There was a time when it was common for a father to make his son the heir of his property, or say, the partner in his business. Even though this was promised when he was young, it could not happen until the son ‘came of age’, or until a date arrived (set by the father) when the son was a mature man. Only then would the grocery store, for example, become ‘John Brown and Son’.
Paul is using this illustration to show us another great truth. Until you become a Christian, you are like the child who has not yet grown up. You are immature. You cannot know or understand the value and importance of all the blessings that God has designed for you. You have not yet ‘come of age’.
So long as you are not converted, you are no better off than a child being looked after by a nanny. As far as enjoying the things that have been promised to you, being a child is a real bind—it’s a real bondage! Nanny is better off than you are!
Now Paul says that God has His time. He has long ago promised certain blessings to us. But they come to us when His set time is right. Read verses 4-5. God had a set time for Christ to come. He had a set time in history for the cross. God also has a set time for each person to come to know Him.
In our case, that set time involves us in becoming members of His family. He accepts us as His mature sons and daughters. We are incorporated into His family. Verses 6-7 tell us three important things about this new relationship.
The Bible has a lot to say about Christians being heirs. It also talks about Christians being joint-heirs with Christ. He is the heir. We are heirs because we are in Him.
God has promised that we will receive an inheritance. But what is it? When do we receive it? Look up the following verses, and write down all the things that you see we will inherit, and what would prevent someone from receiving the inheritance.
It’s important to understand that Jesus Christ has a right to be God’s heir and to receive the inheritance. We do not. We enjoy this wonderful prospect and promise only by God’s grace. It is only because He has brought us into His family that we are joint-heirs with Christ. But we are heirs only because of Christ, and through Him.