also, heirs of God.” That is the first category for every believer. “And fellow heirs with Christ, if we suffer with him,” That is the second category. “Fellow heirs” is conditioned upon “suffering with Him.”
Paul says in 1 Timothy 4 that all who desire to live godly will be persecuted. That is suffering. That persecution may be just general persecution or difficulty because we are in the devil’s world, the cosmic system. Or it may be more focused, more targeted. The point is that if we are going to grow as believers, we are going to encounter suffering, opposition, and difficulty. As we handle it by the Word of God, we are going to grow and mature and develop our inheritance that we will realize at the Judgment Seat of Christ. So two categories: one category for every believer, and one category for those who are joint heirs if they suffer with Christ.
Last point, heirship is related to hope. (Slide 35) That is the verse I pointed out at the beginning in Titus 3:7, “That having been justified by His grace [something that has already occurred in the past] we should [or might, potential] become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” So the issue is: are we willing to live to develop our inheritance? Or are we just living out of our own pleasure because we are glad we are going to spend eternity in Heaven, or are we going to pursue realization of all the inheritance rights that God has already set aside for us, potentially? If we are not obedient, we do not realize those rights. We will come back and develop this within the context of 1 Peter next time.
“Father, thank You for the fact that You have made these things so clear to us. Salvation is free but You have incentives for us. You have incentivized the Christian life through these various rewards and crowns and other things that are ours conditioned upon obedience, conditioned upon walking in the Spirit, walking by the truth, walking in the light, and glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. Challenge us that we need to live for You and not just relax on what we have, but to press on to spiritual maturity that we may fully glorify You in every aspect of our life. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”