In the 18th/19th centuries, it was by receiving the Kings/Queens shilling that you were signed up to become a soldier. Many, who were poor, uneducated and even criminal, were made promises, made drunk and press-ganged into service. When they sobered up the next morning, they found the shilling that had been dropped into their beer jugs and thus found themselves ‘volunteering’ for military service.
This wasn’t always true of Riflemen, as they were ‘chosen men’, sometimes poached from among the other regiments – often in large numbers from a single militia – on the promise of real soldiering, good pay and adventure on foreign shores. For many, this was far more appealing than the square bashing, pointless discipline and boredom they were used to and not enjoying very much.
When receiving the Kings Shilling, you are purchased for service, but you are not yet a fully trained and experienced soldier. When buying a house, you pay a deposit as a guarantee that the house will become yours, even though you haven’t moved in yet. When a person becomes a Christian, they likewise receive a ‘down payment’ or a ‘deposit’ whereby we have been guaranteed to become all that we will become. The Bible uses purchasing language to describe this transaction:
“When you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people.”Ephesians 1:13-14
The deposit received is the Holy Spirit. He lives in us. This helps and guides us in the new life we have entered into and acts as our ‘guarantee’. The important and most exciting part, however, is that there is more to come: when we are finished in this life, we will receive a full ‘inheritance’. This gives us a new body, in a renewed world, without evil and we become the sum of all our inner longing (that in this life is that thing which motivates almost all our ambitions). This is a real source of hope to the Christian, that however difficult life becomes, we have the hope of a very bright tomorrow. All this was ‘purchased’ for us by what Jesus achieved on the Cross and we get all of it by believing in Him for the forgiveness of our sins.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 6:23
When a person received the Kings Shilling, he was destined to become a soldier. When a person receives Christ, he receives The King’s Spirit (The Holy Spirit), is able to enjoy a close relationship with God and is destined to receive an eternal inheritance, when this life is finished.
“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.”Philippians 1:21
* Inheritance – this is what the Christian gets at the end of life. It’s exactly the same idea as when someone receives an inheritance from their parents. Only, in this case, the parent is God and the inheritance is when we get to live forever in a place God has prepared for us.