What Scripture Says About Salvation
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
Monograph 27: The NT Concept of Inheritance
The two parts of the covenant―the land and the seed―ran parallel to each other in the early part of the Old Testament. Most of the early emphasis was on the promise, or gift, of the land, but the two concepts were gradually merged and became almost as one in the person of the seed. In following the progression of the seed through the scriptures, we discovered that God also made a covenant with David in regard to his seed.
In II Samuel 7:8-12, God spoke to Nathan and told him,
"Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever."
This foretells that the same person will be both the seed of Abraham and the seed of David.
Psalms 89:3-4 supports this same idea.
"I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations."
Isaiah 55:3-5 further supports the concept that over time the covenant made with Abraham has become parallel with the one God made with David.
"Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee."
The covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has also been called the gift, the promise, the sure mercies of David, and the inheritance. When we turn to the New Testament, we will discover more about the purpose and end results of this covenant God gave to his people.
As the seed became known as the hope of the messiah, there was a change of emphasis from the physical land as the inheritance to the more spiritual aspects of the salvation when messiah came, such as peace, joy, and the security of God.
The hope of returning to the land was not abandoned, but it was now shared with these spiritual aspects. Actually, the seed portion of the covenant had been reflected, although dimly, by appointing the tribe of Levi who had the Lord as their portion of the inheritance.
After God led the Israelites into the promised land, they began to emphasize the coming of the seed, although only in relationship to themselves, not to the Gentiles. The prophets began to prophesy that the spirit of the Lord would be upon the Root of Jesse. Isaiah 11:1-2 says,
"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord."
Isaiah 32 talks about the kingdom of righteousness and its king, and warns what will happen before that event. Then, Isaiah 32:15 says the spirit will,
"be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest."
Joel 2:28 expands on the pouring out of spirit.
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions."
This progressive revelation of what constituted the covenant God had given Abraham shows that it was the very foundation of the Israelite religion. When Israel strayed, the prophets continually reminded them of the faithfulness, or righteousness of God: He would honor the covenant.
Sometime later, the terms "God's righteousness" and "covenant" came to be synonymous terms to the Israelites. This was also referred to as "the salvation" or "the hope." The hope now included not only a return to the promised land in the next age, but also the hope of a coming messiah with spiritual blessings. This became the "lot" or "the inheritance."
The New Testament writers used the prophesies of the Old Testament to say that the final expression of the covenant would be the "kingdom of God" or the "kingdom of heaven." For them, these terms encompassed all the fulfillment of God's promises, and this became their hope.
Matthew, a Jew, also looked to the covenant God had given Abraham for proof that Jesus was messiah. He began his gospel:
"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1).
He then went on to list the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Matthew wanted to prove that Jesus was the king, the son of David, the seed of Abraham. In verse 1:23 he quoted Isaiah,
"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
The words "God with us" do not mean that God is here in actual presence, but that God is on our side, he is for us, not against us.
When the wise men came, they asked,
"Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2).
And, Matthew 3:2-3 reported that John, the Baptist, said,
"Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
Matthew was introducing the thought that relationship to Abraham was not sufficient in the future and should not be relied on for reaping the blessings of the covenant. Matthew 3:9-10 says,
"And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire."
By the third chapter, Matthew was already preaching that this one coming is he who bears holy spirit to share with men. Matthew knew that God imparted holy spirit to those he called to serve him in some particular way. This was the manner God chose to give them the power to execute his will. This was also the manner he chose to impart the "gift" he wished to bestow upon them, whether to build a temple or preach the gospel.
In verses 3:16-17, Matthew continued his proof that this was messiah:
"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
This was another proof that this is the one who had been prophesied to have God's spirit upon him. The "seed" would have God's spirit upon him. Verse 3:17 also quoted God as saying this was his son, or king.
Matthew 4:17 says that Jesus preached that
"the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
And Matthew 4:23, says that he preached
"the good news of the kingdom."
In Matthew's version of the sermon on the mount, Jesus touched on both aspects of the covenant—both the land and the spiritual aspect.
"Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth." (5:5). "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (5:10).
Righteousness and the kingdom of heaven are used here almost synonymously. If Matthew had said "the salvation" instead of "kingdom of heaven," he would have still been within the realm of good Jewish expression. People hoped for either righteousness, or kingdom of heaven; they made little distinction between the two terms. This equality between the terms is shown clearly in Romans 4.
In verse 6:33, Matthew also used the terms "righteousness" and "kingdom of God" together.
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
The kingdom of God is God's righteousness, or his faithfulness to his covenant. The kingdom is God's proof of his truthfulness, or of his righteousness.
Entry into this kingdom, or righteousness, will not be based on a flesh and blood relationship to Abraham. Jesus said,
"And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:11-12).
