Happy new year!
This is the time of year when I take a day to reflect on the preceding year, reviewing my prayer requests and giving thanks to God for how He answered and provided for myself, family and friends. But before 2012 rolled in, I already knew what my new year's study theme would be. It came a few weeks earlier, when I found myself thinking that certain blessings had passed me by and I was wondering how that came to be. I truly don't lack much of anything, but it's tempting at times to consider the bigger, better, shinier objects that other people have and wonder if that will ever come my way. As such a fleeting thought crossed my mind, I immediately felt the loving correction of the Holy Spirit: "Your inheritance is not here. It is in Christ." Thus I knew that the theme of inheritance would be my study topic over my new year's retreat.
Today, as I reviewed the Bible for this theme, I was especially encouraged by the ideas found in Ephesians 1, the listing of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14, emphasis mine)
Adoption, redemption, forgiveness, inheritance ... these are rich promises. 1 Peter 1:4 elaborates further, calling this inheritance "imperishable, undefiled, and unfading." And Colossians 1:12-13 says the Father has qualified us "to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son."
That phrase, the "inheritance of the saints in light," reminded me of a testimony I'd heard many years ago when I was a new believer. It was given by an Australian man who had a near-death conversion experience after being stung by the venomous box jellyfish. Ian McCormack's testimony was incredibly vivid (I still recall all the details more than a decade later), but it was his description of encountering the love of the Lord as a wave of light that was most compelling to me. After he gave this testimony, someone asked him how he was changed by this experience (apart from his death-bed conversion). He said that since he now knows whose he is and where he is going, he is able to live this life free from concern. I recall hearing that and wanting to have that same assurance ... but I do have it. It is all in the Scriptures.
That said, sometimes it is helpful to consider the same concept from a different perspective. So for that reason, I am sharing Ian's dramatized testimony. It is a 45-minute film. At about 21 minutes, you'll find the scene I was describing above. At the close, Ian comes on screen to share the biblical references for his experience. I know little else of Ian's life except that he's now a pastor and church-planter, but his testimony and evangelistic message has been consistent for nearly 30 years. So I trust it will also encourage you for your own life, as well as strengthen you as you intercede for others who seem resistant to the gospel.