ATTAINING TO THE INHERITANCE
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The Father offered a marvelous inheritance to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus then had to overcome all enemies in order to gain His inheritance. He had a work to do and He finished it.
To each one of us the Father is offering a marvelous inheritance—that of being a son and heir of God. To no angel has such an inheritance ever been offered. But it is being offered to us.
We are required to overcome, through Christ, all the enemies that would seek to prevent our attaining our great inheritance. We have our own work to do and it is our responsibility, with the Lord’s help, to finish it in the same spirit of faithfulness the Lord Himself manifested.
The forgiveness of sins is the beginning aspect of the Christian salvation. God forgives our sins through Christ so He can proceed with the main task of changing us into the image of Jesus and bringing us into union with Himself. It is the transformation and relationship with God that are the primary emphases of the new covenant.
ATTAINING TO THE INHERITANCE
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:3)
The Christian salvation is a journey. It begins with the grand parade as we march out of Egypt (the world). We repent of our sins. We receive Christ. We are baptized in water. We are born again. We are filled with God’s Holy Spirit. It is a time of the greatest joy and significance. It marks the beginning of our eternal life with God.
The goal of our journey is assumed to be residence in Heaven after we die. If we receive Christ when we are fifteen years of age, and die when we are eighty-five, we have seventy years of waiting before we attain our goal. What do we do in the meantime?
Because human beings find it difficult to respond to the total demands of discipleship that Jesus presents to us (forsake the world, take up your cross, follow me), because we do not always perceive a vital relationship between such total demands and our goal (after all, we go to Heaven by grace!), and because our enemies are many, cunning, and vicious, it is not uncommon for the once-enthusiastic believer to neglect the stringent demands of Christ in favor of a more relaxed approach to life. There are many interesting things to do in the world (in the wealthy nations) until we die or until the Lord returns.
The Book of Hebrews is a warning to Christians of the spiritual danger of not serving Christ with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
One does not find many believers who have forsaken the world, who are bearing their personal cross—abiding in their personal prison, and who are following Christ with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Assuredly there are some, but not many it appears. Yet it is impossible to be a Christian, a disciple of Christ, unless one forsakes the world, takes up his cross, and follows Jesus.
Christianity is in a deplorable state in our time.
One of the main reasons for the lack of biblical discipleship is an ignorance of the goal of redemption.
First of all, let us state that the goal of the Christian salvation is not to go to Heaven when we die. There is a Paradise, a Heaven. God, Christ, the saints, and the elect angels, abide there at the present time. But eternal residence in Heaven is not the goal of salvation. Study the Old Testament and the New Testament and determine for yourself if eternal residence in the spirit Paradise is the goal of the Christian salvation.
The truth is that the two primary aspects of the goal of the Christian redemption are (1) being changed into the image of the Lord Jesus; and (2) being in union with the Father through the Son.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be changed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)
The first few chapters of the Book of Hebrews discuss several objectives toward which we are to be pressing diligently:
- Becoming a son of God, a brother of Christ.
- Growing to the fullness of stature and maturity in Christ’s image.
- Ruling over all the works of God’s hands.
- Attaining to our unique inheritance, our foreordained, specific destiny.
- Entering the Sabbath rest of God—ceasing from our own works and flowing in the Life of the Godhead.
- Conquering all our spiritual enemies.
The above are not all the elements of the goal of the Christian redemption but they may serve to give the reader the understanding that the Christian salvation does have specific objectives and that he is not to wait until he dies in order to lay hold on them. They are to be pursued each day of the believer’s life with all the diligence of which, with the Lord’s help, he is capable.
God has in mind a specific destiny for each saint whom He calls. He knows each page of the book of our life. Indeed, ours is a great salvation. God does not want us to waste our life going in other directions—directions of our own choosing. God knows precisely what He wants with each of us. But, as we have said, there are many spiritual enemies attempting constantly to prevent each of us from entering his or her unique inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some of these very cunning and vicious enemies are as follows:
Satan. Satan always is attempting to destroy those who have been called to be the sons of God, those who are endeavoring to enter the power and glory that is theirs by inheritance. The number of demons is increasing daily, swarming about earth’s peoples; particularly, it seems, the citizens of the wealthy Western nations.
