A Scriptural Refutation of
The Teachings of Zane Hodges,
Joseph Dillow and the
Grace Evangelical Society,
with Respect to
the Future Inheritance,
Glory, and Destiny of the Church –
Christ’s Beloved Body & Bride
Particular aspects of the nature, reign, inheritance, heavenly glory, and infinite blessing of Christ’s beloved Body & Bride (comprised exclusively of all believers saved from Pentecost to Pre-Trib Rapture) in and with her Head, Life & Bridegroom:
Section 3: The Fullness and Infinite Richness of Blessing, and the Superlative and Eternal Inheritance of the Heavenly Body and Bride of Christ.
The Glorious Inheritance of Christ's Church and Every Member Thereof
(1) “And ye [all believers] are complete in Him, Who is the head of all principality and authority.” (Col. 2:10)
By virtue of our position in the risen, ascended, and glorified Christ, Who is our Life – and not because of any imagined personal worthiness – every single believer is eternally complete, lacking of absolutely nothing; we are filled full according to the measure of the very fulness of Christ. In fact, He is our fulness, our completeness. (For the flip side, as it were, see Eph. 1:22-23, as discussed previously in Section II.) All that He is and all that He has is ours – as He is the Righteousness, Acceptance, Life, heavenly Head and Bridegroom of His heavenly Body & Bride. “Herein has love been perfected with us that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, that even as He is, we also are in this world.” (1 John 4:17)
“The fullness of the Godhead dwelleth in Him and out of this fullness we receive grace upon grace [John 1:16], and that we might also be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19). In Him believers are filled full. In Him we possess perfection and completeness before God and are not wanting anything whatever as to our position before God. Believers are in Him before God, not in what they do or according to their service, or anything else, but in perfection of what He is. Who could add to His fullness and who can add to the fullness and completeness the believer possesseth forever in Him!” – Arno C. Gaebelein (Gaebelein’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 1031)
(2) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us [every single heavenly saint, no exceptions] with every spiritual blessing [no limit possible, no omissions conceivable, nothing higher imaginable – including the spiritual blessings of inheriting the Kingdom of God and being joint-heirs] in the heavenlies in Christ [in Him, in union with Him, and thus in no way dependent on our personal merit or worthiness].” (Eph. 1:3)
“I am here upon the earth, and yet I know that I am blest there where Christ is at the right hand of God. Not only have I blessings there, but I am blessed ‘with all spiritual blessings.’ The highest blessing God can confer is that which He gives every child of His in heavenly places in Christ. In these few words we gaze at the height of God’s wonderful counsel about us and love for us. He has thus blessed us according to the fulness of His value for Christ. The expression ‘heavenly places’ is in contrast with the portion of the Jews, who were blessed in earthly places. If we look at Ezekiel xxxvi., it may bring out more distinctly the character of our blessing in contradistinction to theirs…. It is chiefly learned but unspiritual men who make confusion about these matters. If readers were only simple about Scripture, they would not fall into such mistakes…. Nothing can be plainer than this. He is to bless Israel on the earth – in their soul too, no doubt: but the sphere of this blessing is the holy land. It is His earthly people, not the Church…. Evidently the blessing [of Israel] is in earthly places…. But I object to the inference that God has abandoned His people, and that this prophecy [Ezek. 36] about the earthly places should be confounded with our heavenly title. The earth and earthly blessings are here dwelt upon by the Spirit of God. Why should we be jealous about the Jews or the earth either? God has shown us such overflowing and surpassing favour that we may well delight and thank Him that the earth is reserved for His ancient nation. Now if we turn from this – the predicted blessing of Israel upon the earth – to our own proper blessing in Ephesians, how totally different it is! ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.’… Israel’s hope is not inward only but outward, in earthly places to be made the most exalted people here below. The scene of our blessing, on the contrary, is in heavenly places, and we are blessed there now in Christ…. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. A Jew has nowhere in the Old Testament the hope of being blessed in their Messiah. To be joint-heirs with Christ, not only blessed by Christ, but in Christ, is an idea that could not possibly enter the most intelligent Israelite’s mind. In a word, their portion will always be under their Messiah, to be ruled by Him as an earthly people. But ours, who believe in Christ now, will be to have the same blessing which God the Father confers upon Christ risen from the dead. What has He done for Christ? He has raised Him up, and put all things under His feet. This glory He will not take alone. He is waiting for His bride – for those who are now being called out of Jews and Gentiles to the knowledge of His name. So that our Lord, while personally exalted, holds it in abeyance because He is waiting for His companions to share it with Him; heirs by His grace, not merely of the fathers, but of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Nothing can be larger or higher than the blessing spoken of here. Christ will have His heavenly ones above, and His earthly ones below; each fully blest though in different spheres. May I commend the truth brought out in Ephesians i. to the serious study of God’s children?… Now it is as the God of the Lord Jesus Christ that He blesses – it is the full blessing that would be suitable to Christ Himself as the object of blessing. Grace puts us as common objects with Christ in order to be blessed by God who blesses after this manner and measure. Nor this only. He is the Father of the Lord Jesus, and as such also He blesses us. So that these two characters, the very highest possible in which to look at God, are those according to which we are blessed. The characters of God, both as God and as Father, as they deal with Christ, issue in a blessing, a commensurate blessing, which He gives to us. Hence there is no limit. He has blessed us ‘with all spiritual blessings,’ and moreover too, as we saw, not on the earth, the comparatively lower part of the universe, but in the highest scene of God’s power, ‘in the heavenly places;’ and in order to crown and complete all, it is ‘in Christ;’ all is secured in His person.” – William Kelly (Lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 11-15)
(3) “I am the door: if any one enter in by me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and shall go out and shall find pasture. The thief comes not but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I am come that they might have life, and [the very same “saved” ones with eternal “life” in Him] might have it abundantly [though some have His Life abundantly in outer darkness, with weeping and gnashing of teeth?!].” (John 10:9,10)
(4) “So that let no one boast in men; for all things ARE yours. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things coming, all ARE yours; and ye ARE Christ’s [the worthy Heir of all things], and Christ is God’s.” (1Cor. 3:21-23)
“All things…the world…things coming” – a sweeping, all-encompassing inheritance indeed (cf. Eph. 1:10,11,14,18,22). Surely inheriting the Kingdom of God, being joint-heirs with Christ, co-ruling with Him are not, and cannot be, excepted.
