Claiming our Inheritance as Sons

A Personal Introduction[1]

I was praying recently about a deep inner sense, that even though God had promised a “supply pipeline” for his work in Perth,[2] it seemed as if he had his foot on the hose! Suddenly, I was struck with an awareness that there was something in me that was blocking the full flow of the Spirit through my life. As I prayed into this further a specific word came that quite shocked me, it was “impostor”. I was filled with the realisation that all my life I have lived with a deep sense that somehow I was not what I appeared to be on the outside. I felt inauthentic or illegitimate. The outworking of this revelation is the content of this paper.


Jesus as the Legitimate Heir[3]

I am convicted that the majority of Christians are not exercising their authority as the legitimate heirs of the kingdom of God. By “legitimate” I mean those to whom all the promises and gifts of God truly belong. A crisis of legitimacy runs through human history in its relationship with God.

Though Adam was a son (Luke 3:38) he lost the inheritance of the earth because he failed to be holy i.e., dedicated to God. His inner shame was the sign he now felt illegitimate before God[4]. God’s solution to this was to promise Abraham that he and his offspring would be “heir of the world” (Rom 4:13), but Israel failed to obtain the promise because it disobeyed the covenant through unbelief (Rom 9:8- 9).

Christians know that Jesus is the one true heir[5] of God; he is the Son of God[6] , the seed of the woman[7] and the “offspring of Abraham”[8]. Only to him is it spoken, ““You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”” (Mark 1:11). As the fully faithful one Jesus is “appointed the heir of all things” (Heb 1:2).

What flows from this is that every believer in Jesus fully shares in his reward. Paul states, “in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal 3:26). As there are no degrees of sonship, there are no degrees of inheritance[9]. Therefore Paul teaches the (very worldly) Corinthians, “the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 Cor 3:21- 23).

The implications of this in Jesus are many, but one illustration springs to mind. When the apostles met the cripple at the Beautiful Gate, Peter proclaimed, ““I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”” (Acts 3:6). Peter knew money could not cure this man, but he was fully aware that because Jesus was alive in him[10] the anointing[11] of the resurrected life of Jesus was available to impart to the sick. Why then are not all the riches of Christ flowing through us? I believe we in the comfortable West have forgotten a vital link.


Suffering reveals Sonship

When the resurrected Christ appeared to the apostles who had forsaken him he needed to remind them of what he had taught them repeatedly[12] about himself, ““O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”” (Luke 24:25 -26).

These believers had been traumatised by the cross and its agonizing cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34). In the religious world of their day it was a contradiction to the identity of the Messiah – Son of God to suppose he could suffer[13]. They failed to understand suffering for the kingdom of God is not a sign of God the Father’s disfavour but the glory of true sonship. It was part of the eternal glory of Jesus to love the Father to the point of death[14].

After Jesus resurrection appearances and the gift of the Spirit of sonship to the apostles these things were no longer in doubt, “they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name” (Acts 5:41)[15].

Paul links sonship, suffering and the Christian awareness of inheritance in the most intimate way, “15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:15 -17).

The author of Hebrews speaks of the suffering of sons in terms of painful discipline, ““My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”” (Heb 12:5- 6). By saying, “Strive …for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14) he illuminates a connection present in other parts of scripture – the holy sons are the heirs of the Holy Father.


A Church of Bastard Children??

“But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Heb 12:8 KJV).


Today, we are faced with a crisis of legitimacy in much of the Western church – many believers show little evidence of deep discipleship. This is because they have not received the life –altering revelation that God is a Holy Father (John 17:11) and we are his holy children.

The link between inheritance and sanctification can be traced throughout scripture[16], but is clearest in Paul, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)[17]

Sadly, much of the church around us is dominated by a worldliness that suggests our chief inheritance is in this world. Such is a possible only if we are illegitimate children. The “prosperity gospel” mires gullible believers in a bastard mind set. By contrast, Peter prefaced his first sign of Jesus heavenly power with, ““I have no silver and gold” (Acts 3:6), Paul was able to teach Christian inheritance with full confidence because no one could contradict his claim, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel” (Acts 2:33)[18]. The treasures of these men were manifestly in heaven.

The presentation of God as an indulgent Father to the entitlement generation[19] of our time through a message of hyper-grace that denies divine judgement keeps many believers worldy-minded[20]. They have become dependent on others telling them who they are in God.


The Priesthood of All Believers?

Roughly speaking, a priest is “A person having the exclusive authority to perform and administer religious rites.” In the ancient catholic tradition the unique abilities of the priesthood were associated with a power bestowed through ordination to administer the sacraments. At the Reformation the official ministry became a “teaching priesthood”. In much of the contemporary charismatic- evangelical church, business models have become dominant and there is talk of a select group with “the anointing”. These patterns share a common fault.

A focus on “gift driven ministries” always leads to vertical stratification in the church

(hierarchy) because people are variously gifted. Business models, with their stress on performance, always intensify such hierarchy. A certain sort of hierarchy, a “hierocracy”, regularly emerges in the institutional forms of religion. A hierocracy is rule by clergy. Hierocrats are always experts in some sort of religious law and so occupy a mediatorial position between God and the people. The law may be that of Moses[21], or hermeneutics[22], or the five- fold ministry[23], or principles of successful and prosperous Christian living[24]. Today “getting things done” (pragmatism), has become a substitute for holiness. This model of church opposes the intention of God because intermediaries impede direct access to our inheritance in Christ[25]. Mediators deny the children their bread[26] by making them feel spiritual inferior and unworthy of the fullness of God in their own lives.

