RPM, Volume 15, Number 15, April 7 to April 13, 2013

Sealed with a Kiss

Ephesians 1:3-14

By Mike Osborne

Introduction: There are people in the body of Christ who struggle with their assurance of salvation.

Do you ever doubt? I'm not talking about doubting the existence of God or struggling intellectually with things like the historicity of Bible stories or what the Scriptures say about heaven and hell, miracles, and things of that nature.

• Do you doubt God's promises, God's love and grace, God's faithfulness? Do you wonder if he's really for you? Do you wonder if you'll make it home
• Chap. 18 of our WCF: "True believers may have the assurance of their salvation shaken, diminished, and interrupted…" God will sometimes "withdraw the light of His countenance, and allow even those who fear Him to walk in darkness and have no light."

I have had times when it seemed like God was very far away. There have been seasons in my life that felt very much like the "dark night of the soul."

Now on the one hand, when this happens to us the Scriptures exhort us to make our calling and election sure. So if you're in a period of spiritual decline, you should examine yourself to make sure your repentance was real and your faith is truly in Christ. If you doubt your salvation, it's important to look inside your heart and ask yourself, "Have I really turned from sin to the Savior? Have I forsaken all others and embraced Jesus as my Lord and Master? Did I really mean it earlier this morning,

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.?"

If your answer is no, run to the cross. Confess your sins and trust in Jesus Christ. He is ready and might to save and forgive.

But if you've done all that and still feel outside the love of God, with doubt plaguing your heart and stealing your joy, then you need to declare war on your doubt. You need to fight for your assurance.

How are you going to do that? With Ephesians 1:13-14.

Series on the Holy Spirit… What have we learned so far?

• The identity of the HS
• He regenerates us.
• He's our legal advocate.
• Last week: He sanctifies us: he transforms us more and more into the image of Jesus Christ.

But is there something the Holy Spirit does at the beginning of the journey that provides the confidence you need to fight doubt and partner with the Spirit in your sanctification? Today's text says, "Yes!"

The secret is found in two little words in vss. 13-14: seal and deposit (or "guarantee," ESV).

I. The Holy Spirit is the seal of your salvation. Vs. 13b — "a seal, the promised Holy Spirit"

Three questions:

1. What is meant by "seal"?

If you're a Christian, an objective, historical event has taken place in your life, whether you feel it or not, and that event was a marking out, a claiming, a stamping by the Holy Spirit of God. The HS is like a trademark in your life, where God says, "You are mine, and I am yours."

Illus.: My dog's dog tag has 3 purposes:

• It tells me he's been truly vaccinated. It attests to the genuineness and validity of his vaccination.

o That's what a seal does. A seal is proof of the authenticity of something.
o In the ancient world, kings would make a proclamation. They would write it out on paper and seal it with their ring so that as it was carried throughout the land people would know that it was a genuine word from the king.
o In the same way, if you're a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit has baptized you into the body of Christ. He has set his seal upon you, he has marked you out, showing all the world that you are for real. God approves of you. You've passed the test. You are really God's kid, and he loves you.

• Second, this dog tag serves as a stamp of ownership. It's stamped with a number that is absolutely unique, so that if my dog gets lost, people will know his true identity. He's not just any dog; he's MY dog.

o In the same way, if you're a Christian, you are (vs. 14) "God's possession." o 2 Cor 1:22 — "God anointed us and set his seal of ownership on us." o You belong to God. You are God's reward, God's prized possession. Sin no longer defines you. You are a saint. Your true identity is that of a dearly loved son or daughter of God.

• Third, this dog tag serves as a means of protection for [my dog].

o If he wanders off, if he's picked up by a stranger, if he gets lost, this seal will keep him safe.
o In the same way, the Holy Spirit protects you from destruction. Jesus says to you, like he said to the disciples in John 10, "You will never perish. No one can snatch you out of my hand."

The seal of the Holy Spirit is all three: a proof you're the real deal, a sign that you belong to God, and a protection from harm.

