(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
A synonym for the word ‘legacy’ is ‘inheritance.’ An inheritance brings to mind what I might get when my wealthy uncle dies! Unfortunately, I have never had a rich uncle, or any other rich family member. Consequently, my wife and I didn’t inherit riches; we have had to build our own nest egg. But there is another side to a legacy – what you can pass on to succeeding generations! Let’s look at both of these ideas over the next couple of Gems.
In Acts 20:15 through 38 is the record of the homeward trip of Saint Paul’s third missionary journey. From Philippi, a coastal city in the northeastern part of Greece called Macedonia, Paul set sail across the Agean Sea and, with a couple of stops along the way, landed at the city of Miletus, on the western coast of what is now the country of Turkey.
- He had sailed pass Ephesus, about 30 miles north, where he ministered with great success for two years and three months (see Acts 19:8-10; 17-20).
✞ From Miletus, he sent word to the Ephesian church leaders to come and see him (see Acts 20:17). ✞ Why did he not stop at Ephesus and save the elders a rather long walk to Miletus? We are told in Acts 20:16, “...Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem ...on the Day of Pentecost.” Perhaps he reasoned that the many believers in Ephesus would want to see, greet, and talk with him, and that would result in a lengthy delay in arriving at Jerusalem in time to celebrate Pentecost at the temple. ✞ His interaction with the Ephesian elders is recorded in Acts 20:20 through 38.
- But it is one verse I want to highlight, right towards the end of his farewell comments – Acts 20:32:
And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
How does this verse apply to our legacy, our inheritance?
- First of all, our inheritance starts and finishes with God through Jesus Christ! He is “…the Alpha, and the Omega [the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet], the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Revelation 22:13). Without being reconciled to God through the shed blood of Christ, the only inheritance that awaits is “…the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death…[where] the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night…” (Revelation 21:8; 14:11).
- The Christian’s inheritance, according to Acts 20:32 above, is what those who are sanctified are enjoying!
✞ This could refer to those who have left this earthly plane and are now enjoying heaven. Be- cause it does say in I John 3:2: Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is re- vealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Beholding Jesus Christ in His glory, will transform us “...glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Corinthians 3:18). God’s goal for every believer is to manifest the image (the godly character) of Jesus Christ! ➔ It is an ongoing process now, in this earthly life; as Paul wrote in II Corinthians 3:18 above: “...glory to glory....” The apostle could have added a few more glories to empha- size the ongoing nature of the process – “...glory to glory to glory to glory...”! ➔ But the process will be complete when we “... see Him as He is...” in heaven. It is then that we will completely leave behind the sin- ful nature and only manifest the Lord’s nature! That nature will not, cannot, will never sin! For it is written in... ❏ ...I John 3:9, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” ❏ ...I John 5:18, “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” ✞ But the “...inheritance among those who are sancti- fied...” could also mean what we inherit NOW, and not just then! ➔ In our featured Scripture of Acts 20:32, Paul commends the Ephesian elders, “...to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” ➔ According to... ❏ ...Thayer’s Greek Definitions: to sanctify means to “...separate from profane things and...consecrate things to God...dedicate people to God.” ❏ ...Strong’s Greek Dictionary: to sanctify means “...to make holy, that is, (ceremon- ially) purify or consecrate.” It is to the believers living in the here and now that Paul writes to in Romans 6:11 through 14: Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead in- deed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unright- eousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as in- struments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you.... He is referring here to holy living by sanctified (con- secrated, set apart, purified, holy) believers in this earthly phase of life! ➔ What is our inheritance (our legacy) now? It is to let the image of God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit so shine in and through our lives that others will see Jesus and want what we have! ➔ Our inheritance is to have what I call GO instead of BO! (Gospel Odor instead of Body Odor)! As it says in II Corinthians 2:15 and 16: For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma of life to life. And who is sufficient for these things? That aroma will either draw others to Jesus or at least give them warning of where they stand without Him!
So, our inheritance spans both this life and the next!
More on our inheritance in our next Gem.