I feel like one of my primary jobs is to teach Christians how to realize and spend their inheritance. I am convinced that, for the most part, the Church has left the riches of Heaven sitting in the bank, thinking that we only get them when we die and go there. The belief that Heaven is entirely a future reality has reduced far too many of God’s declarations in Scripture about the believer’s identity and calling to “positional” truths that are acknowledged but never experienced. It is time for that to change.
Understanding our inheritance begins with discovering the deeper purpose for our salvation. Many new believers stay immature because they never progress beyond the revelation that they are sinners saved by grace. By progress I don’t mean “to leave behind,” but “to build upon.” Those who progress are those who understand that God’s highest purpose for the Cross was not merely to forgive us of sin. It was so that, by forgiving us on the basis of Christ’s blood, He could invite us back into an intimate family relationship with Him, our Heavenly Father. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (emphasis mine). This legal standing of relationship to God as His sons and daughters is precisely what gives us an inheritance. Romans 8:14-17 explains this simply:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
The fact that we are heirs of God is mind-boggling. But we must not be content to read these verses and be awed by them. They prophesy our potential, a potential that we must pursue throughout our entire lives. John 1:12 says we have the right to become the children of God. When God invites us into relationship with Him, He is inviting us into a process of becoming, of transformation. This transformation can be measured in our lives because in Jesus Christ we have the model of who we’re becoming as the children of God. We see it later in Romans 8:29: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” We have the right to become like Christ, our Elder Brother. We are destined to be fully restored to the image and likeness of God, in which we were originally created.
Through salvation we are also restored to our original purpose—the purpose that flows naturally from our restored identity and relationship with God. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Works cannot save us, but without the fruit of good works in our lives, we lack the evidence that identifies us as a new creation in Christ. Just as God’s nature is revealed in what He does, the evidence that we are being transformed into His likeness is that we reveal His nature in what we do.
What are these good works? It’s too easy to reduce Jesus’ teaching to what is humanly possible. While we love to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and visit those in need (such acts of kindness are essential expressions of the Christian life), we refuse to let them satisfy that internal drive for effective service. He specifically used the term “good works” to describe the miracles, signs, and wonders He performed. Jesus modeled these works for us. He didn’t design a new hearing aid or train a Seeing Eye dog. He healed the deaf and the blind. This overwhelming conclusion about “good works” comes from a thorough study of the Gospel of John. These good works not only reveal Jesus to be the Anointed One, the Christ, they also reveal the specific nature of His relationship with His Father, as He explained in John 14:8-12:
Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us."
Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
It can’t be stated more plainly. Those who believe in Him will demonstrate signs and wonders. But even more so, His declaration implies that those who believe will walk in the same kind of relationship with the Father and possess the same anointing of the Spirit as He did. That is, we are called to minister as Jesus ministered because, through His death and resurrection, we have access to everything He had available to Him to do good works. He prophesied this to His disciples and to us when He said, “As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21).