“ARE” – not, “will become” in the future upon the condition of special perseverance, good works, personal merit or worthiness; but “are” now as a present possession, in virtue of being in Christ, by grace (though not entered into experientially until with Him at His 2nd Advent to this earth).
“Yours” – Can any believers possibly be excepted? Can this properly be made to refer merely to a special class of spiritually elite, persevering, worthy believers, in contradistinction to destitute, non-persevering, unworthy believers (who will be weeping & gnashing their teeth in outer darkness)? “Yours” embraces all, not some, members of the heavenly Body & Bride of Christ (even all of the carnal Corinthian saints); no exceptions implied or possible. Our inheritance is part and parcel of our so-great salvation in Christ.
(5) “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who against us? He who, yea, has not spared His own Son [the greatest possible Gift], but delivered Him up for us all [every single believer], how shall He not also with Him grant us [every single believer for whom Christ died, no possible exceptions or special conditions of personal worthiness] all things [all lesser things, be it the inheritance of the Kingdom of God/ruling with Christ, or anything else]?” (Rom. 8:31,32)
“We now enter on the distinct portion which closes this division of the epistle, where the apostle interrogates and, I may say, challenges all adversaries in presence of the rich and varied provisions of redemption…. It is [now]…the deduction from all that God is for us, not only superior to all that would hurt us, but leading to the bold question, Who dare be against us? All is measured by God’s gift of His own Son, not spared but delivered up for us all; a plain and irrefragable answer to every doubt both of the reality of His love and of its extent; and this for the entire family of God. There was one object above all dear and precious to God, His own Son; and it was His own Son whom for us He spared in no way, but for us all surrendered Him to all that is dreadful in our eyes, to His heart infinitely worse – who knew His Father’s love and felt evil as none but He could. That God should in His grace secure all things to us after such a gift is what we cannot but feel to be easily understood and suitable to His love, if not even necessarily due to the glory of Christ. Nothing can be lacking by the way: in the end we shall share all things with Him who is the Heir of all things. He made all, has reconciled all and will take all under His glorious sway; but we shall reign with Him. He is head over all to the Church which is His body, says our apostle elsewhere. Here He does not pursue the counsels of God but affirms the principle of grace in righteousness as applied to our individual relationship. It was no sudden thought but a settled design which went right through to glory with Christ, after the full trial and demonstration of the uniform and complete failure of the first man. It is now a question of the Second man and of those that are His; and thus it is as plain as it is sure that God is for them; and if so, who is against them? Our sins have been remitted, sin in the flesh condemned, ourselves believing in Jesus and His blood, yea dead with Him and alive in Him to God: who then is against us? God has proved Himself for us where we had most ground for dread, and dread of Him above all; for against Him had we sinned. But in nothing has He shewn His grace so deep and conspicuous as in our hopelessly evil state; in nothing so exhibited the worth and efficacy of the redemption through His Son. We are entitled then in faith to ask: ‘If God [is] for us, who [shall be] against us?’ We are entitled to count that He who spared not His own Son will along with Him lavish on us everything good for us now, everything glorious by and by….His Son is the measureless measure of His love to us…” – William Kelly (Notes on the Epistle to the Romans, p. 155-157)
“He that even spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all – This is the God who is for us; and this is the proof! Spared not – what that word shows! Of the infinite price of redemption! of the measureless unconquerable love of God that would not be stopped at such frightful cost! ‘His own Son’; His only Son; His well-beloved Son, – from all eternity! And for us! Ah, how wretched we are, even in our own sight! guilty, undone, defiled, powerless, worthless, – for us all!…Then, delivered Him up – We remember immediately the same word in Chapter 4.25: ‘delivered up for our trespasses.’ Yea, we know for why: but unto what? gainsaying, mocking, spitting, scourging, crucifying – by men; and to the awful cup of wrath for our sin at God’s hand – infinitely more appalling that any creature stroke! Yet God spared not – His own Son, but delivered Him up! For us all – Here the saints are spoken of. (Paul never uses ‘us’ of any others!) And who are the saints? Sinners who have heard God’s good news concerning His Son, and have simply believed!… How shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? – The great gift, the unspeakable gift, being made, all must follow! ‘How shall He not, with Him?… God has not spared His Son: what are all else to Him? God has opened to us His heart, He has spared not, – giving us His best, His all – even Christ. Now, with Him, all things come! God cannot but do this. Shall He give us His dear Son, and then hold back at trifles? For ‘all things’ of this created universe, – yea, even all gifts or blessings God may give us, here or hereafter, are but nothing, compared with Christ!” – William R. Newell (Romans Verse by Verse, p. 336-337)
(6) “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love wherewith He loved us, (we too being dead in offences,) has quickened us with the Christ, (ye are saved by grace,) and has raised us up together, and has made us sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, [why?] that He might display in the coming ages [including the Millennial age] the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards us [every single one of us] in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:4-7)
