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Sat, Jan 30, 1999

35 - Inheritance and Esau

Galatians 4:7-11 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:1 hr 5 mins 43 secs

Inheritance and Esau; Gal.4:7-11

Galatians 4:7 NASB "Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God."

There are few doctrines in Scripture that are quite as misunderstood as the doctrine we are going to begin to study here, the doctrine of inheritance.

The doctrine of inheritance

1.  Vocabulary: The noun in the Greek is kleronomos [klhronomoj] and the verb is kleronomeo [klhronomew]. The noun  means inheritance, possession or property. The verb means to possess, to receive something as one's own possession, and to obtain something. There are slightly different concepts to the Greek meaning of inheritance and our English understanding of inheritance. In our English understanding when we think about an heir or inheritance we think of things that are passed on at someone's death to a child or descendant of someone. But that is an added concept to the word. The root meaning is always possession, something that someone has as their very own, and in the Greek and Roman world this was tied to the whole concept of adoption which had to do with the recognition of adulthood and not the placing of a child into a new family. Always remember the Bible has to be interpreted in the time in which it was written. In the time this was written the natural born child might be inept, her might be a fool, he might be irresponsible, and the father looked at him and says he is not about to pass on the family name and family property and all the wealth to him because he would just squander it. So he might have a slave or someone else he had become close to and he would adopt that person as his adult son, and they would be the designated heir. So the apostle Paul takes this cultural analogy in order to teach critical principals about how God makes an unbeliever a part of the family and all that we have in terms of our inheritance, possessions and spiritual assets as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. So we start by understanding that kleronomeo means to possess or receive as one's possession. An inheritance can be a birthright in the Scriptures which one enters by virtue of sonship, Galatians 4:30; Hebrews 1:4. Secondly, it can refer to property that is received as a gift in contrast to something given as a reward, Hebrews 1:14; 6:12. Third, it can be property that is received in the basis of the fulfillment of certain conditions. Fourth, it can be a reward based on meeting certain conditions and following certain activities, 1 Peter 3:9; Galatians 5:16ff.  So the Bible sees inheritance in four different ways.      

2.  Jesus Christ is the heir of all things, Hebrews 1:2. So Christ, therefore, is the adult Son, the huios, and He possesses all things.

3.  Inheritance is based on adoption (the sonship aspect of adoption), therefore it is related to our position in Christ—doctrine of positional truth. Galatians 3:29; 4:1. There is one inheritance that is based upon our position in Christ—positional truth. Also this is found in Romans 8:16, 17 NASB "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with {Him} so that we may also be glorified with {Him.}"

4.  Inheritance is based on the grace promise of the Abrahamic covenant. Galatians 3:39—why are we descendants of Abraham? Because we have followed him in faith alone in Christ alone. Heirs of the promise. What was the promise? Galatians 3:14, the promise of the Spirit through faith. It is the result of grace, not the result of works.

5.  Inheritance demands eternal life because the son must have the same life as the father. This point focuses on the kind of life that comes with adoption. God the Father has eternal life. When we are adopted as His [adult] sons then God the Father imputes to us His very own eternal life. So as part of our possession as heir we have eternal life. Titus 3:5-7.

6.  Inheritance means to share the destiny of Jesus Christ. It includes destiny. We share the same destiny with Christ. It also includes eternal life. Christ has an eternal destiny and we share it by virtue of our election. Ephesians 1:11.

7.  Inheritance is both a present reality and a future possession. We have the present reality: right now we are adopted, we have an inheritance that we have right now; we have eternal life; we share the destiny of Christ. There is a future aspect. 1 Peter 1:4, 5 focuses on it, also Ephesians 1:13, 14. Another aspect is the sealing of God the Holy Spirit which relates to the doctrine of eternal security. We are owned by God the Father and that brand of ownership can never be removed. We see also in these verses that redemption is also a future concept, not just a past concept.

8.  Inheritance means eternal security, an inheritance that is undefiled. 1 Pet 1:4, 5 NASB "to {obtain} an inheritance {which is} imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." This also applies to contingency blessings in eternity which is part of that inheritance package, blessings that are reserved for us on the basis of reaching certain levels of spiritual maturity.

9.  God the Holy Spirit is the down payment on our inheritance. Ephesians 1:14 NASB "who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of {God's own} possession, to the praise of His glory." Also in Galatians 4:6.

