Our Inheritance in Christ

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 - Predestination, Preparation, Possession

Reading: Joshua 1.

Joshua is the book of the inheritance in the Old Testament and there are some significant things attached to the occurrences and usages of this word "inheritance". In the Book of Numbers it occurs 35 times, in the Book Of Deuteronomy 18 times, but in the Book of Joshua 44 times; that is striking! Numbers is the book of the ordering of the hosts with the inheritance in view. Deuteronomy is the book of the establishing of the basis for possessing the inheritance, therefore you would expect to find the word frequently. In Leviticus the word "inheritance" occurs but once. Now Leviticus does not deal with inheritance, but with God's rights; it is the book of relationship to God by the altar; the book of approach and access to God, where God's rights are recognised, and God secures His rights by the Cross. God must have His rights before we can get our inheritance, as Leviticus teaches. Then when you come to the Book of Joshua you find the whole subject of the inheritance dealt with, and the entering into possession.

Coming over into the New Testament you find the letter to the Romans does not present "inheritance" in any concrete form, it is a book that deals with the spiritual foundations, and this is its link with the Book of Leviticus.

Joshua, the man (in type of the Spirit) brings to the inheritance. It is important and both interesting and significant to notice when Joshua comes into view.

In Exodus 17 we find Joshua coming into view at Rephidim, the place of the smitten rock, where the waters came forth giving life to the people; type of the life of the Spirit as the inward life of the people of God (see John 4:10-14). Then it is that Amalek immediately comes on the scene as type of the flesh rising up and crossing the path in order to prevent possession of the land, to hinder going into the inheritance. Amalek comes out to withstand Israel, and God immediately brought Joshua in to order the camp.

Immediately you receive the Holy Spirit or experience a fresh filling of the Spirit, flesh rises up, Amalek comes out, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are contrary the one to the other" (Gal. 5:17). These two are in age-long conflict, in antagonism. It is ever so; when you have a fresh experience of the Holy Spirit, the next thing you find is that you are in a new conflict against the old flesh-life in yourself; this rising up of the flesh within is provoked by the devil because he sees the inheritance in view, for when the Spirit comes the inheritance comes into view, HE has come to bring to the inheritance. So do not be surprised if after an experience of the Spirit the next thing you have to face is this conflict with the assertion of the flesh across the path to hinder your going into possession.

It is only when you have received the Holy Spirit that you know the conflict of the flesh and what is the withstanding of the flesh, those who have not the Spirit have no such conflict of flesh and Spirit; they are not in that realm, but wholly in the flesh realm.

The Holy Spirit has come in relation to the end, and the end is the inheritance in Christ, and flesh moved by Satan rises up to frustrate that end, and to rob you of the inheritance. The peril is that having begun in the Spirit, you might turn aside to make some compromise with Amalek, because of the hardness of the way, the greatness of the cost, by reason of the conflict and forgetting God's word - "utterly destroy Amalek" (1 Samuel 15:3). "Walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4).

This is where Abraham broke down. Isaac, son of the Spirit - he was impossible as son of the flesh (Heb. 11:11,12) - Abraham's faith tested, wilderness conditions prevailed, there was delay of the fulfilment of God's promise, and apparently nothing developing as to Isaac; he had the assurances of God, but seemingly nothing coming to pass: the flesh could not wait, it never can wait for God, so Ishmael is the outcome, with what terrible consequences. And there came a time when Abraham had to cast out from his home and life that which his flesh had built up; this is a terribly painful thing to do, to pull down what he had built up; and this holds many from coming into the inheritance. Abraham had brought something into being by mixing flesh with Spirit, and God will not have it, but says - "CAST IT OUT." This costs shame and sorrow, it is not easy to cast this out, it is shameful, but it must be done, it must be utterly cast out!

Joshua came in at that point as the energy of the Holy Spirit to carry on to the end and to secure the inheritance. We see Joshua related to all the spiritual activities of the Children of Israel; it is significant to note he is spoken of when first introduced as the attendant of Moses; who also went up into the Mount with Moses. His name is not mentioned in Hebrews 11. Why is the name of Joshua left out of that great list? Because he represented the Holy Spirit in them all! The activities of God are all carried on in the energies of the Holy Spirit, and it is HE who brings into the inheritance.

