“Our tax-free inheritance”
Recently we have been through Covid lockdowns, with that awful sense of isolation; now we face a rise in the cost of living, meaning worry and despair for many people; we have seen major instability in our government, creating insecurity and fear; further afield the war in Ukraine continues with its suffering and devastating destruction. Isolation, despair, insecurity, fear, destruction – is not all that a foretaste of hell?
But the Bible gives us a glorious foretaste of heaven! And it is not something ‘out there’ but rather it is ‘in here’. Ephesians 1:13-14 says “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession…”. Paul also uses the idea of a deposit in II Corinthians 5. He’s been talking about being “clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” and then he says that God “has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come”! (vv1-5).
The promised Holy Spirit is said to be now indwelling the believer, and he is also described as a ‘deposit’. That word was used, in commerce in the ancient world, of a sample, guaranteeing not only the delivery of the rest of a consignment, but also the quality of it. In modern Greek the same word is used of an engagement ring! So, the Holy Spirit within us is an advance, a deposit, a guarantee, a foretaste of heaven, the fullness of our redemption. Peter describes that inheritance as one that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for (us). No wonder he goes on to write about being “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1). Jesus’ desire for us is that his joy may be in us and that our joy may be complete (John 15:11). Our inheritance is not just ‘pie-in-the-sky-when-we-die’ it is the joy of the Holy Spirit as a foretaste of what is to come – here and now.
As the seventeenth century Puritan, Thomas Goodwin wrote, “How great must that inheritance be when joy in the Holy Spirit is but the deposit!”
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him” (Romans 15:13),