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September 11, 2010
Signed, Sealed & Delivered
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Ephesians 1:13-14

Purchase the CD of this sermon.


In this series of sermons, Philip De Courcy warns the church not to settle for two-thirds of God. Christians often fail to grasp that through faith in Christ, they were not only given the gift of eternal life, but they were also given the giver of eternal life—the Holy Spirit—as a further gift. That puts the Christian at a great advantage because the Holy Spirit lives to bring God, vast as He is, within the narrow circumference of our lives.

More From This Series


Let’s take our Bibles. We’re in an ongoing series of sermons on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We’re continuing to remind ourselves that you and I, in this dispensation, in this age, we live at an advantage to the Old Testament believer, to those who live before Pentecost. In fact, it is to our advantage, Jesus says, that he would go back to heaven and send us the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit has come to indwell us, and to enable us to accomplish God’s will for God’s glory. And we come this morning to understand another aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work in each of our lives. We’re coming to look at the sealing of the Spirit or as I’ve entitled the message Signed, Sealed And Delivered, because that’s the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the life of the believer.

Look at Ephesians 1:13. “In him that is Christ you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. In whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchase possession to the praise of his glory.” Notice the end of verse 13. You were upon believing in the Lord Jesus Christ sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Signed, sealed and delivered. Many men, I’m sure, would like to lead the life of Sean Connery. Tall, handsome, dashing, famous. He’s played the glamorous and gutsy part of 007 in six James Bond movies. He’s traveled the world. He’s worked in exotic places. As an actor, he’s accomplished and sought after. He’s the leading man, and the heartthrob to the fairer sex. And in addition to his acting, Connery works as an executive producer, and has gained a position of considerable power and prestige in the movie community.

Yet here’s what’s interesting to me. When he was interviewed by an entertainment magazine at 62, he was asked why he continues to act. Connery gave a surprising reply. Quote, because I get the opportunity to be somebody better, and more interesting than I am. While a whole host of men would like to be Sean Connery, Sean Connery doesn’t particularly like being himself. At least he likes to take vacations from himself, and who he is, because he’s not that interesting. He’d like to be somebody different, somebody better. And I think that gives voice to many in our generation who are not sure who they are. Having looked at themselves, they don’t particularly like who they are. That’s the big question of our day. Personal identity. Who am I? What is my place? What is my purpose?

People all around us are looking inside and outside, far and near, trying to find out who they are. They’re trying to discover a better and more healthy self-image. They don’t particularly like themselves. In fact, recently, on a flight to Canada to fulfill a preaching engagement, I engaged in conversation a young woman from Australia who was traveling the world with a single backpack and a singular mission. She told me she was going to Canada to discover herself. She wasn’t sure who she was, why she was here, what was her purpose. And sadly, I think there’s an increasing sense of lost-ness and loneliness in our culture today. People have become strangers to themselves. Our society is suffering from a major case of identity theft.

Now when it comes to the Word of God, biblically speaking, a man’s or a woman’s sense of security, our sense of significance, doesn’t come from knowing who they are, but whose they are. You ever think about that? If you want to answer the question who am I? Answer it by relating your self-image to God’s image, because you and I were created after his image. And our significance doesn’t come from knowing who I am, but whose I am. Remember in Exodus 3:10-14, Moses is called by God. He’s got to go up against Pharaoh. He’s got to signal the Exodus of the people of God out of that land of bondage, and Moses doesn’t feel up to the task. Who would? And he says, “Lord, who am I? Who am I to do this? You got the wrong guy.” And you know what? I anticipate this.

When I go to the people of God, and I tell them, “You’ve sent me as a deliver.” They’re going to say, “You. You. Who? Who sent you?” And what does God say? “You tell them I’m that I am has sent you. Who are you? You’re mine. And Moses, your security, your significance, your identity is not a question of who you are, but who I am.” It’s not a question of who I am, it’s a question of whose I am. In fact, in Acts 27:23, when Paul goes before the sailors in the midst of that storm en route to Rome, and to tell him that the voyage will not end in disaster, he tells him how an angel appeared before him, an angel from God. And he says this, “An angel from God whose I am and whom I serve.” Created by and for God, we have to know who God is to know who we are. And since we’re made in his image, man’s self-image is therefore derived and depending upon our relationship with God.

