Summary: God’s Spirit seals us in Christ to serve the will of God and to bring others into the fold
I would like start out today’s message just a bit differently by jumping right into the text. So, how about we open our Bible’s and read again the Epistle for the day — Ephesians 1:3-14. READ EPHESIANS 1:2-14.
This morning we’re going to focus on verses 11-14. Specifically, we’re going to look at what it means for us to be sealed by the Holy Spirit for God’s purpose. But first, allow me to preface with this:
This one passage has dumbfounded millions of people over the centuries. We can do our best to get our collective minds around Paul’s words. But beyond our limited understanding, there’s a deeper mystery going on I’m not sure any of us can really wrap our minds around. And that’s this: God chose and predestined us before we are ever born, and set us aside — sealed us if you will — for his purposes, and the redemption of the lost.
Now, as Lutherans, we have historically tied this passage and it’s mysteries to our practices of infant baptism. For, while we do not believe baptism itself saves us from our sins; we do believe, however, a deeper mystery exists within our baptism— in so much that the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and seals us for a later confirmation of faith, and a life of holiness and service to God.
Like many of you, I was baptized into the faith as an infant. On April 27, 1969 my parents had me baptized at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. In the Lutheran tradition, the Pastor would have made the sign of the cross on my forehead and said: “Receive the sign of the holy cross, in token that henceforth thou shalt know the Lord, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.” Now, from this point, he would have charged my parents to “diligently and faithfully.” And, here’s the list:
taught me the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer
Encouraged me to read and know God’s Holy Word
Bring me to church on Sundays for worship, fellowship, and to provide for my instruction in the Christian faith.
And lastly, that they would bring me up so that I would lead a godly life until Jesus returns.
Now, near the conclusion of my baptism, the Pastor would have said: “Almighty and everlasting God…. Grant unto this child now to be baptized, the fullness of thy grace, that he may ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. That last little bit about “the elect” is the key word in the sentence.
In a more modern way, as is written in the green Lutheran Book of Worship —“Jason Bonnicksen, child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”
Like most of you, my parents and the church instructed me into the ways of the faith. And like many of you, In my ninth grade year, I pledged my confirmation of faith before God and the church. However, despite all this, I ran away from God and the faith as fast as I could when I left home after I graduated from high school. I bet some of you can relate.
Yet, despite my running, God had his hand on me the whole time. No matter how much I ran, God said or did things that steered my life back to his. I could tell you story-after-story of how God did this. Likewise, I bet some of you could tell me story-after-story as well.
But why does God do this? The reasons are many. The Bible tells us God chases us because he loves us and wants us in a growing and saving relationship with him. Still, beyond all of this, the reasons I believe God chases us down is because we are sealed for his purposes at the time of our baptism — even thought we were only passive participants at the time.
As passive participants in our baptism, God is the one who actively seals us for his greater purposes by the power of his Holy Spirit. But what is the purpose? It’s this: God’s Spirit seals us in Christ to serve the will of God and to bring others into the fold.
But this doesn’t answer the question of how we are sealed and as important, how we’re to respond. So with that, let’s take a look. But, let’s first hear what Paul said about God choosing us before we’re sealed in Christ Jesus. LET’S READ VV 11-12 AGAIN.