The New Testament says that as New Testament saints, we are heirs. We read about this truth in a variety of texts (Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Ephesians 1:14; Titus 3:7; James 2:5; 1 Peter 1:4, 3:7).
But what is our inheritance as New Testament saints? What does the New Testament tell us about it?
Ephesians 1:14 states that our gift of the Holy Spirit “is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” The word for “guarantee” refers to money that is paid as a pledge or downpayment that the full amount will subsequently come. For example, today, it would denote the earnest money one pays during the process of purchasing a home.
As New Testament Saints, we are heirs to something we don’t yet possess, but the Holy Spirit living inside us guarantees our receipt of it. Let’s investigate what this means.
We Are Heirs to the Kingdom
The Bible specifies “the kingdom” as our inheritance. “Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” (James 2:5).
James reveals that we are “heirs of the kingdom.” Not just any realm, but “the kingdom.”
The powerbrokers of our day work feverishly to bring about a global Marxist government over which they will rule and enslave the people of the world. The Bible says they will succeed for a short while, but the Lord will destroy whatever they build at His return to earth. These globalists are powerful, famous, and exceedingly wealthy, but they will be forgotten relics of the past when we inherit our everlasting kingdom.
In Romans 8:16-18, Paul describes our inheritance in a way that puts it infinitely above the one that the elite of our day seek to impose upon our world.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
These verses reveal two wonderful aspects of our future inheritance.
- We Are Coheirs with Christ
The apostle states that we are “fellow heirs with Christ.” As New Testament saints, we share in His inheritance, which is beyond amazing. How can we even begin to comprehend so far-reaching a promise?
Jesus first inherits the kingdom from the Father. In Psalm 2:8, the Father says this to the Son, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”
In Daniel 7:13-14, the prophet’s vision foretells Jesus’ receipt of this future earthly realm:
“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
Notice the words of Daniel 7:27, which provide the full context of what it means to be coheirs with Jesus:
“And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
How do we know that these words await a future fulfillment? It’s because Jesus tells us the fulfillment of the Daniel 7 verses will happen at His Second Coming.
In Matthew 26:64, Jesus says He will fulfill the words of Daniel 7:13-14 at His return to earth, when He comes “on the clouds of Heaven.” Just days earlier, Jesus referred to his return at the end of the age with the same words He used in Matthew 26:64:
“Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
Do you see it? Jesus intrinsically connects the verses in Daniel 7 to His reference to coming “on clouds of heaven.” It’s the same expression in the Greek in both Matthew 34:30 and 26:64.
We are coheirs to a kingdom that’s future and consists of Jesus physically ruling over the nations of the earth. The globalists of our day seek to kill and enslave those who would be a part of their kingdom. Jesus will share His rule with us. Is this not amazing beyond words?
It gets even better for us…
- Our Inheritance Signifies Our Future Glorification.
Romans 8:16-18 promises that as coheirs, we will someday “be glorified with him.” What does that mean?
1 Corinthians 15:50-53 clarifies how we will be “be glorified with him:”
“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (emphasis added)
Hmmm, something has to happen to us before we can receive our inheritance of a kingdom, namely the Rapture. It’s then that the Lord will make us fit for His kingdom by giving us imperishable and immortal bodies.
Philippians 3:20-21 also refers to Jesus’ appearing, the Rapture, as the time we receive our glorified bodies:
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
We must be glorified with Jesus before we can rule with Him. This will happen when Jesus takes us to glory (John 14:2-3; Colossians 3:4).
The Church Can’t Be the Kingdom
Wait, wait, wait! Doesn’t Colossians 1:13 tells us that God has already transferred us “to the kingdom of his beloved Son”? Yes, but we must consider an important principle here, namely that “Scripture interprets Scripture.”
When Jesus stood trial before Pilate, He stated that His “kingdom is not of this world.” The fact that it’s first a spiritual realm doesn’t negate its future physical expression. In order to equate the church with the promised kingdom of God on the earth, one must spiritualize a voluminous number of Scriptures that predict a tangible physical kingdom for Israel and tell us that Jesus will rule over the nations of the earth from Jerusalem at a time when sin and death are possible.
At the time of our regeneration, we move from Satan’s domain to God’s; it’s a spiritual transfer that Paul describes in Ephesians 2:1-9.
And, as we saw in the previous section, Jesus Himself placed His receipt of the kingdom at His Second Coming (Daniel 7:13-14, 24; Matthew 24:30, 26:64). According to God’s Word, the kingdom to which we are heirs won’t appear on the earth until after the Second Coming, and we can’t inherit it until we receive imperishable bodies.
Jesus is the head of the church, which the Bible refers to as the “body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:15-16). In Ephesians 5:30-32, Paul compares the relationship of Jesus to the church as that of a husband and wife. This is not the language of a king and his kingdom but rather that of Jesus and His bride.