How is such a heavenly and glorious destiny – for all ages to come, which thus includes the Millennium – of being objects and exhibits of the infinite riches of His grace in Christ Jesus, in any way consistent or compatible with having some of those very members (the “specially” unworthy, undeserving members) of His glorified Body & Bride disinherited of the Kingdom of God, cast into outer darkness, weeping and gnashing their teeth?
“But one must ask in view of such riches of grace, as revealed in the preceding verses [of Eph. 2], What is the purpose of all this? The verse which follows [i.e., 2:7] gives the answer. We find ourselves face to face with the destiny of His masterpiece [the Church, the Body & Bride of Christ, the New Creation in Him]. ‘That in the ages to come He might show (or display) the exceeding (surpassing) riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus’ (verse 7). This is one of the richest and deepest statements in the Bible. Two ages follow the present age [and the Tribulation period]. The millennial age, and after that has lasted for a thousand years, the eternal state begins. In the coming age and in all eternity, God is going to make known His glory through and in His masterwork . All His redeemed will be with Him in glory. When He comes again He brings many sons to glory; and we shall reign and rule with Him over the earth. But this is not all. In the eternal age, from eternity to eternity, God is continuing in this. He will bring forth something new in glory, new riches of Himself for those who are one with His well-beloved Son. From eternity to eternity He displays the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. How one is overwhelmed in the presence of such a statement! And how little after all we can understand all those coming riches in glory. What a destiny! The heart may well cry – nothing but glory! What is the little suffering, the little while down here, in comparison with such never ending glory!” – Arno C. Gaebelein (Gaebelein’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 993)
“God has made us to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ. Now comes the display of His glorious purpose as to this. It is ‘that He might show forth in the ages to come the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.’ We need not be surprised then that the place should be such a place of wonder! If God is going to show that which is indeed the fruit of Christ’s work and the display of the full purposes of His heart, it will be surely true that the fullest blessing possible is necessitated for this. God is acting, as it were, though only grace could say so, on His own account; but then with regard to us, it is grace and nothing but grace.” – F.W. Grant (The Numerical Bible, Vol. VI, Acts to 2 Corinthians, p. 331)
(7) “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself for the administration of the fulness of times [the Millennial Dispensation]; to head up all things in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth; in Him, in Whom we have also obtained [not, ‘some will obtain’ in the future by perseverance or personal worthiness; but ‘we’ saints in Christ ‘have’ already obtained, by virtue of being ‘in Him’] an inheritance, being marked out beforehand according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will, that we should be to the praise of His glory who have pre-trusted in the Christ: in Whom ye also have trusted, having heard the word of the truth, the glad tidings of your salvation; in Whom also, having believed, ye have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the earnest of our inheritance to the redemption of the acquired possession to the praise of His glory.” (Eph 1:9-14)
“It is almost needless to say that these set times [1:10] are not yet completed, and that Christ has not yet all things in the heavens and on the earth headed up in Him, and that the Church is not yet reigning join-heir with Him.” – William Kelly (Bible Treasury N2:247, as cited in the Ephesian Notes of Two Nineteenth Century Versions of the New Testament, p. 577)
“Christ, who has redeemed us by His blood, was raised from the dead. God ‘set Him [and us in Him] at His own right hand in the heavenlies’ – ‘He hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things [i.e., the very inheritance of which the Apostle Paul spoke of in Eph. 1:10,11,14,18] to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all’ (1:21-23). This is the mystery: that Christ risen from the dead, seated at the right hand of God, is the Head and those who believe on Him constitute the Church, His body. This body is destined, according to the eternal purpose of God, to share the glory of the Head. This purpose is still in the future. The administration (or dispensation) of the fulness of times has not yet come.” – Arno C. Gaebelein (Gaebelein’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 990)
“The mystery here is, that God means to unite all things in heaven and in earth, under the headship of our Lord. He does not mean to have the heavens, as they are now, completely severed from the earth, but to have a united system of heavenly and earthly glory, all under Christ – this is the mystery of His will. But there is more than this. He means that we should share the glory along with Christ. Thus there are two great parts in the mystery of His will. The first is Christ, and the second is the Church: and therefore it is said in this very Epistle, ‘This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.’ It is not ‘the Church,’ of course, that is the mystery, but ‘Christ and the Church.’…the summing, or heading (ανακεφαλαιωσις) up of all things, heavenly and earthly, under Christ. This will be in the age to come, when Christ shall be displayed as Head over all things, and the glorified saints shall reign with Him…. It is the intervening millennium [prior to the eternal state]. This will be the fulness of the times, previous periods having been the necessary preparation for it. Meanwhile, redemption through Christ’s blood having been effected, the Holy Ghost seals the believer, and is the earnest of the inheritance.”
