Being God’s Children: Sealed by the Holy Spirit (Part 3 of 3)

Ephesians 1:11-14:

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 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, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.sa

I have to tell you, what God has taught me in these last 2 verses of Ephesians 1:11-14 is absolutely thrilling, and I have a lot to say, so I want to jump right in!

Part 3: Sealed by the Holy Spirit

To quickly review, so far, in Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series of Ephesians 1:11-14, I have shared that:

The Triune God, in ongoing relationship with us, is teaching us what it means to be His children in these ways:

God the Father, choosing us by His will, for His glory
Jesus, including us with Him and claiming us at the redemption

And now we come to Part 3: the role of the Holy Spirit in teaching us what it means to be God’s children.

Paul says, “having believed, you were marked in him [Jesus] with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.”

First of all, I love this image that receiving the Holy Spirit is like having been “marked with a seal.” I used to think (erroneously) that this verse meant the Holy Spirit was a seal, like a covering … like a protection so that nothing could get in or out. (Silly as it may seem, the image I had in my head was kind of like Saran wrap.) But that’s not the kind of “seal” being suggested here at all. The picture here is like that of signet ring or an insignia stamp or a family “coat of arms” – a seal that denotes ownership. I am marked with the family seal of God!

The Holy Spirit in me is evidence to God (and to the world!) that I am “included with Christ” and that I belong to Him. In fact, Paul calls the Holy Spirit in me “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance…”

Think about what an inheritance is: It is what a parent (or other relative, typically) leaves to another member of the family as a way of ensuring that treasures of wealth and value remain in the family. Furthermore, a legal document of some sort, a last will and testament for example, is drawn up and executed upon the death of the one leaving the inheritance guaranteeing that their wishes will be properly carried out.

Now, our inheritance is not a financial one. It is not treasure or material goods that can be stored up here on earth. It is not a promise for health, wealth, happiness and prosperity in this life. No, our promised inheritance is far, far greater.

But before going on, I really must underscore again that Paul is very clear: this inheritance is for those who are believers in Christ Jesus. He clearly writes: “Having believed …” referring back to the “word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”

So, for those of us who are Believers in Jesus Christ, our inheritance is the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem: where God will be our God and we will be His people. Where he will wipe every tear from our eye. Where there will be no more sadness. No more death. No more pain. (Revelation 21:2-4)

Where the Holy City will shine with the glory of God and its brilliance is like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:11) Where the great street of the city is pure gold, like transparent glass (Revelation 21:21).

Where the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city will not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (Revelation 21:22-23)

Where there is a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street. And on each side of the river stands the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2).

This inheritance was also made sure. Not at our death. But at Christ’s death. And it is guaranteed by something far more secure than any legal document here on earth could enforce – it is guaranteed by God himself in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the “deposit” of our inheritance – a “down-payment” if you will. And why do you make a down-payment? When there is more yet to come.

Now, as speechless as this stunningly awesome inheritance yet to come leaves me, what God has shown me here in Ephesians is that this “deposit” is “for the praise of his glory” (1:14). And what really pressed into my heart as I was learning here in Chapter 1 about being in God’s family is that this deposit – the Holy Spirit – is not only for our future (so Christ will see us identified with His family’s seal and we will receive our inheritance), but it is also so we will be for His glory now.

Remember in Part 2 when I shared that we are included with Christ so we are worthy of being used by God to demonstrate His glory … but now we see that it is the Holy Spirit in us who actually does the work of putting God’s glory on display in our lives. Anytime you see God’s character revealed in me, it is not me – it is the Holy Spirit in me.

In Romans 8:15b-17a, Paul puts it this way:

But you received the Spirit of sonship[1]. 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…”

[1] – The underlying word for sonship here is “adoption”

Do you see? We are not worthy to call God “Abba Father” (which is expressive of an especially close relationship, like calling God, “Daddy”); but it is the Holy Spirit in us Who calls out to God for us. We are not worthy of calling ourselves God’s children; so it is the Holy Spirit in us that “testifies that we are God’s children.” And once again, we see here that we are called “heirs” of God and “co-heirs” with Christ. And who are “heirs?” Those who have been promised an inheritance.

Now bringing this all into the context of our study of Ephesians 1, let’s put all of these lessons in order:

  • God establishes us and equips us with grace so we can have peace with Him, because… (vs. 1-2)
  • God wants to adopt us into His family through a plan, by a promise, for participation in His family that includes both rewards and responsibilities… (vs. 3-10)
  • For the purpose of His glory – so that He can reveal the fullness of Who He is through us (vs. 11-12).
  • We are made worthy of revealing God’s character only because we are included in Christ’s sufficiency to meet the just requirements of our holy God and Christ will redeem us as God’s own people, (v.13-14)
  • Which is guaranteed to us, having been marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit as a deposit of our inheritance and Who, as a result, does the work of showing God’s character in us, even now.

Think About It:

  • In what ways do people see the Holy Spirit – God’s family seal – in you?
  • Do your life choices, actions, thoughts, and attitudes reflect the Holy Spirit in you?
  • How will you respond to Jesus today knowing that He has marked you with the seal of the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing your inheritance to be forever with Him in the New Jerusalem?
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