Joshua represents the energy of the Holy Spirit in relation to the ultimate thing, which is our inheritance in Christ. Joshua was the energy of the life of the Children of Israel as to their going into the land to possess. "Be strong" - and on that strength the people were strengthened; Joshua the person was the energy of their life. "Strengthened with all might by His Spirit into the inner man" (Eph. 3:16). Colossians and Ephesians are the letters concerning our inheritance in Christ, and it is the energies of the Holy Spirit which are to bring us into the possessing of it.

The letter to the Ephesians declares our inheritance in Christ as a fact. Chapters 1, 2, 3, are occupied with bringing us into the recognition of this. "Having the eyes of your heart enlightened that ye might know." All is related to our inheritance in Christ, and it is the energy of the Holy Spirit bringing us into that. "That God the Father of glory may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of HIM." We need to get the foundations well laid.

From Genesis up to Exodus 11 election is presented, God is choosing according to His own sovereignty and wisdom (and not telling why), an elect line; a man, a family, a race.

Exodus shows us a people though even in Egypt and under cruel bondage, yet a people distinguished from the Egyptians. And as things intensified for them, so did the difference intensify between them. When there was darkness over the land of Egypt it was light where Israel was, they are in Egypt, but GOD hath chosen!

GOD has chosen, predestinated, foreordained; GOD has foreknown and in His foreknowledge He has made certain decisions. The fact is His foreknowledge; and in that foreknowledge He did predestinate. This foreknowledge is not with us, we are to preach Christ to all the world and to give no case up as to being too hard, but to follow on to the end; the issue is with God, and not with us.

From Exodus 12, on through Leviticus and Deuteronomy it is preparation by the Spirit of those out of Egypt, a people who had been marked out in Egypt, and now have been brought out from Egypt. And when you come to the Book of Joshua, you have the inheriting by a Spirit-prepared people; for it is an inward inheritance and position first.

Predestination, Preparation, Possession

1. God knew and predestinated; "Election according to the knowledge of God the Father" (1 Peter 1:2). "Whom He foreknew He foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29).

2. By a course of preparation by the Spirit in relation to the nature of the election - a separation unto God.

3. Inheriting on the basis of spiritual preparation to inherit, this means a deep, and oft-times drastic work of the Spirit, in the separating from all flesh, so that now we might come into our inheritance in Christ. God wants us to cross Jordan now, into the land now, and now to have the earnest of our inheritance. This brings us back to the Ephesian letter, "Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit... which is the earnest of our inheritance" (Eph 1:13,14).

The Holy Spirit has come and dwells within the born-again child of God to cause that one to begin to possess now.

We come out of Romans 4 and 5 through 6 and 7, on into 8 where we have the energies of the Spirit in relation to "Sonship" on resurrection ground. We cannot immediately enter into our inheritance, this entering is caused by a deep work of the Spirit within us. We must ever remember the preparation is governed by the Object, and that object is the knowledge of the Lord: making the Lord everything to us experimentally, for the knowledge of the Lord is our inheritance, and is the result of the preparation of the Holy Spirit.

All preparation is governed by the object; and the object is to come to an experimental knowing the Lord, schooled to know HIM, that is the key all the way along. Every experience brings us to know Him, this is the work of the Holy Spirit; and when we come to a knowledge of Him, we are come to the inheritance, for He is the inheritance and we never come to the inheritance until we have a deep experimental knowledge of the Lord.

When Israel left Egypt, they expected to enter the land immediately, and to come into the inheritance at once. They had their eyes on the land things; so a long preparation was needed. First there had to be the wilderness experience to bring to them the knowledge of the Lord, and on the other hand the forty years in the wilderness was necessary to make them to know what was in their own hearts; but it is the knowing of Him by which He governs the making them to know their own hearts. Had we knowledge of ourselves apart from knowing Him, it would be death to us and we could not bear it, so all is governed by this one thing - knowing Him. When you have come there in any commensurate measure, you have come to your inheritance!

