Sealed and Secured
Could there be anything better in life than to know for sure without any doubt that your eternity is secure and that you will enjoy everlasting life? Some people have no concerns; they are resigned to the idea that nothing exists for them. However, what if they are wrong? What if the reason our conscience distinguishes right from wrong is that we must give an account of ourselves to God on the last day. Can we know our future place in eternity?
World War II came to an end before I was born. I never experienced the horrors of that war and never saw my friends and fellow Patriots gunned down by the enemy. I never heard the cries of men near and dear to me when they died. However, my father did. I witnessed how he talked about it, the way he lived his life as a result. His gratitude for life, live and let live spirit, and humble character and attitude all spoke volumes to me about his war experiences.
To know someone who experienced war is not the same as experiencing war for yourself. However, it is possible to know that war is real and the marks it leaves upon those who lived it. It is possible to know you have eternal life because there is a God, and He personally secures those who believe in Him by sealing them and making Himself known to them.
The Apostle Paul makes this statement when writing to the Church at Corinth. "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge." (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22) Some teachers think that God needs a seal as a reminder of those who belong to Him. Nothing could be further from the truth. The seal is for those who believe.
Faith in the word of God's promises gives assurance of salvation. Observations of changes in our lives due to God's saving work are also a means of validation. However, the most potent means of assurance of salvation is to be sealed by the Holy Spirit.
Leading up to verse 21, Paul makes these statements. "But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus ...—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him, they are yes;" (Verses 18-20). These statements are confusing until we look at the Greek. Yes, means certainly and no could be interpreted not so much or not completely. Therefore, the person sealed by God receives an absolute certainty in their heart, an unequivocal verdict that God loves and accepts them.
Therefore, when Paul said, "....For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (Christ), they are certain..." we understand that God gives full assurance of salvation. Such confidence is usually not immediate, although it could be. Paul also wrote to the Ephesians. "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..." (Ephesians 1:13, 14).
The Holy Spirit is a person, not a force. He makes His presence known, and it becomes a pledge. It is a pledge in the sense that God places a downpayment on us for assurance of His ownership. The downpayment then is a pledge that He will finish what He has started. "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).
Paul tells us that after listening to the message, they believed. First, there was acquiring the message, then came belief. After belief did its work in their hearts, the Holy Spirit sealed them. Many are the testimonies of people who come to Christ early. Maybe as a child, some as teens, they are tested, perhaps fail and sin, but then comes more profound repentance. This awakening is real in my own life. The concept is not all that different than the Apostles. For three years, they walked and talked and observed the Son of God. Then they all denied Him and ran away in fear. Fifty days later, after being restored by the gracious love of Jesus, they received the Holy Spirit with power on the day of Pentecost.
The occurrence of Pentecost demonstrated revival and signified the beginning of the Church age. However, it was intensely personal for the twelve, and it made a tremendous impact on their lives and ministries. God alone has certain knowledge; therefore, the only way to a deep conviction of our standing with Him is if He shares it with us. The inner voice of God is what the Christian understands as a conviction. It is more profound than mere intellectual knowledge, more potent than any emotion, and helps the individual make proper decisions. It is a red flag of false assurance when these three elements are not present.
Conclusions Drawn from the Past 3 Lessons
Objective faith removes trust in oneself to God's word.
Subjective faith causes doubt and allows for self-evaluation and necessary humility to remove taking God for granted.
To be sealed with the Holy Spirit is to become intimate with God's grace. The result is reverential fear of hurting Jesus' name.
Have you received the sealing of the Holy Spirit? Are you assured of salvation? Do you have an intense knowledge of your sin, which, apart from God's presence and acceptance in Christ, would send you to hell? I certainly hope so! If you have any questions, feel free to write to me.