Inheritance in the kingdom of God is often misunderstood because of a warped view of personal ownership, satisfaction and identity in things. This will not be the case in the new creation.

Simply the inheritance of the saints, as members of this new humanity (in Christ), is one another in unity of all things in God. As the Bible says in Ephesians 1 a Christian’s inheritance is in the saints (i.e. the union of the saints). As such it becomes the rebirth right (after having been reborn into Christ) to take their place in Christ as lords of the new creation, possessing one another and all things given by God (head and all-father) for the common good.

having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…
(Ephesians 1:18 ESV)

This holds true for the crown given to those who are united in Christ. Philippians 4:1 clearly states that the crown Christians will receive is one another. Paul calls the Church at Philippi his love, joy and crown. Not only the Philippian church but the church in Thessalonica too, because it is these who were known to Paul through his ministry and position in Christ as apostle.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
(Philippians 4:1 ESV)

And again in 1 Thessalonians:

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?
(1 Thessalonians 2:19 ESV)

In 2 Timothy it is stated that this crown is the crown of righteous and as such is a direct result of Paul living out his union with Christ now, completing the work Christ started. This crown is for all those who are united in Christ. God is laying this crown up by securing his work in Christ. So that those whom have ministered to and are in Christ will not slip away.

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:8 ESV)

The Bible states that there is a direct link between a Christian’s conduct in Christ now and the crown they receive on the last day. Showing the importance of understanding the continuity of relationship (unity) from the present age to the new creation. In 1 Peter 5 elders are urged to use their authority and position in Christ for the good of those Christ has given to them. Not seeking their own benefit or oppressing them, rather as an example for living in Christ now. Knowing that those whom they have faithfully served in the present age will be there on the last day as members of the same union.

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
(1 Peter 5:1-5 ESV)

However those who do not faithfully live out their union in this life, using all that they have given by God (in union) for their own gain, may still be saved from hell but will not know the joy of seeing those they loved on earth persevere untill the end. This is not telling Christians to “convert”, do as many ministries or befriend as many people as is humanly possible. It is a call for perseverance in unity (relationship) through faith in Christ, knowing that God has given all Christians to one another to others for their good. If you are indeed united to Christ you must act like it, otherwise you risk taking no one with you into eternity.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
(1 Corinthians 3:10-15 ESV)

So seek out the joy of unity in Christ, faithfully serving one another until you are called home to be with him face to face and share in the saints.

Advertisements

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”(John 4:21-24)

While the time of worshiping God in spirit has already come (in Christ), it has not yet reached its fullness. Not until all Christians stand in the presence of God, in physical spiritual form, will all who are one in Christ be able to worship God (in unity) unrestrained and unreservedly for all eternity.

THE FULLNESS OF TIME
God’s plan for the fullness of time has always been to unite all things (creation) in Christ. So that through his death and rising to new life he would put into effect a new human unity that would take its place as lords of creation under God. So that every blessing we have been given are blessings of renewed unity and relationship with God. These include being:

• chosen before the foundation of the world
• redemption through the blood of Christ
• adoption as sons
• shared inheritance as sons
• revealation of the mystery of his will to (as sons)

All Christians have been adopted as sons in Christ sharing in the inheritance of the kingdom of God. As sons of God, in Christ, Christians are given the keys to the universe and given insight into mystery of renewed unity in Christ. It is unity in Christ that secures these blessings for all Christians.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
(Ephesians 1:3-10 ESV)

When it says all things will be united in Christ it does not include everything and everyone that exists in the present age. Not everything that currently exists can exist in union with God (especially if they don’t want to). This can not include the current creation and those who reject God.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “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 fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
(Romans 8:1-17 ESV)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-18 ESV)

Joy is one of those things that everyone seems to know about, but can never give a clear definition of. This has meant that joy has been widely misunderstood, especially in light of verses like:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
(Philippians 4:4 ESV)

How are you supposed to have joy in God at all times? Are we meant to be happy all the time? The Bible states that Christians are to expected to suffer with Christ (Romans 8:17 ESV). Therefore it can’t be a matter of being happy all the time. More than this the Bible clearly states that Christians should rejoice in suffering, because the end result of suffering is steadfastness and maturity in Christ (which will have its full effect on the last day).