“God’s blessed cure for the world’s disorder is Christ brought out from His present hidden position; and the moment that He is so, what a change! All things in heaven and earth will be united [as a system summed up or headed up] in Christ; and when that day comes, we shall enter visibly on our inheritance. We have the title already, but are not in manifest possession [cf. 1:11]…. We have, first of all, (verse 5) our predestination as children. ‘And if children then heirs’ – heirs of a glorious inheritance, Christ being made the head of the universe. (Ver. 10, 11.)” – William Kelly (Lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 26-28)
“It [‘obtained an inheritance’ in 1:11] is exactly one of the marked points of contrast between the faithful [i.e., believers] now and Israel of old, that these are designated the inheritance of Jehovah, those are styled God’s heirs and Christ’s joint-heirs. Hence the force of εκληρωθημεν is that we were allotted our inheritance, not ‘made a heritage,’ the και adding this to our being called. For there are two main parts in the blessing: our calling, and also our inheritance, which embraces the universe as put under Christ (cf. verse 10), given as Head over all things to the church which is His body. The church is in God’s grace and purpose the heavenly Eve of the Last Adam, to possess all things, not merely the things on the earth like the first man, but the things in the heavens. Here accordingly it will be noticed that the apostle speaks not of the glory of God’s grace (ver. 6), nor of the riches of His grace (ver. 7), but of His glory (vers. 12, 14). He looks not at present privilege, but onward to the redemption of the purchased possession [1:14] which will be then, as distinguished from the redemption we have now through His blood, the forgiveness of our offences. There is no doubt that God purchased the church with the blood of Christ, and that the believers from among the Jews are now reckoned a people of possession, or peculiarly His own, as indeed are all saints; but this does not at all decide the true force of the purchased possession here, which is really the inherited universe when His glory dawns.” – William Kelly (Bible Treasury 13:378, as cited in the Ephesian Notes of Two Nineteenth Century Versions of the New Testament, p. 577)
(8) “Being enlightened in the eyes of your heart, so that ye should know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints [cf. 1:10,11,14,22].” (Eph. 1:18)
“…the inheritance. He wished them to know the riches of its glory, to know it better. But he uses a remarkable expression – ‘the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.’ You must carefully guard against a prevalent error on this subject, namely, that the saints mean the inheritance. This is not at all the force of the phrase: nay, I have no hesitation in saying that it would falsify the chief blessedness of the Church’s calling. If we look at the Old Testament, we find that Israel were His inheritance and His people; and that God, by virtue of Israel, took possession of the land. When the day comes for God to be king, and more than king, when He takes under His government the entire universe, how will this be done? Will it be by Israel? No; but by virtue of His heavenly saints – the Church of God. The expression seems to be purposely large. Most decidedly it means the saints changed or risen, so as to be in the likeness of Christ, in an entirely heavenly condition. Such is the mode in which God will challenge and assume the inheritance by and by into His own hand. When He took Canaan, He did not come down and possess it by heavenly power, but by means of His people. But when God expels the wicked spirits from any connection with the heavenly places, when He puts down all power upon the earth – everything that contradicts Himself, and reduces the whole universe into subjection to the name of Christ, who are destined to take it in His name, as Israel entered on the land of Canaan? The risen saints. Hence the meaning of the words, ‘the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.’ The common notion that the saints constitute the inheritance is unscriptural. For most carefully throughout the New Testament, the saints are always represented as (not the inheritance, but) the heirs, ‘heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.’ They are nowhere treated as the inheritance, but, on the contrary, what is revealed as the inheritance means the things in heaven and things on earth; and the Church is ever and sedulously separated from them. This I consider to be a point which cannot be left as an open question; the testimony of the word is too abundant and precise. We ought never to allow what is clearly revealed in Scripture to be debatable or uncertain, because doubt always has an injurious effect upon the spirit, no less than it insults God and grieves His Spirit. Another’s certainty will not do for us; but we need not hesitate to speak plainly where we have no doubt of God’s mind upon a subject. And when looked at in this point of view, it quite falls in with the structure of the chapter. As we have found ‘the hope of his calling’ in the first clause answering to what we had in the earlier verses, so the ‘glory of the inheritance’ answers to the middle verses of the chapter. God means to have the whole universe blest and happy under Christ; not merely glory given to Him in heaven, or a people subject to Him here below. We have here an incomparably larger view of what God intends. Christ is to have universal blessedness and glory, all things in heaven and earth being put under Him; and we have obtained in Him this inheritance.” – William Kelly (Lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 54,55)
