(Romans 8:15–17 ESV) “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
As the children of God we have an inheritance. The fullness of our inheritance will be realized at a future date. That inheritance is the consummation of the plan of God, being fully adopted with redeemed bodies living in a New Jerusalem in a New Heaven and New earth. Paul tells us that until then we have to patiently wait for it.
(Romans 8:24–25 ESV) “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Our inheritance is primarily the promise of eternal life - completely realized. Jesus has been resurrected and is seated at the right hand of God in heaven. We are fellow heirs with Him. Our resurrection has not happened as yet but we have received the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that it is coming.
(Ephesians 1:13–14 ESV) “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.”
We have not acquired possession of it as yet. Not even those who have died in Christ have received their full inheritance yet. Peter says it this way:
(1 Peter 1:3–5 ESV) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
There is more to our salvation to come - much more. When God speaks of our inheritance, He speaks of the coming eternal, spiritual things. His focus is on what is coming. When the Apostles, particularly Paul, preached the Gospel, it always included the return of Christ and the resurrection. The return of Christ was the benefit of the inheritance that was focused on.
So much of today’s preaching is focused on the material benefits of our relationship with God. Once we found out that God didn’t want us to be poor, it seems that prosperity is all that we could think about. Yet, the word “prosper” is only in the New Testament three times and two of them don’t refer to material things. A form of the word “inherit” is found thirty-two times in the New Testament. Let’s keep our focus where it belongs.
What about prospering?
In reading the Bible, any time someone walked in God’s ways, they prospered materially. Material prosperity is a benefit of being in relationship with God. God is not poor and does not promote poverty. Fundamentally, poverty is a product of Adam’s disobedience.
(Genesis 3:17–19 ESV) “And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
God did not curse Adam. God said “cursed is the ground because of you”. This was the origin of poverty. God’s plan did not include poverty for any one - man chose it. Once man was separated from the life of God, then poverty took hold. In our day, you can see entire nations that are anti-Christian that are bearing the brunt of the curse on the ground. Examples would be China and India. While both countries have some wealthy people, those wealthy have their wealth because billions of their people are in dire poverty working for barely enough to live on.
Parts of Europe, the UK and the USA were primarily built by Christians serving God. Consequently, these countries prospered and grew in wealth. As these areas of the world have slowly turned their backs on the ways of God, their economic problems are growing faster than they can hurry to fix them. Prosperity and wealth are benefits of being in relationship with God and walking in His ways.
(Deuteronomy 8:17–20 ESV) “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.”
I have heard this taught as a promise to believe for - it is not. This section of scripture starts and ends as a warning. The Israelites were not “believing for” wealth - they were being warned about how to live with the wealth they were coming into. And, we have a better covenant founded upon better promises! The Israelites were “servants” of God, we are the sons and daughters of God - with an inheritance. It is always interesting to me that Christians tend to strive for something that a people with an inferior covenant were warned would happen.
God tells the Israelites that He is giving them the “power to get wealth that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers”. The “fathers” are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The covenant being confirmed was the taking possession of the promised land. In expanding the covenant, God said to Abraham:
(Genesis 15:13–16 ESV) “Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
There was a delay in taking possession of the promised land. God told Abraham about this delay and promised that his seed would come back in the fourth generation. In Deuteronomy 8:17-20, God was fulfilling His Word to Abraham - not to the Israelites. The Israelites were not “believing” for what they were about to receive. God makes this crystal clear:
(Deuteronomy 9:4–5 ESV) “Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
The “power to get wealth” came to them because of their covenant relationship and God’s promise to Abraham. The Israelites did not “believe” for it. For us to “believe for” this today is living beneath our privileges as sons and daughters and is approaching God as beggars. We are sons and daughters of God and we have an inheritance! We are already blessed.
(Ephesians 1:3, 6, 11 ESV) “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, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 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,”
The book of Ephesians was written because the Ephesian saints were living beneath their privileges as sons and daughters of God. Paul prayed that “the eyes of their understanding being enlightened.” Born again, Spirit filled Christians did not know what belonged to them. Honestly, most prosperity teaching approaches God as a beggar because it does not assume the position in Christ that we have and it tries to do something to get God to bless them. Paul is trying to get the Ephesians to see that they are already blessed.
(Ephesians 1:21–23 ESV) “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
The power to get wealth is in that scripture. We have the Name of Jesus given to us. We don’t need to believe for a promise from an inferior covenant - we have an inheritance.
I believe an inordinate focus on material prosperity is the very thing that is preventing it from manifesting in believer’s lives. However, if you watch and listen, it seems that ministers are “doubling down” on teaching prosperity. Attitude determines approach and approach determines outcome. If the approach is from a position beneath of who we are and what we already have, then the outcome can only be one of works. If you are truly living in faith, then you simply expect that what you do will prosper - because of who you are.
A university study concerning wealth made a very interesting finding. They found that wealthy people who lost their money, gained it back simply because they could not see themselves without it. Wealthy people expect to be wealthy.
Time magazine reported the following concerning Prince Charles of England: Founded more than 25 charities, raised 224 million in one year for his charities, attended 657 royal engagements in one year, his charities employ 1,800 people, 650,000 young people were helped by the Prince’s Trust, his income in one year was 32 million.
Prince Charles obviously spends his time thinking about helping other people. He has the power, money and influence to make a difference in the world, and he uses them for that. He is a member of royalty and is the heir of one of the wealthiest people in the world. You may be thinking, “If I was an heir like that then I could also help people the way he does.”
(Romans 8:16–17 ESV) “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
(1 Peter 2:9 ESV) “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Apparently we are heirs like that. People think that if they had money then they would think differently - but that is not true. Studies have proven that lottery winners lose their money in just a few short years. The Bible speaks the same.
(Proverbs 20:21 KJV) “An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.”
If you would think differently you would likely have more money. You will only act on an inheritance when you truly believe that you are the heir. Again, most prosperity teaching approaches from promises of an inferior covenant.
Having said all this, I want to emphasize that there are many things involved in the manifestation of wealth. Every will has conditions that must first be met by the heir. We must all qualify and prove ourselves concerning financial handling. But, until we realize that we are royal heirs, we will continue to approach God as servants.