In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV)
Growing up through my teenage years as a member of a Methodist church, there always seemed to be a contentious argument with the Baptist church over the eternal security of believers. The Methodist church took the position that a person could forfeit their salvation by returning to their former immoral lifestyle. They called it “falling from grace.” The Baptist position was that once a person made a confession of faith they could never lose their salvation regardless of their future behavior. They called it “once saved, always saved.” Both of these positions seem to miss the mark of what scripture teaches.
In chapter one of Ephesians Paul wrote that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (v3). We have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (v4). We have been predestined to adoption as sons (v5). We have redemption through Christ’s blood (v7). We have been shown the mystery of God’s will (v9). We have obtained an inheritance (v11). And then in verses 13 and 14 Paul states that to ensure that all this is ours we have been given the Holy Spirit as a seal, a guarantee.
Much like a king used a signet ring to certify a royal decree, God has used the Holy Spirit to certify as his all who have believed in him. Not only has God sealed each believer with the Holy Spirit he has placed the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers as a guarantee that he will keep them in Christ. In other words God has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment, a promise that he will finish his work in us.
Paul wrote, And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22 ESV) He also wrote, For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:4-5 ESV) God has fully established us in Christ and has prepared us for immortality. And he gave us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of his promise to finish the work.
Though God promises to complete the work he began in us (1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3), in no way does that give us liberty to live as we please. Paul wrote to Timothy, But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his, and, Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19 ESV) And to the Ephesians he wrote, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30 ESV)
Once a person is truly born again he has new life. With that new life comes a new behavior, the fruit of becoming a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We can rejoice that the Father holds those who believe in him securely in his hand (John 10:29). God will not allow the righteous to be moved (Psalm 55:22).
Do you feel secure in your salvation? Are you bearing the fruit of a new creation?
Scriptures for meditation: