The Securing Life of the Spirit
The Securing Life of the Spirit
We have seen two of the three stanzas of Paul’s massive, magnificent trinitarian hymn as found in Ephesians 1:3-14. In 1:3-6, we saw the Special Love of the Father that purposed that a chosen people should experience eternal life beginning in time and continuing into eternity. We saw in chapter 1:6-12, the Sacrificial Labors of the Son as he paid the expense of eternal life for the vast number of people the Father had given him. In this study, we will consider the Securing Life of the Holy Spirit which produces the personal experience of eternal life in the hearts of God’s elect and guarantees their eternal life in Heaven.
The Holy Spirit is that Person of the Holy Trinity who comes directly in touch with us in life and experience. He is the only God on the earth. The Holy Spirit is the One who brings the life of the age to come into our hearts. His indwelling, infilling presence produces the power, energy, illumination, inspiration, and enablement of the Triune God to each of us, individually and corporately. For this reason we should be ever mindful that our adversary, the Devil and his demons are not at all adverse to our having intellectually orthodox views of the Holy Spirit, but he is clearly against our becoming personally, intimately, and continuously involved with Him in our lives.
The word “Spirit” is used twelve times in Ephesians, which is more than in any other of Paul’s letters.
I. The Indispensable Power of the Holy Scriptures – 1:13
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,”
A. The Word of the Scriptures Reveals the Way of Salvation – 1:13
Col 1:5, “because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,”
Pay close attention to what Paul is saying in 1:12, “so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” Who were “the first to hope in Christ?” The Jews. But now they have been joined by “you also” - that is to say, by Gentile believers. It is to Gentile believers that this letter is specifically addressed, assuring them that their share in God’s heritage is as full and firm as that of their brothers and sisters of Jewish birth. Gentiles also heard the gospel, and realized that the salvation of which it spoke was for them as well as for Jews. The gospel is “the message of truth” - “the true message of the gospel,” as it is called in Col.1:5 - because it has God for its author; it is “the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1).
Ephesians 1:13 reveals that there are three basic facts in the history of every saved soul:
1. They heard the word of truth, i.e., the Gospel of King Jesus. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Roms. 10:17). “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Roms. 10:14) At this point in the process of being saved, the individual is active because the Holy Spirit has unstopped their spiritual ears so they are enabled to listen and hear. At the same time, the Spirit of God convicts and convinces him of the integrity and necessity of what he is hearing.
2. They believe in Christ and trust Him alone for salvation. “He that believes on Him is not condemned.” “He that believes on the Son hath everlasting life.” At this point also, though he will not and cannot believe without a miracle of the Holy Spirit, the individual is active; he exercises Holy Spirit given faith in Christ. Believing is the precedent for the sealing, and the believing and the sealing always go together. A word of caution is necessary here. There is both a theological and a chronological order with regard to the believing and the sealing. In “theological order,” there is a sequence. One theologian, in an excellent book on the work of the Holy Spirit, says that the sealing comes “next after faith.” However, in “chronological order,” the believing and the sealing are simultaneous. The two verbs may be regarded as two sides of the same event. There is no sealing without believing, and there is no true believing without sealing.
- They were sealed with and by the Holy Spirit. At this point, the believer is completely passive - “you were sealed” from outside yourself. When you did the part God required and enabled you to do – hearing and believing - He did the other, i.e., sealing you. This takes place at the moment of conversion. The believer is positioned in Christ by grace through faith and sealed there by the Holy Spirit. The moment you were saved, you were simultaneously sealed in Christ..
II. The Indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit - 1:13b-14
“…were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
The Holy Spirit, in verses 13 and 14 is given three designations - a "promise", a "seal' and a “guarantee”.
