SEALED WITH THE SPIRIT – Ephesians 1:13-14
Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on February 15, 2017 under AM Bible Study |
AM Bible Study Group; February 15, 2017 from Ephesians 1:13-14
Theme: In this passage, Paul shows us how the Holy Spirit seals us, as the property of God through Christ, unto full salvation.
(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).
We live in a culture that believes strongly in the individual assertion of ‘self-ownership’. “I am mine—and I belong to no one else.” And if this is the case, then it is truly a sad state of affairs; because if we are our own ‘owners’, then there is not much hope for us beyond ourselves. (In fact, since the Bible tells us in Jeremiah 10:23 that “the way of man is not in himself” and that “It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps”; we’d have to say that any human being that owns themselves has a fool for an owner!)
The idea itself isn’t true, however. There’s a sense in which it isn’t true for the unbeliever who insists that it is. The apostle Peter, for example, spoke of false teachers and false prophets who he says are “even denying the Lord who bought them” (2 Peter 2:1). We are made by Him; and He has ‘Creator rights’ over all—whether they accept it or not. But it especially isn’t true of the believer. She or he is uniquely marked as belonging to God through Christ in a wonderful way.
In the first chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul had been speaking of the ministry of the three Persons of the Trinity in our salvation. He spoke of the ministry of the Father (vv. 4-6), and then of the Son (vv. 7-12). And now, He highlights the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And as we see in verses 13-14, it is the unique role of the Holy Spirit to mark the believer as belonging to God through Christ—even sealing that believer unto full salvation in eternal glory.
Note first …
I. THE MEANS THROUGH WHICH THE SPIRIT WORKS IN US (v. 13a).
Paul had just spoken of the ministry of Jesus. And with Jesus still in mind, He writes, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation …” The “you” who is presented having “also trusted” are the Gentile believers to whom he wrote. What a wonderful thing! They too, though once far apart from the covenants of promise given to the Jewish people, are nevertheless brought near by faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:11-13). And it was through the hearing of the “word of truth”, which is the “gospel” (the proclamation of “good news”) that they came to trust in Jesus. It is, as Paul says, “the ‘good news’ of your salvation”.
Paul labored with great confidence in that gospel. He told the Roman believers, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). This “gospel of Christ” is simply the story of who Jesus is and what He did for us (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-11); and Paul felt a great privilege in preaching it—particularly to the Gentiles (see Ephesians 3:8). We should feel a great privilege in sharing it too, by the way; because it is by this gospel—the same one that Paul proclaimed—that we become instruments by which the Holy Spirit bears this soul-saving, life-transforming message to others as well as to ourselves!
Now; this gospel of Jesus Christ—the word of truth—is the means through which the Holy Spirit worked in our lives. He does not work to the salvation of lost people in any way except by the hearing of the gospel (see Romans 10:17). And having saved us, note further …
II. THE ACTION BY WHICH THE SPIRIT SECURES US (v. 13b).
Having heard the gospel—by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit—a lost sinner believes on Jesus, “in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” The Spirit is possibly called “the Holy Spirit of promise” because He was given to us by the promise of Jesus Himself (see John 7:37-39; 14:15-17; 15:26; 16:13-15; Acts 1:4, 8); but it may also be because He is the one who marks us for the certainty of God’s promises to us in Christ of future glory. As Paul affirms, “having believed”, the Holy Spirit then “seals” or serves as the mark of God’s ownership of us.
There are at least two wonderful results of this ministry of the Spirit. First of all, the work of the Spirit in sealing us makes Him the assuring guarantee that we truly belong to God. In 2 Corinthians 1:22, Paul wrote that God “has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee”; and God won’t ever let one of His clearly-marked ‘possessions’ be lost to Him. But second, this work of the Holy Spirit in sealing us also calls us to live differently. By His presence in us, we are marked as belonging to God forever through Christ; therefore, Paul writes later in this letter, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit, in sealing us for the day of glory, reminds us to live now like what we are!
This leads Paul to write further of …
III. THE THING BY WHICH THE SPIRIT IS SYMBOLIZED FOR US (v. 14a).
Paul affirms that the Holy Spirit is He “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession …” First note that the Holy Spirit is a “guarantee”; that is, “a down-payment”. In business, when you make a down-payment on something, you are making a payment that is the contractual guarantee that the full amount will be paid. A ‘down-payment’ is as good as a promise of payment-in-full. Second, note that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee “of our inheritance”. This could mean that we are sharers together in the rich inheritance of Jesus, and are guaranteed by the Holy Spirit to receive it in due time (see 1:11); but it could also speak of the fact that we, ourselves, are the inheritance of Jesus. We are the “joy that was set before Him” in enduring the cross (Hebrews 12:2); and He rejoices in “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18); and the Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will be His in heaven “until the redemption of the purchased possession”.
What a wonder! We are God’s treasured possession in Christ! What a sense of value this should give us! The fact that our body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit” means we are not our own; for we have been “bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We are Christ’s (1 Corinthians 3:23). “Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8). And it is the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, who abides with us forever, that is the sure assurance that we will—one day—enter into the full possession of the purchased possession.
And finally, note …
IV. THE RESULT UNTO WHICH THE SPIRIT BRINGS US (v. 14b).
Just as was true in the case of the work of the Father for us (v. 6), and of the work of the Son on our behalf (v. 12), the work of the Holy Spirit—in guaranteeing us for God’s destiny for us—is “to the praise of His glory”.
* * * * * * * * * *
Isaiah 43:21 says, “This people I have formed for Myself: they shall declare My praise.” How grateful we should be that the Holy Spirit makes this an absolute certainty! How we should praise Him! How we should live faithfully now for the destiny to which the Holy Spirit seals us!