Those who depend on being descendants of Abraham will be punished in outer darkness, even if they are Jews, or descendants of Abraham. Shades of the covenant are also seen in the triad of names―Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob―used in verse 8:11.
The requirements for enjoying the blessings of the covenant are not what the Jews of Jesus' day thought they were. Just because they had been circumcised did not mean they would automatically come under the blessings of the covenant. This must have been a tremendously negative message for them to accept. No wonder they began to think about how to destroy this Jesus who had the effrontery to teach such things!
The first chapter of Mark shows that he, too, used the covenant as the basis for teaching that Jesus was messiah. He emphasized the fact that Jesus had the spirit upon him, and that he would baptize men with holy spirit. He was the son of God who would usher in the kingdom of God, and men should prepare themselves for that event.
The Jews had been depending upon their circumcision as a means of salvation, or entry into the kingdom, rather than a sign indicating that they believed God and his promises. Faith, provided by God, was the requirement for salvation (acquiring the kingdom), not circumcision. If circumcision was the means, then it would be a law and those depending upon it would be subject to do the whole law, not just circumcision.
Paul warned the Galatians about this. He said that if they were circumcised they were subject to doing the whole law (Galatians 5:3). Jesus told the rich young ruler the same thing (Mark 10:17-22).
Those who think they must do something in order to gain that which was freely given by God must keep the whole law, which is impossible for anybody but the son of God. Jesus showed the rich young ruler the impossibility of this by confronting him with the first commandment, which he supposedly had been keeping. His actions showed he could not even keep the first commandment, let alone the entire law.
Astonished, the disciples asked, "Who then can be saved?" And Jesus said that it was impossible, except with God (Mark 10:26). With this completely clear answer, it is truly puzzling to see people continue to try doing, when Jesus explicitly said it is impossible. Even preachers extolling what they call "the gospel" usually wind up telling people "what they must do to be saved."
Luke 10:25 reports on an exchange between a lawyer and Jesus.
"And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live."
Here, the lawyer quoted only the first commandment, and Jesus told him if he could keep just it, he would live. The problem, of course, is that he could not keep even the first commandment.
Both the rich young ruler and the lawyer referred to "eternal life," another name for the inheritance, the lot, the gift, the promise, the salvation, the hope, the kingdom of God. Jesus made it very plain that eternal life was only possible as a gift of God.
By contrast, the bedrock of all pagan religions is how to attain salvation by "doing" what the Bible says God gave as a gift. The central tenet of many denominational teachings is some specific action, or actions, people must do to gain salvation. Even though they say that salvation is a gift of God, they turn right around and completely negate the concept of it being a gift and put it on the basis of "works," or law. As far as eternal life is concerned, gift and works mix no better than oil and water. Yet, this is the constant attempt made by many of the "Christian" churches and other religions.
That approach, though it continues to be taken by many churches, produces only bondage, without which organized religion could not exist. If only grace were preached, men would be free, and not subservient to denominational rules, and a list of "what you must do." If grace, and salvation as a gift, were preached without the "what you must do," the whole conglomerate of denominations labeled as "Christianity" would collapse like a house of cards. They can exist only on the basis of law.
The priesthood perpetuated the emptiness of the religion of "doing" until it was exposed by Jesus. Hebrews tells us that the priesthood was done away with, but it was soon revived under the guise of an organized religious movement. Set up ostensibly to guard the concepts of grace, organized religion actually perpetuated the "what you must do" of the earlier priesthood.
The gift of the land and the seed were both included in the covenant God gave Abraham, defined for men through the prophecies of the Old Testament, and explained by the New Testament writers in the light of Jesus' sacrifice.
Luke also sought to lend credence to the fact that Jesus was the seed, the Messiah, by relating the angel's message to the virgin Mary. Luke 1:30-33 says,
"And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
Jesus was declared to be the son of David.
In Mary's magnificat, or song of praise to God, she said,
"He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever." (Luke 1:54-55).
Mary identified the child she was to bear as the seed of Abraham.
Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, said,
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life." (Luke 1:68-75).
Luke relied upon the righteousness, or truthfulness, of God in regard to the covenant as a basis for his teaching. Luke 2:25-32, in referring to when Jesus was taken to the temple for his circumcision, says,
"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation [Messianic salvation] of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ [Messiah]. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."
Simeon recognized that Jesus was the fulfilling of God's promise both to Israel and to the Gentiles.
The few scriptures examined show that the synoptic gospel writers all based their writings upon the covenant God gave Abraham, just as the Old Testament prophets did. To remove the concept of the covenant is to remove the reason for the hope shown by the Israelites. It would destroy the central theme of all the prophecies and their fulfillment in the New Testament. When the scriptures are rightly divided, the covenant is seen as the fabric woven into the historic Judeo-Christian religions by the prophets and God's revelation.
