Our Inheritance in Christ

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 2 - The Inheritance

We have seen:-

1. The book of Joshua to be the book of "inheritance"; Joshua mentions the inheritance 44 times. The New Testament counterparts are the letters to Ephesus and Colossae; setting forth our inheritance in Christ.

2. Setting forth the basis and preparation for entering into that inheritance.

3. The wilderness as the place of the Spirit's preparation for the inheritance; where we have learned there is nothing but the Lord and He the only One; thus we get to know HIM who is the inheritance. There is no inheriting but by preparation of the Spirit, through a wilderness experience, where you have nothing but the Lord and HE the only factor; this is preparation unto the inheritance.

4. Then the "inheritance" has regard to the authority and government of the Cosmos, this embraces all the world, in it and around it; all this is the "inheritance". This government and authority fell into the hands of Satan, he captured the world and enthroned himself in the heavenlies - the spiritual realm around the world, and from there he rules and governs.

Now the inheritance is with Christ. HE as MAN and for man, recovered the Cosmos. God could have recovered it as GOD and never become man, but the redemption had to be in relation to man as man had forfeited it.

Man, in the eternal purpose of God, is bound up with the government of this world for God's own glory. Since the Lord Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father, all the powers and forces of evil and good are under His control. Satan is out to impress us that he is still Prince of this world, but he is not ultimately and finally so, and now there is ONE over all his working, overruling and directing it to the glory of God. Satan's regime is now within the compass and control of the Lord Jesus; and we being in Christ are translated out of his authority and out of the power of darkness and being in Christ we inherit that which He has recovered. This inheritance is only on the ground of and by the way of the wilderness, the place of spiritual discipline, by which the flesh is entirely ruled out; for where the flesh is the enemy makes a terrible mess.

In the Book of Acts you have a refusal on the part of the Lord's own people to recognise the authority of Satan in this Cosmos, but they acknowledge an overruling by the glorified SON of MAN in the throne - the Lord Jesus Christ; whom God hath made HEAD over all things to the Church which is His Body; and HE is the HEAD of all Principality and Power (Eph. 1:20-23; Col 2:10).

The fact brought out in Acts is, Satan is not really lord; the Believers know ONE, the LORD JESUS, over all the authority of Satan, Who is going to make the workings of Satan serve HIS ends. This is the faith that gets outside of the authority of darkness, which in the face of all the suffering refuses to accept the authority of Satan, but stands in the faith of HIM Who truly reigneth; "the SON of MAN" to whom all authority hath been given in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18).

Oh! to have the faith as found in the Acts, which possessed "ALL in Christ".

Redemption of the Whole Man

In Colossians we see this "inheritance" relates to man's state and estate; both of which were lost to man and brought into captivity to Satan. The Lord Jesus as MAN redeemed and recovered all in His own Person by way of the Cross, and carried it beyond the power of death out into resurrection and glorification. This is an accomplished thing in Christ; and now man's spiritual state is seen in Christ Jesus glorified: "for whom HE justified them HE also glorified" (Rom. 8:30). Scripture constantly emphasises our being partakers of His glory, not partakers of the glory of His deity, but as glorified SON of MAN; "glorified together with Him." (1 Peter 5:1). All is secured right up to the end in the Person of the Lord Jesus, that is as to man's estate, but there is also his state; our being justified is heading to being glorified. Our inheritance in Christ relates to the whole man's being, spirit, soul, and body.

Everything begins with the spirit, but redemption applies to the rest of man's being, for soul and body are also redeemed. New birth has all its meaning in our spirit, it begins there, but God has not ruled out our soul. He has redeemed it. There is a pernicious thing in dividing spirit and soul; for there are people who have a spiritual life which is a denial of the moral: they get so spiritual that they neglect their families, their business, and so on. Our moral life must be absolutely in keeping with our spiritual life. Domestic life, business life, all must be on the same spiritual level, in the same realm. If you divorce these things the devil will make a horrible mess.