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(James 1:2-4 ESV)

The Bible clearly states that suffering and discipline are the mark of a true child of God.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birth right for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.(Hebrews 12:1-17 ESV)

Also experience tells us that there are those who suffer from depression and are physically unable to experience happiness for long periods of time.

JOY
You have heard it said that JOY is an acronym standing for Jesus, Other, Yourself. While this has some merit in helping to understand priorities, it is largely unhelpful and confusing for understanding what joy in unity actually is. This acronym does not intuitively provide an explanation of joy it merely gives a list of priorities and is an over simplification of the Bible’s view of joy While priorities are good in light of unity this acronym is dangerous, pitting them against one another as if they were competing priorities. As already discussed, loving your family is fully in line with unity in Christ. Also in unity actions (love in unity) to benefit part ultimately serve to benefit the whole (Christ). This means that Christ can be glorified by loving others. Meaning that loving God with your whole heart and mind and loving your neighbour as yourself are a single command. Therefore as unity grows all members benefit. Also the work of Christ that all are involved in (building and sustaining unity) the present age is indeed Christ’s work.

In defining joy there are a few things that need to be understood. Firstly, joy is not an exclusively Christian concept and as such it should be defined with broader contexts in mind. Secondly, joy is not exclusively an emotion otherwise it would be perfectly interchangeable with happiness. Thirdly, joy is more about the object of desire and affection (good things) rather than the emotion or concept.

Therefore joy can then be defined as; a person’s attitude and reaction to good things.

Good and Evil
In the present age a “good” is understood as something that you can purchase. What most people don’t understand is that the term “good” (in this context) is a specific term used in economics. It describes anything that is intended to satisfy some want or need of a consumer. Things people want or need are things people desire to have, therefore goods are desirable.

As previously discussed, Genesis 1 reveals the living God through the story of creation. In creation the unity of God is clearly seen. At the end of each day God judged each part of creation to be “good” and ultimately judges the entire order of creation as “very good”. This judgement is a statement of approval, unity and harmony between the one true God and his creation. “Good” in this context is something that is associated with God, defined by God and is desirable to God.

Attitude and Reaction
Therefore it becomes clear that a person’s attitude toward those things that they determine to be good should be one of desire when they are withheld and happiness/satisfaction when they are obtained.

When the Bible says “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” emphasis should not be on the joy but on what the object of desire is, Christ. What the Bible is commanding all Christians to do is to align their desires/wants and needs with Christ. That is to say all Christians should ever want or need is Christ and what he wants (unity). Therefore the Bibles view of what is good and what is most valuable for the Christian is Christ and unity in him. Seeking what most highly valued and seen as the greatest good will in turn produce a positive reaction (happiness/satisfaction) to obtaining it. The more closely aligned the desires of the Christian are with Christ the stronger the desire and reaction, even though they may not be able to “feel” it.

Reactions to good things not only encompasses an emotional reaction but rational decision-making also. When Christ and what he wants is the sole object of a Christians desire their reaction to him will be one of elation, happiness, etc. while the way it is expressed will be in a manner that is appropriate to one who is united to Christ. When a Christian experiences any good thing their appropriate response is to praise the God who has given all good things (in Christ). This means that the emotion is not necessary for joy.

Therefore idolatry can understood as; replacing Christ and unity in him as the object of desire and affection with something else. For example, When a person desires the feeling of happiness they seek out anything that can make them happy.

