SALVATION IN EPHESIANS

#10 SEALED BY GOD'S SPIRIT

 When Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus about the salvation they have in Christ he repeatedly referred to the fact that both Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians possessed, in Christ, identical salvation. In fact, as he states in Ephesians 1:10 and at length later in his letter, that this unity of Jew and Gentile in Christ, as the one people of God, was God's 'mystery', God's eternal purpose, once hidden, but now revealed in the Gospel.

Paul makes a particular point that part of that common salvation in Christ, enjoyed by both Jew and Gentile, is the indwelling Spirit of God. He states in Ephesians 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'.

It is as if Paul is answering the question: 'How do we know this is all true, Paul? How do we Gentiles know that we, as well as you Jews, are actually sharers in the grand and glorious salvation that is in Christ?'

Paul's statement about the Holy Spirit contains three points generating assurance and certainty:

[1] 'You were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit'. An official 'seal' was, and still is, an authenticating mark, indicating the authority of the one whose seal it is. Here Paul teaches that God, the One in ultimate authority,  marked those who are in Christ with his 'seal', and that seal , that authenticating mark, is the Holy Spirit, promised by God in the Old Testament prophets, and promised by Christ in John 14 to 16 to all who believe. By this seal God marks us as his own - belonging to him, under his power and authority. The indwelling Holy Spirit is God declaring: This person is mine. This person has my mark of ownership upon him.

[2] The Holy Spirit 'is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession'. A deposit is a downpayment made as an indication of good faith and good intention; it indicates that there is more to come. This deposit, the Holy Spirit, guarantees the fulness and completeness of salvation to those who are in Christ. We are even now redeemed from sin's penalty and from Satan's kingdom, but we are not yet redeemed from the presence of sin and suffering. That redemption is yet to come. Both our present spiritual redemption from sin's penalty and Satan's kingdom, and our future physical redemption from the presence of sin and suffering are guaranteed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 Paul writes elsewhere of similar strong assurance generated by the Holy Spirit:

Romans 8:15-17: 'You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.' Here we understand that the indwelling Spirit replaces fear and uncertainty in the presence of God with confident awareness of acceptance and love, assuring us that we are indeed God's children. Here we also read of the sure expectation of future glory generated by the Spirit. [See a similar reference in Galatians 4:6-7.]

2 Corinthians 1:21-22: 'Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.'  Both Jew and Gentile, Paul says, stand firm because of the indwelling Spirit. The Holy Spirit is here described in terms of [1] God anointing us, that is marking us out as his own; [2] God putting his seal of ownership on us; [3] God's deposit; and [4] God guaranteeing what is to come.

We need to be careful here that we do not allow contemporary perceptions about the Spirit to rob us of the power of Paul's teaching. What Paul is teaching us here is not some personal experience of the Spirit that we must seek that is additional and subsequent to salvation and additional and subsequent to our faith in Jesus Christ. Rather it is something that God himself does and that God himself gives simultaneously with and intrinsically part of salvation in Christ.

We were all sealed in Christ, with the Spirit, when we believed.

By this sovereign and gracious act of God he guarantees our salvation.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007, 2017