10.  But there is a problem. The basic problem is that there are some passages which speak of inheritance as a permanent possession based on faith alone in Christ alone (Galatians 3:29), but there are also passages which seem to speak of inheritance as an acquisition or a reward. Further, there are other passages that indicate that if you participate in certain activities then you will not be an heir, e.g. the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, also Ephesians 5:5 NASB "For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." Also 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 NASB "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor {the} covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God." The problem is that we want to go to these passages and take this phrase "inherit the kingdom of God" as a phrase that equals salvation. It is not. So we have to ask the question: What does it mean to inherit the kingdom?

11.  Conclusion: There are two categories of inheritance in the Bible and that is substantiated by two particular phrases. One is the phrase "inherit the kingdom," Ephesians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10. Then there is another phrase, "inherit salvation," Hebrews 1:14. Inheritance means possession but it depends on what we are possessing. We must look at the object in the context. What kind of inheritance is in view? We have seen that there are some possessions that are given to every believer in Christ. Romans 8:17 is a critical passage to understand NASB "and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with {Him} so that we may also be glorified with {Him.}" The punctuation should be: "and if children, heirs also, heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ…" (two different inheritances emphasized). "Heirs of God" is for every single believer, but the second category is "fellow heirs with Christ." What do we have to do to be a joint heir with Jesus Christ? The condition is: "if indeed we suffer with {Him} so that we may also be glorified with {Him.}" Suffering is the mechanics by which God reinforces the doctrine in our souls and brings us from spiritual infancy (in the midst of that suffering we apply doctrine) and we grow to spiritual maturity. The suffering with Christ stands for going through that process of discipline. So there are two kinds of inheritance: inheriting the kingdom and inheriting salvation. Inheriting salvation has to do with inheriting eternal life and those blessings that every believer equally possesses from the moment of salvation. But inheriting the kingdom is a different category which has to do with ruling and reigning with Jesus Christ in His kingdom. It has to do with owning the kingdom and possessing the kingdom. Those who are heirs of the kingdom are spiritual aristocracy in eternity. But we see that there are many believers who because they never learn any doctrine and never apply any doctrine spend most of their lives under the control of the sin nature, never deal with the sin in their life, never advance to spiritual adulthood, and the result is they are disqualified from inheriting the kingdom. They still have eternal, life, will spend eternity in heaven but they will not rule and reign with Jesus Christ and they will not own or possess the kingdom. They will be classified as those who lose rewards at the judgment seat of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. 

12.  We have our illustration of inheritance given in Hebrews 12:16, 17 NASB "that {there be} no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright [inheritance] for a {single} meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears." Esau gave everything up that would have been his for a bowl of soup. The trouble is a lot of believers are giving up their inheritance rights, position and possession in Jesus Christ for a bowl of soup. That was the problem with the Galatian believers. Their bowl of soup was legalism.  

Now Paul is going to refer to the licentious aspect of it in vv. 8-12. He is going to refer back to their life before they were saved. Galatians 4:8 NASB "However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods." This is idolatry. Idolatry can come under various categories. It can be licentious under the concept of the phallic cult, or it can be under the guise of religion if there is legalism involved. Idols are not gods but there are demons associated with idolatry, according to 1 Corinthians. [9] "But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?" This is the problem with many Christians. After they are saved they either want to get involved in some form of legalism and emphasize ritual without reality or they get involved in some form of antinomianism and licentiousness and lasciviousness. They want to turn back and live like they did before they were saved. We were nor saved just to get into heaven, we were saved so that we could live our lives pleasing to God and to glorify God in the angelic conflict. God has an unbelievable amount of blessing for each one of us that he desires to give us but if we just cop out and say we are just glad we are in His family and don't care if we are the dumb son or not then we are going to miss out on so much God has for us, and that is the problem with most believers. 

Galatians 4:10 NASB "You observe days and months and seasons and years." That is a kind of an insult. He goes to the fact that under the Judaizers they were now beginning to observe all the feast days and various fasts under Judaism. But under the Greek paganism that they came from there were also religious festivals and religious feast days and they were beginning to observe those. Paul is saying that in the church age there is no emphasis on feasts or fasts or religious festivals, it is all secondary and has nothing to do with biblical Christianity. The Bible makes no emphasis on observing any of these days. [11] "I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain." It is not that they are losing their salvation but that they are saved and are just going to give up like Esau did, and give up all that they have as part of their birthright, their adoption in Christ, and will forfeit all of their inheritance rights and they will end up at the judgment seat of Christ with nothing.