Think about this. These words came from R.C. Sproul. I love them. You’ll want to put them down and think about them. God doesn’t need me for him to be him, but I need him for me to be me. Love that statement. Having been created by God after the image of God and for God, I must live in relationship to and reliance upon God in order to be myself. In order to be myself, I’ve got to lose myself in God. It’s not a question of who I am, it’s a question of whose I am. That’s why the unbeliever feels lost, because apart from God, they are a mere shadow of the true self they could be in relationship with the one who created them in his image. Michelangelo put it like this. “When I am yours then at last I am completely myself.”

Now that thought forms the background to what we want to look at this morning. We’re coming to look at the sealing of the Holy Spirit as outlined by Paul here in Ephesians 1:13-14. And one of the forgotten ministries of the forgotten God is the sealing ministry of God, the Holy Spirit. When you and I got saved, the moment we passed from death unto life through faith in Jesus Christ, Paul wants us to know, as he wanted the Ephesians to know, at that moment we were marked and sealed by the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit, which signified our adoption into God’s family, and our belonging to him. Who am I? That’s not the question. Whose am I? That’s the question. And Ephesians 1:13-14 wants us to know we’re God’s. We’re sealed by God’s Holy Spirit. We belong to him. That’s where we find our security. That’s where we find our significance. That’s where we find our true identity, in relationship to the one who created us in his image, and then recreated us in the image of his son.

We’re actually coming to look at one of the six major ways in which the Holy Spirit ministers to a believer at new birth. He regenerates us, he confirms our adoption, he baptizes us into the body of Christ, he bestows gifts for service, he indwells us, and he acts as the seal of God upon our salvation. Now with that wonderful reality and that wonderful reassurance, we’re coming into a section of Ephesians that stretches from verse 3 to verse 14. And while there are many punctuation marks in our English Bible and full stops, you and I need to know that this is one long complex sentence in the Greek. Verses 3 to 14 is one sentence in the Greek text. It’s as if Paul can’t and doesn’t want to take a breath. He can’t pause until he tells us that we have been chosen by the Father, we have been redeemed by the Son, and we have been sealed by the spirit. How great, how glorious is that?

To borrow the words of Hebrews 2:4, we indeed have a great salvation. The sealing work of the Holy Spirit is the capstone on what God is doing in our lives. And so in verses 13 through 14, Paul describes the final link in a golden chain of links, which provide the basis for our salvation. An eternity past, God chose us in Christ, predestined us, elected us. In time, he accomplished our redemption in the death and resurrection of his son. The Holy Spirit has been sent to convince the world of sin and righteousness and judgment to come. And there came a time in your life, in time, after the cross, through the work of the Holy Spirit that you and I were brought to a knowledge of our sin and a knowledge that our sin has been settled in the death of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit moved us to a place where we embraced, by faith, Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man.

We realized there’s no other name under heaven given among men whereby we might be saved, and at that moment we were saved and sealed, and Paul wants us to understand that. He can hardly take a breath in trying to get that across to the Ephesians. Now, there’s a number of things you want to see. First of all, the promise involved. Let’s look at the promise involved. Did you notice how the Holy Spirit is described at the end of verse 13? You were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise or the promised Holy Spirit. This designation points to the fact that that which God does by means of the Spirit’s sealing is a promise fulfilled. Okay? It’s a matter of grace to us. It’s a matter of blessing to us that we would be sealed. It’s a matter of integrity to God that we would be sealed. Because what God says, he will do, and he does.

And it seems that Paul is hinting at the fact that God promised to do something inwardly, permanently in the life of the believer, and when you and I are sealed, God has fulfilled that promise. God has fulfilled that pledge. In fact, if you go back to Acts 2:33, I think we will get an understanding of this whole thought. It’s the day of Pentecost. Peter is preaching. It’s an awesome sermon. God uses it to bring some 3000 souls to Christ. We read here, “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God,” Peter’s explaining what has happened to Jesus Christ since his crucifixion and resurrection. “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he poured out this which you now see and hear.” Peter’s given them an insight into the events of the day of Pentecost. What they’re experiencing, what they’re encountering is something that God has promised. Notice that Peter refers to the promised Holy Spirit that Jesus is pouring out upon his church.

