EDITORIAL -- Heirs of God
The privileges and blessings of the Christian are very great. But one of our greatest privileges is that of being "heirs of God" (Rom. 8:16). The value of heirship is determined by the value of the inheritance. The inheritance of faithful Christians is one that is "incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away" Q Pet. 1:3-5).
In order for one to have a valid claim on an inheritance, he must be able to establish the grounds of his inheritance. The Christian's claims to an inheritance are indisputable. He is a son or a daughter of God. God said, "I will receive you, and will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to me sons and daughters" (2 Cor. 6: 17, 18). But Paul said that if we are children of God, "then (we are) heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:16). Our sonship establishes the very highest kind of claim to the inheritance.
HEIRS OF THE PROMISE. The Bible speaks of several different things of which the Christian is the heir. There was a blessing connected with the "promise" that God made to Abraham. God told Abraham, "In thee shall all the nations be blessed" (Gal. 3:8). This statement to Abraham is called "the promise" in the New Testament. Our inheritance is through the "promise," and not through the Law of Moses (Gal. 3:18). Thus Paul said, "And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29). The Hebrew writer declares that God was "minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel" (Heb. 6:17). Thus every blessing that God referred to as coming through that descendant of Abraham (Christ - Gal. 3:16), the Christian is heir to.
HEIRS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. The Bible speaks of the righteousness that is of God." the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (Jas. 1:20). The righteousness of God" does not here refer to God's personal righteousness, but to God's plan by which man can be righteous in his sight. Man can never stand righteous in God's presence on his own merits alone. Paul says our salvation is not predicated on 11 works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves," but on his "mercy" (Titus 3:5). When man is ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeks to establish his own righteousness in God's sight, the result is he does not subject himself "to the, righteousness of God" (Rom. 10:3). In order to be saved one must work righteousness. ". . . in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:35). The righteousness of God can only be found in the gospel. In speaking of the gospel, Paul declared, "For therein is revealed a righteousness of God" (Rom. 1: 17). Thus when one is an "heir of righteousness," he is heir to that purity and uprightness in God's sight which is revealed in the gospel.
HEIR OF SALVATION. To be an heir through the promise or to inherit the righteousness which is through the gospel is to be an heir of salvation. The Hebrew writer said that angels are "ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation" (Heb. 1: 14). What one receives through the promise, or the righteousness revealed through the gospel, is personal salvation. Man is not intrinsically righteous. He is a sinner. Thus he must be saved from his sin, by the promise, and through the gospel.
HEIRS OF THE KINGDOM. The term "kingdom" is used in at least two senses in the New Testament. Frequently it refers to that "kingdom" into which we were translated when we were delivered out of darkness (Col. 1: 13). It therefore sometimes refers to the church, over which Christ rules as King. But on other occasions the word "kingdom" refers to that eternal kingdom. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). On the judgment day, to some He will say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34). It is in reference to this eternal kingdom that James said, "Did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him?" (Jas. 2:5).
We must all be careful as to how we conduct ourselves. We must seek to please him whose heir we are. Of his heirs in the Old Testament, God said when they digressed: "I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them . . ." (Num. 14:12). Let us therefore beware lest we lose our inheritance through the same kind of disobedience.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 26, pp. 3-4