For the past few months we have been looking at the apostle Paul’s list of blessings in Ephesians 1. Paul calls them spiritual blessings in the heavenly places, bestowed upon us in Christ Jesus. Paul has explained that, as believers, we have been chosen, predestined, adopted, graced, redeemed, forgiven, given insight into God’s will, and given an inheritance. These are a wonderful list of blessings that should instill in us grateful hearts. But in this uncertain world where nothing is ever for sure, perhaps you harbor some doubts about the reality of your possession of these blessings.
Many years ago our family fostered a little six year-old boy whose favorite phrase was “What if?” Whenever we made him a promise or told him we were going to do something fun and exciting, he always responded with, “What if……” followed my his imagined scenario of what might happen to spoil his fun. In this world, where nothing is really certain, I think we all tend to do that, at least from time to time. Do you ever ask the question “What if?” What if I fail the exam and don’t pass the class? What if I don’t get the promotion? What if I lose my job? What if the biopsy results show cancer? Let’s face it. Our uncertain world is a stressful place that can cause anxiety. But, we have an Almighty God who has given us promises and blessings with no “what if’s” at all. And Paul explains in Ephesians 1:13 exactly why we can have confidence and no doubts. It is because, at the moment we believed, God sealed us with His Holy Spirit: having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.
What does it mean that God has sealed us with His Holy Spirit? The Greek word Paul used is “sphragizo”, commonly used to refer to the official seal of a person’s signet ring made in wax. The seal was an official mark placed on a document to mark it as authentic and secure and protect its contents. When God seals us with His Holy Spirit, He officially identifies us as belonging to Him. It places us under His authority and is His pledge of our inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:11). Remember from last time that our inheritance includes our present blessings in Christ, our eternal salvation, and His kingdom, which was prepared for us from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34).
In a sermon on the Holy Spirit John Piper referred to the seal as “a message of safety and security in God's love and power. God sends the Holy Spirit as a preserving seal to lock in our faith, as an authenticating seal to validate our sonship, and as a protecting seal to keep out destructive forces. God gives us security and safety in His love and power…..When He seals us with His Holy Spirit, God is saying, ‘My great desire for those who believe in me is that you feel secure in my love. I have chosen you before the foundation of the world. I have predestined you to be my children forever. I have redeemed you by the blood of my Son. And I have put my Spirit in you as a seal and a guarantee. Therefore, you will receive the inheritance and praise the glory of my grace forever and ever. And I tell you this here in Ephesians Chapter 1 because I want you to feel secure in my love and my power.’”
Especially at this time of year, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, through whom all our blessings come, let us lay aside our anxious “What if’s” and let us celebrate our safety and security in the sovereign, unchanging Creator and Sustainer of all things who sent His Son to save us and will never fail us or forsake us.
Merry Christmas! And may you fully enjoy all your blessings in Christ in the New Year,
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.