Today, we are going to look at a topic that does not receive much attention but is a source of great blessing and encouragement. I want us to look at the Holy Spirit as He fulfills His roles as a seal and a pledge.
Our text is Ephesians 1:13-14, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."
The First chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians congregation details the blessings that are shared by all who are “in Christ.” Paul begins our passage by reminding the Ephesians that they entered Christ after hearing the Gospel of salvation. After listening, they believed the message of truth and their belief led them to enter Christ.
Now, we know from other Scriptures that Paul is implying more than just ‘belief’ as their appropriate response to the Gospel.
Let me bring to your attention Galatians 3:26, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Does Paul teach here that only belief is required to become children of God? No, the faith Paul is speaking of is a belief that leads to obedient action. We know this because he explains it in Verse 27, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Now we see that the faith of verse 26 includes baptism as explained in verse 27. The only way that one enters ‘into’ Christ is when one’s belief in the Gospel leads them to obey the Gospel by being baptized.
After the Ephesians responded appropriately to the Gospel message, they “were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” The Holy Spirit is referred to as being “the Spirit of promise” because He is promised to those who obey the Gospel. Acts 2:38-39, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.’" (See also, John 7:37-39; Acts 5:32).
The Holy Spirit is a Seal.
What does Paul mean when he says that the Spirit is a “seal”?
It was customary among all nations, when a person purchased goods of any kind, to mark with his seal that which he had bought, in order that he might know it, and be able to claim it if mixed with the goods of others. Thus, the seal is a mark of ownership.
It is important to note that Paul doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit seals us but that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit Himself is God’s seal showing that we belong to Him.
This is consistent with what is said, in Romans 8:9, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
The presence of the indwelling Spirit is a testimony that we belong to God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 emphasizes this point - “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
The Spirit is God’s seal that we have become and will remain His adopted children. Romans 8:15, “You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’" Galatians 4:6, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’"
Even though we belong to God, now, as His dear children, we are sealed until the day that God takes full possession of us - which is called the Day of Redemption. Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
It is of great comfort to us to know that God knows those who are His. It provides a firm foundation for our confidence and peace. 2 Timothy 2:19, “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His.’”
2. The Holy Spirit is the Pledge of Our Inheritance.
Due to our being adopted into the family of God, in Christ, we are heirs of the inheritance established by God. Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God.”
But, the seal of the Spirit of adoption does more than bear witness that we are children of God. The indwelling Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance. As 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, says, He “sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”
But, what exactly does that mean - “pledge of our inheritance.”
The Greek term for pledge - arrabon - means “the first or initial payment of money or assets, as a guarantee for the completion of a transaction.” Another Greek expert says it describes the “first installment, deposit, down payment, pledge, that pays a part of the purchase price in advance.” Still another, “money which in purchase is given as a pledge that the full amount will subsequently be paid.”
The Holy Spirit is given to us as God’s down payment and guarantee that He will give us our full inheritance in the future. It is meant to be the “proof” that God will fulfill His promises to give us our eternal inheritance.
But, Paul says, the pledge of the Spirit is “with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”
God has already redeemed our soul from sin but the redemption spoken of here is the redemption of the body from corruption. As Romans 8:23 says, "we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
The pledge is a pledge until the day when God welcomes us, His adopted children, into His eternal home with our resurrected, glorified bodies. Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.”
The Holy Spirit, and the blessings He brings into our spiritual lives now, is but a partial payment of the greater blessings to come -
The fellowship we experience with the Spirit now is just a first installment of the greater fellowship we will enjoy with the Lord in His presence in Heaven.
The joy we experience by the Spirit now is but a first installment of the greater joy we will experience in Heaven.
The inward peace we have through the Spirit now is but a first installment of the greater peace we will experience in Heaven.
The “the love of God [that] has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” now is but a first installment of the love that shall enrapture us in Heaven.
This is all according to God’s plan “to the praise of His glory.”
I don’t know about you, but I find that being sealed by the Spirit and having Him as God’s pledge of my glorious eternal inheritance is a source of great encouragement and delight.