From Outsider to Heir
by Nate Buchanan – Middle School Pastor
"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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.”
Ephesians 1:11-14: 11
Sounds pretty good right? When I first heard these verses, I remember thinking, “Yeah, that sounds amazing — good for those people! But God couldn’t possibly love me enough to give me that ‘inheritance’.” Maybe you read that passage and find yourself in the same boat. Maybe you view your past, your mistakes, your failures, your sin as too big for God to forgive; too big for God to redeem. Let me encourage you — I know what it feels like to be on the outside looking in. Let me help you take the steps from outsider to heir.
STEP 1 – JUSTIFICATION
When we disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), we were completely separated from having an intimate relationship with God. That’s because God is Holy, and perfect holiness cannot be in the presence of sin. This creates a big problem for us. At this point our identity was, “dead in trespasses and sins, children of wrath, sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2). Maybe this is you right now. Do you find yourself being overwhelmed with guilt, shame, depression, and anxiety?
But do you know there is hope? And this hope has a name. You can call out to him! His yoke is easy and his burden is light. You can cast all of your anxieties on him because he cares for you! You can do this because of what he has already done for you. Isaiah 53 says, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
Jesus became a man like us, lived a perfect life, and died a death we deserved. But the story doesn’t stop there. He was resurrected three days later, just as the Scriptures prophesied, so that by believing in Him we may have eternal life. At the moment you accept this truth, confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart (Romans 10:9) that Jesus lived and died for you, you will be saved! In that moment, your identity changes; in that moment, you will never be more or less loved by God! You have been justified!
STEP 2 – OPPOSITION
So you’ve accepted Christ as your Savior and you’ve been given a new identity. You’re now an heir of God and an heir with Christ (Romans 8:17)! Smooth sailing from here, right? 1 John 3:13 says, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” In a world consumed by darkness and sin, Satan is desperately trying to extinguish any light that the Holy Spirit may be shining through you. Jesus promises opposition but also promises to deliver us through it. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Just because you’ve been justified by the work of Jesus doesn’t mean life is going to be easy. In fact, Jesus says just the opposite will be true! So don’t be surprised when you encounter opposition — for those that love and follow Jesus, it’s inevitable.
STEP 3 – PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION
What exactly does this mean? Well, it’s the process of becoming more like Christ. Notice the word “progressive”. This will not be an overnight change! Yes, we are seen as holy and blameless in Christ’s perfection at the point of justification (Ephesians 1) — but we still have work to do. God calls us to a life of obedience - to “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). Take note though, we do not work to pay off our salvation or earn it; we work and press on toward greater Christlikeness because He enables us to experience the freeing feeling of love, grace, and mercy — we are compelled to obedience by His great love for us!
And remember, even though you have been transformed by Jesus and have his Spirit dwelling within you, you will still sin. Don’t be discouraged when it happens! However, when we sin, we need to quickly confess and repent of our sin. Getting into this routine will continue to conform you more to the image of Christ.
STEP 4 – GLORIFICATION
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
1 Corinthians 15:51-55
This is what it’s all about. This was the Lord’s original design. No sin, no sickness, no death. One day, when the last trumpet sounds (Revelation 11:15), those who are in Christ will be glorified. Heaven and Earth will collide, your spirit will return to your resurrected body. No matter how you view yourself right now, this is the Lord’s plan for you — glorification. Singing, dancing, working, praising Him, in perfection — for all eternity. It’s going to be amazing!
These are the steps that take place as we move from outside to heir. Keeping this promised prize in mind during the tribulations of life help to keep our eyes vertical, on the hope that eternity provides!