In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Eph. 1:13, 14
Ye also. . . .
This in distinction from “we. . . . who first trusted in Christ.”
The glorious mystery of the will of God, according to the good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, and which He made known unto us, is that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on the earth!
This is the whole of God’s inheritance, His precious possession.
In this beautiful and glorious whole, the Church in Christ occupies the chief place. She is God’s heritage par excellence!
And again, of this glorious Church, they that had first trusted in Christ, the Church of the old dispensation, had now also become a part. They also had become a heritage, a portion by lot. For years it had seemed as if they were the whole of the precious possession of Jehovah; now, however, in the fullness of times, it had been revealed that the whole of the old dispensation was destined to become more glorious by merging into a larger whole: the gentiles also had become fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God! And so they that were the whole had now become more glorious by becoming a part!
Wonderful wisdom of God!
And now: “ye also.”
“In whom,” that is, in Christ, “ye also are.” This is a better translation than “in whom ye also trusted.” The last word does not occur in the original.
Ye, gentile Christians!
Ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and through the hearing of that gospel by faith, ye were engrafted into Him!
And believing, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise!
By the Spirit that is an earnest of the complete inheritance!
Sealed ye are, therefore, until the redemption of the purchased possession is accomplished!
Sealed in Christ!
In Him ye are!
Marvelous and blessed truth!
Not mere individuals are we, that stand and fall our own masters, that live and die by ourselves; neither are we merely in the first man Adam, by whom sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and death passed unto all men because all have sinned. . . .
No, in Him we are!
For, He, the Christ of God, anointed from before the foundation of the world, sent in the fullness of time, made of a woman, made under the law, Who died on the accursed tree and was raised unto everlasting glory by the marvelous power of Him who quickeneth the dead and calleth the things that are not as if they were, Who was delivered for our transgressions and raised for our justification,—He is the eternal Head of His Church. He is such in the legal, forensic sense of the word, so that the Church is a corporation, a legal body before God’s law with Him, so that He represents them according to God’s own election; and He is such in the spiritual, organic sense of the word, so that He is their resurrection and their life, their all in the Holy Spirit of promise!
In Him we are!
Before God we are eternally in Him. For we are chosen in Him. And in Him God beholds us as justified and glorified. Hence, He beholds no iniquity in Jacob. For, whom he has foreknown, them He also did predestinate to be conformed according to the image of His Son, and whom He did predestinate them He also called, and whom He called them He also justified, and whom He justified them He also glorified. And through faith we are engrafted into Him, so that we become one plant with Him, appropriate unto ourselves all that is in Him, live out of Him and bear fruit unto the glory of His grace through the Spirit which He hath given unto us. In Him we are new creatures, created unto good works, which God before ordained that we should walk in them. Old things have passed away, all things are become new!
In Him ye also are!
Into a living, conscious relationship with Christ, their Lord, they had been brought. Consciously they lived out of Christ. For their contact and fellowship with Him had been accomplished through their hearing of the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation. Formerly they were in darkness, dead through trespasses and sins. They lived in the lie, and living in the lie they were dead. But the word of truth -had been preached to them, the truth of God; the light had pierced the darkness. The word of truth had spoken to them in their lie, the word of righteousness had addressed them in their sin, the word of life had reached out to them in their death; the word of liberty had sounded forth unto them in their bondage, the word of reconciliation had been preached to them in their enmity against God, the word of redemption, even the forgiveness of sins, had come to them in their state of condemnation. . . .
And they had heard!
Heard, indeed, with their natural ear, grasped with their natural understanding; but heard, too, with a spiritual ear, and understood with spiritual discernment; heard, indeed, as a word that came to them through man, for how shall they hear without a preacher; but heard, not as a word of man,—how could man’s word ever be a gospel of our salvation?—but as the Word of God through Jesus Christ, their Lord.
And thus this word of truth had become the gospel of their salvation! Hearing they had believed, and believing they had been saved.
Implanted they had been into Christ.
In whom ye also!
Sealed in Him!
For, having believed, they were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise!
Not, indeed, as if the gift and operation of the Holy Spirit were subsequent to faith, so that faith is the work of man apart from that Spirit. On the contrary, faith is wrought in our hearts by that same Spirit of promise. For “by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Nor even, as if one could strictly introduce the order of time into the work of salvation, so that one is first reborn, then called, afterwards made a believer and justified, and finally sealed unto salvation. For, strictly speaking, he that is born of God has received the Spirit that will abide with him forever, and is sealed forever unto perfect and final redemption in the day of Christ.
Yet, so had been their experience, and in that order they had become conscious partakers of their salvation through the word of truth.
They had heard the gospel of their salvation.
And hearing they had believed.
And believing they had been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise unto the perfect salvation.
A seal is a distinguishing mark: it marks that which is sealed as genuine, in distinction from the counterfeit. A seal also marks the object as the peculiar possession of him that sealed it. And, thirdly, it safeguards the character of the thing against being spoiled or destroyed.
Thus the believers.