God is the greatest good from which all other goods come. Therefore if you share in the spirit of Christ, being united to him, you must align you attitudes so that you seek and desire him alone. Seeking to reflect him in everything you do. Knowing that your union with him will not be fully realised untill you are with him in his spirit.

JOY IN OTHERS
When Paul declares to the church at Philippi that they are his joy this doesn’t conflict with his desire for Christ.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
(Philippians 4:1 ESV)

This is a very important passage because it brings together the concepts of love in unity and reward in heaven. To love one another with the love that Christ demonstrated is what it means to be in union with one another (in Christ) and God.

As previously discussed the purpose of the Christian in any age is maintaining and growing the union of Christ. In the present age this notably includes adding to the union of Christ by evangelising those who are not united to Christ.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them min the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:16-20, ESV)

The requirements placed on Christian relationships (discussed above) only apply to those who are united in Christ by the Holy Spirit. So when it comes to dealing with non-Christians it must come from an understanding that they are not united to Christ and they are not subject to the same order and requirements that Christians are. They are still in Adam who broke unity (relationship) with God. Note: This does not mean that Christians shouldn’t express Christian views on public policy issues, as citizens and members of society.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolaters, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
(1 Corinthians 5:9-13, ESV)

Christians and non-Christians are not the same race (2 Corinthians 6:14). This is because Christians are united in Christ which is a spiritual union, where-as non-Christians are members of the bastardised union of Adam. This does not mean that Christians should look down on or persecute non-Christians because of this distinction. Rather it is because of their union with Christ that all Christians are called to actively take part in finishing Christ’s work on earth (making disciples of all nations). Therefore this union which separates the two groups demands that Christians love non-Christians and call them to be united to Christ.

Even those who are united to Christ will not truly know who all the people of God are until the final judgement. A judgement that will segregate the two races forever. Separating those who are united to God through Christ from those who are not. This is to show that this final judgement and segregation is God’s right alone.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you wave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these dmy brothers,you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:31-46, ESV)

Therefore Christians should love non-Christians by explaining the good news about Christ and the renewed unity that mankind has with God.

What would you do for your brother?

In light of renewed unity with God and oneanother, in Christ, it is the responsibility of each member to know and love oneanother. This will involve giving up your freedom for the their sake and the sake of your union.

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, she is known by God.

Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
(1 Corinthians 8 ESV)

True humility is a practical affirmation of the sovereign headship of God and Christ in the life of the Christian on a daily basis, in light of renewed unity in God through Christ.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
(Ephesians 4:1-7)

Humility and the sovereignty of God
As previously discussed the individuality of the Christian (abilities, life span, wealth and success, circumstance of life, etc.) was determined by God under his sovereign headship. These are apportioned to each Christian by the same spirit for the sake of the whole union.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually has he wills.
(1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

True humility recognises the gifting of God and acknowledges that all gifts are given by the one spirit for the good of all and does not assume status in the family of God. This is what it means to be in union with God. So when each member seeks to understand and respect the place given to each Christian by God in Christ they will be practically acknowledging the sovereign headship of God and Christ.

True humility does not deny the truth of the gifting of the Holy Spirit and the sovereignty of God. Rather it acknowledges that it is given for the good of the whole union. Therefore denying the gifting of the Holy Spirit in your life and the life of others is a denial of unity with Christ. Also seeking status in the family of God without respect for the good order he has established is a denial of God’s headship and unity in him.

This means that Christians can acknowledge their abilities, wealth, etc. without being arrogant by attributing them all to God and using them for the good of the Christian union (church). God empowers Christians with the freedom to plan and execute the good works that he has prepared for them in light of his sovereign headship (unity in him).

The right acknowledgement of gifting is not just a matter for the individual but for the entire union. It is not a matter of self-estimation in a vacuum. God has given Christians to one another so that they may lovingly encourage and advise one another in the identification of need and the correct manner of service. In this way the whole union is built up in love.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-20)

In having many gifts and a place for each the whole the union of Christ becomes stronger.