The present world. The world is not our friend. The world murdered Christ and will overcome us if we are not careful. The world seeks constantly to keep us occupied with its things, circumstances, and relationships rather than with seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
The False Prophet. The False Prophet, or the spirit of religious delusion, has entered the ranks of the Christians. The current teaching of the pre-tribulation “rapture” is one example. Another is the unscriptural definition of “grace,” which promises that God is offering to us an eternal unconditional amnesty such that holy and righteous behavior is not an essential part of our eternal life. This error has wrecked the testimony of the Christian churches, in many instances.
The False Prophet is man’s attempt to imitate Christ without forsaking the world, taking up his cross, and following Jesus. It is the soulish individual seeking power in the supernatural realm by using the name of the Lord Jesus.
The False Prophet is making inroads into the Christian churches of our day, particularly in the Charismatic churches. The believers, being asleep in the lap of material prosperity, do not realize the voice they are listening to is that of the False Prophet. He is persuading them that God desires they be wealthy and comfortable in the present world.
Antichrist. Antichrist, the beast, is the spirit of democracy, of the rights of people, of libertarianism. It is man throwing off authority and making himself god.
The author believes that the spirit of democracy, of the rights of people, of freedom of speech as it currently is interpreted and practiced in America, will overcome every other form of government including all forms of socialism. The False Prophet, particularly in the believers, will work together with the spirit of democracy to establish a world government that apparently is Christian but will prove to be the most vicious, the most subtle, and the most destructive of the enemies of Christ over the 2,000 years of Church history.
We have just had a presidential election in the United States of America (1996). The current president has been reelected. He is claiming to be a Christian and in fact has enlisted the support of pastors. Yet his record in office appears to favor gross immorality and he has a widespread reputation for lacking moral character. He does not seem to be a cross-carrying disciple of the Lord Jesus, that is, a genuine Christian. Yet the voice of outrage is not heard in the churches he attends. So it will be in the days of Antichrist.
The voice is Jacob’s but the hands are Esau’s.
We do not believe the president is the Antichrist mentioned in Second Thessalonians. But we are of the opinion that Antichrist will be a persuasive, charming individual of great charisma who will make a pretense of Christianity in this very manner.
The worship of money. The Scriptures warn us that money is the root of all evil. Yet there are prominent leaders who teach that Christians ought to be rich in the present world.
Babylon (man-directed Christianity). Babylon represents religious effort apart from the known will of God, just as the Tower of Babel was an attempt to glorify and unify people apart from the Lord. Babylon portrays those Christian churches and religious systems that are building in their own wisdom and strength.
Laodicea. The spirit of Laodicea is that of apathy, of smugness born of the stress on the “rights of people.” Because of the “friendliness” of the antichrist governments toward lukewarm Christianity, toward the man-directed religious systems, the believers will be “at ease in Zion.” In this manner Satan will overcome the Christian churches of the last days.
The lusts of the flesh. Because of the delusion that Christian grace is an excuse for our sins, and because of the demon-filled environment in which we are attempting to survive, many believers have succumbed to adultery, fornication, various sexual perversions, covetousness, drunkenness, and other sins of the flesh. The lusts of the flesh keep us from our inheritance by bringing the judgment of God upon us and by warring against the new creation, the Kingdom of God, which is in us.
Self-will. Self-will is one of the most subtle of the Christian enemies. It is impossible for us to enter our inheritance as sons of God as long as we are obedient to our self-will. Self-will is man’s attempt to gain his desires apart from God’s will and timing. Self-will makes little gods of us and introduces chaos into the Divine order.
We see, therefore, that we have been called to an exceedingly great inheritance in Christ and also that we have powerful and skilled enemies whose objective is to keep us from attaining our inheritance.
The spiritual currents are swift, and that is why there are many warnings in the Book of Hebrews concerning our tendency to become careless after we have made a profession of Christ, not pursuing our inheritance with the fullness of vigor and determination that is required. It is impossible to attain our inheritance in Christ unless we fight the good fight of faith all the days of our life. The moment we “retire” we begin to lose ground with God.
God will accept nothing less than the best effort of which we are capable. He stands ready to assist all who call on Him in sincerity.
We always must be fiercely determined to do the will of God.
To those who may insist we will receive our inheritance whether or not we press into the rest of God, whether or not we serve Christ with all sincerity, who claim salvation is not based upon our response of daily faith and perseverance, let us point out that to take this attitude is to walk on slippery ground as far as the Book of Hebrews is concerned. Since one’s eternal salvation is at stake it seems wiser to see what is to be gained by seeking Christ with total diligence rather than to wait to discover the end of those who neglect their salvation.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews exhorts us to move past the rudiments of the Christian Gospel and to press into the rest of God. The rest of God is our inheritance in Christ. It is that place of attainment where we are abiding in trust in Christ, and by the power of the Word and Spirit of God, are proceeding steadily forward toward the fullness of what God has marked out for us as an individual.
