The Promise of God's Purchase (Ephesians 1:13, 14)
Topic: Ephesians Passage: Ephesians 1:13–1:14
The Spirit of Promise
The Promise of God's Purchase
Ephesians 1:13, 14
February 8th, 2009
Way of Grace Church
I. Mine, Mine, Mine
I don't know about you, but when I hear the word "mine", it's usually a word I have to oppose rather than affirm.
In my life, this is due in large part to the fact that the word "mine" is usually being screamed out by a troubled toddler who is hanging on, like a vice-grip, to one side of a toy or book while his brother or sister is attempting to wrestle away the other side of the contested object.
And this is when mommy or daddy has to step in and deal with the less-than-angelic behavior connected to that word, "mine". Thus, this word usually makes me think of things like selfishness and tension and frustration and correction. "Mine. Mine. Mine."
This morning, as we turn together to God's word, and in contrast to what I've just shared, we're going to see how glorious this word can be.
Turn with me to Ephesians 1, verses 13 and 14.
Now, let me take a minute and remind us of what we talked about last time. You may remember that this morning we are continuing our four-part study of the Holy Spirit. And as we began this study last week in John's Gospel, we saw how Jesus announced the coming of the Holy Spirit for all of God's people in fulfillment of what was announced beforehand in the Old Testament.
We saw in John's Gospel, specifically in chapters 14, 15, and 16, that God the Holy Spirit's primary work in this age is to "bear witness" to God the Son, to Jesus. This is not simply the Spirit saying, "Hey, there's Jesus". No, this is a broad work encompassing many things. We summarized it last time, from a big picture perspective, stating that the Spirit of God enables us to live in the purposes of God that the Son of God has made possible.
Of course, the danger in exploring these distinct persons of the Trinity is always forgetting that we are talking about only one God. When one is glorified, all are glorified. We worship and serve and are empowered by one God. Only one.
But Scripture has given us a perspective, albeit hazy, into the essence of this God. And the reality that He is "trinity in unity", helps us understand how He has worked, wants to work, and will work to accomplish His purposes.
III. The Passage: "The Promised Holy Spirit" (1:13, 14)
So this morning as we look together at Ephesians 1, let's keep these things in mind as we continue to explore the role of God's Spirit in our lives and in the world.
Listen to what Paul tells the Christians in Ephesus about this Spirit. 1:13...
In him [in Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
So what we have here, in essence, is Paul's affirmation that what Jesus said would happen, really did happen. Jesus promised another Helper would come...and He did...and still does come.
In the same way, we saw last week that the prophets Ezekiel and Joel and Isaiah talked about a day when God's Spirit, the Spirit of the Yahweh, would be poured out on all people. Paul is telling us here that now, that promise has been, and is being, and will be fulfilled.
As Paul tells us here, this is the "promised Holy Spirit". This is the Spirit of promise.
Let's take a look at some of the different ways in which these two verses teach us about God's Spirit
A. The Spirit and God's Proclamation (1:13a)
First, look back at verse 13:
In him [in Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit...
As we focus on the Holy Spirit in this verse, what we find is that Paul is confirming for us that there is only way to receive this Spirit of promise. There is only one way in which the predictions of the prophets and the promise of Jesus can be fulfilled in our lives individually.
We cannot earn the gift of the Spirit. We cannot buy the Holy Spirit. We don't recite a chant or wait in deep meditation for the Spirit. We don't need someone to pray over us or lay hands on us to receive the Holy Spirit.
Paul is clear here about the prerequisites for personally receiving the Holy Spirit: we hear and we believe. That's it. What do we hear? We hear the "word of truth". What is the "word of truth"? It is "the gospel of your salvation". It is the message concerning God's Son. It is God's proclamation about Jesus Christ. God's Spirit and God's Son; just like we saw last time.
But if we are to personally know the Spirit that Jesus announced, then we have to do more than hear the message announced about Jesus. We have to believe that message. We have to believe IN, to trust IN, the one proclaimed in that message.
