Lesson 11: “Winning the Lottery
Ephesians 1: 11, 12
Have you ever had the experience of standing in a lengthy line at a convenience store or some other venue while waiting for some anxious soul to purchase his weekly allotment of lottery tickets? Or possibly you yourself have indulged in that hopeful experience. Now my purpose in this chapter is not rail against gambling (although it might be a good idea) but to think about the concept of receiving an inheritance of a great deal of money or property, or even a small inheritance for that matter. It’s an intriguing thing to think about, isn’t it? I often think while waiting for the lottery ticket purchasers to finish wasting their money, about what they might be expecting to do with all that money, even though they probably know as well as we do that the odds are hugely against them winning anything of substance. By the grace of God and a generous uncle I have had the experience of receiving an inheritance. Fortunately, I had been told about it in advance, so I know the excitement of anticipation and the thankfulness in receiving an inheritance. (And by the way, I do realize that a relatively few lottery players do receive an immense “inheritance.”) But I mention all of this because “inheritance” is the subject of the verses to which we now come in our study of Ephesians chapter one. Whether or not you ever receive an inheritance (or win the lottery), there is an inheritance that every believer is going to receive, and it is just as real as any human inheritance you may or may not receive. And it is described in our text today: Ephesians 1:11, 12
‘In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according
to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the purpose of His
will (12) that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
Now as we come to verse 11, we are still in the middle section of the chapter (and the longest sentence in the New Testament) which deals with an examination of salvation in verses 3 through 14.
We have looked at “the blueprint of salvation” in verses 3 through 6a, and now we are coming to the end of the second division of the chapter “the basis of salvation” in verses 6b through 12. And we have seen that the basis of salvation is described from three different standpoints (but notice carefully, this is not to say that there are three bases for salvation; there is only one basis of our salvation, but it is in three parts.) Those three parts include: (1) relationship to God in the beloved in verse 6b; (2) “redemption through blood, in verse 7; and we have just started working on the third one, “rebirth
through belief” in verses 8 through 12. In that section we have seen that “the source of belief ” is His provision in verses 8 and 9, and the substance of the belief is “His plan” in verse 10 which was the subject of our last study.
So today we want to look at the third aspect of our belief, and that is “the security of the belief – His purpose”,” in verses 11 and 12. One of the most common misunderstand- ings of our faith is the issue of eternal security. And the discussions and disagreements about the topic have spawned seemingly endless debate – even to the point of the forming whole denominations or “movements.” But here in verse 11 the Apostle Paul deals with it in a very unique way. The usual argument about this subject is built around logic. Although almost anybody can understand that God is gracious enough to give us salvation as a free gift, it also seems logical that if that person, after accepting the gift of salvation starts sinning again, God would take His gift back. And there are even a few verses in scripture that seem to support that idea.
But Paul just goes around the whole idea of logic. (After all, it is really not logical that God would love sinners and give them salvation in the first place) and approaches it on the basis of the statement in the middle of verse 11:
Being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the purpose of His will.”
And the essence of that purpose is stated clearly in verse 12:
That we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”
This verse says that it is God’s ultimate purpose that we believers bring glory to Him. And how can we do that if we lose our salvation? But God has already anticipated that problem, and took care of it in advance. And that solution is given in the first line of verse 11:
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance . . .”
Whether you have or ever will receive an inheritance in this life, God has given an inheritance to each and every believer. This is such an important truth that I want to pause and spend some more time on it. The first thing I want to talk about is “the nature of the inheritance,” as it is described in Acts 26:18. In the verses just before this Paul is telling that he had been commissioned to go to the Gentiles with the gospel . . . .
To open their eyes and to turn them darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified through faith in me.”
In several scriptures throughout the New Testament the term “those who are sanctified” is used to describe believers. And the description of salvation that is used in this verse is “inheritance.”
And notice that in this verse it is linked with “forgiveness of sins.” So taken together these verses are saying that our inheritance is as certain as our forgiveness. If you know that you have been forgiven of your sins then you can also know that you have an inheritance awaiting you in heaven.
So that is the nature of the inheritance: heaven, and all that goes with it – the personal presence of Christ, sonship, forgiveness, eternal glory, etc. But Colossians 1:12 tells us something else about this inheritance, and that is “the negotiator of the inheritance.” Now at this point someone may be thinking “but I’m not qualified for an inheritance,” or “maybe I was qualified in the beginning of my salvation, but after all I have done since then, surely I have been disqualified.” But wait a moment: there goes that old “logical thinking” again. Remember this whole concept of salvation and heaven and an inheritance, is not based on logic. And “logical thinking” in terms of spiritual things is one of the most important weapons in Satan’s arsenal. It is true that in human situations there are people who become disqualified for an inheritance and “written out of the will.” But Colossians 1:12 tells us something else about this inheritance, and that is the negotiator of the inheritance. Look at that verse:
“Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light”
You see, it is not a matter of whether or not you have been good enough to qualify for the inheritance; you haven’t, and neither have I. But this inheritance was God’s idea in the first place. He has qualified you by means of all of those things that we have been talking about in this part of our chapter: relationship in the beloved, redemption through blood, adoption as sons – and all of it planned by God before you were ever on the scene.
Now we have seen the nature of the inheritance and the negotiator of the inheritance, but there is one more thing that the scripture reveals about our inheritance and that is the nurture of the inheritance. look at First Peter chapter 1 verses 3 through 5:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who, according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are (5) who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, ready to be revealed in the last time.
Sometimes people know that they are going to receive an inheritance but before it all comes about the money is gone or in some other way the inheritance doesn’t come through. But verse four of this passage tells us that this inheritance is guaranteed. God is “nurturing” it for us. It is: incorruptible, undefiled, does not fade away, and it is reserved in heaven for you!
But that’s not all verse four tells us; not only is the inheritance reserved for us but we are kept for the inheritance. To say or even to think that you I could keep our selves worthy of this inheritance is the height of ego. But God knows that and he says that he will keep it for us. And that is why we can speak confidently about eternal security. One last thing as we close our discussion of this inheritance: and it is something we have already mentioned. Go back to Ephesians 1:12 again.
“That we should be to the praise of His glory”
Do you know why you have received that inheritance? Certainly not because you deserve it. We have already seen that it is God who qualified us for it, and it is God who keeps it for us. But this verse says that the purpose of the inheritance is that we should be to the praise of His glory. Now technically that will take place in heaven when God has “put everything back together.” All of the believers who got to heaven before us throughout the ages and all of the angels will praise and glorify His name for the glorious grace He has poured out on all of us. But what about now? We should already be bringing praise to His glory. How much glory does he get from your life right now – in this life before we get to heaven? Do you think people around you know that you are a Christian? And if you were the only Christian that they did know, what idea would they have about Christians? Let me ask you something else. How much glory and pleasure does he get from your life right now? How much time do you spend with him in prayer? About how much time do you spend reading His Word? Would He be comfortable in all of the places that you go, or all of the things that you look at or the way you speak to your spouse or your children? Because, remember, our eternal inheritance was important enough for him to pay for your sins with the life of His Son so is our temporal life before we ever get to heaven.