We are to learn how to cease from our own works, our own strivings, and to rest with God as His work (already completed in God’s mind) is wrought out in the spiritual and material realms.
In his epistle the writer of Hebrews warns the believers of the consequences of falling back, of not bearing the fruit of Christ’s moral image. Christ’s moral image always comes forth in those who truly are abiding in Him. Righteousness and holiness of behavior must accompany salvation (Hebrews 6:9). If the fruit for which God is looking does not come forth, the believer is near to rejection and burning (Hebrews 6:8).
In the beginning of his exhortation to perseverance and faithfulness the writer of Hebrews first points out the inconceivable majesty of the inheritance of Christ, and then the fact that we too are sons who are being brought to glory and rulership.
After this he warns us we will partake of this great inheritance only on the condition that we “hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14).
If we consider the stupendous grandeur of the inheritance of Christ, and then realize that this same inheritance is being extended to us, we can understand the consternation of the writer of Hebrews. He was very concerned that the Hebrew saints were not pressing toward their exceedingly high calling but instead were drifting with the spiritual and material tides of their environment. They were committing the sin of neglecting the inheritance in Christ to which they had been called by the Spirit of God.
Neglect is a great sin, and those who bury their talent will not escape the anger of God. This is what the writer of Hebrews is emphasizing to us.
Let us consider first the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Example in all things:
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1,2)
Christ is the Heir of God. It was by Christ that the Father made the worlds and all the creatures of them, both spiritual and natural.
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Hebrews 1:3)
There is no way in which any human being can gaze on Christ as He Is, for Christ is the fullness of the Glory of God. Our conception of Jesus as a man in a white robe falls far short of the mark. Better to think of Jesus as a galaxy of suns in the form of a man, although the energy contained in a galaxy of suns does not approach the power that resides in God’s living Word, His Christ.
The Lord Jesus is the image of the Person of God. No man ever has seen the Father. But Christ has revealed the Father, and he who has seen Jesus has seen the Father; not because Jesus is the Father but because He is the image of the Father and the Father dwells in Him in His Fullness.
Christ upholds the galaxies of the universe. The size and might of Christ are quite beyond our ability to conceive. All the creation lives, moves, and has its being in Christ.
Christ alone purged our sins from us, and after that rose to sit in Heaven at the right hand of the Almighty God.
We can use words to tell of such authority and glory but we never will gain a true concept of the splendor of Christ until that Day of days when we see Him. Then we will have bodies like His and be able to abide in the Presence of this most awesome Personage.
Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:4)
Angels are mentioned throughout the Scriptures. We do not know much about them but we do know that some of them are creatures of enormous glory, strength, and intelligence. They have individual personalities as do humans. They have names and are able to communicate. They are interested in humans—so much so that there is joy in the presence of the angels when a sinner repents.
The Scriptures suggest that when Satan rebelled against God a large number of angels followed him, including some of the angels of great status and authority in Heaven. It is against these “principalities” and “powers” and “rulers of the darkness of the world” that the saints must struggle as they attempt to lay hold on the inheritance they have been given through Christ.
One of the most interesting of the experiences we will have when we die physically is to gain the acquaintance of the angels.
Some of the angels, such as Gabriel, are permitted to be close to the Presence of God. Paul refers to the “elect” angels (I Timothy 5:21). This is a peculiar expression, in that we think of Divine election only in terms of people. But Paul charged Timothy concerning godliness, calling on the elect angels as witnesses.
God has intelligent creatures who are able to make choices but who are not human beings. The uniqueness of the human is not his intelligence or that he can make choices. It is that he is in the image of God and has a soul capable of union with God.
As we have said, some of the angels are of great glory. Compared with them we are as the dust of the ground.
But the Lord Jesus has been made “so much better” than the most exalted of the angels. How has He “obtained a more excellent name than they”? By inheritance!
What has Christ inherited that is so much more excellent than what is possessed by Gabriel, or Michael, or by any other angel? His name.
What name has Christ received that is so much more excellent than the name assigned to any of the angels? The name Son!
