Spirit and Inheritance
The Gift of the Spirit is foundational to the New Covenant, and it is the first fruits of the Resurrection and the New Creation. The history of Israel includes national sins that resulted in her expulsion from the Promised Land of Canaan. But God foresaw her failures and determined beforehand to institute a New Covenant that would be energized and characterized by His Spirit, and a people, singular, that would include the Gentiles. Moreover, the promised New Covenant would culminate in the resurrection of the righteous dead and the “New Heavens and the New Earth.”
With the death and resurrection of Jesus, a new era dawned - the “Last Days,” the messianic age and time of fulfillment. In him, all God’s covenant promises began to find their promised fulfillment.
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This included the New Covenant characterized by the presence of the Spirit among God’s people. As promised in the Hebrew Bible, when Israel repented wholeheartedly, the God of Abraham would gather her “from among all the peoples where Yahweh your God has scattered you,” “multiply you beyond your fathers, and “circumcise your heart to love Him with all your heart and with all your soul that you may live” - (Deuteronomy 30:3-6).
Two things in the passage from Deuteronomy are noteworthy. First, God planned to “multiply Israel beyond her forebears.” “Multiply” translates the same Hebrew verb found in the call to Adam to be “fruitful and multiply,” and in God’s promise to multiply the seed of Abraham - (Genesis 1:28, 17:2).
Second, the restoration would occur when God “circumcised Israel’s heart” and inscribed His laws on it, an internal change promised in the Scriptures and actualized by His Spirit under the “New Covenant” inaugurated by Jesus - (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 11:19-20).
Thus, the promised restoration was far more expansive and glorious than anything the ancient nation of Israel ever experienced or even imagined. In the end, it would be a new creative act that impacts all the nations of the earth, indeed, the creation itself - (Isaiah 65:17-18, Romans 8:20-23, Revelation 21:1-3).
In the New Testament, His promises are fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth as God implements His New Covenant, and this includes the promised “circumcised heart” and the Gift of the “Spirit.”
Jesus came to fulfill the “Law and the Prophets.” The Jews who saw him experienced something “greater than Jonah,” “greater than Solomon,” “greater than David,” and vastly greater than even the holy Temple in Jerusalem. In Jesus, God’s kingdom began its inexorable march across the Earth - (Matthew 5:17-21, 12:6, 12:28, 12:41-42).
Having established the “New Covenant,” Jesus commenced building his community based on the “New Covenant in his blood.” But in this new era, his covenant community is formed around and centered on him, not the Land of Canaan or the Temple in Jerusalem - (Acts 3:24-26, Acts 10:42-43, 13:18-33).
According to the Apostle Paul, “All the promises of God find their ‘Yea’ and ‘Amen’ in Jesus.” He ascended on high “that he might fulfill all things.” The jurisdiction of the Torah was only for a limited time - “Until Christ came,” the true Seed of Abraham. In him, all those who have faith in the word of God as the Patriarch did become the “children of Abraham” - (2 Corinthians 1:20, Galatians 3:24, Romans 10:4).
Jesus became the Suffering Servant portrayed in the Book of Isaiah, the one who “confirms the promises to the fathers so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” Thus, the promised “blessing for the nations” made to Abraham is fulfilled in him, only, he has expanded the covenant far beyond the confines of Palestine - (Romans 15:8-9).
Prior to his death, the Gentiles were “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” However, “those who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” The promises in the Hebrew Bible to regather God’s people are fulfilled as BOTH Jews and Gentiles respond in faith to the Gospel.
From the beginning, God’s purpose was “to sum up all things in Christ in the fullness of the times,” and that included the redemption of the nations, indeed, of the creation itself - (Ephesians 1:10, 2:11-13).
When referring to the Promised Land, the Hebrew Bible employs the terms “inheritance,” “inherit,” “heir,” and “promise.” In the New Testament, the same terms are applied to what God is accomplishing in His Son and his Assembly. He is the heir of all things, and in him, his “brethren” become his “coheirs” - (Matthew 21:38, 28:18, John 13:3, Colossians 1:12-13, 1 Peter 1:3-5).
The Gift of the Spirit confirms the status of believers. They are the “children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” Anyone who has received the Spirit becomes part of this New Covenant community regardless of ethnicity, nationality, or gender. The salvation provided by Jesus is a universal offer of life to all men, women, and children.
Jesus is Abraham’s true “seed.” As partners with him, his disciples also become “heirs according to promise.” Moreover, the Spirit is the “earnest of our inheritance for the redemption of the possession” - (Romans 8:16-17, Galatians 3:29, Ephesians 1:13-14).
- He is “the mediator of the new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance.”
The Nazarene implemented the New Covenant by becoming the heir of Abraham. Consequently, all who are “in Christ” are coheirs with him and destined to receive the same inheritance. Everyone who belongs to him already participates in the blessings of the “age to come” - (Romans 8:1-23, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6, Hebrews 8:6-13, 9:15).
The bodily resurrection of Jesus was an act of new creation. God did not resuscitate a corpse but gave him a glorious new body, one that is no longer subject to death and decay. This means that his resurrection inaugurated the New Creation, although there is an overlap between the existing age and the coming one - (1 Corinthians 15:42-50, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Moreover, the arrival of the New Creation redefines the boundaries of the land promised to Abraham. As Paul wrote to the church in Rome, Abraham will “inherit the world” – the Cosmos - not just a tiny strip of land in the Middle East - (Romans 4:13).
His disciples are also his coheirs. Their final hope will be realized in the bodily resurrection at the end of the age when Jesus returns. At present, the creation itself “sighs and travails in birth pangs” as it “ardently awaits the revelation of the sons of God.”
Yet both humanity and the universe remain subject to decay and death due to Adam’s “transgression.” However, God will reverse the curse when His sons receive the redemption of their bodies at the “arrival” of Jesus. In the interim, they have the Spirit as the “first fruits” of and the down payment on their final redemption, the bodily resurrection - (Romans 8:17-23).
The New Creation is the true and final inheritance of the saints. According to his promise, “We look for the New Heavens and the New Earth wherein dwells righteousness.” In it, “God will tabernacle with men, and they will be his people.” When that day arrives, He will wipe away every tear and death will cease forevermore - “Behold, I make all things new!” - (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1-7).
Thus, the promised “New Covenant” and “New Creation” both began with the death and resurrection of Jesus as humanity entered the “Last Days,” a process that is underway, and one that will culminate in the resurrection of the righteous dead and the appearance of the “New Heavens and the New Earth.”