Title: “Heirs of God”
Text: Romans 8:17
Reading: Romans 8:1-23
Subject: The Believer’s Inheritance with Christ
Date: Sunday Morning -- June 16, 1996
Tape # S-64
The title of my message today is “Heirs of God.” Our text will be Romans 8:17. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
Romans eight is, without question, one of my favorite portions of Scripture. I think I can safely say that I could preach from the thirty-nine verses of this chapter for a solid year and not come close to expounding their depths. Every line is a text bursting with meaning. It seems to be an inexhaustible mine overflowing with glorious gospel truth. Every word seems to echo “Grace!” “Grace!” “Grace!” Everything directs our thoughts to the grace of God and shows forth the glory of God. Starting at verse one, Paul sets before us a golden ladder. Each step seems to ascend higher and higher. From justification, he rises to regeneration. From regeneration, he rises to sanctification. From sanctification, he rises to glorification. In glorification, he declares God’s elect to be “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ!”
To all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ there is the promise of an inheritance that is incorruptible, eternal, undefiled, and “fadeth not away.” What can this mean? What is it to be an heir of God?
I know this much -- This inheritance is the only inheritance worth having. Any other inheritance is unsatisfying and disappointing. The riches of this world, for which men labor so feverishly, are sure to bring with them many cares. They can never cure an aching heart, ease a troubled conscience, or relieve the burdens of a guilty soul. The riches of this world cannot prevent sickness, bereavement, separations, and death. They cannot even secure temporary happiness or domestic tranquillity. But there shall never be any disappointment among the heirs of God in heaven.
The inheritance spoken of in our text is the only inheritance that can be kept forever. All others must be left at the hour of death, if they have not vanished before. Howard Hughs carried no more with him to the grave than Lazarus. But that is not the case with the heirs of God. Our inheritance in Christ is eternal (Heb. 9:15).
The inheritance I am talking about this morning is the only inheritance there is which is within the reach of all who desire it. Most people in this world will never be able to obtain great wealth or attain greatness, no matter how hard they strive for them. But glory, honor, and eternal life are set before you in the gospel, freely offered to all who will accept them on God’s terms. “Whosoever will” may be an “heir of God and joint-heir with Jesus Christ!”
Do you understand what I have just said? Glory, honor, and eternal life are set before you in the gospel, freely offered to all who will accept them on God’s terms. “Whosoever will” may be an “heir of God and joint-heir with Jesus Christ!” Some of you woke up this morning under the wrath of God, condemned and perishing, “children of wrath even as other,” without God, without Christ, and without hope. It may be that this very day God intends to do a mighty work of grace for you and in you. It may be that, before you leave this house of worship this morning, you will be “heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.” What a glorious prospect! May God be pleased to perform for you the mighty work of his grace necessary to make you “heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”
Proposition: All who are the children of God are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”
Divisions: I want you to hold your Bibles open at Romans 8:17. We will look at this blessed verse, this word from our God, word by word. The text speaks of four things:
1. The Condition
2. The Heirs
3. The Inheritance
4. The Union
I. The first thing I see in the text is THE CONDITION, or ground of heirship.
Our text reads, “If children, then heirs.” The emphasis, for now, must be placed on the word “if.” If we are the children of God, then we are the heirs of God. But if we are not God’s children, then we are not God’s heirs. And the fact is, shocking as it may be to many, we are not all God’s children. This heirship does not come as the result of...
· Natural Creation - The text does not read, If creatures, then heirs.
· Family Descent - It is not written, If children of Abraham, then heirs. Grace does not run in bloodlines. Grace is the free gift of God.
John 1:12-13 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
Romans 9:7-13 "Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. (8) That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. (9) For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. (10) And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (11) (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) (12) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. (13) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."
· Human Merit - Paul does not say, If servants, then heirs.
Galatians 4:30 "What saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman."
· Religious Ritual - The text does not say, If circumcised or if baptized, then heirs.
Multitudes foolishly imagine that if they have their children sprinkled as babies, then those children become heirs of God’s covenant. There are many who vainly presume that since they have knelt at an altar, been baptized, observe the ordinances of worship, and are members of a local church they are heirs of God. Do not be so foolish.
Romans 4:9-12 "Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. (10) How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. (11) And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: (12) And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised."
The Holy Spirit tells us plainly that the one condition of heirship with Christ is this - “If children, then heirs.” Are you a child of God? I am not asking...
...Are you religious?
...Are you moral?
...Are you a church member?
...Have you decided for Jesus?
I am asking - Are you a child of God? Are you born again?