(9) “…by His own blood [He] has entered in once for all into the holy of holies, having found an eternal redemption…. And for this reason He is mediator of a new covenant, so that, death having taken place for redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, the called [i.e., all saints in Christ, by grace; cf. 2Tim 1:9; Jude 1; Rom. 1:6-7; 8:28-30; Eph. 4:1,4; 1 Thess. 2:12; 1 Cor. 1:2,9; 1 Pet. 2:9; 2 Pet. 1:10] might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Heb. 9:12, 15)
“ …His death having taken place, so that law’s authority was established to the uttermost, grace could act freely and grant remission of sins, instead of keeping up their remembrance; yea more, it could righteously vindicate God’s forbearance in the past [cf. Rom. 3:25] ‘for redemption of the transgressions’ under the then legal condition, with its penalty of death for the offender. Now on the contrary, death having come in, Christ is Mediator of a new covenant, that the called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. All hangs on Christ and His efficacious death; and those that are called pay earnest heed to the glad tidings of God and await the eternal inheritance that is promised. For the blessing comes of faith, that it may be according to grace: no other way honours Christ to God’s glory, or puts man in his true place. No less determinate is the meaning of what follows in verses 16, 17, the idea of the inheritance naturally suggesting a will, which comes into force by the death of him who made it.” – William Kelly (An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 170)
“Peter thus describes the eternal inheritance [in 1 Pet. 1.4,5]…. [And] Paul…declares (Rom. 8.17) that believers are ‘heirs of God (marvelous words!) and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be (or since) we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him’ – more marvelous words! The inheritance of these Hebrew believers had formerly been earthly, the land of Israel, with millennial blessings to come. But the eternal inheritance goes infinitely beyond that!… Eternal inheritance (9.15): Compare, ‘the inheritance among all them that are sanctified,’ Acts 20.32; ‘an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Me,’ (Jesus). Acts 26.18; ‘The Father made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,’ Col. 1.12; ‘an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven’ for us – I Pet. 1.4….” [and cf. Eph. 1:10,11,14,18,22; etc.] – William R. Newell (Hebrews Verse by Verse, p. 309)
(10) “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ continually when praying for you, having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and the love which ye have towards all the saints, on account of [not in order to earn or merit] the hope which is [not ‘will be’] laid up for you [believers, without exception or distinction] in the heavens [cf. v.12]; of which ye heard before in the word of the truth of the glad tidings [the Gospel of the grace of God].” (Col. 1:3-5)
What is this “hope” that is laid up in the heavens for “you” (i.e., all believers)? Surely it is not “outer darkness” with “weeping and gnashing of teeth” for some, but joint-heirship with Christ for others? Surely this one “hope” cannot be divided in such a fashion, let alone be divided at all! For what kind of “hope” would “outer darkness,” for the specially “unworthy” believers, be?! Thus, as “outer darkness” is obviously not involved at all in this “hope,” then how would the fearful prospect of “outer darkness” for some saints in Christ be in any way consistent with the assured “hope” which is now laid up in the heavens for all saints in Christ?
“But is not the difference striking between the two [Epistles of Ephesians & Colossians] as exemplified in his [Paul’s] manner of presenting the hope? In Ephesians it is the hope of God’s calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. What can be more profound or boundless? Here he could scarcely say less. Their hope was laid up, it was safe, it was ‘in the heavens,’ not (spite of philosophy or of ascetic ordinances) on the earth. Of all these they had to beware, whatever their looks and promises. Of their proper hope he would remind them, recalling them to the heavens where Christ is, the true and only deliverance from all the workings of mind in divine things and from earthly religiousness. This heavenly hope, blessed as it is, was nothing new to them; they had heard it before in the word of truth of the gospel. What the Apostle taught would not weaken or undermine, but confirm that which they had heard in the good news which converted them originally….” – William Kelly (Lectures on Philippians and Colossians, p. 87)
(11) “Giving thanks to the Father, who has made us [every saint in Christ, no exceptions or distinctions] fit for sharing the inheritance of the saints in light [not outer darkness!].” (Col. 1:12)
Observe carefully that it is our God and Father who has made us fit or has qualified us (by virtue of our position or standing in Christ, with Whom we are in eternal union and identification), for sharing the inheritance; thus the inheritance is part of our so-great salvation (by grace through faith). The inheritance can in no way be detached from our salvation in Him; it can in no way be construed as a reward to be obtained in the future by means of good works or personal worthiness in an effort to so qualify us for it. The Father has now and forever made us fit for the inheritance (the inheritance “in light” for all, not “in outer darkness” for any)! What blessed assurance! Pure and sovereign grace! Who is it that can undue the Father’s work of having qualified us, so as to have any of us disinherited and cast into outer darkness? Or who is that would dare say that the Father’s work in making us fit for sharing the inheritance is inadequate, that good works and personal worthiness must be added thereto so as to merit the inheritance?
