Abinadi taught that anyone who has "heard" and "hearkens" to the words of the prophets, believes that "the Lord will redeem his people," and looks "forward to that day for a remission of their sins" are "his seed (and) the heirs of the kingdom of God" (Mosiah 15:11).
The Oxford English Dictionary defines "heir" as one who possesses, or is entitled at some future time to possess, any gift, endowment or quality in succession of another. An inheritance is something that one obtains or comes into possession of by right or divine grant or birthright. "In biblical use, as applied to persons, especially God's chosen people, as his possession; and to possessions or blessings, material or spiritual, as received or enjoyed by heirs" (OED).
What does it mean to be a joint-heir with Christ and how do we achieve this?
Jesus is God's chosen heir, "being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person" (Hebrews 1:3), and "being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (Philippians 2:6). Therefore, all things that the Father hath are "delivered unto his Son Jesus Christ" (Matthew 11:27) and He hath appointed his Son "heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:2).
While I think I can understand how Jesus is the heir of the Father, it is unfathomable to me the magnitude of the promise that we can become joint-heirs. And yet, this is the promise to us.
In the world, one becomes an heir in an involuntary way. That is, a person's becoming an heir is entirely dependent on the actions of others. In the spiritual context, while in the end a person can only become an heir through the grace of God (Moroni 10:32-33), nevertheless an indispensable aspect of becoming an heir requires personal faith in Christ, obedience to the commandments, submitting ourselves to God's will and enduring to the end. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14).
As we learn from Abinadi and as reinforced by Paul, we become heirs by "righteousness which is by faith" in Christ (Hebrews 11:7).Thus, "he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; and he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father's kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him" (D&C 84:37-38). And, if we enter into that covenant we are "Christ's, (and) Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29).
Joseph A. Cannon is editor of the Deseret News.