They are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. Intentionally, with a view to the fact that it is He that seals the believers, He is called the Spirit of promise. It designates Him as the Spirit of Christ, that was promised even before the fullness of time; but it also denotes Him as the One by Whom the promise is realized and fulfilled. The promise! For, although all through the ages of the old dispensation, beginning in Paradise, and reaching out unto the end of time, the promise is repeated in many different forms and announced from many different aspects; and although its riches of salvation and glory are innumerable; yet, it always is one and the same promise, and always it holds forth the hope of complete redemption and eternal life in the everlasting Kingdom of Christ that is to come. And of that promise, with all its glorious riches of blessing, He is the Spirit. He was promised to Christ before the world was; and He was given to Christ as His peculiar Spirit at His exaltation. And “being exalted by the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Ghost,” He poured out that Spirit into His Church, and all His own receive that Spirit. He is the Spirit, too, that realizes the promise. For, He it is that applies all the blessings of salvation and grace unto the believers, that regenerates them and makes them partakers of the resurrection-life of Christ, that gives them eyes to see and ears to hear, that calls them and gives them faith, that justifies them and gives them eternal righteousness, that sanctifies them and preserves and keeps them, that glorifies them and gives them eternal life. . . .
Sealed the believers are by that Spirit!
By Him they are definitely set aside from the world, marked as children of the living God, in knowledge of the truth, faith of the gospel, righteousness and holiness, the love of God and of one another, in distinction from the children of darkness. By Him they are distinctively marked as God’s own peculiar possession, whom He purchased and redeemed out of the world, that they might be to the praise of the glory of His grace in the beloved. By Him they are safeguarded against all attempts to deprive them of their righteousness, to spoil them of their eternal hope, to cause them to perish with the world. For their enemies are strong, and in themselves they are weak. But by the Spirit they are sealed. He it is that sustains and keeps the bond that unites them with Christ, their Lord. By Him they are imperishable in the hand of Christ, so that no one can pluck them out!
Sealed in Christ!
Sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise!
Distinct as God’s peculiar heritage, His own possession, safe and secure in the midst of a world of darkness that hates them and is bent upon their destruction! Hence, they are also assured!
Sealing and assurance are not the same, but they are, inseparably connected. The one is the cause, the other the effect. For, by faith we become conscious of and lay hold upon the sealing operation of the Spirit of promise; and thus we are assured!
Sealing us, the Spirit witnesses with our Spirit that we are children of God; and believing we receive His testimony.
Sealing us, the Spirit assures us that He will never leave us, always preserve us in Christ; and believing we trust and persevere, fighting the good fight, even unto the end.
Sealed by the Spirit, we are assured of our salvation!
Now and forever!
And thus we are saved in hope!
For the Spirit of promise, the sealing Spirit, is the earnest of our inheritance! The earnest that is ours until the redemption of God’s own purchased, peculiar possession is complete.
That peculiar possession is His Church, are we, together with all the saints elect! That Church He conceived in all its beauty and glory in Christ in eternity. Always He has it before Him, for its stands engraven in both the palms of His hands. Eternally He loves that peculiar possession, and eternally it is precious in His sight. For, it is the revelation of His own glory in Christ His Son. It is perfect in beauty of holiness. He realizes this possession in time. He obtains it for Himself. So precious is that Church of His love to Him, that no way was too deep, no price was too precious to obtain it. His only begotten Son He gave, gave up even unto the shameful death of the cross, that He might purchase for Himself this possession. The deep way of sin and death and grace and resurrection He chose to adorn this possession with the eternal beauty He had designed for it.
That possession is redeemed,—yet not completely.
Still it is not complete.
Still it is partly in the world, in sin, in death.
Still it waits for that final day, when all the elect shall have been born, reborn, called, saved, justified, glorified; the day, when the last enemy shall be destroyed, when the Redeemer shall come in all His glory, to perfect their deliverance, to glorify them in body and soul, to fit them into that eternal scheme of things in which everything shall be united in Christ, and heaven and earth shall unite in showing forth the glory of Him that sitteth upon the throne!
For that is the end, the purpose of this peculiar possession. It must be, it shall be to the praise of His glory!
And to occupy their own place in this eternal scheme of things, this blessed Kingdom of the Father, in Christ, consciously, willingly, with all their heart uniting in this eternal song of the praise of His glory, ‘without sin or the possibility of sin, without death or the shadow of death, without suffering and sorrow, in holiness and righteousness and truth, walking in the light of eternal life, filled with the joy of God’s everlasting favor, seeing Him face to face, always, everywhere, knowing as they are known in eternal perfection,—that is the inheritance of the believers!
Unto that inheritance they are sealed!
Sealed in Christ!
Sealed by the Spirit of promise!
And, therefore, of that inheritance that Spirit of promise is the earnest, the God-given earnest, which even now they possess!
The idea of an earnest is that of guarantee, a token that is given in pledge of the fulfillment of a promise or an obligation. It is akin to the idea of first fruits. Among Israel the first fruits were a pledge of the full and complete harvest.
Thus the Spirit of promise, which is given us, is our guarantee from God Himself that the whole glorious inheritance will surely be given in our possession in the day of complete redemption! He is this, because already He makes us possessors of that inheritance in principle, when He raises us with Christ and applies to us all the blessings of salvation! He is such, because He will never forsake the work of His hands, but seals us even unto that perfect redemption!
Glorious inheritance and blessed assurance!
Sealed and guaranteed!
Saved by hope!