How many good works, by the way, and how much personal worthiness does it take to really earn and actually deserve such a glorious and eternal inheritance of being joint-heirs with Christ? Who will say that any of us are, or ever can be, personally worthy of meriting even a glimmer of it? It must be by grace through faith, else there would be no eternal inheritance, no joint-heirship with Christ for any of us at all! Who besides the incarnate, crucified and risen eternal Son of God (Who being rich became poor for our sakes, in order that by His poverty we might become rich) is personally and inherently worthy of being Heir of all things?
“How good as well as vast the mind of the Spirit of God! Who could ever have combined with God’s glory such a place for man too? No man, I will not say anticipated, but approached in thought such a portion for souls on earth. See how and for what the apostle gives thanks again. Although there were difficulties and hindrances, how much, he feels, there is for which to praise our God and Father: ‘Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet’ (and observe well, it is not merely for the certainty that He will, but in the peaceful assurance that He has made us meet) ‘to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.’ Human words fail to add to such a thought. His grace has qualified us now for His glory: such, as far as this goes, is the clear meaning of the Holy Ghost. He looks not at some advanced souls at Colosse, but at all the saints there. There were evils to be corrected, dangers to be warned against; but if he thinks of that which the Father has in view for them, and of them in view of His glory, less he could not say, neither could he say more. The Father has made them meet already for the inheritance of the saints in light; and this, too, fully taking into account the awful state of the heathen world, and their past personal wickedness when drawn to God in the name of the Lord Jesus, ‘who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love: in whom we have redemption…even the forgiveness of sins.’ “ – William Kelly (Lectures Introductory to the New Testament, Vol. II p. 287)
“This is a present meetness. Sharing the portion of the saints in light is a most wonderful favor; but the Apostle does not hesitate to predicate it of these Colossians whom he was going to rebuke with all solemnity in the next chapter. Still he says the Father has qualified us for sharing the portion of the saints in light. It is purposely put ‘in light’ to show how absolute is the effect of God’s work in Christ…. Our Father has made us meet for this. The effect of law is always to put God at a distance. Therefore here the Father is put forward….This blessing depends upon two things: first, upon the effect of the blood of Christ in completely atoning for our sins; and next, upon the fact that we have the life of Christ communicated to us, which life is capable of communing with God in the light. Both these gifts of grace are absolutely true of every Christian. He has the blood of Christ cleansing him as much as he ever can have, and he has life in Christ communicated to his soul as much as ever can be. That which follows in after experience as regards this (for I speak not of service, etc., but of growth in intelligence) is simply having a deeper estimate of what Christ’s blood has done and what He Himself is, who has shown us such infinite favor and done so much for us. Our Father has done more, as the Apostle shows further how we are thus qualified: ‘Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness.’ It is not merely a question of wicked works, but of the power of darkness; how could we, then, be delivered from Satan? He says they were delivered and, more than that, ‘translated into the kingdom of the Son of his love.’ It is all perfectly done. The deliverance from the enemy of God is complete, and so is the translation into the kingdom of the Son of His love. ‘In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’ “ – William Kelly (Lectures on Philippians and Colossians, p. 94-96)
(12) “And now I commit you to God, and to the word of His grace [not works or merit!], which is able to build you up and give to you an inheritance among all [not some of] the sanctified [the saved ones, those set apart unto God, in Christ Jesus: e.g., 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2].” (Acts 20:32)
(13) “[I, the risen and glorified Head of My heavenly Body, the Church, am] taking thee [Paul] out from among the people, and the nations, to whom I send thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Me [i.e., all saints in Christ]. (Acts 26:17,18)
Observe once again that our past-tense salvation (of which remission or forgiveness of all our sins is a most blessed feature) and our future-tense salvation (of which our eternal inheritance in and with Christ is a most blessed feature) go hand in hand; they are inseparably linked as part of our so-great salvation in the crucified, risen, ascended, and glorified Christ. Such a heavenly salvation, with all of its infinite blessings of grace, is received by simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Both the forgiveness of sins and the inheritance (joint-heirship with Christ) are essential parts of the one Gospel of the grace of God in this present age – the good news which is received by faith. Thus no part of it – neither the forgiveness nor the inheritance – is a matter of works or personal worthiness. All believers receive the eternal forgiveness of sins; thus all believers receive the eternal inheritance. It is all by sovereign grace through faith: the precious blood of the God-Man being the ground of all.