In the book of Joshua you start on a very high level, but soon after you come to the terrible tragedy of it; there is a division between the spiritual and moral life. Christ has redeemed our soul and our soul-realm has got to be purified. Spirit relates to spiritual life, soul relates to moral life; and a spiritual life which denies a moral life is a LIE. We have got to see what redemption of the soul means; that our moral life is brought up to the level of our spiritual life; for we have no spiritual life beyond our moral life. The soul-life is in relation to this world and the spirit-life is in relation to the Lord, and both are to enter into redemption, which redemption embraces the whole man: in Christ our bodies are also redeemed - potentially.

In Colossians and Ephesians you start by first seeing all in the Spirit, all in the heavenlies; our spiritual possessions in Christ Jesus in the heavenlies, but it is the same Spirit saying a little further on, "husbands, love your wives, children obey your parents". This is not a coming down but bringing the domestic life up into the heavenlies, regarded as part of the whole. We cannot divorce them, they are both in the same realm and the moral and spiritual have got to be on the same level; if not, the enemy will make confusion.

The earnest of the same Spirit of Jesus which raised Him from the dead is in us to give us a taste of our resurrection life now; the Spirit as resident within us as the life of Jesus by which He conquered death - "But if Christ be in you, though your body be dead because of sin (to which its nature tends) yet your spirit is life (life triumphant over death)... yea, if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead be dwelling in you, He who raised Christ from the dead shall endow with life also your dying bodies, by His Spirit which dwells in you." (Rom 8:10,11 Conybeare). We have now an earnest of the fulness to come - the inheritance. In our spirit we have the germ of resurrection by which either through the grave or by translation our body will be changed.

Christ in Glory as Representative

The Lord Jesus holds in His own Person the state and estate of redeemed man. The question is often raised, is the Lord Jesus still man? I believe He is glorified man in glory (at the same time He is very God). Look at the book of the Revelation, which is history ahead of the New Testament on to the end of the age. It begins with Him in glory and it is a matchless presentation of Him. Then see Him moving through these earthly-heavenly activities, whereby heaven is explaining what is going on in the earth. He is presented as LORD of lords and KING of kings; then at the very end of the book of Revelation, He takes up the title of His earthly life, "I JESUS," this is the very last thing recorded of Him. What does He mean by putting this at the end? Is it not to let all know and to put His seal to the fact that He is still SON of MAN. This is not taking away from His deity. He is very God, yet also very man. In His redemptive work He is very man indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and as man won back man's lost inheritance - yet He IS GOD.

There's a Man in Glory
Whose Life is for me,
Triumphant and free.
He's wise and He's loving,
Tender is He;
And His Life in the Glory
My life must be.

There's a Man in the Glory
Whose Life is for me,
He overcame Satan;
From bondage He's free.
In life He is reigning,
Kingly is He;
And His Life in the Glory
My life must be.

There's a Man in the Glory
Whose Life is for me,
In Him is no sickness;
No weakness has He.
He's strong and in vigour
Buoyant is He;
And His Life in the Glory
My life may be.

There's a Man in the Glory
Whose Life is for me,
His peace is abiding;
Patient is He.
He's joyful and radiant,
Expecting to see
His Life in the Glory
Lived out in me.

In that marvellous position as Son of Man He brings us into relationship with Himself; and all the "inheritance" is in Him - "I JESUS". And that inheritance involves the Church, Christ the Head, we the members - ONE BODY, "Joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). The Body being a kind of crystallisation of the activities of Christ; this defines the nature of the Church and the object of God's activities in this age - unto the formation of the Body.

Corporate Inheritance

We cannot get fully into this inheritance as isolated ones but only corporately, it is one Body. We are saved as individuals, but saved and sanctified in relation to the Body, to the building up of the Body of Christ. Soul saving has been made an end in itself, sanctification has been made an end in itself; God never meant it to be so, but rather all to be related to the corporate entity - the ONE BODY of CHRIST. Believers staying at anything less than this fall short of their inheritance in Christ, and don't come right through into the fulness of Christ (Col. 2).