For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (Hebrews 1:5)
I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalms 2:7)
I will be his father, and he shall be my son… (II Samuel 7:14)
No angel, or any other creature of God, ever at any time has been referred to as God’s begotten son. The inheritance of son ranks far above all other inheritances.
Of the numerous persons of majesty and glory in the heavens, only the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Being the Son of God makes Jesus the Heir of all God Is and possesses. There is no other name as important as that of son. The other spiritual personages must defer to the Son, giving honor to Him. He is the Heir of all the things of God.
Being a son means that Jesus not only is the Heir of God but also partakes of God’s Divine Personality and Nature and is in the image of God. The son of any person is of that person’s being and nature and is in his image (although there are many exceptions to this because of the sin and corruption in the earth).
Like begets like in the spirit realm as well as in the natural realm. While other creatures may be referred to as “sons of God,” the term is used only in the sense that they have been created by the Lord. The difference with Jesus is that He is the “begotten” Son, meaning He has proceeded from God’s Person rather than merely having been created by the Father.
Sometimes creative people refer to their works as their “children.” While it may be true that a work of art has been born from the travail of an individual’s talent as he or she has wrestled to bring forth from his inner vision, it is not the same as that individual giving birth to a child, for no matter how much a “part” of its creator a creation or work of art may be, it can never be of the substance and nature of its creator.
There is a difference between what is created and what is born.
So it is true that no creature of God can approach the glory and majesty the Father has bestowed on the Lord Jesus, because Jesus is the begotten Son of God.
And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (Hebrews 1:6)
In verse five we have the expression, “this day have I begotten thee.” And in verse six, “when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world.”
There is a mystery here.
The mystery has to do with what Jesus was before He was born of Mary, what He was while He walked on the earth, and what He is now.
We understand that Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
We understand also that He is the “eternal life, which was with the Father” (I John 1:2).
We know that all the works of God were performed by the living Word—who Jesus Is (John 1:3).
We know that all personages, whether angelic or human or of any other kind, were created by the living Word:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; (Colossians 1:15-19)
We know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He is from eternity, and that all things were created by Him and for Him. Other than this we know virtually nothing of the state of Christ prior to His birth in Bethlehem.
But we do understand that His birth as a human being represented an enormous and eternal change of state in the Personality of Christ. For Christ now is what never had been true before Bethlehem. Christ, while still the Son and Word of God, is now a man. There is a Man seated on the highest throne of the universe.
The Personality of Christ remains unchanged from eternity. But His manner of living, opportunities, and fruit have increased greatly. Also, a Wife, a fullness, is being created from His body and blood—body and blood He did not possess prior to His virgin birth.
Christ has been with the Father from the beginning. Yet we have the expression, “this day have I begotten thee.” And the declaration “let all the angels of God worship him” was spoken by the Father when He brought His firstborn Son “into the world,” not during past eons, but when He brought Christ into the world.
One key to the mystery can be found in the second Psalm:
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen [nations] for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (Psalms 2:8)
Consider that Christ had made the nations and also the farthest reaches of the earth. Why would the Father invite Him to pray to receive what He Himself had created? If Christ had created the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth (and He had), why, then, did He not own them? Why would He be required to pray that they be given to Him?
Perhaps the answer to this question will reveal the reason for the concern of the writer of Hebrews regarding the lack of diligence of the Hebrew Christians.
We found, in the first chapter of the Book of Colossians, that Christ is both “the firstborn of every creature,” and also “the firstborn from the dead” (verses 15 and 18).
His being “the firstborn of every creature” means He created every creature and thing. He was before all things.
His being “the firstborn from the dead” signifies He is the first of the new creation, which is the Kingdom of God.
We are dealing here with two separate creations: the first creation, consisting of the heavens and the earth that have been and yet are; and the second creation, which is the Kingdom of God, the new creation—that which began when the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.
In the spiritual heavens, prior to the creation of the heavens and earth with which we are familiar, there was a rebellion against the Father. Satan and a large number of angels decided to live according to their own will, not according to the Father’s will.
During this rebellion a number of the angels stood true to the Father and continued to perform His will. The Word of God, whom we know as Christ, also stood true, loving the Father’s righteousness and hating wickedness. Because of His stand for righteousness, God anointed the Word, the Expression of His Personality, His Son (if that relationship was conceived of before man was created), with the oil of gladness.
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Psalms 45:7)
Who Christ’s “fellows” are we do not know, unless the Spirit is referring to those who one day will be the brothers of Christ (Romans 8:29), or possibly to angels that were referred to as sons of God (Job 1:6; 38:7).
