D. M. PANTON
The law regards a child as the continuation of the personality of his father, and so as the legal possessor of his property after his death: therefore, "if children, then heirs" (Romans 8: 17). So it is with God. Not if men, then heirs; nor, if Jews, then heirs; nor, if moral and upright, then heirs; we must become partakers of the Divine nature before we can become heirs of the Divine inheritance: "if children, then heirs." Property descends because father and son are of one stock, one life: so "as many as received Christ, to them gave He the right to become children of God: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1: 12). But the Birth carries with it the inheritance. All are not apostles; all are not shining or eminent; all are not even spiritual or separated: but all [the regenerate] are heirs; - "if children, then heirs."
A son does not inherit his father's life - he already has that; he inherits his father's property: Here then is an inventory of the Will. "All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours" (1 Cor. 3: 21). Have you yet seen all things? The cattle on the thousand hills; the gold in all mines, the pearls in all oceans; the wealth and beauty of the Father's home: "all are yours." Moreover the Will bequeaths, not on leasehold, but in perpetuity; and this for two reasons. Heirs on earth often outlive, or squander, their inheritance; inheritances constantly outlive their heirs: but an inheritance "incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away" (1 Pet. 1: 4) must be in perpetuity for heirs who never die. "If ye have not been faithful in that which is another's" - all present wealth is a stewardship only - "who will give you that which is your own?" (Luke 16: 12): the true riches are personal and held for ever. So the Will bequeaths 'all things': it bequeaths it to all children: and it bequeaths it to them for ever.
The Will is unconditioned: in it is a Codicil, however, to which a condition is attached. "Heirs of God indeed" (men) - no condition, save regeneration - :"but (de) joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer" - 'in case we suffer as He did' (Olshausen); 'provided that we suffer' (Alford) - "with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him." (Si autem filii, et heredes: heredes quidem Dei, coheredes autem Christi: sitamen compatimur, ut et conglorificemur: Vulgate). Both heirships involve eternal life: but the Codicil, which bequeaths joint-heirship with Messiah in His millennial Reign, and bequeathes it on the same condition on which our Lord receives it (Phil. 2: 9; Heb. 1: 9; Isa. 53: 12), antedates the Will by a thousand years: it is "the reward of the inheritance" (Col. 3: 24), a legacy which entitles to an 'abundant entrance' into the Eternal Kingdom (2 Pet. 1: 11). Both heirships are offered to all: both Will and Codicil depend for their validity on the death of the Testator: but without the fulfilment of its condition, the Codicil is inoperative. "The suffering with Him must imply a pain due to our union" (Moule): "if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim. 2: 12): the Will is the unconditional bequest of free grace, the Codicil is a glory conditioned on identity of experience with Christ.
A legal proverb says, - "Living men have no heirs": the State requires proof of death before an estate can be inherited under a will. "For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is out of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all" - it is not valid - "while the testator liveth" (Heb. 9: 16). But this is God's last will and testament: when, then, did that death occur? The inheritance had become alienated from man by sin: a 'fugitive and a wanderer' from the gate of Eden, man became a disinherited soul: but God, in the Person of His Son "buyeth that field," so as to will it to whom He would; and He wills it to 'the called of the inheritance.' But what makes the Will valid? The death of the Testator. Jesus is now presenting the Blood to the Father, in proof of the Testator's death: the Will is therefore now operative: the Estate has been bought, and made over: the Title-deeds He has put into our hands: and at any moment we may enter on the Inheritance.
But the most amazing fact of all remains. Something like forty million sterling lies to-day in Chancery, unclaimed, for want of heirs: and 'heirs wanted' is a commonplace advertisement for these vast inheritances. The Gospel is such an advertisement. Through all the world God is sending an amazing cry of 'heirs of all things' wanted; it is the offer of untold wealth (1 Cor. 2: 9); and in the advertisement is to be found a careful description of the missing heirs. What is that identifying description? "Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit: the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood" (Rom. 3: 13). The heir of the Tichborne estates was known to have been careless, slovenly, ill-educated; and to prove his inheritance the claimant established his own careless, slovenliness, and ignorance. So only could he hope to obtain the inheritance. Is your name in God's Will? If you are a sinner, it is. We are not saved although we are sinners: we are saved because we are sinners. My sin is my sole identifying plea for a sin-bearing Saviour's merit, and the life which that merit brings: if you are a sinner, rejoice! your name is in the Will. "I came not to call the righteous, BUT SINNERS" (Mark 2: 17): "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was LOST" (Luke 19: 10).