John 3:3-7 "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (4) Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? (5) Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."
Perhaps you are asking yourself, How can I know whether or not I am a child of God? How can I know whether or not I am born again, born from above? The Holy Spirit provides us with very clear answers to those questions. There is no guess work to this thing. Here are five characteristics of all who are children of God. If these things are true of us, we are the children of God, born again by almighty grace, and heirs of God. If these things are not true of us, then we are yet “children of wrath even as others.”
A. All who are born of God, all who are the children of God, all who are saved by the grace of God, all who are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ,” believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
John 1:12 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:"
If you trust the Lord Jesus Christ alone as your Savior and Lord, if you look to Christ alone for acceptance with God, your faith in him is the fruit and evidence of his work of grace in you.
Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
B. All who are the children of God are led by the Spirit of God.
We see that in verse fourteen. - "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." The Holy Spirit leads those who are Christ’s. There is a movement in their hearts, lives, and affections which they feel, though they may not be able to explain it, a movement which is always in the same direction.
1. The Holy Spirit always leads us away from ourselves to Christ.
· Away from our sin to his blood.
· Away from our righteousness to his righteousness.
· Away from self-confidence to the confidence of faith in Christ.
· Away from our feelings to his Word.
· Away from our works to his work.
2. The Holy Spirit leads us by providence, through the counsel of the Word, and by the power of his grace.
· In the Will of God.
· In Paths of Righteousness.
· To the Throne of Grace.
Are you led of God? Is your life under the rule of Christ, governed by his Spirit? Those who are born of God are led by the Spirit.
God leads His dear children along.
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.
C. For another thing, all who are born again by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit have the blessed liberty of the sons of God.
Romans 8:1-4 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Romans 8:15 "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
We have been delivered from that slavish fear of God which is caused by the guilt of sin and the terror of the law. We have been redeemed from that guilt that caused Adam to “hide himself in the trees of the garden” and made Cain “go out from the presence of the Lord.”
1. We are no longer afraid of God. Sinners though we are, we are not afraid of God’s holiness, justice, and majesty.
2. We see God now, in the full glory of his holy Being, and have peace. We see him reconciled through the blood of his own dear Son. We see all his glorious attributes displayed and honored in the death of Christ as our Substitute.
3. We now draw near to God in prayer and speak to him with the confidence and peace of a child to his father.
4. We now serve the Lord our God, not out of a sense of fear, but from a sense of love and gratitude.
We have exchanged the spirit of bondage for the Spirit of liberty. We have given up the spirit of fear for the Spirit of love. We have put off the spirit of obligation and put on the Spirit of gratitude. We have dropped the spirit of law and taken up the Spirit of grace.
D. Fourthly, all who are born of God, all who are the children of God have the witness of the Spirit that they are the children of God.
Romans 8:16 "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:"
2 Corinthians 1:22 "Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."
2 Corinthians 5:5 "Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit."
Ephesians 1:13 "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,"
Ephesians 4:30 "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
1 John 5:10 "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself."
The Holy Spirit sprinkles our hearts with the blood of Christ and assures us that Christ is sufficient. He gives us witness by the Word, assuring us that our sins have been put away, that peace is restored, that heaven’s door is opened before us, and that hell’s pit is forever shut. We have, by the witness of the Spirit, what the world can never have...
· A Good Hope through Grace.
· The Seal of the Spirit.
· The Earnest of our Inheritance.
E. Fifthly, the sons of God voluntarily take part in the sufferings of Christ.
Read the last part of our text - “If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
All God’s children voluntarily take up their cross and follow their Master. They “follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth,” regardless of cost or consequence.
The condition of heirship is just this - “If children.” If we are the children of God, then we are the heirs of God.
II. Next, I want you to see that the Holy Spirit identifies THE HEIRS.
I haven’t lost my marbles; and I’m not repeating myself. Notice the words of the text. “If children, then heirs.” The teaching is this: All who are the children of God are the heirs of God, for the same reason, to the same extent, and to the same fullness.
There are many who would have you to believe that while all God’s children are his heirs, some will inherit a scanty portion as naughty sons and daughters while others will have a large, honorable, and happy portion as obedient children. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our inheritance here is not conditioned upon our works, be they good or bad, but upon our relationship to God. “If children, then heirs!” The issue is determined by that word if. If we are the Lord’s children, then no doubt can exist regarding our heavenly inheritance.
