Summary: The fourth sermon in this series deals with the appropriation of our inheritance by faith, and our need to defend our inheritance so that we can enjoy it and pass it on to others.
Inheritance sermon #4: Appropriating and Defending our Inheritance
It is wonderful to know about our inheritance from God, but knowing about it isn’t all there is to it. There are certain things we need to do with our inheritance in order to make it really ours. Imagine someone inheriting a fortune and then never doing anything with it, or perhaps worse, losing it through neglect or mismanagement. We will study what the New Testament teaches about appropriating and guarding our inheritance.
1. Appropriating our Inheritance by Faith
Key Scripture: Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Our inheritance from God is based on his promises, but we have a task before us of appropriating those promises by faith. We know that by faith we not only believe that God exists but we also believe that he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus taught that those who ask shall be given; those who seek shall find, and those who knock will have the door opened unto them (Matthew 7:7). In each example there is an action on our part and a corresponding action by God. If we diligently seek God, He rewards us. If we ask, God gives. If we seek, God sees to it that we find. If we knock, God opens the door. The appropriation of God’s power through our faith involves our part and God’s part. Both are necessary.
The Apostle Paul instructs us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). Here we notice a command to stand in the power of Christ. The Lord is not grudging in his promises. We don’t need to squeeze power out of a reluctant deity who is too stingy to share His resources with his children. God is more than willing to give His strength to His redeemed. Your job as a child of God is not to endlessly plead for power, but to begin acting in His power. Faith goes beyond asking to acting. By faith you act on the fact that “His mighty power” is yours through Christ.
It is also true that if you are in Christ, all the victorious dynamic of his resurrection belongs to you. Christ’s triumph over Satan becomes your triumph as well. You can appropriate that victory by faith and make it real in your own life.
A. The Meaning of Appropriation
Appropriation involves setting aside something to a special purpose, or taking possession of something we have a right to own. Through faith we are able to appropriate God’s power and promises, thereby experiencing God’s provision as our own possession. We are not talking about occultic magic arts. This is not “abra cadabra” talk. It is a matter of appropriating the realities of our glorious inheritance.
The dictionary gives various definitions for “appropriate”. In this context, appropriation is taking something for one’s exclusive use, or setting something aside for a specific use by a person, group, or organization. The term “appropriation” is often used in the context of the work of government. Perhaps you may have heard of the “House and Senate Appropriations Committee.” These committees of the Congress are the ones who make decisions to set aside money for specific purposes. When Congress makes the proper appropriations through these committees, the money is set aside for the exclusive use of the departments to which funds were appropriated. If, for example, the Congress were to set aside 800 billion dollars for the Defense Department, then the Pentagon knows it has permission to spend that amount of money for defense purposes in the year in which it is appropriated. Every department knows that if they don’t actually spend all the money that has been appropriated to them, they run the very real risk of losing that appropriation the next year. This is why it’s common practice in most governmental departments to go on a spending spree at the end of the fiscal year, in an attempt to use every last appropriated dollar.
There are always two actions in any appropriation. The provider does something to set aside funds for the use of the receiver. Then the receiver must take action to make use of that which has been appropriated. If the provider fails to appropriate, then, there is nothing available to use. If the receiver fails to appropriate, then the appropriation does them no good whatsoever. Failure to act on either part nullifies the appropriation.
In spiritual terms, the believer must first seek to learn what God has appropriated to him. Then, by faith, he must make use of that which has been appropriated. We can appropriate by faith anything God has appropriated by His promises. Our faith in any promise of God is demonstrated when we appropriate that promise. In 2 Peter 1:4 we read, “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”