“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” Ephesians 1:11
So far in Ephesians 1 we have discovered several spiritual blessings God has given to believers who are “in Christ.” Believers have been chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven in Christ (1:4-7). Today we discover that believers “in Him” have been assigned by God to receive “an inheritance” which was decided beforehand (“predestined”) by God “according to the counsel of His will” (1:11). This verse is not saying that people are predestined by God to be saved or unsaved. It is saying that those who are “in” Christ by faith are predestined to obtain an inheritance from the Lord.
What does this “inheritance” include for all believers in Jesus (cf. Rom. 8:17a)? As children of God we will inherit our glorified resurrection bodies (I Cor. 15:35-58) that are like Jesus’ glorified resurrection body (cf. Philippians 3:21). All believers will also inherit a home on the New Earth (John 14:1-3; Rev. 21-22). This inheritance will make any earthly inheritance look like garbage compared to it.
But the Bible teaches that there is another inheritance that is only possible for those who “suffer with” Christ (Rom. 8:17b). They are referred to as “joint heirs with Christ” (8:17b) which includes ruling with Him in His coming Kingdom (cf. Mark 10:27-30; 2 Timothy 2:12). The book of Hebrews tells us that the Son of God is the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2) which includes ruling over all the nations (Hebrews 1:4-14; Psalm 2:6-9). Since mankind lost his dominion over all of creation at the Fall (Hebrews 2:6-8; cf. Genesis 3:1-6), Christ will fulfill mankind’s destiny when He returns to earth and brings all creation under His rule (1 Cor. 15:27-28; Hebrews 1:8-13). Christ had to suffer and die for mankind because He would bring “many sons to glory” and be the Captain “of their salvation …through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:9-10). Before Jesus could lead His “many sons” to glory, He had to be made “perfect” for this role “through sufferings.” Since His brethren would have to suffer, He would have to as well in order to give them the kind of help they would need (cf. Hebrews 2:18; 4:14-16).
As a Firstborn (Ruling) Son (Romans 8:29), Jesus “learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). Since Christ’s pathway to rulership was through suffering, so our pathway to ruling with Him includes suffering.
The joint heirship mentioned in Romans 8:17b is not common to all Christians, but only to those who “suffer with Christ.” To suffer with Christ means you suffer for doing what honors Him, not for what dishonors Him. For example, suffering with Christ does not refer to the suffering one incurs for robbing a bank, lying, or living an immoral life. To suffer with Christ would be like a former Muslim whose faith in Christ and bold witness for Him leads to the loss of his life. It may also include being ostracized at your work because of your commitment to Christ.
You could avoid this type of suffering by being a secret believer or disciple (cf. John 9:22; 12:42; 19:38). For example, the former Muslim could keep his relationship with Christ a secret to avoid physical death. Or you could hide your faith in Christ from your co-workers to avoid their disapproval. You may think this option is better than the pain of suffering with Christ.
But the apostle Paul would disagree with that conclusion. He writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). No amount of suffering with Christ now can outweigh the glory which shall be revealed in us when we receive the reward of ruling with Him in His coming Kingdom. God assures us that our suffering with Christ will be worth the glorious rewards He will give when He returns for His own.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the incredible inheritance I will enjoy when I go to heaven and receive my new glorified resurrection body which will never get tired nor experience sin or death. Thank You that my home in heaven will be free of pain, sadness, shadows, suffering, and death. But what excites me the most about my inheritance is that I will be face to face with You, Lord Jesus. Forgive me for focusing more on what You will give me instead of focusing on You. You are more than enough for me. Please enable me to faithfully serve You now so I may bring more glory to You throughout eternity with the rewards You give to believers who remain faithful to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.