When the Holy Spirit was first given to the church in the book of Acts, God chose to give clear external evidence, among different groups of people (i.e. Jews, Gentiles, Samartians, disciples of John the Baptist), that the promised Spirit really had been given. It was clear from a variety of signs that the Spirit had come.
But those were historical occurrences that we don't find repeated. Such signs were God's gracious way of assuring us the Spirit had come, and that the gift was available to all who would receive it through faith in Jesus Christ.
When anyone, anyone, places their trust in Jesus as their only hope, they receive the Holy Spirit. There are no exceptions to that rule. There are no second or third place prizes. We all receive the Spirit in full measure when we believe on Jesus Christ.
Have you truly believed that Jesus Christ is your deliverer and King? If you truly believe, then you have truly received the Holy Spirit.
B. The Spirit and God's Property (1:13b)
But look again at how Paul, at the end of verse 13, describes our receipt of the Holy Spirit:
In him [in Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit...
What does it mean that we were sealed with the Spirit? As you probably know a seal is a stamp of sorts. It was a cylinder or stamp engraved with a design or name that could leave an impression on wax or clay.
Did you know that more than 200 Hebrew seals have been discovered, all bearing the individual names of their owners? That's what a seal does, it points someone back to the authority or ownership of the person the seal represents.
Listen to how Paul uses this same image with Timothy: Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His"... (II Timothy 2:19)
I think the same idea is present here in Ephesians. When you place your trust in Jesus and what He did to bring you back to God, when you receive the Holy Spirit as a result of this faith, you are in fact sealed by the Sprit, that is, you are marked by the Spirit as God's property.
If the Holy Spirit is in you, it means you belong to God.
This "sealing" by the Spirit is, in fact, another way of talking about one aspect of what we talked about earlier from Acts, of what John the Baptist and Jesus and Paul called the "baptism of the Holy Spirit". It was the Holy Spirit doing what water could only symbolized: death and cleansing and renewal. And by this spiritual death and cleansing and renewal, we are connected to God.
Or as Paul expresses it here, we are sealed by God, we are marked as His own possession.
C. The Spirit and God's Pledge (1:14)
But look at how Paul takes this imagery even further in the next verse, in verse 14:
In him [in Christ]...[we] were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
We find in verse 14 another word that compliments the idea that we are now God's property because of the Holy Spirit; that we belong to God, sealed as His.
The word translated here "guarantee" is the Greek word arrabon. An arrabon is a "pledge", or what we would call a "down payment", or maybe more specifically in this context, it is a "first installment".
But a "first installment" for what, we might ask? It's for "our inheritance", as we see in verse 14. Paul spoke about this inheritance only a few verses earlier in verse 11 of chapter 1:
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will... (Ephesians 1:11)
So in verse 14, Paul gets more specific about this inheritance of eternal life with Christ by clarifying that we do not yet have our full inheritance, but we do we have a first installment. We have the Holy Spirit.
And the last part of verse 14 probably points us back to the fact that we are now God's possession through the Holy Spirit. A very literal translation of the second half of verse 14 would be "for redemption of the possession".
You see, the ESV connects this ‘redemption' with the believer in Christ: "until we acquire". But the word ‘acquire' is the literally the word ‘redemption', and is used in reference to God in verse 7 of this chapter. I think in this context the "redemption of the possession" is talking about God coming back to take full possession of that which is His property.
Paul uses all of the same language in II Corinthians when he tells those believers...
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him [in Jesus]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (II Corinthians 1:20-22)
Paul says this later in Ephesians: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30) There's the idea of being sealed, and once again, it's connected with the truth that God is coming for those who marked as His own.
So how can we be assured that God will do all this? Well, He's given us a first installment, hasn't He?
A few months ago, the winner of $42 million dollar lottery prize in Michigan decided to do something very uncommon among lottery winners: the winner opted to take an annual annuity rather than a smaller, one-time lump sum. But of course, the first installment in that annual annuity was $1.4 million dollar.
That's sounds like a pretty good prize in and of itself, doesn't it? But that's only the first installment. There's so much more to come. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of promise, is given to us as a first installment of the incalculable spiritual blessings that we will one day be ours, fully and finally when God takes for Himself that which is already His; when God takes us.
