Ephesians 1:11-12 “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,2 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”
Do we really understand the riches that have been given to us in Christ and the benefits afforded to us in Him? The freedom that comes from looking at these heavenly truths is transforming. Today, let’s seek to behold His glory again and be changed as we consider Ephesians 1:11-12.
There are many blessings that overflow from our union with Christ and today we look at three of these transforming realities that for the Christian are intended to remind us of the glories of our salvation and the love of our God. Our inheritance, God’s omniscient purpose, and Christ’s glory are most worthy of our attention today.
Understanding Our Inheritance in Christ
These truths care an anchor in the most unstable times and are one of the strong hands the Lord uses to uphold us when disappointment surrounds. Being united with Christ means far more than a side-by-side relationship, nearness, or intimate relationship. For those who have died with Christ, obtained adoption as sons (Ephesians 1:5), and been lavishly met with grace upon grace, we have been swallowed up by this Savior completely. As Ray Ortlund puts it,
“Union with Christ is the totality of you–redefined by and located in–the totality of Christ. He has taken your story and He has written your story into His story of death and resurrection so that you are always in two places at once. “
Our position in this world is uncertain, but our position in Christ cannot be and will not be threatened. We are safe and secure and can rest soundly even as fire falls around us, for our true-self in Christ is not at stake. Just as real as the soil beneath our feet is, so is the Rock upon which we stand—one will fade, yet One remains forever. It is important to understand our union with the Son before we can comprehend the privileges we receive from the Father, for it is impossible to obtain one without the other.
Ephesians 1:11 “In him we have obtained an inheritance”…
The interpretation of Paul’s phrasing here has been debated. For example, we read in the ESV “In him we have obtained an inheritance” (vs.11), but it could also be translated “In him we are also an inheritance” or “we were made a heritage,” both translations are supported by the Scripture and are biblically accurate.
Yet, the question remains, is Paul talking about our inheritance or Christ’s? On the one hand, he could be talking about both. Because we are joint-heirs with Christ, we receive all He receives from the Father (Romans 8:17). Every spiritual blessing that Christ possesses has been afforded to us (Ephesians 1:3)—what grace! To think, we are so knitted together in Christ that the love the Father has for His Son is now the same love poured out upon us, His blood-bought children. In response, God’s love should cause us to swell with the greatest possible gratitude, and we should whole-heartedly desire a greater comprehension of it. To which, Paul later prayed in his letter to the Ephesians and surrounding churches,
Ephesians 3:17b-19 “That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”
If we have ever doubted our importance to the Savior, we need only to look towards Calvary to quiet such demonic accusations against the steadfast love of our Lord. Not only do we cast our gaze towards the cross, but we also set our sights upon a particular benefit won by Christ upon the cross—His inheritance.
Let’s consider the second possible translation, “In him we are also an inheritance” (Ephesians 1:11), looking at what this means not only for us but also for the Son.
In the Old Testament, we can see clearly that being the firstborn in a family was highly important. In our culture, we don’t quite understand the significance that being a firstborn held within God’s people. The firstborn son received most of His father’s inheritance and the coveted spiritual blessing of the father. We see the importance of the firstborn’s place when reading Genesis 27:19, seeing what great lengths Jacob went to in order that he may deceive his own father that he may obtain the blessing which was rightfully Esau’s, the firstborn of Isaac.
Not only in the Old Testament do we see this, but also in some of Jesus’ own teaching, particularly His famous parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). It was clearly evident that the elder brother felt threatened in some way as his jealousy burned hot at his father’s generosity towards his rebellious, careless, younger brother’s return. His younger brother squandered his portion given to him by his father, while the elder brother remained faithful, working diligently as he waited to receive what was his. The father celebrated his younger son’s return, forgiving his foolishness and lavishly clothing him in his impoverished state, preparing a costly table for him and all those he loved to feast upon. Such love sounds familiar to us does it not? But wait a minute, the eldest son knew this feast was costing his father which meant ultimately it was costing him, impeding upon his inheritance, his property. If anything, the eldest son wanted the ability to enjoy what was his, as he felt he earned the privilege not only because of his position in the family but because of his constant labor and faithfulness to the father. Here stands his younger brother enjoying what is his rightful fill and he is furious, saying to his father,
Luke 15:29 “Look these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.”
What was the father’s response?
Luke 15:31“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”
This verse has always meant a lot to me, as I identify more with the elder brother in the parable, yet for years I missed just how literal the father’s response was to his eldest son. When he said, “all that is mine is yours,” he was not being poetic, he was very plainly reminding him of the position and privilege of his birthright. In other words, “Son, stop being petty and jealous, remember what’s yours…that’s not going anywhere. Rejoice in your brother’s return, your portion is guaranteed.”
What does this have to do with Christ’s inheritance? Jesus’ words are not only penetrating the pharisaical hearts before him, but also centering their focus on a beautiful truth: Christ is the true Elder Brother, the Firstborn, and we are his inheritance.
Colossians 1:15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
Colossians 1:18 “And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”
“In Christ we have a wonderful inheritance, and in Christ we are an inheritance.” –Warren Wiersbe
Christ is our inheritance, and we are His. This thought is a mystery, and it gives us a greater sense of the Father and the “counsel of His will” Paul mentions in Ephesians 1:11. The Father will preserve His Son’s inheritance, namely, His children. We are His possession, set apart before time according to God’s purpose and foreknowledge (Romans 8:29) and our Lord will not give up His rightful inheritance, but with every moment that passes He is sanctifying a people as His perfect possession. But all of this to what end?
Hope in Christ to the Praise of His Glory
Ephesians 1:12 “having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,2 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”
Every ounce of your life is governed by the purpose of a good God. He is not passively sitting by, but intimately working in your life every detail according to His all-knowing, all-seeing, perfect will. The Lord gives, and He takes away, yet how is it possible for us to still bless His name? To put it simply: His goodness guards us, and His glory preserves us. God’s will is a mystery at times, but we know His goodness is never-fading, and His children are secured forever for one ultimate, worthy purpose: “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12). Take comfort in this today.
Christ has secured for us the ultimate inheritance and has secured us as His that we who hope in Him might display the splendor of our Triune God. God’s passion for His glory is our greatest hope. It is the fuel behind every act of His will and every purpose of His heart. We are raised with Him to life, seated with Him in the heavenly places, brothers together, Christ being the firstborn from the dead (Romans 8:29) calling all who hope in Him to display the beauty of His glory (Ephesians 1:12).
We, as a part of His inheritance, have been given such special privileges that to name them all would fill the heavens. Our inheritance is bountiful, and we wait to see it in full at Christ’s return. It is sure, and it is promised. Just as definite is the fact that Christ has received all things, we can rest knowing it is just as definite we will receive what He has promised for those who have believed in Him. This is the beauty of being a co-heir with Christ, and fellow heir of God (Romans 8:17). We are fully dependent upon God fulfilling His promises to us, and His faithfulness will not fail. What is at stake in His promises is not only His faithfulness, but His righteousness, and ultimately, the infinite worth of His glory.