When Peter spoke on the day of Pentecost, he also relied on the covenant as the basis for his sermon.
"Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:29-36).
Peter made several valid points to his Jewish audience. First, he cited David for the following points: David was dead; he was a prophet; God had sworn an oath to him, or made a covenant with him; God promised to raise up the messiah to sit on his throne; and God would give him the promise, or the inheritance.
Sitting on the throne consummated the covenant as far as the land was concerned, and bestowing on Jesus, the Messiah, the promised holy spirit consummated that part of the covenant concerning the blessing of the Gentiles.
After Pentecost and the pouring out of holy spirit, Peter wasted no time in preaching to the Jews that in these events God was acting to fulfill his covenants given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and also David.
In Acts 3:12-25, after healing the lame man, Peter said,
"The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go....And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses....But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled....Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed."
Whenever the triad of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was used, the Jews would automatically see this as a reference to the covenant. This was also true when David was referred to.
We hope this will also be true for those who read this study; that they will think "covenant" when reading these names. To do so would help explain the true meaning of salvation. Salvation is not walking down an aisle somewhere and going through the prescribed ritual of a particular denomination.
Salvation is the fulfilling of the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. It includes not only the pouring out of some of God's spirit upon all flesh, but also the consummation of all things when Jesus returns to set up the kingdom of God. This is the salvation Peter had in mind when he said,
"This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:11-12).
Is it really necessary to ask Jesus into your heart to be your personal savior in order to enter the kingdom of God in the next age? Absolutely not!
Stephen also based his message to the Jews upon the covenant and the prophesies of the Old Testament. His message is well worth reading in its entirety but we will only quote Acts 7:51-52. In these two verses, Stephen said the holy spirit was the same authority used by the prophets.
"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers."
The prophets of old spoke by holy spirit and the people resisted their message. Now that Jesus had bestowed some of the spirit upon all flesh, people were resisting the influence of the spirit in their lives.
Stephen also recognized that the promise to Abraham that "all nations would be blessed through him" included the nation of Israel. All the people to whom he spoke were guilty of resisting holy spirit. Israel and the Gentiles had now become one in the matter of obedience to God. They were all supposed to be subject to the portion of spirit which they had been given by God.
Paul said the same thing, but from a different perspective. Ephesians 2:11-18 says,
"Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."
Paul also commented on the same issue in Romans 9:1-8.
"I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed."
In other words, it is not the natural children, but the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. For the promise was stated:
"At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." (Genesis 18:14).
In Acts 13:32, Paul said,
"And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again."
Let us summarize some of the main points made in the above scriptures. Paul referred to "the covenants of the promise" and, according to the custom of the day, it would be understood as the underlying covenant God had given to Abraham with all its extended meanings. Paul also said that Jesus was "our peace," or the one who had brought peace between the Jews and the Gentiles because in his sacrifice God had made "the two to be one." He also stated that another of God's purposes was "to create in himself one new man out of the two." God would no longer deal with men as either Jew or Gentile, but all would be dealt with in the same manner. Holy spirit had been poured out upon all flesh and men were to respond by accepting this authority in their lives and submitting to the duty required and the inherent power abiding therein.
Paul warned the descendants of Abraham that blood relationship would not be sufficient to reap the better benefits of the covenant. The land was Israel's because of their relationship to Abraham, but the spiritual benefits would be garnered only by those who were of the same faith as Abraham, those who had believed God. They, too, must believe God and acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, or else they would forfeit the power of holy spirit which had been poured out upon them and thereby miss the spiritual benefits of the "kingdom," the "gift," or the "promise."
Paul said in Galatians 3:26-29,
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Now, belonging to Christ precedes being Abraham's seed and heirs of the promise. As stated above, the promise and its reception is premised upon faith in Jesus as messiah. It can be received, or accepted, in no other way. Why? Because Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises to the fathers.
In general, the Jewish people had emphasized the promise of the land to the neglect of the spiritual promises. Although the prophets were constantly telling them of the troubles they would have if they neglected the spiritual issues, they continued doing so, even to the rejection of Jesus as their messiah. Their land, which had been given to them by God, was not given in such a manner that it could be returned to God at will. It was an inheritance to be transferred from generation to generation, and to ignore its importance was to court disaster. The Israelites did this many times, even though the prophets warned them of the dire consequences.
The same disaster awaits those today who ignore the gift, the promise, the eternal life, the kingdom, or the holy spirit which has been bestowed by the grace of God upon all flesh. Many today have made a mess of their lives because they have not received holy spirit and submitted themselves to God under its influence. Some have rebelled on purpose, but many have failed because of ignorance. As it says in Hosea 4:6:
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."