That promise can be traced back to Jesus. The coming of the spirit was the grand promise of the New Testament just as the coming of Christ was the grand promise of the Old Testament. Remember what Jesus said? We looked at it in the early part of this series. John 14:26, John 15:26. “It’s to your advantage that I go, and I will send the comforter, the helper, the Paraclete that will come alongside you to replace me without loss to you. And the work of God will advance.” In Luke 24, in his ascension, Jesus tells his disciples to wait at Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. In Acts 1:4-8, that’s exactly what they do. They’re gathered in the upper room waiting. Look at verse four of chapter one of Acts. “And being assembled together with them, he commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which he said, you have heard from me for John truly baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

This is a promise that Jesus had made. In fact, you can go back further than that. This is a promise that John the Baptist had made. In Mark 1:8, John the Baptist says, “Hey, I baptize with water, but there’s one coming after me who will baptize with fire.” In fact, you can go back hundreds of years before what Jesus said and what John said to the promise of a new covenant that God would make with Israel, and the house of Israel to the blessing of more than the house of Israel, and that would initiate a new work of the Holy Spirit. And I think elements of that were being fulfilled in the day of Pentecost. In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God promises that he’s going to put a new spirit in Israel. What God promised to do, Jesus promised it, John promised it, Ezekiel promised it. Peter says is happening.

The sealing work of the Holy Spirit is evidence of prophetic fulfillment, and a promise kept. And in the one hand, I think that reminds you and I that Christians are living in exciting times. We’re living in the age of the spirit. God is doing more than he’s ever done before. We are seeing more of God’s work among us in our generation than any generation previous. This is the age of the spirit. If you go back to the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was primarily known in terms of power. He was closely associated with God’s actions, especially in creation. But now the Holy Spirit is clearly seen as personal in nature, undertaking a new work of creation in the hearts of people. If you go back to the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon people, and then left them. And he especially came upon Israel’s leaders, and judges, and kings, and prophets.

He didn’t come upon all to the same depth, to the same degree. He was not available to all believers in the same way, but now his presence is internal, and continuous, and permanent in the life of the Christian. It’s not sporadic. It’s not selective. These are exciting times. A promise has been fulfilled. The work of God across time is advancing. That which Ezekiel spoke of, and John spoke of, and Jesus spoke of is now unfolding. That which was distant is up close and personal. That which others only hope to see, we have seen. The New Testament believer is better off than the Old Testament Israelite. Paul’s saying, “Hey, this is the promised Holy Spirit that’s sealing you.” Billy Graham writes, “This is the good news. We are no longer waiting for the Holy Spirit, he is waiting for us. We are no longer living in a time of promise, we are living in days of fulfillment.”

On the other hand, not only is this an exciting time for a Christian to be alive. On the other hand, this whole thought of the promised Holy Spirit reminds us that God keeps his promises. Just to be practical here for a moment, the sealing of the Holy Spirit is linked to a promise that God has made. Found in Ezekiel, found in the writings of John the Baptist, and in the words of Jesus Christ, stretching back hundreds of years, but God kept his promise. The Holy Spirit was sent. The Holy Spirit has regenerated us, baptized us, gifted us, indwells us, seals us. God has kept his promise. He’s doing a new thing in the heart of man. And I just wanted to remind you and I that God is not a man that he should lie. In fact, his promises are solid gold.

Titus tells us that, doesn’t he? Reminds us that God is true to his Word. Paul, a bondservant of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledgement of the truth, which is according to a godliness in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. God cannot lie. Guys, when you find a promise, and you’ve properly understood it, and interpreted it, and applied it to yourself, and it’s applicable to you in this age, know that God cannot lie. God keeps his Word, because God’s promises kept are based upon his immutable character. God is faithful to himself first that he might be faithful to us second. Isn’t that what Paul says elsewhere in the New Testament? God cannot deny himself. That’s why Adoniram Judson, the early Baptist missionary to Burma, ministered there extensively and exhaustively for six years before he baptized one convert.

