|Christian Life and Doctrine||August 1983|
The Heritage of Those That Fear His Name
“For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.” —Psalm 61:5
IN EVERYDAY life, we are somewhat familiar with matters relating to inheritance, such as the legal and family relationships involved in the transferring of possessory interests from one generation to another. The dictionary defines inheritance as ‘that which comes to or belongs to one by reason of birth’, thus, an inherited lot or possession; a birthright, that which is inherited by legal descent or succession. While this definition makes mention of natural things, the Scriptures speak of a far greater inheritance, a spiritual inheritance, and provide us with an understanding of the heirship and inheritance of the sons of God. The Scriptures have much to say about the heritage of those that fear (or hold in reverential awe) the name of the Lord God, Jehovah.
First, let us consider Jesus, the Son of God. In order to create an inheritance, a particular relationship must be defined so that the possession can pass by line of descent from one to another. God himself, at the time of Jesus’ baptism, declared: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17) This declaration of God heard by John the Baptist verifies that Jesus was the Son of God and that God had established the necessary condition of a line of descent to create an heirship. The Apostle John stated that Jesus was the only begotten of God the Father. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”—John 1:14
Jesus, as a youth and young man with a keen mind and perfect abilities, came to understand and realize that his was a unique relationship with God. (Luke 2:49) Undoubtedly his mother, Mary, who had received special information concerning Jesus (Luke 1:30-38,46-55), told him many things as he was growing up. However, not until he presented himself in baptism, and was begotten of the Holy Spirit, could full enlightenment and understanding come to Jesus. After his baptism, God spoke openly and John the Baptist saw and heard the manifestation of God’s dealing with his Son, as he testified, “I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”—John 1:32,34
In one of Jesus’ early lessons, when talking with Nicodemus, our Master not only emphasized his singular relationship with God, but also propounded the purpose of his life on earth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not, is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”—John 3:16-18
The love of God herein recorded is a particular kind of love, agape love, fully expressing God’s real concern for mankind. For this reason he sent Jesus, his only Son, to be “a ransom for all.” (I Tim. 2:6) Jesus’ desire in offering his human life was to do the will of him that sent him, to be in harmony with God in purpose and in spirit. (John 17:5) “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son and showeth him all things that himself doeth; and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.”—John 5:19,20
In this statement, Jesus asserts that he will do only what is in harmony with the Father’s will. This was true when in times past, Jesus, as the Logos, participated in the works of creation with his Father. God created all things by and for his Son, and because of this, Jesus had a comprehensive perception of his Father’s works and will. (Col. 1:16; John 1:3) The word see has not only the thought of seeing with one’s eyes, but also as is appropriate here, the thought of mental perception or understanding. It was during his earthly ministry that Jesus stated his awareness of God’s power operating through him when he said, “The Son can do nothing of himself.” Jesus further declares the special affection of the Father for the Son, confirming to him greater works he would do than the healing of the sick—he would raise the dead!
When Jesus says, “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” (John 5:21), he is here speaking of the quickening by God which comes to those during the Gospel Age who are begotten by the Holy Spirit to become new creatures in Christ Jesus.
These greater works would also be revealed to those with a hearing ear and seeing eye who desire to do the will of God as did Jesus. Jesus himself promised that the Father would send the Comforter (the Holy Spirit), “to teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”—John 14:26
Next, Jesus specifies one of the important aspects of his inheritance. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which sent him.”—John 5:22,23
We note in this text that the Father committed all judgment unto the Son. This was one of God’s promises to Jesus—a promise that could be honored only after the Son had lived up to the conditions of his heirship by yielding himself in death, and being raised to glory and power. The promise is all-inclusive, for it includes not only the judgment of the church during this present age, but also the judgment of the world of mankind during the Millennial Age. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my Word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation [the general judgment]; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” (John 5:24-27) During Jesus’ lifetime, many strong and confirming evidences were given to the disciples of the father-son relationship established by God with Jesus, such as the revealing of the glory of God upon Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the voice of the Father which said, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.”—Matt. 17:5; II Pet. 1:17
In the second psalm, Jesus’ sonship is confirmed in these words: “I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” (Ps. 2:7) The first ‘I’ refers to Jesus, who will declare, in both the Gospel Age and the Millennial Age, the decree of his sonship. The word begotten (Strong’s Concordance #3205) has the meaning of to ‘bear or to beget’ and is used in the Scriptures to show lineage or line of descent. The fulfillment of this promise to Jesus was stated by the Apostle Paul when, in his discourse at Antioch, he emphasized that the resurrected Jesus had been born to the divine nature: “But God raised him from the dead. … And we declare unto you the glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.”—Acts 13:30,32-34
The Apostle Paul, introducing his epistle to the Hebrews, emphasizes and expands certain aspects of the heritage of Jesus: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”—Heb. 1:1-4
God, through the prophets, foretold Messiah’s birth, and the Gospels confirm the reality of the event. (Isa. 9:6, 7; Mic. 5:2; Matt. 2:5,6; Luke 2:8-11; John 3:16) Paul goes on to state that God sent his Son into the world and has spoken to us through Jesus, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, and who, having been raised to glory, has received his heirship, his promised inheritance from God, his Father.
