One day, you and I are going to be very, very rich.
That’s because we have an inheritance ahead of us. In Ephesians 1:14, Paul says the Holy Spirit dwelling in God’s people is “the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.” Our inheritance is already ours, but we have not taken ownership of it all. There is more that yet awaits us, and we’ll enjoy it when we enter into glory. For you to benefit from an inheritance, a death is required. Usually, it’s someone else’s death. Here, it’s yours.
And so Paul prays that you and I will know what we will one day own and experience: that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to “know … what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (v. 18).
To speak about the riches of the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit is actually of fundamental importance to your life, to your job, to your relationships, to your everything.
This kind of prayer was clearly a habitual one for Paul. He prayed in similar manner for the church in Colossae to be “strengthened with all power, according to [God’s] glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:11–12). And this emphasis is found not merely in Paul’s epistles but throughout the Bible. Peter encourages his readers along the same lines:
[God] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3–5)
Your inheritance is unfading, Peter says. It’s never going to dissipate or disappoint. It will be there exactly as God has planned, ready to be entered into on the day when God, who is shielding you on your journey, gets you to that destination.
We Get God
What is so good about this inheritance? Why is it so wonderful that it can bring us joy and perseverance on the journey toward it, though we “have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6)? The answer is that the inheritance is so glorious, the riches are so glittering, because the inheritance is God Himself. We share in what Paul calls “the riches of his glory” (Eph. 3:16).
What is the glory of God? The glory of God is the sum and substance of all that He has revealed to us of Himself, which our limited minds are able to glimpse and that our perfected minds will one day grasp.
So, for example, God’s glory is His might, His self-existence, His majesty, His justice, His truth, His righteousness, His holiness, His purity… We could go on. It is the perfection that we see manifested in the human character of Jesus—the Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us so that we might say, “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
And one day, those in Christ will see that glory face-to-face, enjoying it and praising Him for eternity. He is your inheritance.
The greatest gift of God to His people is God. The greatest joy of heaven is God. That’s the inheritance toward which you’re walking today. Paul prays that we would know it and enjoy the prospect of it.
Now again, it’s easy to think, Well, this seems a bit removed from daily life. I was hoping for something a little more practical than this.
Ah, but to speak about the riches of the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—of His unsurpassable majesty and magnificence, of His grace and His truth—is actually of fundamental importance to your life, to your job, to your relationships, to your everything. As the young C. H. Spurgeon preached it to his congregation in London in 1855,
Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.
This is where we must start. You can search as many how-to books as you want. You can try as many practical solutions as you can find. But to start there is to start from the wrong end.
It is to God, into the vast reservoir of the riches of His glory, that we go first, and out of the abundance of His provision and in anticipation of one day living in His full, unshielded glory, the other things fall into line.
I’m praying that you would be animated and excited each day by the prospect of your glorious inheritance, says Paul. But that’s not all.
Our inheritance is God. And God’s inheritance is… us.
God Gets… Us?
The Bible commentators are divided over the nature of the “inheritance” in Ephesians 1:18. You can read it as regarding our inheritance—that is, God. And you can also read it as speaking of the inheritance which God has prepared for Himself—us. The notions, however, are two sides of one coin. They’re not mutually exclusive. God has an inheritance in His people, and we have an inheritance in Him.
Looking at the second side of the coin, then, Paul is referring to the fact that God the Father has promised God the Son an inheritance—and that inheritance is made up of all who are in Christ, all who have placed their faith in Him.
The prophet Malachi spoke of it in this way:
Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.” (Mal. 3:16–17)
And the psalmist, as he called God’s people to “shout for joy in the LORD,” for “praise befits the upright” (Ps. 33:1), declared,
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! (v. 12)
There you have this Old Testament picture of God seeing in His people an inheritance that is His.
Think about that for a while. We get to inherit God—which is awesome; and God gets to inherit us—which, to be honest, is strange. God has chosen to spend eternity with… you! And me! He has purposed to enjoy spending eternity with a multitude of redeemed, forgiven, once-sinful humans.
We need to look up from our present problems, mistakes, regrets, and sorrows and look forward to our future inheritance.
Believer, God is very excited about seeing you. You will not sneak into heaven through the back door, quietly, and have God merely tolerate you. You will be welcomed in through the front door, with a party, and will have God enjoy you as you enjoy Him for eternity. God will enjoy being surrounded by human-shaped trophies of His grace. And you will enjoy His welcome and His embrace.
Looking beyond the Horizon of Now
Paul is praying that we will “know” this. We need to pray this for ourselves and others. We need to look up from our present problems, mistakes, regrets, and sorrows and look forward to that future inheritance. We will need God’s help to do that—to get our heart-eyes open and focused on our future. Naturally, we live with a horizon of now. We look no further than our eyelids. And often today is dark. And sometimes today has those bits of light in it, the good things in our lives, but they can quickly disappear; and if that’s all we look at, then hope is fleeting, and joy proves elusive. So Paul teaches us to ask God to open our heart-eyes to see much further and see much better, to the riches of our eternity.
There can be joy even in the hardest times and hope even in the darkest hours if your eyes are looking to your future. Will you ask the Lord not just to get you through life but also to open your heart-eyes to look at your inheritance with God? Will you ask the Lord to do that for those you know who are struggling in this life? And will you ask the Lord to do that for those you know who are flourishing in this life? Ask God to make your vision, and their vision, Himself—to say, sing, and mean this great truth:
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise; Thou mine inheritance, now and always.
We are richer than we realize. And one day in glory, we will be richer than we can even begin to imagine. We’ll be with God.
Father, may my praying always show me to be one of Your children. You are a generous God, giving me abundant blessings. Thank You that Your supreme gift is the gift of Yourself. Yet how easily and quickly I forget You and focus instead on earthly, flimsy treasure. Your Word tells me that if I know how to give good gifts to my children, then how much more will You give Your children all that we need and far more than we deserve (Matt. 7:22; Luke 11:13). Thank You that the cross proves the truth of this to me. Please help me to live out that truth today. In Christ’s name I earnestly pray. Amen.
This material has been lightly adapted from Pray Big by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2019, The Good Book Company.