Imagine knocking doors for six years, handing out tracts for six years, standing on a street corner and preaching the gospel for six years, and seeing no fruit, no harvest. What keeps you going? In fact, he was asked that. “You’ve had a tough row to hoe so how have you kept going?” Here’s what he said in reply. “As much as there is a God who will fulfill all his promises, that’s what keeps me going.” And a hundred churches and a thousand converts later, God answered his faith. You see the promise involved. Secondly, let’s look at the people involved in the sealing. The sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit is the experience of all believers upon believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior. It’s not a second work of grace, it’s not a later work of the Holy Spirit beyond our faith in Jesus Christ, it’s the inevitable immediate consequence of the spirit’s regenerating work bringing us to life and faith in the Lord Jesus.

And if you look at these verses 13 and 14, Paul outlines three stages that a person goes through in order to be included in Christ. Hearing, believing, sealing. Did you notice them? Hearing, believing, sealing. Look at verse 13. “In Christ you also trusted after you heard.” So what came before faith? Hearing. Hearing the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. In the Bible hearing precedes faith, doesn’t it? Romans chapter 10:14 and verse 17, “How will they hear without a preacher?” And faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. So before somebody can be saved, before somebody can believe in Jesus Christ, they have got to hear, from a preacher, the words of the gospel. And that’s what went on at Ephesus. They heard the Word preached and spoken. They heard words about the Word. They heard a clear explanation and exposition of the burial, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that formed the content of their faith.

They came to understand who Christ was, what Christ had done, what was the gospel, the good news centered upon Jesus Christ. Their faith would lay hold of that turning them to put their faith in the person of Christ. Hearing then led to believing. The written Word is heard, which calls for faith and belief in the living Word Christ himself. Hearing, though important, is never enough to bring about salvation. There are people who hear, but they never believe. They sit in our services. They may even be here this morning. They hear, but it’s not accompanied by faith. They understand in the mind even, but they do not embrace it in the heart. But we’re told in Romans 10:9 that we must believe with the heart unto salvation. We must come to rest all our hope and relate all our life to the Lord Jesus Christ. We must believe the gospel, not historically, but personally.

It’s not enough to believe that Jesus died for sin. You must believe he died for your sin. It’s not enough to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. That’s an historical fact. Do you believe he was raised as your Lord, and have you surrendered your life to him? You see, in a real sense, the distance between heaven and hell is about 12 inches, from here to here. After the gospel has entered the mind, the Word has been preached, the Word has been understood, the spirit of God has illuminated our understanding and our senses to our need of Jesus Christ. That Word, and the implication of it, must drop about 12 inches from our mind into our hearts, as we’re moved emotionally, and as our wills are brought to a place of complete surrender and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is salvation. Heaven is missed by 12 inches, because the gospel enters minds, but sometimes doesn’t enter hearts. It doesn’t rearrange lies, but in Ephesus, man, they heard and they believed, and then they were sealed. This is the people involved.

First they heard the word of truth, then the gospel of their salvation. Then they believed upon it, embraced it, give themselves to it. Then they were sealed, marked immediately by the Holy Spirit. Look at it again. “In whom you also trusted after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also, having believed you were sealed with the spirit of promise.” They heard, they believed, and they were sealed. I believe immediately consequent and subsequent to faith. Now the image of the seal would’ve been very familiar to those living in Ephesus. It was a port city. It was known for its trade in timber. And according to Harry Ironside, an old commentator, former pastor of Moody church in Chicago, you probably have this image in the mind of Paul and his readers. Okay? Some businessman, some contractor goes down to the port. He needs some lumber. He needs some timber to build fences, to build construction or whatever the case might be.

