“In him 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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV)
There was a time when letters and packages of value were sealed with wax and an official stamp was pressed into the hot wax. The seal was a promise of authenticity. These verses reveal to us the promise given, and great blessing God has provided is sealed by God’s Holy Spirit. When by faith we believe we receive the gift of salvation offered us by Jesus Christ and we become Children of God. We are permanently adopted as sons and daughters by our heavenly Father. In this action, we the Holy Spirit of God becomes our promise of eternal life. The Holy Spirit is given to us as a helper and a guarantor of our inheritance. It is as if we already have it yet we will fully acquire and possesses it when our life on earth comes to its appointed end. Then we will be present with Jesus in Heaven. We remind ourselves frequently that every promise God has made will be kept and every blessing and gift promised to us will be ours in full. We can trust this because the Holy Spirit has secured it for us and guaranteed that it is, and it will be.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11 (ESV)
In the first century and today Christians need to defend the faith. The apostle Paul wrote these words in his letter to the assembly of Christians who were in Ephesians. This is a familiar passage for many and it is an encouragement for all at any time. He knew that the believers were facing difficult times as were most Christians in the Roman world at that time. As Christians in the world today, we too are facing greater hostility from a world that continues to reject Jesus and His message of Salvation for all. We have this promise just as the Ephesians had it that God makes us strong in His might. Taking on the “whole armor” means to accept and choose to believe and live according to the way God has planned and designed for us. In this passage we learn that our battle is actually against spiritual forces of wickedness. But Paul tells us to take up what God has given us and live accordingly in defense of the battle. Truth, Righteousness, Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, Word of God, and Prayer is our armor against anything the enemy might throw at us. That is our promise.
“…made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:5b-6 (ESV)
Today we have selected another passage which tells us how our God has wonderful plans for us and they include what He is doing with us, His children, these days. The Apostle Paul reveals to the believers in Ephesus and to us the amazing depth of what we have since God brought us into His family. Making for us a place with Jesus in heaven, He wants this to demonstrate something very important. And now that we are a part of His family He can be very kind and generous in His treatment of us. When He treats in a kind and loving way, He demonstrates how rich His grace is because we don’t deserve such treatment at all. It is all by His grace and mercy that He does this for us. Has God been kind to you, His child? If so, that is part of His plan to show how rich His grace is. It’s as our verse says that he might show what is incomparable – the unlimited extent of grace through kindness, lovingkindness.
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13–14.(NASB)
What does a pledge mean these days? A pledge might mean any of several things anymore but once it was a solemn promise and a large part of the payment, given in advance as a security that the whole promise will be paid afterwards. In the context of today’s verses; this pledge is made when God’s own Spirit comes to indwell in us and preserves our eternal salvation. Paul refers to an official mark of identification placed on a contract, or other document. Thereby placing that document officially under the authority of the person whose stamp was on the seal. Four primary truths are signified by the seal: 1) security; 2) authenticity; 3) ownership; and 4) authority. The Holy Spirit is given to us by God as His pledge of our future inheritance in glory. Yes, we fail to comprehend fully how God both choses us in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) but seals us with his Spirit after we listen to and believe the message of salvation. It matters not that we do not fully understand but it matters much that we believe His words in Scripture. Believe both, God will sort it out.
“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” – Ephesians 1:4 (NASB)
One blessing which we’ve received – is defined in our verse. It is God’s choosing of us by Himself for Himself. And all that God does for us is in His love. Imagine being called to play on a community softball team. When you show up you discover that you don’t have to qualify to make any of the teams. There are no try-outs. In fact you’re already accepted as qualified. A long time ago, it became a done deal the same for every member of the team. You’re asked to do your very best in every game for the coach and teammates. But this is not the way it works in community sports is it? Rather it depends on who you know and who knows you. It depends on how well others have seen your play. Can you catch? Can you throw? Can you hit? We might see our lives as Christian the same way. Strive to do good enough to qualify, hope we’re accepted, and we must live as good Christians. But God made His choice of us to be holy and blameless before Him way back before he made the world before we existed too.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” – Ephesians 1: (NASB)
Sometimes common usage of a word might lead to a slightly different meaning that the original intended. Say it often enough or read it frequently and the meanings merge. This results sometimes in losing the significance of what the author intended. And example is the exchange of the English words ‘blessed’ and ‘happy.’ Sometimes a Scripture reference with blessed is read as if it says happy. There certainly is a similarity between the meanings. Our passage today uses forms of the word ‘bless’ three different ways. First is ‘blessed be’ as an adjective which is applied only to God in the New Testament Greek. Second is ‘has blessed’ as a verb and communicates God’s promise that He has already given believers total blessing. Third is “spiritual blessing’ used as a noun and not immaterial as opposed to material blessings, but rather speaks of the work of God as the divine source of all blessings we are receiving, have received, and will receive. It is worth noting that it is “in the heavenly” domain from where all blessings come. We may well have joy and happiness because of this promise but saying were ‘happy’ would use a different word.
