Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Exploring Romans 8 And The New Testament On The Believer's New Inheritance In Christ

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Romans 8:16-17 "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 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."


In our last post we considered the Christian's new inheritance in Jesus Christ as found in Romans 8. We focused particular attention upon Romans 8:1-11, and noted two particular elements of this new inheritance the believer has in Jesus Christ:

1. A New Position. Romans 8:1-4
2. A New Guest - The Holy Spirit. Romans 8:5-11

This theme of "inheritance" provides the backbone for what comprises the Christian's spiritual and relational identity to God in Jesus Christ. Romans 8 covers quite a bit of ground in its coverage of the rich, spiritual inheritance that can be enjoyed by all Christians. I thought that we would consider what else is revealed in Romans 8 with respect to the Christian's new inheritance in Christ, followed by some remarks on other key texts that spell out this remarkable truth.

The Christian's New Inheritance in Jesus Christ in Romans 8

When one studies Romans 8:1-39, there are at least seven distinct elements that comprise the overall spiritual inheritance gained by the believer in Jesus Christ. As witnessed in the opening text of today's post, Romans 8:16-17 occupies the anchoring theme of the chapter. All that Paul writes about the Christian's spiritual inheritance is enjoyed or partaken of by the them as a result of being co-heirs with Christ in God. If we were to offer an outline of this new inheritance in Christ from Romans 8, it would be as follows:

1. New Position. Romans 8:1-4

2. New Guest.   Romans. 8:5-11

3. New Name. Romans 8:12-17

4. New Expectations. Romans 8:18-25

5. New Prayer-life. Romans 8:26-27

6. New Assurance. Romans 8:28-37

7. New Life-goal. Romans 8:38-39

A Brief Survey Of The Believer's New Inheritance As Spelled-Out In The New Testament

As can be seen, the theme of the believer's inheritance is rich in both its content and application. Paul's argument for sanctification includes its design (Romans 6); its battle (Romans 7) and the inheritance that the Christian begins to partake of in Romans 8. Other New Testament books expound further on this incredible truth of the believer's new inheritance. A sample of some of the key texts will be pursued at this point, since a full treatment would require several posts!

Galatians 4:1-6 and its extended context beginning from chapter three all the way to the end of Paul's letter centers around the contrast between who were were formerly as slaves separated from God to sons adopted by God. Galatians 4:4-6 states - "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Perhaps none of Paul's letters is more saturated with this theme of the believer's spiritual inheritance in Christ than that of his letter to the church at Ephesus. Almost immediately into the first chapter, we discover that the Christian's inheritance was pre-planned by God the Father, Son and Spirit before time began (Ephesians 1:1-14). Paul prays for the Ephesians to have further enlightenment about their spiritual heritage in Ephesians 1:18-20. 

Throughout the remaining 5 chapters of Ephesians, something is said of the Christian not only partaking of such blessings here in this life but of their ultimate destiny of reigning with Christ in the coming age (see Ephesians 2:6-8; 3:20). Such a spiritual inheritance informs how the Christian ought to conduct their life (Ephesians 4:1; 5:1); their families (Ephesians 5:22-23; 6:1-4); jobs (Ephesians 6:5-10) and fight the good fight of faith (Ephesians 6:11-18). 

As one travels throughout the rest of Paul's letters, this theme of the Christian's new inheritance in Christ pervades (see Philippians 3:7-11; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4-5; 1 Timothy 6:11-16). The Apostle Peter touches upon the believer's spiritual heritage in 1 Peter 1:8-9 and 2 Peter 1:3-11. The writer of Hebrews uses this theme in conjunction with the illustration of the ancient Hebrews and the Promised-land in his exposition of portions of the book of Joshua in Hebrews 3-4. The Apostle John refers to this same spiritual heritage in 1 John 3:1-3, wherein we read: 

"See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."

As one rounds out surveying a sampling of what the New Testament presents regarding the believer's new inheritance in Christ, the material is seemingly unending! In the tiny letter of Jude, Jude writes of how the believer's inheritance is none other than God's very glory in Jude 1:24-25. The Book of Revelation, particularly chapters 21-22, detail what will be the ultimate manifestation of this heritage when believer's are finally brought with Christ into the New Heavens and New Earth wherein righteousness dwells (also compare 2 Peter 3:13). Is it no-wonder that Paul states in Ephesians 3:8 - "To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ."

Closing thoughts:

Today's post aimed to explore what both Romans 8 and the New Testament had to say regarding the believer's new inheritance in Jesus Christ. The hope is that this will whet the appetite of the reader to explore God's Word and to see how awesome it is to know what one can truly have by being united to Jesus Christ in salvation and sanctification. 

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