This is a transition week in our study of Galatians. The repeating inclusive theme of Paul in this letter pulls on one last chord before things get personal. Paul’s message is designed to press us out of a binary framework so that we can actually understand and possess personal freedom.
The scandal of the Gospel is that God doesn’t act like we do. For far too long, religion has actually made God in its own image, fashioning a malleable figure, defined by theological constructs and then dangled high above our heads forcing us to look up. The deeply believed back story that stems from religion’s God-in-a-box is that He (always a he) is requiring people to pick his team…or else. When it comes to our ideas about inheritance, we once again, assume God will act just like us. We insist the inheritance of God is not shared.
Kleronoméo -Greek word for inherit or receive, i.e. something of value, gain possession or a share of a heritage, a part apportioned by “lot” (Klerōs /Kléōs) or chance.
It is vital that we lay this definition next to our assumption of what the author (in this case Paul) is talking about. I’m willing to bet that most people assume the inheritance is a future Heaven, as in “getting to go to Heaven.” Jesus and Paul use it the most, while Peter, James and the author of Hebrews use it less than four times. Scripture says we will inherit:
- The earth (3 times)
- Eternal Life (6 times)
- The Kingdom (12 times)
- The Sanctified/Saints (3 times)
- Name (once)
- Salvation (once)
- Promises (5 times)
- Heaven (once)
- God (3 times)
- Old Testament examples (3 times)
It’s important to understand that there aren’t ten inheritances, but a single inheritance which is the priceless share in God. All thirty-one uses in the New Testament are pointing to the reality of possessing God within, not really about getting to God one day. Heaven is not so much an eternity to which we are going, but an eternity from which we all live. Religion says only some of us go to heaven, but the scandal of the Gospel says that everyone gets a share of God. (Matthew 20:1-16)
“This mystery is that the Gentiles (non-religious sinners) are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:6)
This is Paul’s central message in all his writings, which we find focused in our Galatians study.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)
Paul makes a big deal in many of his writings about Abraham because he was the icon for the blessing and favor of God. He is also the icon of Judaism and in our times Islam and Christianity too. Paul proves that Abraham was not a religious man, (he predated the Law and could not have been a Jew). By the same token, he could not have been a Muslim or a Christian as moderns understand the term. By inference, we can now include Buddhism and Hinduism and any religion. The point is that Abraham is the father of faith in God apart from religion. And now, through Christ everyone is on equal footing, everyone is a person of faith, everyone receives this inheritance or share of God.
The Gospel means that what we call our enemy is actually our brother and sister. (No divisions between us, non-binary, inclusion, unity, family) The awake soul can identify with being overly righteous and proud, as well see him or herself as the most depraved or unconscious among us. Whether we have over done it, or under done it, we have each become The Offspring of Abraham and thus an heir to the blessing and favor of God. We are free from both extremes.
THIS IS PERSONAL FREEDOM!!
How does this work? How do we all receive the favor of God through Christ if half the world doesn’t even acknowledge Christ or frame it in a Christian way? Christ is not Jesus’ last name. Christ is the cosmic (quantum) power behind and through all things. Modern Christianity has mistakenly concluded that to be “in Christ” means we have subscribed to the Christian religion as understood today. To be in-Christ means we are aware of a power/force/or energy that is beyond us but somehow working through us. There isn’t a transaction to a religion, but a transformation of faith.
Abraham could not have accepted Jesus into his heart. Abraham could not have followed the five pillars of Islam. Abraham could not obey the ten commandments. Abraham could not follow the eight-fold path of Buddhism. Abraham was the archetype that predates institutional religion. “Abraham simply believed God (faith) and it was counted (logizomai-reasoned/ mental record, held a view, charge to an account) to him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:6, Romans 4:3, James 2:23) It’s that simple. The Gospel’s bar for salvation is much lower than any religion can appreciate.
Faith is to have a sense of something more and to go with it. (Hebrews 11:1-pragma)
How did Abraham have a belief in God? He was simply conscious, awake, aware, enlightened. He knew there was something more and he trusted it. Moderns might call it a “gut instinct” or “the little voice inside“. Scripture calls is Spirit/breath/wind (Pneuma) or The Word (Logos). It’s non-physical reality interacting with our physical reality (quantum matrix). Like you, Abraham didn’t have a name for it, nor a framework, nor a practice, it was simply belief. It’s basic awareness. It’s exactly what every one of us have and believe until either religion tries to reshape/control it, or the cares of the world talk us out of it.
“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations (heathen) be blessed.”“ (Galatians 3:8)
“…so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14)
Paul is calling the power to believe the work of Christ, or salvation, or the Kingdom, or the promise. In other words, faith is our inheritance. Faith is our share of God. Whether faith is the unexplored spark of heaven within, or the bedrock of a life of freedom, faith is the gift of God to all humanity, apart from religion.
“I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:17)
If Paul’s assumptions are true, then freedom becomes the hallmark of faith as a person matures and he is giving us a new lens (as an heir) through which to see the world. Freedom is not the evidence that a person is going to Heaven, freedom is the evidence that we’re already possess a share of God. Our focus is not an eternal destination, but the experience of freedom from institutional power on the outside and our shadow on the inside.