Three Wilderness Features

There are three things in this wilderness period:-

1. A barren place of dependence. This is a tremendous factor in coming into our inheritance in Christ; for a wilderness is a wilderness, a dry barren place, where you cannot see anything, or feel anything; where if your only resources were in your senses you are at an utter end. It is a barren place of utter dependence upon God, and there is nothing else to depend upon. This is an essential feature in order to possess, a vital factor for obtaining the inheritance. How often God says to His people, "I am your inheritance" (Num. 18:20). "The Lord is my portion" (Ps. 119:57). "The Almighty will be thy treasure, and precious silver unto thee" (Job 22:24,25 A.R.V.).

In Christ you have all that, "For all things are yours... the world, life and death, or things present or things to come, all are yours and ye are Christ's and Christ is God's" (1 Cor. 3:25).

He is shutting you up to exclusion where in that barren place He can be your life and you have to depend on Him for everything; thus you come into your inheritance which is - HIMSELF. It is an utter separation from all and everything unto God.

2. The wilderness is a bounded place of separation, within the limits of God's appointment, where you are separated unto God. There must not be the slightest overlapping with Egypt, "not a hoof to be left behind" and there had to be "three days' journey into the wilderness" (Ex. 8:27). The separation is unto the degree of Divine completeness, it is being wholly separated unto God. God has come in between and defined the limits to our life and what it means to be separated unto God.

3. The wilderness is a hedged place of imprisonment to God, there is no getting out of it, you are imprisoned, given wholly to God and for Him, and know Him as your only object.

God shut Israel into the wilderness and there was no way out; Pharaoh saw that, see what he says about it: "Pharaoh will say... they are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in" (Ex. 8:27).

Yes, the devil knows all about it! He says "the wilderness shut them in" - but, God shut them in. What a place of imprisonment when you have come out wholly for the Lord! Yes, that is the way, the Lord has imprisoned you, and you cannot run away. There are sometimes fiery trials, and often Satan says, quit, quit, and you know you cannot. The flesh would love to be released and find a way out, but you know you have got to go through, and He is holding you. If He had not held you, where would you have been? We would kick and run away, only He holds, and will hold until He has done the work; and you will say, "the Lord did it"; you are hedged by a Divine compulsion.

The Lord sovereignly held the children of Israel in the wilderness, while the testing and training was going on, preparing for the inheritance. And He is holding you while He does the same, you are the prisoner of the Lord, hedged in unto His Divine completeness; the Lord is sovereignly holding and getting us through, the credit is not ours, but His, it is all Grace.

The duration of the wilderness depends upon our maturity in our knowledge of the Lord, until HE becomes and IS our "all in all," He - HIMSELF. When He has His place we come into our large place, for our coming into a large place is on the ground of our personally knowing in a very real way the Lord - HIMSELF as our all; and conquest depends upon this knowledge of the Lord.

There will never be a time when we shall escape the uprising of the flesh; when we are over Jordan the peril of the flesh is still with us, and you find Achan gets up. Again you find flesh manifesting itself in self-confidence in Israel when they are over Jordan and in the land: "And it came to pass when all the Kings... heard how... the children of Israel had passed over that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel" (Joshua 5:1). The peoples of the land were in terror because of the children of Israel; immediately upon which the Lord gave instructions for re-circumcision. Why this upon crossing the Jordan and being in the land? The Lord saw the peril of their taking on the thought of the people of the land about themselves, and making something of them instead of the Lord, instead of making Him everything, so He says, "circumcise".

And beloved, you are never free of the peril of people making something of you as soon as they see you have got something. The Lord says at once, "cut off the flesh."

The Lord is wanting to bring us into a wealthy place, and He is working in the energies of the Holy Spirit with that in view. He has foreknown and always acts in relation to that foreknowledge; the inheritance is in view, and He by the Holy Spirit would bring us into that full place in Christ.

The large place in life or vocation depends upon whether we have the Lord as our LIFE, and not things or people as such, but HIMSELF.

Our emancipation into the fulness of God's provision for us in Christ Jesus, depends upon how far we have let the Holy Spirit sovereignly apply the Cross of the Lord Jesus to all that is not of Himself, until it is only the Lord. This is the Spirit's work, and is not power or sanctification as such, not in a thing, it is the LORD; and when it is the Lord, you have come to your possession and can go in and possess.

We come to it through pressure, through fire, through water, but God says:- "I HAVE GIVEN... YOU POSSESS."

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