At some point, whether before or after this rebellion, the God of Heaven, the Father, developed in His mind a plan for a kingdom—a kingdom that would restructure the organization of His creatures. Included in this plan is a Wife for the Lamb, and the birth and maturing of many sons in the image of His Firstborn—Christ.
The kingdom of which God has conceived is to be created by and in Christ. Christ is to be in every aspect of the kingdom and is to be the Lord and Center of all.
The kingdom that God is creating is to have Christ, the righteous One, as its Life, and also is to have a material form. In the execution of the Father’s plan, it was necessary that Christ come into the world, make an atonement for sin, and then be glorified in His earthly form.
After this the Life of Christ is to be grafted on other human beings, causing the fruit of righteousness to be borne by them—the righteousness that is of Christ. When the fruit of righteousness comes forth in other people, their material form also will be redeemed. This process will continue until there is a great Kingdom of which Christ is the Life and the Center.
Since God is the Life of Christ, what we then will have in the material creation is one comprehensive expression of the invisible God. God will have become All and in all.
The creation and development of such a kingdom requires the bringing into existence of a new kind of being—man. Man’s role is to be in the image of God and to rule all the works of God’s hands. The angels, who may have been the former rulers of the creation, are to serve as helpers of God’s sons and heirs.
In order for man, the ruler of God’s new world, to learn obedience, he first must be subjected to numerous afflictions and testings. He must be made lower than the angels for a season until his obedience to the Father has been assured.
Mankind itself is to be divided into two groups: a called-out, royal priesthood; and then nations of people who are ruled, guided, and blessed by the royal priesthood.
Such is the Kingdom of God—that which was completed in detail in God’s mind before the events described in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis came into existence. The Lamb was slain, the elect were glorified, the works were finished, from the creation of the world. So great is God!
This is a marvelous plan. Its successful implementation depended entirely on God bringing the first Man into the world—the Man who would make an atonement for the sin which had entered the creation with the rebellion of angels and on whom could be constructed the Kingdom of God.
It may be noted that God’s works, as described in the Scriptures, often depend on the obedience of one individual whom God calls out and draws to Himself by various means. Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the Apostle Paul come to mind. The inheritance and kingdom we have been describing depended on the willingness of Christ to come and obey God by faith. In so doing Christ became the Firstborn of many sons to come and the Captain of their salvation.
It was necessary that Christ bear on the cross the sins of the many sons; that He come to know their pain; and that He overcome the world by faith, having been tested in every manner in which His brothers are to be tested.
The complete plan for the Kingdom of God is in the mind of the Father. The details of the plan, as they are worked out from day to day throughout the history of the world, are known only to the Father. They are not known even to Christ—only to the Father.
The personages of the heavens do not know what God is doing. God is revealing His plan through the people and circumstances of the earth, and Heaven has to look to the earth, especially to what takes place in the Church, in order to discover what the Father is doing.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (I Timothy 3:16)
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by [through] the church the manifold wisdom of God, (Ephesians 3:10)
To those who might object that since the Father and Christ are both God, whatever the Father knows, Christ knows, let us respond by pointing to Revelation 1:1:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (Revelation 1:1)
If God gave the Revelation to the Lord Jesus, then there had to be a point at which God possessed it and Jesus did not.
Notice also the following:
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven neither the Son, but the Father. (Mark 13:32)
Theologians, in their attempt to understand the Persons of God and of Christ, and knowing that Christ is Deity, have emphasized the Deity of Christ to the point that the believers have become confused concerning the identities of the Father and the Son.
While it is true that the Father and the Son are One, the oneness does not imply that they are the same Person. In fact, the saints have been called to be an integral part of the same Oneness (John 17:21-23).
The Father is greater than the Son (John 14:28).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son, the Witness, and the Servant of God. During His days on the earth the Lord Jesus learned obedience to the Father. If Jesus and the Father are the same Person, then Christ’s cry of agony in Gethsemane and on the cross is incomprehensible.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our elder Brother. He is our great high Priest. He is working so that one day His Father will be our Father and His God will be our God. He is teaching us to sing praises to the Father as He sings praises to the Father:
Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. (Hebrews 2:12)
We understand, therefore, that there is a great plan, a great kingdom in the vision of the Father. The Kingdom was completed in God’s vision before the heavens and earth were created. Piece by piece the parts of the puzzle are being put together by the Father’s wisdom and knowledge.