There is no such thing as degrees of reward in heaven. There are no slums in the heavenly Jerusalem. There are no uncrowned princes in heaven. Whoever he was who invented the doctrine of degrees of reward in heaven knew nothing about the doctrine of grace in the gospel. The whole system smacks of the popish doctrines of indulgences and purgatory! It is but another subtle system of works religion.
Not all of God’s children are prophets, apostles, preachers, teachers, evangelists, or even well-instructed, eminent saints. Not all are rich and influential in spiritual gifts and works. They are not all strong and useful. But they are all heirs of God and equally so! Let me given you seven reasons for my tenacious insistence upon this matter.
A. We are all children of the same Father.
B. We are all loved with the same love, to the same degree. There are no degrees to our Father’s love.
C. We were all blessed with the same blessings from eternity. Our Father will not take away what he has already given us; and he has already given us all things (Eph. 1:3).
D. We are all accepted upon the same grounds, for the same reason, to the same degree (Eph. 1:6).
E. We are all equally related to the Elder Brother, the Firstborn Son, through whom the inheritance comes.
F. We have all already obtained the inheritance in Christ representatively (Eph. 1:11; Heb. 6:20).
G. There is no room for works in the system of grace (Rom. 11:6).
III. Now, take a moment to reflect upon THE INHERITANCE itself.
We are here described as “heirs of God.” Just think of the implications of that for a moment.
A. Our inheritance is divinely great.
This is what the Scriptures declare. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things” (Rev. 21:7). “All things are yours” (2 Cor. 3:21). If we are the children of God, then we are...
1. Heirs of God’s Salvation (Heb. 1:14).
2. Heirs of Eternal Life (Tit. 3:7).
3. Heirs of Promise (Heb. 6:17).
4. Heirs of the Grace of Life (I Pet. 3:7).
5. Heirs of Righteousness (Heb. 11:7).
6. Heirs of the Kingdom (James 2:5).
B. If we are heirs of God, our inheritance an inheritance of infinite proportion.
1. To be heirs of God is to be heirs of all that God possesses!
2. To be heirs of God is to be heirs of all that God is!
3. To be heirs of God is to be heirs of God himself!
4. To be heirs of God is to be heirs of all that Jesus Christ is as the God-man, our Mediator!
Our Savior has given to all his elect all the glory that God the Father gave to him as the result of his perfect obedience to God as our Representative.
John 17:5 "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
John 17:22 "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:"
IV. The last thing spoken of in our text is THE UNION that subsists between Christ and his people.
“If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.” This is grace indeed! God has pardoned us, received us into his house, adopted us as his sons, made us all his heirs, and has made us to be joint-heirs with his own dear Son!
As justification is union and communion with Christ in his righteousness, sanctification is union and communion with Christ in his holiness, and glorification shall be union and communion with Christ in his Sonship!
A. Our inheritance with Christ is an inheritance worthy of the Son of God!
What an inheritance that must be! It is such an inheritance as the Father reserves for and gives to his well-beloved Son in whom he is well-pleased.
B. Our worthiness to obtain this glorious inheritance is our union with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our only worthiness to approach God in any way at any time is Christ. But I want you to get this -- In Christ we are worthy to obtain this inheritance (Col. 1:12).
1. Made worthy because our Debt has been Fully Paid!
2. Made Worthy because we are Perfectly Righteous in Christ!
C. Our everlasting inheritance in glory with Christ is a matter of absolute certainty.
1. Our union with him secures it. His title deed to glory is ours. The two are indivisible.
2. He prayer for us claimed it for us.
3. He has gone into heaven to prepare it for us and hold it in our name.
4. He is coming again to bring us into the blessed possession of it.
I really do not know what to expect when we have obtained our inheritance (1 John 3:2). But I do know this...
1. We shall be raised and transformed into Christ’s likeness and enter into his glory.
2. There will be nothing in eternity to sadden our hearts or dampen our spirits (Rev. 21:3-4).
3. “Then we shall know, even as we are known.”
4. We will soon say an eternal “good-bye” to sin and attain perfect holiness!
5. We shall enter into perfect rest (Heb. 4:9).
6. Yet, we will serve the Lord perfectly (Rev. 7:15).
7. We shall live in perfect communion with one another.
8. We shall be totally satisfied (Ps. 17:15).
9. We shall see our Savior’s face! “They shall see his face!”
1 John 3:1-3 "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. (2) 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. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
What about you who are without Christ? You are heirs of God’s wrath! I bid you, for your souls’ sakes to flee from the wrath of God into the arms of his dear Son. If you can, if you will, you shall go home rejoicing in the blessed fact that you are the children of God. “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.”