He picks his consignment. He puts a down payment down. We’ll get to that a little later on this morning. He puts a down payment, some earnest money down. He says, “I want that wood.” And then, usually, he either brands that wood or he carves some kind of sign into that wood, which marks it, seals it as his. And then he promises to come back next week or the week after that, and to collect it. That’s the image. That’s the image Paul has in mind. He says, “You know what? When you’ve put your faith in Jesus Christ, God saved you. You were purchased and bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, and at that moment God stamped his ownership on you with the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is the promise that someday he’s going to come back to finish that work.” Look at verse 14, because the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchase possession. We are saved, but someday we’ll be more saved. Saved, in the words of the hymn writer, to sin no more. Found in the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Well, that’s going to happen. Do you know why? Because God has put his mark on us. We’re being signed, sealed, and someday delivered. And the people involved are those who heard the gospel, believe the gospel, and then were sealed by the Holy Spirit. They’re marked out as the children of God. God’s own spirit comes to indwell them to secure and preserve their eternal salvation. Amen? No angel in heaven, no demon in hell, no man on earth can break that seal. You see the promise involved. You see the people involved. Let’s move on to look at the picture involved. The picture involved. As we’ve said, the picture is the purchasing of that timber or that lumber. It is sealed, it is marked, and then there is the promise to return and to possess it.

It was a symbol and a picture familiar to the Ephesians, and it’s just one more rich biblical metaphor for all that God does in our lives. In fact, we don’t have time but even to study the Holy Spirit in terms of the metaphors and the pictures of his work in our lives. He surrounds us like clothing. He descends like a dove. He burns like a fire. He anoints like oil. He produces fruit like a vine. He refreshes like water. He moves like wind. And he seals like a spirit. He secures like a seal. Let me spend a little bit of time just looking at this picture. What does this picture communicate? The seal of the spirit. Several things, and quickly. During biblical times it was a means of validation. Something was sealed as a means of validation to authenticate the genuineness of the letter or the article being presented.

We’re not going to go to these verses, but write them down. 1 Kings 21:6-16. That’s the story of Ahab and Jezebel, and how they stole the property of Naboth and his vineyard, and they did it by concocting a story that he was being disloyal to the king. And it all starts with a letter that Jezebel sends to the leaders of Israel saying, “Hey, have a big dinner, give Naboth the head of the table, but put two scoundrels beside him, and get them to tell lies about what he says.” And it says she sent the letter and sealed it. So when those dignitaries, those civil leaders in Israel, got the letter. They knew it was from Jezebel, because her seal was on it.

Sometimes it was a cylinder that was rolled across the page or the letter, other times wax and the signet ring of the person would be pushed into the wax. Whatever it was, this seal authenticated the letter being sent. It confirmed that the document was the real deal. What’s the implication? Just as a seal attests the genuineness of a document, the indwelling and over-spilling presence of the spirit of God in your life and my life proves the authenticity and the genuineness of our profession of faith. You get this in Romans 8, don’t you, in verse nine, in verse 16. Romans 8:9. “But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit if indeed the spirit of God dwells in you. Now, if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he’s not of his.” Verse 16. “The spirit of God himself witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God.” The spirit of God communicating with us, and evidence, seeing a change life in our life, is a sign that we’re truly saved.

The sealing of the spirit, and the outworking of the indwelling presence of the spirit of God authenticates and validates you and me as a Christian. Secondly, the seal employed was a sign of protection. The Bible shows the seal was used to protect the item in question, so it wouldn’t be tampered with from outside forces. You can read about it in Daniel 6:17, where, remember, Daniel’s put in the lion’s den. The lion’s den is sealed. And it said, “And it’s sealed.” We read in Matthew 27:66, when they rolled that stone over the mouth of the tomb in which Jesus body lay, it says, “They sealed it.” It was to protect it from being interfered, because the authorities feared that the disciples might come and steal the Lord Jesus’ body. In fact, they’ll use that as an explanation for the resurrection.

And so, in an infinitely greater way, the Holy Spirit of God seals our salvation. The spirit’s abiding presence and power promises our eternal security, that we can’t be tampered with, that our salvation can’t be made void. Peter says, “Doesn’t he … ” In 1 Peter 1:5, we are kept by the power of God. Well, if you read Ephesians 3:20, it’s the Holy Spirit indwelling us that is God’s power at work in our life. The Christian is registered mail. If you’ve ever sent a registered letter or a registered package, there’s only two people can break that seal, or signed for that letter. The person sending it or the person receiving it. But the interesting thing is, in biblical salvation, it is God who sends, and it is God who receives. We are registered mail, and he has stamped us, and registered us with the Holy Spirit. And that’s not a seal that’s going to be tampered with or broken.