As we have said, we do not know of the state of Christ prior to His birth in Bethlehem of Judea. But we do know that His Spirit spoke through the Hebrew Prophets.
But to whom was the Spirit of Christ speaking when the revelation was coming forth through David and the other prophets of the Lord? The Spirit of Christ was speaking primarily to Christ, who was to be born as a man.
In the purest sense, the promises made by the Hebrew Prophets are to one Person—Christ. He is the one Seed of Abraham to whom the promises of God have been made. Christ is the Servant of the Lord, the Israel of God, and the cultivated Olive Tree.
The promises of the Prophets apply to other persons only as they become part of Christ, part of the one Seed of Abraham.
All has been given to Christ.
The greatest point of change in the history of the world occurred when the living Word of God became flesh, became a Man, and became the Son of Man, being born of a woman. Here is the first man as God intends man to be.
In order to be true man an individual must be born twice. He must be born of woman, and then he must be born again of God. No person is man, in the Kingdom sense, until he has been born twice. The human being who has not been born of God, in whom the Life of Christ is not dwelling, is not a true child of God. He is flesh. He is dust. He is dead to the purposes of God. He has the form of God but there is no Kingdom life in him.
As Jesus of Nazareth came to maturity His role in the Kingdom was revealed to Him through the Scriptures and through the personal revelation of the Father to Him. The Lord learned from the Scriptures who He is and what His mission and role on earth were to be.
Christ had to walk by faith in God, as all the other sons of God are required to do. Jesus was tested as we are. Satan attempted to plant doubt in Christ’s mind that He is the Son of God. Jesus had to overcome the adversary by faith in the Father’s Word just as each of us has to overcome the adversary by faith in the Father’s Word.
The Captain of our salvation had to be made perfect through suffering (Hebrews 2:10).
Jesus had the written Word, as well as the personal revelation from God concerning God’s will for His life. We too, who are called to be sons of God, have the written Word, and God speaks to us along the way. Jesus had to overcome the world by faith in God’s Character and we must overcome the world by faith in God’s Character.
The Father held out a marvelous inheritance to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Lord Jesus had to overcome all enemies and gain His inheritance. He had a work to do and He finished it.
To each of us the Father is holding out a marvelous inheritance—that of being a son and heir of God. To no angel has such an inheritance ever been offered. But it is being offered to us. We are required to overcome, through Christ, all the enemies that would seek to prevent us from attaining our great inheritance. We have our own work to do, and it is our responsibility, with the Lord’s help, to finish it in the same spirit of faithfulness the Lord Himself manifested.
The declarations of the Scriptures concerning the Sonship of Jesus, including the fact that the angels are to worship Him, and that His throne is forever, were read and pondered by the Boy of Nazareth. The Spirit kept guiding and impressing Him through the Law and the Prophets. Jesus walked by faith in the Word of God. Now He is exalted above all, having attained the fullness of His inheritance.
Even though the Logos had created all things, including the nations and the uttermost parts of the earth, the Father, in terms of the plan we have just described, invited Him to pray for the inheritance He (the Logos) had created.
It is our turn. We have the Word. If we are paying attention to the things of salvation as we should, the Spirit is guiding and impressing us through the Word. We must walk by faith in the Word of God for we too are God’s sons. We too have been called to indescribable glory.
Either we will attain the fullness of our inheritance or else we will incur the Lord’s wrath by despising what has been offered to us—that which cost Christ so much to obtain for us.
Notice the dreadful authority and power that are the inheritance of the Lord Jesus:
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8)
We too, as sons of God, have been called to the highest throne. We too are required to overcome, to stand fast against every enemy and attain that to which we have been called.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
Here is the point of the Book of Hebrews. The written Word of God has revealed our destiny to us. But the obtainment of such a marvelous inheritance is determined by our success in overcoming the adversaries that are seeking to prevent us from achieving God’s purpose concerning us, just as was true of the Lord Jesus. He was tempted in all points in which we are tempted; challenged in all areas in which we are challenged. Yet He had created all things to begin with. In this He is different from us.
The fallen angels were, at one time, the rulers of the works of God’s hands. Now those angels are faced with the new creation of God—the hated man to whom has been given the rulership. In their envy, spite, and jealousy, the rebellious angels use every device possible to prevent man from ascending the throne of the universe.