Paul affirms that every believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit, who Himself is the seal. Then later he prays for the Ephesians to be "strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit" (Eph. 3:16). The Spirit of God is dwelling in believers. Paul affirms this in several ways in Romans 8, saying, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him" (Rom 8:9), and "The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children" (Rom 8:16). In Ephesians 4 Paul writes, "Don't grieve God's Holy Spirit.” You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption" (Eph 4:30). God has sealed us and will keep us until the day of redemption. Then in 2 Cors. 1:22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Consider with me five different aspects of the sealing of the Holy Spirit:
- The Seal Indicates the Security of a Finished Transaction
Sealed is in the aorist tense which is a past completed action. The passive voice signifies that the subject – believers - are acted upon by an outside force or power – the God. The indicative mood is the mood of certainty which states a thing as being a fact - the point is that every believer receives the Holy Spirit the moment he or she believes.
This believing and sealing is the subjective and the objective sides of salvation. The great Gospel hymn shows both sides: “‘Tis done! The great transaction’s done; I am my Lord’s, and He is mine; He drew me, and I followed on, Charmed to confess the Voice Divine.”
Another hymn shows the same two sides with different emphasis: “It is finished, what a Gospel! Nothing has been left to do But to take with grateful gladness What the Lord has done for you.”
When any person commits himself to Christ as his Savior because of the mighty convicting and convincing work of the Holy Spirit, God seals him with His Holy Spirit as His guarantee to carry out the transaction, to deliver him in good order in the last day. In conversion, the believer receives and believes the testimony of God and “sets his seal to the fact that God is true” (John 3:33). At that moment, God also sets His seal upon the believer that he is true. The Christian says “Amen” to God and His truth, and God says “Amen” to the Christian and his faith.
How long is a Christian saved? Until they commit certain sins? Until they quit believing? Until they feel condemned and unsaved? NO! Until the Unto – Eph 1:14, in the KJV reads: “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Eph. 4:30 (KJV), “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
The work which His goodness began the arm of His strength will complete; His promise is yes and amen and never was forfeited yet!
2. The Seal Confirms the Authenticity of Ownership – 2 Tim. 2:19 - “But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
The seal also spoke of authenticity. For example, when king Ahab tried unsuccessfully to get Naboth to sell or trade his vineyard, his wicked wife Jezebel volunteered to get the vineyard her way. We read that she wrote letters in her husband's name and sealed them with his personal seal (1 Kings 21:6-16). She mailed the defamatory letters to various high-ranking officials who lived in Naboth's city and demanded that they begin a whispering campaign against him. She wanted them to accuse the man of God of blasphemy and treason.
When God gives us his Holy Spirit, it is as if he stamps us with a seal that bears the inscription: (Wade Trimmer) belongs to me and is an authentic citizen of my divine kingdom and accredited member of my divine family.
The seal also represents ownership. When Jerusalem was under siege by Nebuchadnezzar and Jeremiah was under arrest, the Lord gave special instructions to his servant. He told him in Jeremiah 32 to buy a plot of land in Anathoth for which he had redemption rights. The contract was agreed and the full amount was paid in the normal way. In the presence of the witnesses, the deed was signed and sealed. That meant Jeremiah was the new owner of the property.
When the Holy Spirit seals us, he marks us out as God's own possession. We are under new ownership. Under new management. The seal of the Spirit thereby declares the transaction of salvation as divinely official and final. From that moment we belong entirely and eternally to him.
In ancient Ephesus, the timber business was a majority export. A buyer would be sent forth out into the forest where he would cruise the timber and select which trees he wanted. He would then remove some of the bark and drive the seal of the owner indelibly into the chosen trees. After being sealed, sawn, and secured, they would be bound together with vast numbers of other trees and floated down the Mediterranean Sea to the designated port. Though the trip was turbulent, they never went under the rough waters. The owner would go to the port and as the logs were lifted out, he looked for his seal, then said this one and this one, and this one, is mine. Beloved we have been marked out to make it in!
- The Seal Reveals the Similarity of the Family Image
2 Cors. 3:3, “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
John 6:27, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
A seal imparts its own likeness to the object that is sealed. The exact image that is engraved on the seal is impressed on the thing sealed or transferred to the person sealed. The seal stamped a certain image upon the object that was purchased and owned. Thus the Holy Spirit impresses on the soul now the image of Jesus Christ - and this is the sure pledge of the everlasting inheritance. It is by the presence and inner work of His Holy Spirit that Christian believers are progressively made to bear the likeness of their Lord.