The teaching ministry in many churches today is practically nil, and people's lives are showing the results.
In Galatians 3:13-14, Paul stated unequivocally what the covenant with Abraham entailed.
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law...That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
The purpose of redemption was not so people could go to heaven, but to give the Gentiles the opportunity to receive (submit to) holy spirit. This verse seems to be limited to the Gentiles, but other scriptures show plainly that the blessing was for all nations, which included the Jews.
The inheritance, then, is the same blessing which was given to Abraham when he believed God. All men are heirs, the spirit has been poured out upon all flesh, but not all will accept the inheritance thereby nullifying the effect upon their lives. The inheritance is much like a filial relationship with God. It is no longer, if it ever was, based on the blood relationship to Abraham, nor by the rite of circumcision.
In its eschatological content, the inheritance is the kingdom of God. In its present content, it is eternal life as expressed by obedience to holy spirit. Of course, both of these concepts, if visualized as the hub of a wheel, radiate in many spokes which may be titled as various things.
In Hebrews 1:14 it is salvation:
"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"
In Romans 8:17 it is glory:
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint‑heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
In Ephesians 1:18 it is his inheritance.
"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."
In I Peter 3:7 it is the grace of life:
"being heirs together of the grace of life."
In I Peter 3:9 it is a blessing:
"knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing."
And, in Titus 3:7 it is eternal life:
"That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
Please notice in the above scriptures how often these concepts are expressed in the context of hope. Believers have the earnest, or the down payment, of all these things now as part of the spirit they have received. The purpose is that they may be spurred on to make their hope sure. As Hebrews 6:11 says,
"we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
Then the writer of Hebrews points out the example of Abraham and appeals to the covenant as proof that through faith and patience they would inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:13-20 says,
"For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
The "not yet" of the promises is illustrated in Hebrews 11:7-13.
"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
Faith was the means by which the things promised were "seen" by these people even though they never actually received them. The earnest of these things was so strong and their hope so great that they considered these things as certain as if they already had them―all because they trusted God and his promises.
In John 8:56, Jesus told the Jews,
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad."
Abraham also knew that Jesus was the seed spoken of by God and that he would bear the same blessing as he (Abraham) had been given.
Believers have the earnest of holy spirit today; but, they, too, must abide in hope of the "not yet," or eschatological (next age) context of the promises. Believers are also aliens and sojourners awaiting the fulfillment of this age at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
# The two parts of the covenant―the land and the seed―ran parallel to
each other in the early part of the Old Testament. Most of the early
emphasis was on the promise, or gift, of the land, but the two concepts
were gradually merged and became almost as one in the person of the
# The covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has also
been called the gift, the promise, the sure mercies of David, and the
# The terms God's righteousness and covenant came to be
synonymous terms to the Israelites. This was also referred to as the
salvation or the hope.
# The New Testament writers used the prophesies of the Old Testament
to say that the final expression of the covenant would be the kingdom
of God or the kingdom of heaven.
# Jesus was the king, the son of David, the seed of Abraham.
# Matthew introduced the thought that relationship to Abraham [could]
not be relied on for reaping the blessings of the covenant.
# The synoptic gospel writers used the covenant to show that Jesus was
# Eternal life is another name for the inheritance, the lot, the gift, the
promise, the salvation, the hope, the kingdom of God.
# The central tenet of many denominational teachings is some specific
action, or actions, people must do to gain salvation.
# The approach taken by many churches produces bondage, without
which organized religion could not exist.
# The synoptic gospel writers all based their writings upon the covenant
God gave Abraham, just as the Old Testament prophets did. The
covenant is the central theme of all the prophecies and their fulfillment.
Sitting on the throne consummated the covenant as far as the land was
spirit consummated that part of the covenant concerning the blessing
of the Gentiles.
When the triad of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was used, the Jews would
# When the triad of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was used, the Jews would
# Salvation is not going through the prescribed ritual of some
denomination. Salvation is the fulfilling of the covenant God made
with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. It includes not only the
pouring out of some of God's spirit upon all flesh, but also the
consummation of all things when Jesus returns to set up the kingdom
# Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises to the fathers.
# Disaster awaits those who ignore the gift, the promise, the eternal life,
the kingdom, or the holy spirit which has been bestowed by the grace
of God upon all flesh.
# The inheritance is the same blessing which was given to Abraham
when he believed God. All men are heirs, the spirit has been poured
out upon all flesh, but not all will accept the inheritance thereby
nullifying the effect upon their lives. In its eschatological content, the
inheritance is the kingdom of God. In its present content, it is eternal
life as expressed by obedience to holy spirit.
© 2009, Fred Kenison and Merrill Douglass. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.