2. Second question: When does this happen?

It happens the moment you believe in Jesus.
• Vs. 13 — "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."
• Notice all the aorist verbs: you "heard" the gospel, you "believed" in Christ, you were "sealed" with the Spirit.

Now some of you remember very distinctly the moment you first believed.

For me, it was a pretty dramatic occasion. But others of you have no idea when it happened. Some of you are like Timothy in the Bible. Timothy was raised in a Christian home. His grandmother and his mother were believers. He knew the Scriptures from his infancy, Paul says in 2 Tim 3:15.

It doesn't matter: Whenever God opened your heart and gave you eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart to believe the gospel, the Holy Spirit stamped you as a child of God. He sealed you. It was his doing. You didn't seal yourself. You probably weren't even aware of it. But it happened.

3. Which brings me to the third question: What is the practical result of this sealing?

It gives assurance and security.

Rom 8:15-16 — "For 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."

Do you know what I said to Robert? I said, "Robert, only you can answer this question: Have you repented of your sins and are you resting in Jesus Christ alone for acceptance with God?" (Yes) "When you sin, do you hate your sin and come running to the cross for forgiveness?" (Yes) "Do you sincerely want to serve and please God, not for what you can get out of God but for his glory?" (Yes)

"Then, Robert, if what you say is true, I can confidently tell you that you've been sealed with the Spirit. The work of God in your life is real, you have a new identity, and God is going to safely get you home."

II. But wait, there's more. Not only does Paul say the Holy Spirit is the seal of your salvation. He is also the down payment on your future inheritance.

Vs. 14 — "[The Holy Spirit] is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession — to the praise of his glory."

Illus.: Remember when you bought your house? Or maybe you bought a piece of fine jewelry or a set of furniture on lay-away. What did you do to secure that purchase? You put down a deposit. You paid some earnest money. You gave a first installment. And this said to the bank or the store or the owner of that house, that you were going to make good on the deal. You were going to come through with the rest of the money. It was just a matter of time.

Well, that's what God did when he gave you his Holy Spirit.

The moment you put your trust in Jesus, God deposited the Spirit in you. And by that deposit God was giving you two things: a promise and a foretaste.
1. First, God was making a promise that he will finish writing your story. The Holy Spirit is like an IOU. God obligated himself to bestow upon you the full remainder of all your spiritual blessings in Christ. You're not going to be an unfinished symphony. You're not going to be a half-written story. If you will just be patient, "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

2. Second, by giving you his Spirit, God was giving you a little foretaste of heaven, a little preview of the glories to come.

You know, I cannot begin to describe for you the amazing things laid up for you in heaven. "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." One day God is going to wipe away every tear from your eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain. The old order will have passed away and you will be with Christ and all of his people on a newly restored earth.

And as it says in vs. 14, in that day there will be redemption. Your body will be redeemed, made new, glorified. Your pain will be redeemed. Everything will make sense. You'll finally understand why God allowed the things he allowed in this life. Your losses will be redeemed, bought back, restored.

You groan now, yes, but one day you will enter the joy of the Lord.

See, the Spirit is not only evidence of your present salvation, but also a pledge of your future inheritance, and not only a pledge but the down payment on that inheritance.

One more analogy: Think of the Holy Spirit as an engagement ring…
• I remember the day Suzy and I went to the jewelry store together to pick out her diamond…
• And then I remember about a year later, the day of our wedding, when I slipped a gold band around her finger.
• Just like that engagement ring, the Spirit is God's pledge to you that there's coming a day when you will be seated together with Christ and all of his people at the wedding supper of the Lamb.

In the meantime, I want you to do two things:
• Believe. Believe what the Scriptures say about the Holy Spirit.

• Come to the table — It's both a seal and a deposit…

We need these reminders, don't we?
• We have a bad case of gospel amnesia.
• But God has given us his Spirit. He is our seal; he is our deposit.
• So let's say to one another…
Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus, ready, stands to save you,
Full of pity, joined with power.
He is able, He is able;
He is willing; doubt no more.

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