No room is thus left for a divided Body, with a special class of worthy or deserving saints as the sole joint-heirs of Christ, and the remaining unworthy ones as the dwellers of outer darkness.
If any of us were to actually be judged, as to our persons, according to our works, it would not be merely our works that would be consumed or burned up (1 Cor. 3:15)! We would all have to be cast into outer darkness! What believer in their right mind will say that they are not personally worthy of being cast into outer darkness, let alone that they are, or ever can be, personally worthy of being a joint-heir with Christ? But thanks be to God, we have an absolutely infinite, eternal, changeless, perfect Righteousness, Acceptance, Life and Hope in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ!
(14) “And He that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He says, Write, for these words are true and faithful. And He said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that thirsts of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be to him God, and he shall be to Me son [all children or born-ones of God are sons, and consequently heirs of God through Christ; cf. Eph. 1:4,5; Rom. 8:16-18; Gal. 3:26-29; 4:6,7; Heb. 12:23b; 1 Pet. 1:3,4]. But to the fearful and unbelieving, and those who make themselves abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:5-8)
I refer you to all comments made previously in regard to “overcomers” (i.e., all genuine children of God), in Section II (5) above. But briefly, as noted earlier:
“There are those who overcome, and there are those who are overcome. These latter are lost (II Peter 2:20). They give up Christ’s words (1 Corinthians 15:2, Colossians 1:23, Mark 8:38). We note two classes – and only two – in Revelation 21:7, 8.” “And, be it noted, the only two classes seen in this final eternal order are those who overcome, and those cast into the lake of fire. The ‘overcomers,’ thus, are shown to be all God’s true children. For all had the divine gift of faith, all were begotten of God. So we read in I John 5:4: ‘Whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith.’ “ – William R. Newell (Revelation: A Complete Commentary, p. 42, 339)
“The overcomer here [Rev. 21:7], as in chapters 2 and 3, is the believer, the one who has drunk of the water of life [21:6]. For him there is sonship with God forever.” – Charles L. Feinberg (A Commentary on Revelation: The Grand Finale, p. 155,156)
(15) “But when the kindness and love to man of our Saviour God appeared, not on the principle of works which have been done in righteousness which we [all believers] had done, but according to His own mercy [cp. 1 Pet. 1:3] He saved us [all believers] through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us [all believers] richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, having been justified by His grace, we [all believers] should become heirs according to [not works, but] the hope [springing from the present possession] of eternal life [or new birth; cp. 1 Pet. 1:3,4].” (Tit. 3:4-7)
“Some object to ‘heirs’ standing alone; but it is all the more absolute because it does. In Rom. viii. 16, 17, we are told that we who believe are children of God; and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and Christ’s joint-heirs. It is not inheriting this or that but ‘heirs also,’ and to make it indefinitely rich, ‘heirs of God and Christ’s joint-heirs.’ Again, in Gal. iv., the believer is no longer a bondman but a son, and if son, heir also through God (assuredly not through man, himself or others). Thus we learn the double truth, that by faith, not by works of law, we are heirs of God, and this through God. What can be less tied to limits than this title? All is sovereign grace. It is He Who made us His heirs; and we are to inherit what Christ will inherit in glory. To Titus the apostle speaks so as to leave us ‘heirs’ all the more largely, because it is quite indefinite. It was all by God’s grace; and what of good for us has He withheld? Yet we have important words which accompany it: ‘Heirs according to hope of eternal life.’ This life in Christ is the believer’s now; but we have it in a body full of weakness, compassed with infirmities, and in fact mortal. Our bodies will enjoy the life when our hope is accomplished at the coming of Christ. Eternal life will be no longer hid with Christ in God, but manifested according to all the power of His glory, as it is even now the gift to faith, the inestimable gift of God’s grace. [See Phil. 3:20,21]… What a privilege for the believer to enjoy now! What a responsibility to walk accordingly and bear a true witness to Him! It is nothing less than Christ in us the hope of glory. When He comes to Israel, the glory will be possessed and manifest. We have Him as life while He is hidden in God; and when He shall be manifested, then shall we also with Him be manifested in glory.” – William Kelly (An Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to Titus and of that to Philemon, p. 111-113)
(16) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, according to His great mercy [cp. Tit. 3:5], has begotten us again to a living hope [true of every believer, no exceptions or distinctions] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance, reserved in the heavens for you [the identically same born-again believers], who are kept guarded by the power of God through faith [not our works, merit or worthiness] for salvation [and thus of grace] ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pet. 1:3-5)
Observe carefully that those who have been “born again” (i.e., all believers) have been born again “to an inheritance.” That is, our present possession of the inheritance (reserved for us in the heavens) is the result of being born again, i.e., children of God (if children, heirs also: heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ). As the new birth is not the result of good works or personal worthiness, then neither is the eternal inheritance. The inspired Word does not say: “all believers have been begotten again unto a living hope; but only some specially worthy, persevering, deserving believers will obtain, in the future, an eternal inheritance.”