Man, in order to be fully what God intends him to be, must be a son of man (a human) and a son of God. Flesh and blood, ordinary human life, cannot enter the Kingdom of God. The purely human cannot be part of the Divine Kingdom. We must be, as Jesus is, both human and Divine.
Because our calling is so high, because there are so many dangerous enemies seeking to undermine our efforts, and because we must endure the transition from being solely human to being both son of man and son of God, we must be alert and diligent every day of our discipleship on the earth. We never can relax our vigilance. God will chasten us vigorously because we are His sons. We must continue in faith and prayer or else the trials and battles will bring us down to discouragement and defeat.
God has called Christ to the Throne of Glory. Christ emptied Himself of His Divine abilities, took upon Himself the form of a servant, and obeyed the Father to the point of death on the cross. Christ overcame every adversary and now is exalted above all who are in Heaven, all who are on the earth, and all who dwell under the earth (Philippians 2:10).
We also have been called to the Throne of Glory. We have been called to be man as God intends man to be. There are many forces that would tear us down. If we are willing to forsake the world, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus, we too will be raised by the Father to the Throne of Glory prepared for us.
We saints must understand that we actually have been born of God. Being “born again” is not a figure of speech referring to a change of mind on our part. To be born again is to be born of God in the literal sense.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12,13)
He who truly has received Jesus is born of God. To be born of God is to have the Life of Christ implanted in us.
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)
We understand, therefore, that in the creating of man it is necessary that two operations take place: (1) the person must be born of a woman; and (2) the Divine Life of God by Christ must be implanted in the individual. When these two operations take place we have been born twice: once of flesh and blood and the second time of the Spirit of God.
Neither of these births is an indefinite occurrence. To be born of flesh and blood is to be a human being with all that is included in the race of mankind.
To be born of the Spirit of God, having the Seed of God implanted in us, is to be of the Divine Nature with all that is included in Divinity.
There must be a clear understanding of this point. True man is truly human and truly Divine. The Kingdom of God consists of those who are both human and Divine. Unless an individual is born both of water, signifying natural birth, and of the Spirit, signifying Divine birth, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). Flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 15:50).
It is not flesh and blood that will rule the world to come. Rather, it is those who are both human and Divine, being in the image and of the Nature of Christ, who will rule the world to come.
In stating that true man is human and Divine we are not asserting that man is God or a god. There is only one God, the Father of our Lord Jesus. “The Lord our God is One.” This is the foundation of Judaism and it is truth. We have been born of the one God and He dwells in us. This is the clear teaching of the Scriptures and the consequences are clear.
The Divine Nature is in us. Those who are concerned that such a conclusion is sacrilegious, being fearful of what the Scriptures state, are ready to employ theological reasonings until the Scriptures no longer mean what they state.
Concerning man endeavoring to make himself god, this is the perennial problem of mankind. It is Antichrist. The last days will be characterized by the fruition of this concept. Man will openly declare himself to be God, and then the end shall come.
The individual who has received Christ into his personality has received Divinity. He is the offspring of God. Each saved person will grow in the image of the Father throughout the endless eons of eternity.
There is a gulf between the race of Adam, and God. The race of Adam cannot enter the Kingdom of God. It is only as Adam is born again of God that the gulf is crossed. It is not that Adam becomes good enough to call himself god; it is that Adam is crucified and the new life into which he enters is of God. God is neither reforming nor saving Adam. God is crucifying Adam and issuing in Adam’s place a new race born of the eternal Life that is in Christ and is Christ.
Such knowledge received correctly does not lift us up in arrogance or sacrilege, but it does cause us to cry, “Father.”
The eternal form of the Kingdom of God is, with some modifications, that which God already has created, as described in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. The eternal Life of the Kingdom of God is Christ. The human being who has been born of woman has the form of God and the potential for becoming a member of the Kingdom of God. But in order to become a member of the Kingdom of God he must be born again of Christ. Otherwise he has the form of the Kingdom without the Life of the Kingdom.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the first “Man” in that He is the first Person to be born of a woman and yet be of the Substance and Nature of God.
The Lord Jesus is the brightness of God’s Glory and the image of God’s Person. Every son of God is called to be human in form, to be filled with the Substance and Nature of God, to be the brightness of God’s Glory, and to be the image of God’s Person. It is to this we have been predestined (Romans 8:29; John 17:21-23).
The Lord Jesus is very much more of the Substance and Nature of God than is true of us. To believe otherwise is to walk in delusion. Nevertheless the development of the Divine Nature in the sons of God is an essential aspect of the forming of the Kingdom of God.
