Now here’s something that should enrich your mind and stir your heart. When writing to his friends in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul states; ‘And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him 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.’ (Eph 1:13-14, NIV)
Paul starts his letter with what may be best described as an ‘outpouring of praise’. In fact, Greek scholars inform us that he doesn’t even pause, in order to punctuate between verses 3-14. So why is this the case? I would suggest it is evidence of his thrill, excitement and gratitude, given the enormity of the revelation which he has the privilege of sharing.
So let’s look at these two verses which I shared at the beginning.
Firstly, Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is promised. Although introduced in the opening sentences of Genesis, a number of the prophets foretell a day when he will be given, without measure to all of God’s people. Gone will be the days when the anointed man or woman of God would receive an impartation in order to fulfil a function. Rather, as Joel famously says ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.’ (Joel 2:28-29)
Secondly, we discover that the Spirit seals the believer. In the ancient world, seals would be used in order to confirm someone’s identity and to guard against the unauthorised opening of documents. Paul encourages his believers by making a causal link between their ‘believing’ in Christ and their ‘sealing’ with the Spirit. The inference is clear. When we believe we are sealed. And when we are sealed, God himself declares his ownership over our lives.
Thirdly, this passage tells us that the Spirit is a deposit. The Greek word arrabōn, was used frequently within the business world to describe a deposit or down-payment. However, contemporary Greek interestingly uses a derivative, arrabona, to describe an engagement ring. Isn’t that a beautiful insight into this passage? Paul is telling us that God gives us his Spirit, as and when we believe. Yet, as he unites us to himself, he does so with the guarantee that there is much more to come!
Lastly, all this is a guarantee of inheritance. The question is, whose inheritance? At first glance, the answer may seem obvious. The Spirit guarantees our inheritance in Christ. That of course is true. However, if we dig a little deeper, another possibility arises. What if the Spirit guarantees, not only our inheritance but that of Christ’s? That is, that the work of the Spirit in our lives means that Jesus will not lose one of those which his father has given him (Jn 18:8) and have been purchased by the means of his own blood (Rev 5:9). I want to suggest that the first interpretation of this passage is most comforting and assuring. The second however, is altogether mind-blowing!
I do encourage you to live in the light of these amazing truths!
Yours and His, Gareth