“(I) do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him..” Ephesians 1:16-17 (NASB)
We can imagine that one of the greatest blessings we might experience in the first century would be the Apostle Paul praying for us. Paul was devoted to prayer just as his Lord Jesus set the example for his apostles. These words by the are from a prayer he wrote and sent to the Christians in Ephesus. Paul says that he did “not cease giving thanks” and it became a habit to pray for the young churches and to keep praying for the believers in all cities. He requested that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in order that they would grow to know God better. They were believers who knew God but like us all, they needed to continue to know God in a deeper way. This prayer is given to us in the Bible applies to our lives as well if we have believed and come to know God. We too want to know God better. We can each ask God to give us wisdom and revelation and to teach us by His Holy Spirit more and more of God’s great truths for our Christian lives each day.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)
Can we say that the promise in today’s passage is the promise of God’s power working within us? Yes, we can. For this is just what the Apostle Paul is praying for with confidence for all believers. This power is abundant to the point of exceeding our ability to ask or imagine. Beyond our thoughts. But, again we need the context to understand more completely how this power is made available. Spiritual power is a mark of every Christian who submits to God’s Word and Spirit. It is not reserved for some special class of Christian, but for all those who discipline their minds and spirits to study the Word, understand it, and live by it. Paul’s prayer included requests for: strength for our inner person; the dwelling of Christ in our hearts through faith; solidly grounded and rooted in love; ability to comprehend the fullness of God’s love which surpasses knowledge; and filled with the fullness of God. When these conditions are met, God’s power working in and through believers, is unlimited and far beyond any comprehension. All for His glory in Christ Jesus and His church forever. That is God’s promise of power for us.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” Ephesians 2:19 (NASB)
God’s kingdom is made up of the people from all time who have trusted in Him. There are no strangers, foreigners, or second-class citizens there. Redeemed sinners not only become heavenly citizens but also members of God’s own family. The Father bestows on believers the same infinite love He gives His Son. This verse reminds us of our identity as Christians. This is the promise God makes for each of us and He wants us all to recognize the great change that His promise makes in our status and identity the moment we believed in Jesus as our Savior – the only way to heaven. Our verse speaks of our former status as foreigners and aliens without standing in God’s family. But now we are citizens. God sent His Son into this world to make this change possible. God recognized that we, His creatures didn’t belong to Him but He wanted us to be His by new birth. We are citizens together with God people, citizens with eternal rights to heaven. Even more, we belong to God’s household, members of His family. What a life affirming promise that is for us today.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)
While we read and think on this verse let’s be sure to notice that the emphasis is on God and His plans for us. It’s not on what we do for God but on what He does for us. When the verse speaks of our being created by God it really means our being born again – our re-creation because of what Jesus did for us. It is God who makes that happen and makes us His child and gives to us eternal life. That makes us the work of God – we are His workmanship. Good works cannot produce salvation but they are subsequent and the result of what God has empowered⸺they are the fruits and evidences of the salvation he prepared beforehand for each of us. Our sanctification as believers and our good works were ordained before time began (Ephesians 1:3–6). God has a purpose in this and it is that we will do what He gives us to do. We will tend to the work He gives us. Good works in our lives comes after His work in our lives. And all this was prepared and planned in advance. It is God’s plan that comes together for our benefit.