Now we can understand why the writer of the Book of Hebrews was so upset over the lukewarm Hebrew Christians. They had received Christ, been born again, and had witnessed the powers of the age to come. But by no means had they entered the rest of God where they would be partaking of the high inheritance to which they had been called. They were coming short of the Glory of God.
A great error exists in Christian theology. It is the concept that the main benefit of the Christian salvation is the forgiveness of our sins. It is thought that after we have received the forgiveness of our sins we possess about ninety percent of our inheritance in Christ.
What a tremendous misunderstanding this is!
The forgiveness of sins is but a supplementary aspect of the Christian salvation. God forgives our sins through Christ so He can proceed with the main task of changing us into the image of Jesus and bringing us into union with Himself. It is the transformation and relationship with God that are the primary emphases of the new covenant. It is the bringing forth of the new creation that is the distinguishing characteristic of the Christian redemption (Hebrews 8:10-12; Galatians 6:15).
To stop seeking God after having our sins forgiven is like ceasing to eat after we have been cured of an illness, or ceasing to grow after we have been born, or refusing to learn after we are able to say our name. It simply makes no sense. The result is the negation of the start that has been made.
Of what use to God is a human being in whom the Life of Christ is not developing? That person is not bringing forth the fruit God expects. He cannot enter the Kingdom of God because he is remaining merely a human. According to God’s Word he will be cut out of the Vine. (John 15:2).
The parable of the sower, which may be the primary parable of the Kingdom of God, teaches us concerning the implanting of the Life of God in the human being (Mark 4:2-20). Unless the Seed that is sown lodges in the heart and bears lasting fruit, nothing of eternal value is produced.
Let us consider the common understanding that the Christian salvation primarily is the forgiveness of our sins. The development of this concept leads the individual to believe that God wants to save him as he is. If he can get God to “save” him and take him to Heaven then all will be well.
The fallacy here is that God has no intention of preserving the natural man. God primarily is interested in His Christ and in the implanting of His Christ in the human stock. Of what use to God is an individual in whom Christ is not living? God cannot dwell in a human. God dwells only in Christ. It is only as Christ is in us that we can serve as the Tabernacle of God, being a source of blessing for mankind.
The term “salvation” means delivered from the image and works of Satan and brought to the image and works of God. Christians are using the word salvation today to mean we are forgiven and on our way to Heaven. Can you see the difference between these two concepts?
It is impossible for any descendant of Adam to be part of the Wife of the Lamb. The Wife of the Lamb is the complement, the fullness of Christ. She has been formed on His body and blood. She, like Him, is the total, perfect integration of the human and the Divine. No human being can marry Divinity, and the Lord Jesus Christ is Divinity!
The Christian who wastes his or her life fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind will die spiritually. He will go to his grave believing he will be admitted to Heaven. Whether he will be admitted to the spirit Paradise when he dies, is not for us to decide. The holy Scriptures have relatively little to say about what happens to us when we die since the Scriptures are devoted mainly to the manner in which we are to enter into eternal life and the Kingdom of God.
But of one fact we are certain: he or she is not a member of the Kingdom of God. For the Kingdom of God consists of those in whom Christ has been implanted and the fruit of God produced.
When we review the nature and the glory of our inheritance it is easy to understand why the writer of the Book of Hebrews issued such solemn warnings to the believers. They were in direct danger of dying in a spiritual wilderness, of never entering the land of promise that is the inheritance of the sons of God.
“We are not of those who draw back to destruction,” he exhorts, “but of those who persevere in faith to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:39).To cease pressing into the rest of God is to draw back to destruction. There is no middle ground, no place of pausing, of vacillating in carelessness or indecision. The spiritual tides, the enemies, are too strong for that. The inheritance is so vast, so magnificent, that not to reach for it at all times is to be unworthy of it.
God is the Greatest of all kings. He has summoned us to sit with Him on His throne, to eat at His table, to share in His very Life. The human being who is too busy to devote his full attention to responding to this summons is not worthy of the feast God has prepared. He will not taste of the abundance that God, in His love, has set before us.
God’s messengers will go out into the streets and alleys and bring in the outcasts, so to speak. They will sit down at God’s table while the children of the Kingdom look on, gnashing their teeth with remorse because of opportunities forever lost.
(“Attaining to the Inheritance”, 3855-1)