When a Christian is sealed by the Holy Spirit, sealed as the property of his Master, there should be no need to ask, “Whose image and superscription is this” upon the “sealed” one. Why, of course, it is the Master’s image! The believer was “predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God” (Romans 8:29).
Of what use is a seal if it cannot be seen? Is the King’s Image visibly, permanently stamped upon you? If there is no apparent similarity at all between yourself and Jesus, then you should regard yourself as lost and should come to God through Christ for salvation today. And frankly, there is a great deal more likeness between many churchgoers and Satan than between them and Jesus. It is true of every genuine believer that he is progressively becoming more and more like Christ. This is so because, at the day of his conversion, he received the stamped image of Jesus and is day by day becoming more receptive to the continuing impress of Jesus Christ received from the seal of the Spirit. The glorious truth is that God wants to make you on the model of His Son, and this He does by stamping you with the image of Jesus through the Holy Spirit and bringing you day by day into a closer conformity to the “measure of the stature of the Christ.”
- The Seal Indicates the Dignity of Delegated Authority
The seal signifies authority. In ancient times the seal of a king, a prince, or some other dignitary represented security and it spoke of that which could not be violated.
For example, at the request of the Pharisees, Pilate had the tomb of Jesus sealed. Mat 27:66, “So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.” This was done by fastening the stone in its place with cords, and bringing them together and uniting them with wax, and impressing on that the seal of the king. To tamper with our break the seal was to challenge the authority of the most powerful government on the earth at that time.
For us as believers, the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence in us is our guarantee that we have been sealed with an authority that cannot be tampered with, taken from us, or treated as worthless without eternal consequences. Be careful how you treat the King of King’s property!
- The Seal Produces Joy in Knowing that the Token Payment is but a Foretaste of What is to Come
Eph 1:14, “ Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (KJV). In giving the Holy Spirit to us our Father God is not simply promising us our final inheritance but actually providing us with a foretaste of it, even if it is only a small fraction of the future endowment.
The goal of our inheritance is the wonderful theme of this verse. We have a fascinating picture of the Holy Spirit as a deposit (arrabon). The general drift of Paul's insight on this aspect of his ministry is that Holy Spirit is a down payment.
The “earnest” is like that part of a man’s wages which may be given to him in advance when he is employed; it is a portion of the whole possession, the same in kind, but a very tiny portion, which carries with it the assurance of full possession. Or it is like a bridegroom’s gift-in-advance given to his bride-to-be, such as an engagement ring, or a gratuitous offering or offering given before the wedding day, to show his serious pledge of intent to fully carry out “the full engagement” of marriage!
The Holy Spirit is not only proof of our position in Christ, but he is also the pledge of our possessions in Christ. He not only confirms our faith, but he also confirms our future. He not only guarantees our eternal security, but he also guarantees our eternal satisfaction.
Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine. The best is always ahead for the child of God!
Let me challenge you to pour over and ponder the “all spiritual blessings which Father God has blessed us with:To sum up Eph. 1:3-14. We have:
- An Election that can never be Annulled - chosen in Him -Eph 1:4
- A Relationship that can never be Severed - unto the adoption of children - 1:5
- An Acceptance that will never be Rejected - accepted in the Beloved - 1:6
- A Redemption that can never be Challenged - through His blood -1:7
- A Forgiveness that will never be Rescinded - the forgiveness of sins - 1:7
- An Abundance that can never be Exhausted - He has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence - 1:8
- A Revelation that will never be Superseded - the mystery of His will -1:9
- An Inheritance that can never Fade Away - we have obtained an inheritance -1:11,14
- A Seal that can never be Dissolved - sealed with the Holy Spirit - 1:13
- A Pledge that will never be Dishonored - the earnest of the Spirit - 1:14
Hallelujah! Glory to God in the highest! We’re rich with blessings that no amount of money can buy!
other sermons in this series