Summary: How do we know that God is serious when He gives us all these promises? In the first chapter of Ephesians alone we have seen a multitude of blessings which God has said He has already given us. How do we know it's really true?
Ephesians: Our Identity In Christ
Sealed By The Spirit
13. 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,
14. 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. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Like me, most of you have experienced the American Dream, or maybe we should call it the American Nightmare, of coming up with the down payment to buy a house. It is a common practice in house buying that a certain amount of earnest money be deposited. The reason it is called earnest money is because the owners need to know if you are "in earnest." If they are going to take their house off the market, they need to know you are serious. It seems to be a reasonable request. After you have deposited your earnest money, if someone were to ask the owners of the house how they knew you were serious, they would simply point to the deposit.
How do we know that God is serious when He gives us all these promises? In the first chapter of Ephesians alone we have seen a multitude of blessings which God has said He has already given us. How do we know it's really true? How do we really know God is in earnest?
There is so much that God has done for us. In Ephesians 1:3 we read that God has "blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." In 1:4 it says that "He chose us in Him." In 1:5 we read that "He predestined us to adoption as sons." In 1:6 it says that "He freely bestowed on us" His grace. In fact, in 1:8 it says that "He lavished upon us" this grace. In 1:7 it says that He redeemed us and that He forgave us. In 1:9 we find that "He made known to us the mystery of His will." In 1:11 we find that in Christ "we have obtained an inheritance." And these are just a few of the things God claims to have done for us. There are hundreds more promises found elsewhere in His Word. Is this real? Is He in earnest? How can we know?
To be assured of this truth, that God really means what He says, would certainly be life-adjusting, to say the least. I need to know. You need to know. We all need to know for certain. We need to know in our "knower." We need more than merely academic information. We need an experiential knowledge that we are accepted, and that God's promises are sure.
How can you experientially know that you are a child of God and that the inheritance of God's eternal riches of grace is yours in Christ? Well, according to our text, we can know because God has given us a guarantee! This guarantee is in the form of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit is given both as a guarantee and a foretaste of eternal glory. By experiencing His presence in our lives, we can be confident and encouraged in all God has said. In this passage of Scripture, we will see that the Holy Spirit is the down payment, or earnest payment, to show God is serious and that His Word to us is true.
Ghost or God?
There is an interesting encounter recorded in Acts 19. There the apostle Paul encountered some so-called disciples. In verse 2 we read that he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" Their reply was interesting, and unfortunately, it is also indicative of many in the church today. They said in reply, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."
I have found that it is true that many Christians today live as though the Holy Spirit doesn't exist. The Holy Spirit tends to be ignored in many circles. Why? Perhaps there are several reasons. It could be true that He is ignored because many don't understand much about the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they were never taught. Perhaps those who are teaching them were never taught themselves. It also seems, because of some of the excesses in some quarters, that many are simply afraid of the Holy Spirit. As a result many believers are woefully uninformed about the nature and value of the Holy Spirit's work today. This is unfortunate because the Holy Spirit is vital to the life of every believer.
But who is this Holy Spirit? In the King James Version of the Scriptures, He is called the "Holy Ghost." To our modern minds, this brings forth all sorts of images. Our idea of a ghost is not quite what biblical writers had in mind when referring to the Holy Spirit. You see, the Holy Spirit is not ghost, but God. He is the third person of the Trinity. The Trinity consists of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are one in essence and in purpose. They are co-equal. They are three expressions of the triune God.