“In faith, being called to go out to a place which he was going to receive by inheritance, Abraham obeyed, and he went out, not knowing to what place he went. In faith he dwelt in the land of promise as a foreigner, living in a tent with Isaac and Jacob, those sharing together the same promises, for he was waiting for the place, the one having foundations of which God is the designer and builder” (Hebrew 11:8-10).
True believers and followers of Christ Jesus are all prisoners, imprisoned in a sinful, mortal body in a wicked, material and visible world; we belong elsewhere, in another world, the world for which man was made. We can complain to the Lord about this, but the earthly inheritance of our father Adam, ensures that we must endure and be faithful, as was Abraham, the father of faith.
Since we have believed in God, had faith in Christ and received the Holy Spirit, we have been paroled from the prison house of Satan; we are on parole, having a ticket of leave, as it were, which is a release conditional on certain outcomes. This is redemption.
During this period, we are being prepared to be worthy of unconditional release, which is inheritance.
On first being paroled, we become believers and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are able to progress in the ways of God, those that lead a believer from being a servant of Jesus, to being a friend of Jesus and finally to being a brother of Jesus and thus, by adoption, a son of the Father.
During this ongoing process of learning to walk in the ways of God, we are meant to be learning to trust Christ Jesus; every step forward is a reflection of the degree to which we trust Him; every step backward, and there are many, has been the result of our trusting ourselves, and not Him. Paul teaches us that, in this state, our prayer should always be that “the One beginning a good work in me will complete it” (Philippians 1:6).
Learning to trust Jesus in everything with which we are confronted is a lifelong lesson; we are all born as utterly dependent babies, but our upbringing is directed towards preparing us to be independent; then, as believers, we are obliged to surrender that independence in favour of dependence on Christ.
That process is called being crucified with Christ and it is absolutely fundamental to our progress from redemption to gaining our inheritance; from turning our ticket of leave into unconditional release. Only thus can the sin that is the cause of our imprisonment in the first place, be removed so that we are safe to be released into the society of saints in heaven. As Paul wrote to the Romans; “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Romans 6:6-7).
The body of sin must be done away with, he says; this is the death of self that is so hard to accept, and yet without it our inheritance is in jeopardy. It is only by our being dead in Christ in this life that we can be faithful witnesses of the truth, and there is some danger in our professing a faith that cannot be seen in our life.
“And the dead in Christ shall rise first” Paul wrote (1 Thessalonians 4:16); he might have put it also that only the dead in Christ shall rise to eternal life.