In Him according to the counsel of His will we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of His glory. In Him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation and have believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14
Before you do anything else go back and read these few verses out loud twice more. I love the Bible and spend as much time as possible studying and reading in it, but few verses give me such confidence, satisfaction, hope and joy as these. In fact, every time I read them something new seems to jump out at me to thrill and lift my spirits higher.
“In Him you also, who have heard the word of truth,” are some of the most beautiful inclusive words in Scripture. Paul is addressing the gentiles and reminding them that they also are given the gift of salvation. Notice, we receive the word of truth in Him. Him of course is Jesus and it is through Him that we heard the word of truth.
The word of truth reveals the truth of God as it relates to His saving purposes and our relationship to them. It is interesting to notice how similar in language this is with Colossians 1:5
Is it possible that Paul is saying to you and me that “you also” regardless of our past sins, our broken life, our rebellion and indifference to God are never abandoned or forsaken? God continues to knock on the door of our heart, pleading with us to open the door and let Him in (Revelation 3:20). The Holy Spirit whispers constantly to us “go ahead open the door to your life” but it is up to us to open that door.
But, look at what happens when we have heard the word of truth and accept Jesus into our lives. It becomes the gospel of our salvation. Once again see how personal this becomes. It is the gospel of our salvation. In Romans Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (1:16).
The Gospel (good news) reveals the power of God to save everyone who puts his or her faith in that power to save. And the wonder of that saving grace is that it is for each of us. There is no elitism in the gospel message. No mater how far removed from God we find ourselves it is never too far away that God can’t rescue us from the bondage of sin and defeat through His abounding love.
The good news of the gospel is that through Jesus we have been rescued from spiritual death, God’s wrath, from the bondage to sin and the power of Satan in our lives. This is the work of Jesus completed at the cross where He bore our sins, our guilt, our judgment and in return gave us hope, joy, peace, assurance, redemption and eternal life.
Our redemption is all Christ and only the most arrogant of us would dare to suggest that we could add any merit to the sacrifice at Calvary that Jesus made for us. “And you He made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” Ephesians 2:1-2
We have been made alive through God’s great rescue mission. We have been delivered out of the snares of Satan and his power to destroy us. When we are “In Christ” Satan is defeated and has no authority or control over us. We are free in Jesus and can live as free men and women rejoicing in the grace that saves us from destruction and ruin.
In his book, The Gospel of the Kingdom, George Eldon Ladd reminds us that every man and woman in this world has to only do one thing when it comes to the free gift of redemption. We must decide whether or not to accept it by faith. Let’s look at our text again in Ephesians.
When we hear the word of truth, which is the gospel of our salvation, we are to accept it by faith. “In Him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation and have believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” Ephesians 1:13
God does it all. We simply must believe that God is the author of our salvation and that is the word of truth. When Ladd says we must all decide this is what he is talking about; we decide to believe in the mercy and wonder of God or walk away to continue in rebellion and sin.
Now Paul adds something more to this wonderful passage of Scripture. He tells us that when we believe we are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Now read the following quote carefully to get an eye opening insight into this passage.
“The aorist participle believed is best interpreted in this context as being coincident with the main verb, ‘you were sealed.’ The participle does not here express antecedent action, as though the Gentiles believed and then subsequently were sealed with the Holy Spirit. Rather, the believing and being sealed were two sides of the one event. A similar conjunction with the same verb form is found in Acts 19:2 where Paul asks a group of disciples at Ephesus if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed.” Peter O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians p. 119
At Pentecost the Holy Spirit, promised throughout the Old Testament, was poured out to the disciples (Acts 2:33) in power. This is the seal or sign that God has set upon His people of faith to distinguish us as His own and separate us from the world. (See Ezekiel 9:4-6)
In 2 Corinthians 1:21b, 22 Paul writes, “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.” May I quote O’Brien once again, “By giving Gentile believers the Spirit, God, ‘seals’ or stamps them as His own now, and He will protect them through the trials and testings of this life (6:10-18) until He takes final possession of them (v. 14) on the day of redemption.” The Letter to the Ephesians p. 120
Hearing the word of God, believing the word of God and being sealed by the promised Holy Spirit are all simultaneous events. When you believe you are sealed (pronounced God’s child) by the Holy Spirit. Satan has lost dominion over you because you have passed from death into life. (See John 5:24)
The reason we are sealed with the Holy Spirit is because He is the guarantee of our salvation. The word guarantee has the connotation of being our down payment of the assurance of our redemption. (See 2 Corinthians 1:22) Now this is important because what God is saying to us through Paul is that the coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives when we believe the gospel is much more than a promise of eternal life. God is actually welcoming us into a foretaste of our final inheritance. We have a sure and positive hope of inheriting the glory of the life to come.
But, I think the text goes beyond even the stating that we have a foretaste of the Kingdom of God now in our lives through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. I think Paul is telling us something even more wonderful and that is we, as believers, are now God’s possessions. (See Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 14:2, 26:18; Malachi 3:17; 1 Peter 2:9)
We have the Gospel preached to us, which is the invitation to salvation for all who will believe. We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, not only as assurance of our place in the Age to Come, but as a sign that we are God’s own. And this is all to the praise of His glory.
I would encourage you to remember that your assurance of salvation is made clear through the coming of the Spirit into your life. You never have to doubt your salvation or stand in fear that maybe you have done so many things wrong that God can’t forgive you. You never have to fear that there are unconfessed sins hanging around in Heaven to jump out at you to condemn you. When we accept Christ, our sins are forgiven and forgotten. They are cast into the deepest part of the sea, as far as the east is from the west so go our sins. They are wiped clean and remembered no more.
Can you fall away from God after you first believed? Yes, but remember sin is “not” trusting God. Eve committed the first sin by not trusting or believing in God’s word in the garden. To be lost you have to stop trusting in God and stop believing in His love for you.
In short, you have to turn your back on His grace, His forgiveness, His pleadings, His love and His Holy Spirit. Let me be clear, just because you stumble, fall, break your promises and fail doesn’t mean you have lost your connection with God. It simply means you are weak and possess a sinful nature. God picks us up and as long as we allow God to continue to lead us on our spiritual journey we are “in Christ.”
God’s grace is sufficient. Do you believe it?
* As always please remember to pray for the thousands of Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith in Christ, for many even unto death. Go to http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ for some of their stories.