In Revelation 1:12-3:22, Jesus appears “like a son of man” rather than as a king and addresses the churches as their Head, and the rewards He promises to the church find their definition later in the book. Jesus doesn’t appear as King until He’s ready to return to earth at the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 19:16).
The New Testament never identifies the church as God’s kingdom.
The Problems with Identifying the Church as The Kingdom
Why is it so vital that we not identify the church as the promised kingdom? Does it really make a difference? Absolutely, this error goes far beyond a stuffy theological discussion; it impacts how church leaders see themselves as well as how they treat those in the chairs.
During the past several years, I have observed the following troubling tendencies in amillennial churches, those that deny a future kingdom to Israel while insisting that they are the recipients of such promises, albeit in a spiritual sense.
- The Elders Rule Rather Than Shepherd the Flock
It’s been my experience that when a church sees itself as God’s kingdom, the elders and the pastoral staff often behave as rulers rather than shepherds.
Whenever I have questioned the amillennial beliefs of a pastor or someone on staff, they have responded with an attitude of “How dare you, a nobody, question my interpretation of Scripture?” While they didn’t use those exact words, that typifies the attitude. Based on the emails that have come my way, I know this is the experience of many who have dared to question the amillennial beliefs of church staff.
In some large churches, the elders rule while the small group leaders visit group members in the hospital, care for the needs of the people in their groups, and spend time in their homes. They are the true shepherds, or elders, of the people in the sense of 1 Peter 5:1-5. This is what I did as the pastor of small churches (many years ago) and as a house church leader several years ago back in Iowa.
The elder form of church leadership, though biblical in form, has become unbalanced and unbiblical in function. In far too many instances, the elders “lord it over” the members who have little say, if any at all, in the affairs of the church. This is precisely the opposite of Jesus’ instructions to those who would serve and care for His future bride (see Mark 10:42-45) and contrary to Peter’s advice to elders (1 Peter 5:1-5).
- A Diminishing of Jesus’ Glory
During the worship services, one hears an abundance of songs magnifying the name of Jesus. However, the preaching never mentions Jesus’ imminent appearing, our receipt of imperishable bodies, or the glory that the book of Revelation says will be His when He wrests the earthly realms out of the hands of the “prince of the power of the air” (Revelation 5-18) and establishes His Millennial rule and later His eternal kingdom (Revelation 19-22).
The song “Amen (Simple Gospel)” by Kari Jobe exemplifies such shifting of glory from Jesus to the church. It begins with a presentation of the Gospel centered on the Savior but ends by exalting the church, claiming that it will rise up to triumph over the dark forces of this world rather than Jesus. In doing so, it not only magnifies the church above Jesus but directs our hope of deliverance from this evil and lawless world to an institution led by flawed and weak people just like us.
Such diminishing of Jesus’ glory places one on dangerous ground.
- It Invariably Leads to False Views of the End Times
Because I have touched on this matter in so many previous posts, I will just briefly mention how viewing the church as God’s physical kingdom on earth invariably leads to further error.
Dominion Theology represents a revival of postmillennialism. It goes beyond seeing the church as the kingdom but asserts that the church will change the entire world and bring in the Millennium by itself, with Jesus returning afterward. This is the theology espoused by Kari Jobe in her song, and it directly contradicts God’s Word.
The teachings of the Preterists also spring from views that regard the church as the kingdom. They assert that Jesus returned to earth in AD 70 and fulfilled most, if not all, of future biblical prophecy at that time. In my conversations with Preterists, they almost always praise the church.
Prophecy Is All About Jesus
The over-the-top joyous, exciting, and wonderful news is that when Jesus appears to take us home to glory, wonderful things will begin to happen to us. For starters, He will give us imperishable bodies like His own, making us fit to inherit His kingdom along His side (1 Corinthians 15:47-54; Philippians 3:20-21).
We are heirs to the kingdom! As believers, we have an amazing future all because of our Savior!
Jesus is our deliverer from this lawless and violent world; He’s the One who will make us fit for our glorious inheritance. Jesus is the One who will judge the wickedness, violence, and deception of our world. Please don’t assign that task to the church.
Jesus will return to the Mount of Olives after the Tribulation period, establish His kingdom on the earth, and sit upon the throne of David just as Gabriel promised Mary that her Son would do (Luke 1:32-33, cf. Isaiah 9:6-7).
Prophecy is all about Jesus! Revelation 19:10 says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Fittingly, He sent His angel to testify to the truth of the events and words that John recorded for us in the book of Revelation (22:16).
We dare not exalt the church at the expense of His future glory.
My latest one is Cancel This! What Today’s Church Can Learn from the Bad Guys of the Bible. The book is all about growing to maturity in Christ. The bad examples of these characters reveal the mindset we need for living at a time when the cancel culture dominates our culture.
I provide a detailed defense of the Pretribulation viewpoint in: The Triumph of the Redeemed-An Eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times.
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