Heir of All Things
In all of the New Testament, no book gives us so many descriptions of the Person and work of Jesus as does the book of Hebrews. In it, Christ is said to be "God's final Word" (1:1-2), "the One through whom the worlds were made" (1:2), "the brightness of the Father's glory and the exact representation of His Person" (1:3), "the One who carries all things along by the word of His power" (1:3), "the One who by Himself purged our sins" (1:3), "better than the Angels" (1:4), "the firstborn" (1:6), "God" (1:8), "Jehovah" (1:10), "lower than the Angels" (2:9), "the One who tasted death for all" (2:9), "the Captain of salvation" (2:10) "He who Sanctifies" (2:11), "our Brother" (2:11-12), "a merciful and faithful High Priest" (2:17), "the Apostle and High Priest of our confession" (3:1), "the Son" (3:6), "the Son of God" (4:14), "a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses" (4:15), "a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (5:10), " "this Hope" (6:19), "an Anchor for the Soul" (6:19), "the Forerunner" (6:20), "the surety of a better covenant" (7:22), "the Mediator of a better covenant" (8:6), "a High Priest of the good things to come" (9:11), "Mediator of the new covenant" (9:15; 12:24), "the Originator and Perfecter of our faith" (12:2), "the one who is the same yesterday, today and forever" (13:8), "the Great Shepherd of the sheep" (13:20) and "the one to whom be glory forever and ever" (13:21). While all of these titles and descriptions are pregnant with spiritual riches upon which our souls may lay hold, there is one title in Hebrews that captures the essence of the Person and work of Christ. In short, He is "the Heir of all things" (Heb. 1:2).
In the midst of the business of our lives--while running in every direction--we often fail to stop and meditate on that which is of supreme importance--namely, the eternal inheritance that God has promised to His people and secured for them in Christ. The doctrine of the eternal inheritance is of vastly more importance than whatever the media is trying to convince you in of most importance at present. It is more important than where your kids will go to college, what job promotion you will get, whether you will remain healthy, how well you are laying up for retirement, where you've travelled or what you have achieved in life. At the end of the day, when the veil of this world is drawn back and there is "time no more" (Rev. 10:6), the only thing that will matter then is whether or not we have laid hold on Christ who Himself laid hold on the eternal inheritance for us.
This still leaves us with the following the questions: "What is the inheritance?" and "How are we to gain it?" The answer is, of course, found scattered throughout the Scriptures in various types and symbols--as well as in allusions and promises. Edward Donnelly has rightly suggested that the greatest part of the heavenly inheritance is seeing and being with Jesus. It is being with Jesus in the New Heavens and the New Earth--the restoration of Eden. It is ruling with Him over all of creation and the nations (Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21). It is possessing all things (1 Cor. 3:22).
The way in which the Scriptures unpack the reception of the inheritance is by means of the saving work of Jesus and by our faith-union with Christ. While Jesus is the eternal Son of God, he comes in the flesh to be born under the Law to receive the promises of God that were first given to Abraham (Galatians 3:16) and then placed within the framework of the legal demand for perfect and perpetual obedience in the Law of God (Lev. 18:5; Galatians 3:10-12). The Son--who is the Heir of all things--takes our human nature to Himself and works for the inheritance by obeying God's Law perfectly and then by taking the curse of the Law for our disobedience. Fallen in Adam, man had no claim to the inheritance. But Jesus, the second Adam, does everything to remove the curse and bring the blessing. By virtue of His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, Jesus merited the inheritance for us.
The Jews of Jesus' day understood that the inheritance demanded perfect, legal obedience. What most of them did not recognize was that it could not be attained by the work of fallen men. The question of laying hold on the inheritance was of supreme importance to the Jews of Jesus' day. On one occasion, a rich, young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" This man's concern to inherit eternal life--and his coming to Jesus to ask about it--seems to have been a commendable thing. However, the way in which he asked the question betrays a self-righteous heart. "What must I do?" was the way in which he framed the question. The problem with this man's question is that there was nothing he could "do" to gain an inheritance. The inheritance would only come to us by faith in the Redeemer. Just as Abraham believed and was credited the righteousness of God by faith--thus making him the heir of the world--so too for all those who would be the spiritual children of Abraham. We believe on Him who worked for us and we receive the inheritance. The Son asked His Father for the nations (Psalm 2:7-9) and received them by virtue of His obedience and sacrifice on the cross (Rev. 2:26-28). We too rule over the nations with Him if we are in union with Him by faith. What first becomes His by His saving work becomes our's by promise and by faith.
In his pièce de résistance, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, Thomas Boston summed up the believer's hope of receiving the inheritance in Christ when they die in the following way:
Christ introduces [believers] as heirs of the kingdom to the actual possession of it. "Come, you blessed, inherit the kingdom." They are the children of God, by regeneration and adoption: "And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). Now is the general assembly of the first-born before the throne: their minority is overpast, and the time appointed of the Father for their receiving of their inheritance is come. The Mediator purchased the inheritance for them wiih His own blood; their rights and evidences were drawn long ago, and regifted in the Bible...They had investment of their inheritance In the person of Jesus Christ, as their proxy, when He ascended into heaven, "where the forerunner has, for us, entered" (Heb. 6:20). Nothing remains, but that they enter into personal possession thereof--which, begun at death, is perfected at the' last day; when the saints, in their bodies as well as their souls, go into their kingdom.1
These truths ought to flood our hearts with joy. The Father has given us the adoption as sons and daughters by virtue of our union with the Son who is "the heir of all things" (Heb. 1:2). We now are "those who will inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14). These truths ought to force our eyes away from ourselves and our attempts to merit the inheritance by our own work and cast them onto "the heir of all things" who is Himself "the author and perfector of our faith"--the One, "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross despising the shame" (12:3) that He might "bring many sons to glory" (Heb. 2:10). By faith in Christ, we are pressing on "to the place which we will receive as an inheritance" (Heb. 11:8), "the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10)--which He has prepared and purchased for us (Heb. 11:16). May these truths free our hearts from being weighed down with the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things and make us long for the full possession and enjoyment of that inheritance.
1. Thomas Boston Human Nature in Its Fourfold State (Falkirk: Patrick Mair, 1787) p. 315