The New Testament proclaims the church a “priesthood of all believers”[27] because its primary model is the family. In the family of God all his children are holy i.e. set apart to God in equal measure (whatever their gifting). It is the Holy Father who decides our gift and calling, this, not the affirmation of men, is our confidence[28].


Ask the Father

“I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” (Psalm 2:7 – 8).

This prophecy was integral to Jesus’ Messianic self- consciousness and the mind of the apostles[29]. When Jesus prays at his baptism (Matt3:17) and asks the Father for the Spirit to be poured out at Pentecost (Acts2:33), what is foremost on his mind is his inheritance in the nations. Whenever Jesus asks the Father for the Spirit to bring in the power of thekingdom ofGod on earth he is answered in the affirmative from heaven.


Christ encourages us to ask the Father, “how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”(Luke 11:13), “whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” (John 16:23)[30]. He informs us what we can ask for with assurance of a reply, ““Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32). When we ask the Father in Jesus name for the kingdom we can confidently expect an answer in the affirmative[31].



We are the children of God, the God that has been revealed in Jesus Christ. We are the legitimate heirs of all created things, “provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”” (Rom8:17). In this simple teaching is contained a unique confidence to release the untold measure of the gifts that the Father has placed within us. These graces are certainly adequate to transform life in our cities and societies at all levels. In Christ our dignity is immeasurable, and it is the pleasure of our Father to reveal this to us. Such confidence is neither presumption nor “entitlement” but the true glory of God.


[1] This paper is the third in a series. The first, “Rivers of Love”, spoke of the Spirit’s desire to pour his love through the streets ofPerth. Then, “A City for God to Live In”, covered Jesus plan to manifest himself in every dimension of human life. This teaching addresses a block in our relationship with the Father.

[2] Compare, “he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you” (Gal 3:5) is literally “keeps on supplying the Spirit…keeps on working miracles”

[3] This is very large topic; e.g. until the legitimacy of the possession of this land by indigenous peoples (“sons of the soil”) is fully recognized, they will never exercise authority to rise out of their shame.

[4] This is part of what it means to “lose the glory of God” (Rom3:23).

[5] The central issue in the history of Western religion is, “who is the true heir of God’s promises?” The ongoing rivalry between Islam and Judeo- Christianity is over the one God appoints, is it Ishmael – Mohammed or Isaac – Jesus? Everything hinges on who is the one the Father favours.

[6] An expression that does not appear in the Old Testament.

[7] “I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your seed and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”” (Gen 3:15)

[8] “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.” (Gal 3:16)

[9]In saying,, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:29), Paul explains the Abrahamic promises fulfilled in Jesus the offspring are ours.

[10] Compare, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son in me,” (Gal1:15 -16)

[11] “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts10:38)

[12] E.g. Mark 8:31;9:12;10:33.

[13] This is behind Paul’s words, “we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews” (1 Cor1:23). It was not a scandal to claim Jesus was Messiah, but to claim that the Messiah was crucified was blasphemy. This is close to the Islamic denial that Jesus, as a great prophet of Allah, could be crucified.

[14] “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev 13:8).

[15] Compare what Paul was told at his conversion, “he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children ofIsrael. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”” (Acts9:15 -16).

[16] “Yes, he loved his people, all his holy ones were in his hand; so they followed in your steps,
receiving direction from you, 4 when Moses commanded us a law, as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.” (Deut 33:3- 5).

[17] Compare, “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Col 1:12).

[18] To make payment a pre-condition for proclaiming the word of grace is a contradiction.

[19] A term commonly used for those born between 1979 and 1994 – described as impatient, self-serving, disloyal, unable to delay gratification – feeling they are entitled to everything without working for it.

[20] “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:1)

[21] Which by its nature required mediators e.g. Gal3:18 -19.

[22] Hermeneutics is the science of biblical interpretation.

[23] As in Peter Wagner’s “New Apostolic Reformation”, which magnifies the role of the apostle.

[24] Megachurch pastor Joel Osteen’s recently released “Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day” had an original print run of 3 million in theUnited States.

[25] “Through him (Jesus) we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Rom 5:2)

[26] Mark7:27

[27] E.g. “a royal priesthood” 1 Pet 2:9; “a kingdom and priests to our God”Rev 5:10.

[28] Compare 1 Cor12:11; Eph 4:8; 1 Peter4:10.

[29] It is cited in Matt 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35; John 1:49; Acts 13:33 cf. Rom 1:4; Heb 1:5; 5:5; Heb 1:2, 8 – 9; Rev 2:26- 27

[30] Many prayers are unanswered because, “You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:2- 3).

[31] When believers from Western churches visit the third world they operate in power that seems unsustainable on their return home. One reason for this is that they overseas they are focused on the gospel of the kingdom, and not on their own satisfactions.


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