IV. You are Not Your Own
What we're seeing in all of this is that the Holy Spirit is the promise of God's purchase. The Spirit is the indisputable evidence that we really do belong to God.
In fact, the Spirit and our belonging to God are so connected in Paul's mind that he says this in Romans 8: You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9)
But Paul uses other language to describe the fact that we now belong to God because of the work of the Holy Spirit. Earlier in Ephesians 1 we read this:
He predestined usï»¿ for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will... (Ephesians 1:5)
Well in Romans 8, Paul spells this out more explicitly in regard to the Spirit:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God... And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:15, 16, 23)
Here the Spirit is described, not as a "first installment", but as "firstfruits"! He is the first taste of an incredible harvest that is still to come, when God will redeem our bodies...it's that same "redemption" Paul talked about in Ephesians 1.
But here in Romans, the language of belonging is parental, not simply possessive. We are not simply acquired, we are adopted through God's Spirit. Again, there are many ways in which the New Testament describes this work of the Holy Spirit in making us God's own people.
Another passage that spells this out is in I Corinthians 6. This is what Paul tells the Corinthians who were foolishly flirting with and condoning sexual immorality; who were handing their bodies over to impurity. Paul writes:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (I Corinthians 6:19, 20)
Through the Holy Spirit, and because of the work of the Holy Spirit, God says to those who have believed on Jesus Christ, "You are not your own...you are mine. Mine. Mine. Mine."
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you need to be reminded of this incredible truth: the Spirit of God in you is indisputable proof and precious assurance that you belong to God.
It's easy to feel at times like we have been left in the "lost and found" of this world. It's easy to feel like we are still spiritual orphans trapped in life's orphanage. It's easy to feel like we are simply a condemned house, boarded up, without hope of a family to dwell within us.
In fact, the flesh, the Enemy, and the world would all have us believe that we have been left, that we have been abandoned, that we have been slated for demolition.
But just as we saw last week, when we talked about the Spirit bearing witness to Jesus, we are reminded of Paul's words from Romans 8: The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God...
The Spirit bear witness to Jesus, and one of the ways He does that, is by reminding Christians that they belong to God through Jesus, that they are sons and daughters of God because of God's Son.
Whatever God has you in the middle of, whatever challenges you are facing in here or out there, is the Spirit of God comforting you with that truth that you have been sealed...that you are God's and that He is coming for you?
Imagine a kingdom in which one of the king's servants is always traveling throughout this kingdom setting the king's seal on any stone that his lord desires to take as his own. It may be some time before the king takes this or that rock. Such stones may sit in fields exposed to the elements. Such stones may be scratched and chipped by enemies of the king.
But because those stones are marked with the king's seal, they will not be moved. The king's power and the king's penalty make that certain. And one day, they will all be retrieved. And they will all be smoothed and polished. And they will placed in the king's palace, in a vast mosaic that will honor the King's greatness.
If you are not a follower of Jesus Christ this morning, through faith, then you do not belong to God. Now for many, that might sound fine. Who wants to be someone else's property? But the truth is this: you are never, and have never been your own. You have, do, and always will belong to someone or something else.
The Scriptures reveal that if we do not belong to God, then we are slaves to sin and death. You are either a child of God or a slave to sin. Those are the only two options.
But there is hope. Listen to what Jesus tells us about the hope that is rooted in faith in Him:
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil [slaves of sin and death], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:9-13)
Paul has told us how we can receive the Holy Spirit, hasn't he? He comes when we hear and believe the Good News about Jesus.
If you do believe, then because of the cross of Jesus Christ, you are already rich beyond you wildest dreams, because you have God the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. He has sealed you and you really do belong to God.
More in The Spirit of Promise
March 15, 2009The Promise of God's Power (Ephesians 3:14-21)
February 22, 2009The Promise of God's Perspective (I Corinthians 2:1-16)
February 1, 2009The Promise of God's Purpose (John 15:26, 27)