The Already/Not Yet of Our Inheritance
In Ephesians 1:11-12, Paul speaks of the inheritance that we have in Christ. All who believe in Jesus inherit eternal life (Mt. 19:29), the kingdom of God (Mt. 25:34), and the promises of salvation (Heb. 6:12).
Looking more closely at Ephesians 1:11-14, we find that while we "have obtained an inheritance" (Eph. 1:11), there is yet a day coming when "we acquire possession of it" (Eph. 1:14). It is ours, and it is not yet ours. How can that be?
Recently, my parents asked their four children to consider what pieces of their furniture we might want to inherit when the time comes. Susan and
I have always loved a wardrobe in their home. I love it because it reminds me of the wardrobe that leads to C.S. Lewis's Narnia; I'm pretty sure my wife loves it because it's pretty.
I mentioned that this would be a nice piece to have. So, my mom said, "It's yours." What did she mean by that? Well, she didn't mean I can come pick it up now. In saying, "It's yours," she meant that the decision has already been made. It's set aside for us in her mind, and when the day comes, we will take possession of it.
This is how it is with our heavenly inheritance. We have obtained it now. It's as good as ours. The Holy Spirit is God's seal of proof (Eph. 1:13). Yet, we will acquire possession of it in the future, so that the fullness of eternal life, of the kingdom of God, and of the promises of salvation will come when this life is over.
From now on, I'll see that wardrobe on each trip to my parents' house. I'll know it's ours, but it is not yet ours. The day we bring it from Knoxville to our home in Indianapolis will be bittersweet. It will be sweet because the wardrobe will remind me of my parents, but it will be bitter because the wardrobe will remind me that my parents are gone.
Not so with our heavenly inheritance. Eternal life, enjoying the promises of God in the kingdom of God, will be absent all bitterness. It will only be sweet..."the sweet by and by".