You and I are safe. We are secure in the Lord Jesus Christ. The seal not only speaks of validation, protection, it speaks of final transaction. If you go to Jeremiah 32:9-10, Jeremiah intends to purchase a field from his cousin, and he puts a down payment down. And the legal document, it had said in those verses, then is sealed. It’s the promise of the full amount to be paid, and the transaction to be completed. And our redemption involves a definite transaction entered upon by the Father and by the Son. In fact, according to John’s gospel, the Father would give to the Lord Jesus Christ, those whom he purchased by the shedding of his blood, and the forfeiting of his life. John 17:9. What does Jesus say? I don’t pray for the world, I pray for those who are mine, who are in the world, those whom you have given me. Those whom he had purchased. Because later on, John 19:30, Jesus indeed will cry. It is finished. It’s a Greek word which means paid for.

He has purchased the people that the Father is giving to him, his particular people, his church. Christ satisfied divine justice. He died the just for the unjust. And when you and I were sealed with the spirit of God, it was in evidence of the final transaction of the payment that was made for our sins upon the cross. We are redeemed. We are purchased. When Mark Hitchcock was with us, he spent an evening with us at our home, and he told me the story he’d heard from Stanley Toussaint who was a professor at DTS, but in his early days he was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. And he told Mark one day that he had the privilege of sitting in on the last couple of years of Lewis Sperry Chafer’s leadership of that school.

And Stanley Toussaint, as a young theological student, remembers a day when Dr. Chafer came into the class. He had taught another class on systematic theology prior to this class, and he’d been teaching them on the doctrine of propitiation. Hi, Jesus had died and satisfied God’s righteous anger towards his law being broken in our lives. But he was so enraptured by that, he came into the class that day, and he just stood at the front of the class, and he said, “Gentlemen, gentlemen, God is satisfied. God is satisfied.” And Stanley, Toussaint said he never forgot that day. God is satisfied. My sins have been paid for. My debt has being erased. My sins of been covered in the blood of Jesus Christ.

And when you and I believe that not only that Jesus Christ died for sins, but he died for our sins. The moment we believed that and made it our own, and Jesus became our Savior, that moment God sealed us with the spirit as evidence that God is satisfied, and the price has being paid. The fourth element of the seal is ownership. The seal denotes possession. It notes that this thing belongs to another person. It’s being bought, and now it’s owned. We won’t turn to it. Revelation 7:3-8 talks about the sealing of the 144,000 witnesses. They are described as the servants of the bond, slaves of God. They’re marked. See slaves were marked. Cattle were branded. Items were sealed as a mark of ownership, as a mark of validation, as a mark of protection, as a mark of final transaction, and as a mark of ownership.

That’s why we’re told, aren’t we, in 1 Corinthians 6. We are not our own. And the sealing of the spirit reminds us of that fact. We’ve been purchased. That wood has been marked and someone’s coming back to get it, because it’s theirs. That’s the implication of the sealing of the Holy Spirit. And I could go in a couple of directions, but I have one other point to get to. So there’s just one quick point that I’ll make here, and it’s this, the implication of that would be … their natural [inaudible 00:36:06] would be submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and you and I living a life of obedience. But I like this thought too. It should produce in us less anxiety. It should produce more obedience, greater submission, and it should produce less anxiety. “Say pastor, well, what’s the thought?” I don’t know about you, but I only worry about the things I own. Okay?

I worry about my car getting dinged out in the car lot, not yours. Okay? When I’m on vacation, I worry about my house being broken into, not yours. That’s because you worry about the things you own, don’t you? Have you ever worried about your neighbor’s car on vacation? I don’t think so. And that’s what you and I need to remember. Everything we are and everything we have is not ours. We are not our own, and we don’t own what we own, because we’re owned ourselves. Bought by the blood of Christ, sealed by the spirit of God, we are now under a different ownership. We’ve lost our life that we might find it in a relationship with God submitting to his authority. Therefore, when you and I transfer our faith and trust to Jesus Christ, we also transfer complete ownership of our time, our talents, and our treasures. That means we own nothing. Okay?

