By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:13 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,
Paul transitions from the work of Christ in providing us with redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins to the work of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, he also moves from emphasis on the magnificent part God plays in procuring our salvation to our responsibility in receiving His offer of salvation which is validated by the Holy Spirit. In saying this, I do not minimize the part that the Holy Spirit plays in our salvation. He does not just give us an ‘Atta boy’. He plays an intimate part in the process. He is the One who convicts. It is the Holy Spirit who comes to the fore when Paul writes, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase (I Cor. 3:6). He is the One who seals. He is the seal. Yet, in this verse that speaks of the part that the Holy Spirit plays in our salvation, Paul also emphasizes the responsibility that we have in believing God’s message. This is the same responsibility that John stresses when he writes, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
There are three verbs that occur in this verse and they are all in the same tense suggesting that they occur simultaneously. Logic would suggest that hearing would come before believing but the verse speaks of them happening at the same time. The fact that we are in Christ is marked by the moment we heard the message of truth and believed the message. At that instant the Holy Spirit sealed us for all time.
Let’s scrutinize this just a little. The message we heard is the message of truth. Hoehner describes this message as “the word of which truth is the very substance and essence.” Jesus said I am the truth. Just as did Jesus, Paul affirms that this truth provides the only way to our salvation. This is the message we have heard. This is the message that is the gospel of your (our) salvation. This is the message that redeems us out of the clutches of sin and places us in the body of Christ forever.
This is the message that we have believed. It was at this precise moment of belief that something remarkable happened. We were identified as being in Christ by the Holy Spirit of promise. There are a couple ways of looking at this. First, it is the Holy Spirit that seals us. The phrase might be translated sealed in Him by the Spirit of promise, that is the Spirit who is the Holy Spirit. Paul strongly emphasizes that God Himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit, is the One who seals us. Second, the next verse lets us know that it is the Holy Spirit who is the seal. We listen, we believe, we are saved. The Holy Spirit seals us for all eternity. He is the Spirit of promise. He is both the source and the sign that our salvation is assured. He is our Promise. We are absolutely assured that we will spend eternity with Him. Once again we Praise His Holy Name; that is the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!!!