|Series Theme: Meditations in Ephesians|
Meditation No. 8
Meditation Title: Sealed with the Spirit
Eph 1:13,14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.
We often comment on ‘link words' that we find at the beginning of verses, so let's just note the starting word here, ‘and'. This says that our verses above are a clear continuation of thought in Paul's mind, a direct link with what has just gone before: “we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” (v.12). Put the two together and we find that Paul is referring to two groups of people: first the earliest believers, probably Jews, and second, those believers who came to the Lord through Paul's traveling ministry, now the Ephesians, probably mostly Gentiles. He is now about to appeal to their personal experience. It is good to enumerate principles, but it is better to be able to ground them in personal experience and so Paul is going to tie in what he has been saying with what they have experienced.
“you also were included in Christ.” The Gentiles have become part of the body of Christ. The church may have started with mostly Jews, but as it grows it will become, and has become, mostly Gentiles, for there are more of them in the world. These Gentiles came to Christ in exactly the same way as the Jews before them: “you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about truth. It is truth about our plight and it is truth about Jesus dying for us, and when it is received it brings God's salvation to us, the transforming of our lives and adoption as His children.
“Having believed.” Once we believed what we had heard, God moved in and did something very significant, that perhaps we now take for granted – or not! “You were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” Do you remember in an earlier meditation (No.4) we spoke about us being adopted, about how our adoption was being made legal. May we repeat exactly what we said then which applies even more now: The ‘legal action' that God took was first of all Jesus dying on the Cross to take your sin. Your ‘signing the legal document' was you surrendering your life to Him, confessing your sin, seeking forgiveness and committing your whole future life into His hands, for Him to be your Lord (which took place at what you call your conversion). God's seal of the ‘legal adopting agreement' was Him putting His Holy Spirit into you so that you were ‘born again' (Jn 3:3), but He did that so that you too are not only adopted by ‘legal action' but are now a being who also is a son by nature, because you are a God-person, a person with God in you!
Yes, the Holy Spirit is the ‘seal on the document', so to speak, a proof of what has happened. All of this, about Jesus dying for us and us coming to believe it, is not just fanciful belief. It is confirmed by what happened to us at conversion. Perhaps we take for granted (or deride) the phrase ‘being born again' that Jesus used with Nicodemus (Jn 3) but it is a work of God in our lives that brings real and genuine change because we have been empowered by His Holy Spirit to bring about what the Bible calls ‘a Christian'. If you are a nominal Christian, one by word only, one who thinks they are, and you have never had this experience, you have missed THE crucial experience of life that only comes when God sees our repentance is true and then responds by inputting His Spirit into us so that we are transformed. For most people when it happens it is a clear and distinctive experience, even if it is only being aware of the change. When I became a Christian, I prayed on my own before going to bed, then climbed into bed and went to sleep but when I woke in the morning, I just knew I was different and the rest, as they say, was history.
It is this Holy Spirit transforming that we can say is, “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.” When it happens we know we have been changed and this change helps us realise that all else God says about our future – our inheritance – is true as well! But it is only the start, for it will go on until the redemption of those who are God's possession. i.e. one day we who now belong to God will be redeemed in the sense of being taken to heaven. It is past, present and future. We have been redeemed (when we came to Christ), we are being redeemed (while he leads us through this life), and we will be redeemed (when we are taken to heaven).
“to the praise of his glory.” There it is again, that same reference to our lives bringing praise to the glory that God already has. When others see us being born again, there is praise for what God has just done. As others see our lives being transformed and filled with the grace of God, there will be praise for what God is doing. When we die and go to heaven, there will be praise for the life that God created. All throughout this there is praise to God and this praise just adds to His glory. If you were able to measure God's glory (and you can't!) there would be the glory that He had in being the Being that He is, that existed before he created anything that we know of as Creation, and then there would be the glory that is added because of all that He has done ever since He uttered those first words that brought this material existence into being, the praise that comes from seeing the wonder of His work of creation, and the praise that comes from seeing the wonder of His work in recreating us! We are part of the cause of God's glory. Let's worship Him!