Now, if you own nothing, then you have nothing to worry about. I heard Erwin Lutzer preach this thought at a conference in our church in Toledo, Ohio, on the sealing of the Holy Spirit. And he said, “If you really grasp that, you’ll stop worrying about your stuff. And should you come home from your vacation and walk into your garage, and find your car is gone, or walk into your home and find that some treasures that belong to your family are gone,” he says, “At that moment you’ll stop and say, “Lord, why did you let somebody steal your car? Lord, why did you let somebody steal your stuff?” Because there’s been a transfer of ownership.” And if you and I really embrace that, we transferred ownership of our bodies, our spices, our businesses, our stuff, I think we’ll react differently when we’re ill, when we lose our job, when we’ve got trouble at home, when our business is flatlining. This is God’s stuff, and we need to learn to trust him with it, and him in the middle of it all.

Last thought, I don’t want to miss this. I’ll wrap it up pretty quickly here. The prospect involved. Okay, we’ve looked at the promise involved, the people involved, the picture involved. The promise involved is verse 14. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee, mark that word, guarantee of our inheritance until redemption of the purchase possession. Paul now includes a second word. We’re sealed, and that sealing of the Holy Spirit is a guarantee of something greater. It’s our full redemption. It’s the full redemption of the purchase possession. He’s really talking about our future resurrection and glorification. Because if you go to Ephesians 4:30, Paul says this. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

But Paul, we’re already redeemed. I know that, but we’re also going to be redeemed in a fuller way. We are saved. We’re being saved. We will be saved. We are justified. We’re being sanctified. We will be glorified. And when you and I got saved, we heard, we believed, we were sealed. And that seal is a guarantee. It’s a word that means deposit. It’s really earnest money. Remember the days when we were buying something. Maybe your father bought a car or he bought a piece of land, and he went and he put some earnest money down. We call it a down payment. Okay? The land might be worth $10,000, he puts a thousand dollars down. It’s earnest money. If he doesn’t come back and pay the full amount, he loses the earnest money. But the earnest money is saying, “Hey, I’m serious about this. I’ll be back tomorrow with the other $9,000.”

That’s our word. In fact, this Greek word is used in papyri of the time of a woman who puts a thousand drachmas down for a cow she intends to buy. In modern Greek, the term describes an engagement ring, which pledges undying love, and the promise of future marriage. And Paul here employs it to say, “Hey, God has now begun a good work on you, and he will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That which he begins to do, he will continue to do, and he wants us to know there’s much more to do. He who has justified us, he who is making us into the image of Jesus Christ, progressively, day by day, will someday finish all of that work in a moment when you and I will be given a new body, and we will aspire to the glory of God forever.

That’s what we have got going on here. And there’s just two quick applications. That breeds assurance, doesn’t it? It breeds assurance. I think that this verse 14 is probably the single best verse in the New Testament on the security of the believer. Have you ever wondered if a person can lose their salvation? Do you have friends that actually believe that? Take them to this verse. Here’s the promise of full redemption, body, soul, and spirit, fully glorified in God’s presence forever. The guarantee of that future glorious redemption is the gift of the Holy Spirit. So what is God’s earnest money? It’s God. It’s God. God Himself is the earnest money. God himself has pledged himself against our full redemption. That’s remarkable. God is the guarantee and the guarantor of our salvation. And God’s not about to default on his promises.

He can’t afford to do that, because then he would cease to be God. If God fails to keep his promise, then God isn’t holy, God isn’t perfect, God isn’t that which we know him To be. But Paul tells us he cannot deny himself. And if we heard the gospel, and believed in Jesus Christ, then God sealed that, acknowledged that transaction in Jesus Christ, protects our salvation, owns us, lock, stock and barrel, and God’s going to complete the work which he began in us. Philippians 1:6. Someone illustrates it like this. See, you go down onto the car lot today, and you see a shiny Cadillac. Looks like the right price. You haggle a bit, but you get the salesman down to where do you want them to be? And you put down a couple of hundred bucks as an non-refundable deposit that you’ll be back tomorrow with the rest of the first payment, whatever it may be. You go home, you tell your wife what you’ve done, and if you survive that, and she gives you the green light, you think about going back tomorrow and paying that off.

