By Dr Clifford Denton
In the West we tend to think of an inheritance as something that is passed on to us when someone dies. It is our right and we simply receive it. Inheritance from a Hebraic point of view is different. Receiving an inheritance is active, not passive.
This is best understood from Israel’s inheritance of the Promised Land. The Hebrew word for inherit is nachal. Joshua led the Children of Israel to inherit (nachal) the Land that God had promised to Abraham (Joshua 1:6).
It was a free gift that, nevertheless, had to be possessed and retained in partnership with God – “worked out” in a certain way. It was a free gift but it also required ongoing effort.
Just as Israel entered their rest the Promised Land so the writer to the Hebrews exhorts us to receive our inheritance of salvation in an active way. Salvation is a free gift from God through faith in Jesus and is matured through the working of the Holy Spirit.
It is through spiritual exercise that we become stronger in the Lord and in our personal salvation. This is how we can understand Paul’s exhortation to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Our walk with God (our inheritance) matures through Bible study, prayer and fellowship with others, thus growing in character as the Lord’s disciples, and ministering in his name according to the Holy Spirit working in us.
This is not work as the world knows it so much as active participation with the Holy Spirit.