Summary: Sermon #2 deals with the origin of our inheritance based on the covenant promises of God, especially the covenant with Abraham to which we are heirs. We are under a new covenant ratified by Christ's death, and under a new law.
Inheritance Sermon #2: The Covenant Origin of our Inheritance
Key Scripture: Hebrews 9:15-17:
“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.”
The most commonly recognized way for a person to inherit something from another person is through instructions written in a last will and testament. The inheritance is bestowed only after the death of the testator. Our inheritance from God is no different, except that God, the writer of the will, is eternal and can never die. Therefore, our inheritance depends on promises made by one who continues to live after the will and testament is written. In scripture we find a series of covenants God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and others who chose to enter into relationship with Him. These Old Testament covenants are precursors to our full inheritance as Christians.
A study of the covenants underscores the fact that not all covenants are alike. Some of the covenants were conditional in nature. Their validity depended on one or both parties keeping their end of the covenant. For example, the covenant which gave us the Mosaic Law, was a conditional covenant. It required the obedience of the people who lived under its tenants. Consequences were imposed on people who disobeyed. This covenant was full of “if-then” statements. In essence it said, “If you obey me, then I will bless you. If you disobey me, then I will curse you.” Because it was conditional, it was also temporary. In fact, all conditional covenants are temporary in nature.
1. The Abrahamic Covenant
The story of Abraham is remarkable in many ways. Imagine leaving a place where you are settled and comfortable (Ur), to spend the remainder of your life living in tents as a nomad. Imagine doing this solely because a previously unknown deity promised to take you someplace he would show you later. Imagine being part of a childless couple getting up in age and yet having an ironic name that means “Father of Many” (Abram). Imagine God increasing the irony by changing your name to Abraham, which means “Father of a Multitude.” Then imagine waiting until you and your spouse are far past the age of childbearing. Imagine living as a stranger in a strange land with the promise that, someday in the distant future, your descendants would actually possess the land. Every part of Abraham’s adventure required faith, and Abraham proved himself to be a man of exemplary faith.
Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abraham believed God’s covenant promises, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. Of all the Old Testament covenants, the covenant between God and Abraham could be considered the most pivotal. The promises of this covenant included two physical elements and a third element which was spiritual in nature. Abraham was promised a tract of land, numerous descendants, and a comprehensive blessing. This covenant was eternal and irrevocable.
If a covenant is to be permanent, it cannot be conditional. God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:1-20) was an unconditional covenant. Therefore, the Abrahamic covenant is still in force today. In fact, our inheritance in Christ is based on God’s covenant with Abraham. We receive the part of the covenant where God promised, “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). We are covered by this promise in a general, all-inclusive sense (“all peoples”), and we are also covered because, as members of God’s family, we are heirs to all that was promised to Abraham and his descendants. By faith we are children of Abraham and heirs to all that was promised to him (Romans 4:16, Galatians 3:6-14).
The unconditional quality of the Abrahamic covenant ensures that we cannot break the covenant through our own misdeeds. If we were living under the Levitical covenant we would be in constant danger of breaking some part of the law, and thereby falling under the curses of the law. Praise God, for he has provided a more permanent covenant than that which was given to Moses. The covenant under which we live came before the Mosaic Law, and will remain in force forever after.
Believers enjoy all the promises given to Abraham’s descendants without having to endure the restrictive commands of the Levitical system. I mention this here because there have always been false teachers who try to tie us back into the Levitical Law system. The letter to the Galatians warns against legalism that enslaves Christians to the Levitical Law. As Christians, we live under a better and more permanent covenant than that which was given at Mt. Horeb. Christ has set us free from the impossible conditions of the law. By faith, we inherit an unconditional and eternal covenant.