Paul’s prayer for illumination in Ephesians 1 focuses on three topics that we would all do well to make part of our prayers. Like the legs of a tripod, they provide stability even when the earth below is rough. The first topical leg was the hope of His calling. Now we shall consider the riches of glory that are ours in Him, and last, Paul’s prayer for power.
2. Riches of Glory
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints . . . (Eph. 1:18)
Receiving notice of a huge and unexpected inheritance is a common dream. Imagine what it would do if your bank account was suddenly injected with a fortune. You could check off every item on every wish list. But how many of us would use the money to accomplish higher and longer-lasting purposes?
Paul prayed that we would receive revelation of a gloriously rich inheritance already at our disposal—an invisible spiritual bank account. Preaching the riches of Christ was central to his calling1. So, what does the Bible notice say is included in our spiritual inheritance?
In Galatians, Paul discusses the inheritance of God’s people at great length. He begins with God’s promised blessing to Abram, which included land and a great name, but also the capacity to bless the world2. The promise to Abram passed to his descendants. Receiving it did not depend on obeying the Law but on faith in God3. Faith makes us descendants of Abraham, a pioneer and ancestor in faith. It results in adoption into God’s family, the new Israel of God4 which is now wide open to people of every race5. We receive all God’s promises through faith in Christ; “in Him they are yes”6. It is because of Him that we qualify for the inheritance7.
The book of Hebrews introduces Jesus as the heir of all things8. Jesus cast Himself in a parable as the heir of the vineyard9. Because we are children of God, we are also fellow-heirs with Christ, destined to inherit His glory10.
For years, Israel focused on territorial aspects of the promise. However, God had more than land in store for His people; the inheritance goes beyond this world. The New Testament tells of a heavenly city that Abraham could only dream of and that, for now, we can only glimpse11. But it is guaranteed. The Holy Spirit confirms that we are God’s children and He is given as a pledge, or down payment, on the completion of the promised inheritance12.
There is an element of ambiguity in the second phrase of Paul’s prayer—is he speaking of Jesus’ inheritance in us, or the riches of His inheritance for us? So far, we have looked at what we inherit as God’s children, but there is another side to it. In the Old Testament, Israel was spoken of as God’s inheritance13. God created humans, chose a nation to glorify Him, and through Jesus made adoption into His family available to the world. He loves humans!
So, is it our inheritance of Him or His inheritance of us? Given the importance of an eternal, intimate relationship between God and His people, I think the answer is both. The heavenly city is a place for God and us to dwell together forever. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart to the riches of glory of that intimate inheritance.
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