Jesus, by keeping God’s law, received what the Law promised—the right to everlasting human life. This he voluntarily laid down as a corresponding price for Adam. Jesus by himself purged our sins. Thus, he satisfied God’s justice—a life for a life—that the penalty of death imposed on Adam and all his descendants could in God’s due time be set aside, in order that all in the graves can be brought forth in God’s kingdom. Jesus was resurrected and raised to glory and exalted above all other created beings, and he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having by inheritance obtained a more excellent name. “Therefore God supremely exalted him and freely granted to him that name which is above every name; in order that in the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven, of those on earth, and of those beneath.”—Phil. 2:9,10, Emphatic Diaglott
In his plan, made from before the foundation of the earth, God also purposed the calling of the church—those who, through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, would have the opportunity to share with him in the accomplishment of God’s plan. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:4-6, outlines the nature of this relationship of the hope of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus: “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we might be holy and blameless in sight of him, having in love previously marked us out for sonship, through Christ Jesus for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.”—Emphatic Diaglott
These inspired words of the apostle stress that before the foundation of the earth, God’s plan provided for a class to be called out of the world and given an opportunity to be associated with Jesus as the Christ, through whom blessings to the world will come. How important it is to remember that only through Jesus can we be holy and blameless in sight of him! It is only by Jesus that we can have the blessed relationship with God expressed in this text, having in love previously marked us out for sonship through Christ Jesus.—Eph. 1:3-6
As Paul continues in this letter to the Ephesians, he confirms that this sonship creates a true spiritual inheritance. “Having made know unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”—Eph. 1:9-12
This position of sonship is based on our justification, which accrues to us through the merit of Christ’s righteousness. “Being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Tit. 3:7) It is through faith in the merit of Jesus’ blood that we can lay down our lives as acceptable sacrifices. The purpose of this opportunity to be footstep followers of Jesus is that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him. Here we see clearly not only the purpose of our inheritance, but also its motivation, that we might be used in dispensing the light and blessings of his kingdom which will be to the praise of his glory.
As Paul continues, we learn from this writing that we have the strong confirmation of our standing as sons and heirs. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”—Eph. 1:13,14
After the eyes and ears of our understanding have been opened and we believe, then we receive the seal of the Holy Spirit of promise. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Rom. 8:16,17) In temporal affairs we frequently have the need for verification of an act or document. In general use, the seal provided by a Notary Public guarantees authentication. In dealings between countries, not only are the signatures of official representatives required, but also the seal of each country. These seals are visible evidence to all that negotiations have been validated.
So it is with the dealings of our Heavenly Father and those who enter into covenant relationship with him, as suggested in this text, “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Ps. 50:5) The reality of our vow made with the Heavenly Father has been authenticated by the seal of the Holy Spirit of promise. This seal may not be visible to the outside world, but it is evident among those who have entered into covenant relationship with God. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”—Rom. 8:16
This seal of the Holy Spirit is only the down payment of the wonderful inheritance that awaits the church in glory if we are faithful to our vows. It is the earnest of our inheritance, a pledge given to us by our loving Heavenly Father. In worldly affairs, purchase of a major item on credit requires a down payment to signify good intention of fulfilling the obligation; this is sometimes known as earnest money. By giving to us the earnest of inheritance, God has assured us that if we are faithful in fulfilling our consecration vows, he will complete our inheritance in glory with the redemption of the purchased possession—that is, the completion and deliverance of the church.
As Paul prayed for the Ephesians, so do we all pray for one another “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (Eph. 1:17,18) In this prayer, Paul states one of the conditions necessary to receiving the inheritance of God. (Exod. 15:17; Ps. 33:12; 74:2) The word understanding in verse eighteen implies that we must grow in grace and knowledge. God has supplied “all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” (II Pet. 1:3) The Emphatic Diaglott renders Ephesians 1:18, “The eyes of your heart having been enlightened.” Here we see that it is the heart condition that must conform to God’s will. In our fallen flesh we cannot fulfill perfectly our vows of consecration. It is only the fullness of heart intent in performing our vows that God now requires of us to receive our promised inheritance.—Num. 8:17,18; 18:20; Deut. 18:1,2; Heb. 12:23
Fullness of devotion, fullness of desire, richness of holiness and grace, is possible only for those whose hearts are acceptable to God. A consecration accepted by our Heavenly Father brings forth the full witness of the Spirit and an outpouring of God’s love. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:1,2) It was God’s love for his only begotten Son and for the church now under development as joint-heirs that provided such a wonderful heritage.
Encouraged and uplifted by these promises, let us strive more earnestly in constant renewal of our vows of consecration to seek the guidance and counsel of our Heavenly Father and the strength of the Holy Spirit that we might be faithful to the end in fulfilling our covenant of sacrifice. “For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.”—Ps. 61:5