The other day, I heard Pastor Barkef Osigian exposit Gal 3:15-29. He pointed out that the word promise occurs eight times in those verses. Barkef’s message got me to do some thinking and write this blog.
The word promise occurs thirty times in Paul’s epistles.
He refers to promises, plural, six times (Rom 9:4; 15:8; 2 Cor 1:20; 7:1; Gal 3:16, 21). These promises refer to the various promises God made to Abraham and his descendants: the land promise, the chosen people promise, the promise to bless all the nations of the world through Abraham, which is the promise of justification by faith alone, apart from works (Gen 12:1-3; Gal 3:8).
What promise was foremost in Paul’s mind in his epistles? It can be seen in Gal 3:15-29 and many of the other twenty-four references to a singular promise. It was the promise of justification by faith alone, apart from works (e.g., Gal 3:14, 17, 18, 19, 22, 29; 4:23, 28).
That promise is essentially the same as the promise of everlasting life to whoever believes in Jesus for it (John 3:6; Gal 1:11-12; 3:21; 2 Tim 1:1).
All believers have a guaranteed future inheritance (Gal 3:18, 29). All believers are “heirs of God” (Rom 8:17a). But only believers who persevere in faith and good works will be “joint heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17b; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5).
I call the inheritance all believers are guaranteed to receive passive inheritance. Once we believe in Jesus for everlasting life, we are guaranteed to have glorified bodies and be part of His kingdom forever. But to rule with Christ in the life to come and have the rewards that all rulers will have (e.g., special white garments, the right to the tree of life, the hidden manna), we must be overcomers in this life. That inheritance, often called inheriting the kingdom, I like to call active inheritance. It is not guaranteed (cf. 1 Cor 9:24-27; 2 Tim 4:6-8).
What promises that God has made are most precious to you?