But you know what? Before the night’s done, you’re looking through the classifieds, and you see an advertisement for a car just like the one you’ve put the down payment on. But you know what? This is a lot cheaper. Pretty much the same car. And so you say to yourself, “You know what? I’m willing to lose the hundred bucks, and I’ll go and buy this car and save myself a bucket load of money.” But what’s our analogy? Our analogy is God has purchased us, and as a down payment, he has pledged himself. And he’s not about to walk away from that earnest money. He’s not about to walk away from that down payment, because he’s true. True to himself, and true to those who trust him. This breeds assurance and, in closing, it breeds anticipation. Because what is a deposit? What is an earnest? What is a guarantee? It’s the promise of something more.

The guarantee is not something separate from what is being promised, it’s the first installment of that which is being pledged. What’s the point? That which we enjoy in the Holy Spirit now is only a foretaste of that which is to come. There are three tenses, as we’ve said, to our salvation. We are saved, we’re being saved, but we will yet be saved. And in the process of being saved, that which we enjoy of God’s spirit, and the things of the life to come, we’ve tasted of the power of the life to come. You better lick your lips, because it’s only a first installment. It’s only a foretaste. It’s only a sample. It’s only an appetizer of future things.

I’m a big [inaudible 00:45:22] chocolate guy, as you can tell. I love getting in there. Usually buy myself or let somebody else buy me a pound of soft centers. As you line up to get it, they always give you a sampler. It takes about 30 minutes to get from the spectrum home and I’m just going, “Wow, that was good.” Can wait to get home, pull the wrapping off, lift the lid off, and get into the box itself. That’s the image. It’s a sampler. Think about a time when the word of God spoke into your life, thrilled your soul. Think about a meeting where you left, literally, walking on air. God was so real, the spirit was so near, the love of Jesus Christ was so special. Think about a time when you used your gifts for the purpose of God’s kingdom, and God used you in a way, and tingles went down the back of your spine. You saw God at work in you and through you.

I want to tell you something, it’s a sampler. It’s only an appetizer. It’s getting your finger in your mother’s mixing bowl. The cake has still to come. There’s another thing I used to do a lot of. What’s the point for the Christian? The best is yet to come. That’s what the sealing of the spirit teaches us. The Christian has always got something to look forward to. Here’s my last sentence, but let it linger all day long. The Christian may grow old, but Christianity never grows old. We go from glory to glory to glory. The path of the just is as a light that grows brighter and brighter until that perfect day. The church is never in recession. The kingdom of God knows no downturns. We have been given the seal of the spirit, the down payment, the deposit, the earnest of the spirit, which is the promise of more to come.

Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for this rich teaching this morning on the sealing of the Holy Spirit. We thank you for the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, and we thank you for the gift that has come from that gift. We thank you that the Lord Jesus is now at the right hand of God, the spirit of God has being poured out, the gift of the spirit was announced at Pentecost. And Peter tells us what we saw happen then was a fulfillment of a promise given by Jesus and John and Ezekiel, and that promise is being fulfilled. And we thank you. We’re living in exciting times as Christians. Your work is advancing. Lord, we thank you for this truth of the sealing of the Holy Spirit. Oh, may his work be seen in us. May we validate our profession of faith through the fruit of the spirit, through the life of the spirit.

Lord, may we understand we’re protected, that our redemption has been paid for. We belong to you, and you have pledged yourself against our security. Lord, help us to understand all of that, and live in the good of that. Help us to realize that what we enjoy now in Jesus Christ is but a sample, an appetizer, of a more glorious feast to come. Lord, help us indeed not to look back. We’ve got something to look forward to. Help us, indeed, to move from glory, to glory, from greater likeness to Jesus Christ, to greater likeness, to Jesus Christ, because it’s not about who I am, it’s about whose I am. Help us, indeed, to find our self-image in the fact that you created us after your image. Help us to live all of our life and relate all of our days to you. If there’s somebody who hasn’t heard, and hasn’t believed, and hasn’t been sealed, may they do it today, and find joy unspeakable, and full of glory. For these things we ask and pray in Jesus’ name.