We see in the book of Joshua, two inheritances are mentioned, one by Moses to the two and a half tribes, the other by Joshua and Eleazar to the nine and a half tribes. Note the significance of this - all went over Jordan, but not all entered into their possessions. The two and a half tribes inheritance given by Moses was with stipulations, "bring us not over the Jordan." They had an inheritance, but a lesser thing than God had intended for them. They went over Jordan to stay for a bit; but it was a different going over from that which the nine and a half had; the two and a half was an objective going over, while the nine and a half was a subjective thing (speaking in spiritual terms) they went right through to possess. And today there are those who are content with something less than God intended them to have; content with a bit of the inheritance, and are not out for the fulness of it; this means an eternal loss of something which could have been theirs.

Ephesians and Colossians take you back to Romans 6 and 8; but are much beyond Romans. In Romans 6 you have going over Jordan, identification with Christ's death, and in Romans 8 it is having the Spirit and taking possession; but this points you on to Ephesians and Colossians and the inheritance in Christ in the heavenlies; it is "Christ in you" subjectively. There are those who have got an inheritance (Romans 6), they have got the Spirit (Romans 8) but their inheritance is so largely outside of themselves. This explains so much that we see and why the call for "overcomers" who will go right through and not be content with something less than God's full purpose for them in Christ Jesus.

Both Ephesians and Colossians take you back to Romans 6, "to the circumcision not made with hands" (Col. 2:11,12). In Romans you have an apprehension of all that Christ has done in an objective way; and in Ephesians and Colossians it is all that Christ has done in you, subjectively, and a going on unto the end, unto the full inheritance. "If ye continue in the faith" (Col. 1:23). "If we hold fast... firm unto the end" (Heb. 3:14). This is not a question of salvation but of fulness in Christ; and not to only just get something down here: God wants to bring us right into all the fulness there is for us in Christ Jesus.

Joshua marks the point where preparation is intended to give place to full inheritance. God meant something great, but these two and a half tribes are content with something less; this explains the constant urge in the New Testament, to go right through to that for which we were predestined - the full inheritance.

The great feature in all this is the rolling away of the reproach of Egypt; those days of bondage under Pharaoh! It is the putting away of the flesh, so that now everything is "in Christ" and of Christ, and in the heavenlies and by the Spirit; everything - resources, methods, wisdom, relationships, manner of life, ways - and there is no drawing on the flesh; and unless God does all by Christ, nothing can be done. We draw on Christ for all; our words, judgments, deeds, steps, all out from God for spirit, soul and body; yes, for life itself - all out from Him who is now our life, "To me to live is Christ".

At the End of Ourselves

In the wilderness the whole of our natural life is brought out, and we come to know our weakness and emptiness; that we have nothing. Thus it is that we now find everything in Christ and so can go over and possess. What is the secret of possession, of coming into our inheritance? It is that we have come to the place where all things are "in Christ" and HE is everything - our very life and being. Our flesh is cut off and we know as the deepest thing in our being, that unless God does everything in us by His Spirit, all is of no value. We must come to an end of our own working in order to come into His fulness.

It is so easy to sit down in our weakness and nurse ourselves, but the Lord says at that point, "Arise and possess." Your inheritance is not here on earth, it is in Christ in the heavenlies; not in yourselves, your fulness is in Him. It is ever HIS FULNESS over against your emptiness; HIS STRENGTH over against your weakness; your inheritance is ALL HE IS, as typified to Israel by the land flowing with milk and honey.

Paul says of Timothy, "he worketh the work of the Lord" (1 Cor. 16:10). There is to be an end of our works so far as we are concerned, nothing of us, as out from ourselves; but God says, in effect: "with your nothingness I will possess the heavens and the earth."

Oh! to be such a people, chastened and emptied of self, for the Holy Spirit by His energies to display the moral glories of the Lord Jesus in us and so through us. "To the intent that now unto principalities and powers might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God." (Eph. 3:10,11). "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace... for we are His workmanship." (Eph. 2:7,10).

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