There is absolutely no distinction made, or even remotely implied, between all born-ones of God and an imagined sub-set of super-spiritual saints who earn the inheritance in the future by perseverance and good works in the present. The Apostle Peter, by the Spirit, is all too clear. The inspired language leaves no room for our possession of the eternal inheritance, our join-heirship with Christ, to issue from anything other than God’s work – that of making us, by sovereign grace, partakers of the divine nature, making us present possessors of Eternal Life in the risen Christ, our Living Hope (Christ in us the hope of glory). What ground does the Spirit-Author here afford you to disassociate the certainty of eternal inheritance (the effect) from the new, heavenly birth (the cause), and, instead, to base a rather uncertain prospect of it on personal merit?
And notice, too, that we are not kept guarded by the power of God, for final salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, through personal merit or worthiness! Impossible! Future-tense salvation, as with our past and present-tense salvation, is through faith that it might be according to grace. As the Apostle Peter says in v.13 of the same chapter: “Wherefore, having girded up the loins of your mind, being sober, hope perfectly for the grace that is to be brought to you at Jesus Christ’s revelation” (1 Pet. 1:13)
“The hope of such an inheritance reserved for them in the heavens was most cheering. But in thinking of themselves and the wilderness through which they pass, they needed and have another source of blessed comfort – you, says he, ‘that are being guarded by (or, in) God’s power.’ What more suitable, what more precious and welcome, than such a divine assurance? The inheritance was kept or reserved for them in the heavens. This was just what was wanted, while they were on the earth waiting and learning self as well as God, and suffering for righteousness’ sake or, still more blessed, for Christ’s name. But, as proving their own weakness and men’s hostility and Satan’s active malice, they were constantly exposed to difficulties, trials, afflictions, and dangers. Hence their need to be meanwhile guarded all the way through. And so they are – garrisoned by God’s power. And if God be for us, who against? Is He not immeasurably more than all? Still God has His means; and this the apostle proceeds next to tell us. It is ‘through faith.’…Thus the new life imparted, as abundant as the mercy that begot us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from out of the dead, has a result no less worthy of the God and Father of our Lord. It is for an inheritance incorruptible in itself, undefiled by evil, and unfading in its beauty. It is not on earth as Israel looks for their portion, but reserved in heaven for saints who in their weakness are being guarded in the midst of difficulties and dangers through faith unto salvation, founded on a sacrifice even now accepted, and therefore ready to be revealed…in a last season which will manifest the grand purpose of God.” – William Kelly (The First Epistle of Peter, p. 23,26)
“Nor is it only that we find here the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, but the life that grace has given us is characterized by resurrection power. ‘We are begotten again,’ says he, ‘to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.’ The blood of Jesus Christ, however precious and indispensable, does not of itself constitute a man a Christian either in intelligence or in fact of standing. It is the foundation for it; and every one who rests on the blood of Christ is surely a Christian; but I repeat that, both for position before God and intelligent perception and power of soul, we need and have much more…. Still the Christian does need the effect of the resurrection of Jesus following up the sprinkling of His blood – I do not say the resurrection without His blood, still less the glory without either. A whole Christ is given and needed….[We are not] in scripture limited to that most wonderful of all foundations – redemption through Christ Jesus our Lord. To restrict yourself to it would be a wrong, not so much to your own soul as to God’s grace; and if there be any difference, especially to Him who suffered all things for God’s glory and for our own infinite blessing. In this case then we have the Christian by divine grace possessed of a new nature which loves to obey. He is sprinkled with Christ’s blood, which gives him confidence and boldness in faith before God, because he knows the certainty of the love that has put away his sins by blood. But, besides this, what a spring is conveyed to the soul by the sense that his life is the life of Jesus in resurrection. So, he adds, there is a similar inheritance for the saints with Christ Himself – ‘an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven,’ where He has already gone. More than this, there is full security, spite of our passing through a world filled with hatred and peril, for the Christian above all. ‘For you,’ says he, ‘who are kept;’ for Christian doctrine is not, as men so often say, that of saints persevering. In this I, for one, do not believe. One sees alas! too often saints going astray, comparatively seldom persevering as the rule, if we speak of their consistent fidelity and devotedness. But there is that which never fails, – ‘the power of God through faith,’ – by which the believer is kept to the end. This alone restores the balance; and thus we are taken out of all conceit of our own stability. We are thrown on mercy, as we ought to be; we look up in dependence on One who is incontestably above us, and withal infinitely near to us. This ought to be the spring of all our confidence, even in God Himself, with His own power preserving us. There is given to the soul of him who thus rests on God’s power keeping him a wholly different tone from that of the man who thinks of his own perseverance as a saint. Far better is it, then, to be ‘kept by the power of God through faith.’ In this way it is not independent of our looking to Him.” – William Kelly (Lectures Introductory to the New Testament, Vol. III p. 236-238)
Go to the next section
of this document
Return to the Index Page for this document
The Middletown Bible Church
More Article Regarding Hodges, Dillow, Wilkin and
More articles under Doctrinal Studies