Rich Gotshall, our historian at Grace Church, is working on a history of the church, as we move toward celebrating 200 years in Franklin. It is a history that contains a rich inheritance!
And yet, an inheritance is a complex matter. I know some of the worst conflicts I have witnessed as a pastor are arguments about “who gets to inherit what” in a family. Jesus speaks of this dynamic in his parable on the prodigal son in Luke’s Gospel: how do we receive an inheritance (Luke 15)? Because receiving an inheritance says something about who we are and how we are to act. For example, if we receive an inheritance, how will we exercise responsibility toward what we have been given? Will we bless others with it, or will we squander it? Will we utilize our inheritance to benefit others through a matching grant, or a loan, or a charitable foundation, let’s say, or, will we simply keep it to ourselves?
In Romans, the apostle Paul writes that, as children adopted into the family of God, we have also received an inheritance, although it’s an inheritance we have not earned, but have been given in Christ. In fact, it’s an inheritance that calls forth further sharing, for we don’t receive this inheritance alone, only for ourselves, but with Christ, who is our co-heir (Rom. 8:17); and because Christ is our co-heir, in both suffering and glory, we find ourselves in debt to the One who loved us and saved us.
That’s what we have inherited – the very grace that leads us from bondage to life, giving us the Spirit, who brings us into a relationship with God as children of God.
It’s a picture of intimacy, with all the markings of love, of being adopted by the Father in the Spirit and then inheriting the gift of Christ’s sacrifice. It’s an amazing gift, leaving us in debt, yes, but in debt to God, and not to our own selfish devices. That’s what life in the Spirit looks like: the Spirit testifying to our spirits that we are children of God!
How may we live with the assurance of God’s grace as children? How does the inheritance we receive in Christ mark us? How may we now share it with others?
Pastor Andy Kinsey
Fleming Rutledge, Not Ashamed of the Gospel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007), 246.