In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed…
There are many who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who are extremely anxious to obtain some token for good, some witness from God which shall render them quite sure that they are saved. They feel that these matters are too important to be left at all uncertain; and they, therefore, pine for some sure witness or seal.
I. First, let us speak of THE POSITION OF THIS SEALING. That sealing we can have, God does bestow it; but let us notice very carefully, lest we make a mistake, where that sealing comes in.
1. It does not come before believing. According to the text it is "after that ye believed, ye were sealed." Now, there are hundreds of persons who are craving for something to see or to feel before they will believe in Jesus Christ; this is wickedness, and the result of an unbelief which is most offensive in the sight of God. If not a miracle, perhaps you demand a dream, or a strange feeling, or a mysterious operation; at any rate, if you do not see some sign and wonder, you declare that you will not believe.
2. Note, also, that this sealing does not necessarily come at once with faith. It grows out of faith, and comes "after that ye believed." We are not in every case sealed at the moment when we first trust in Jesus. Whether you feel that you are justified or not is not the point, you are to accept God's word, which assures you that every one that believeth is justified: you are bound to believe the testimony of God apart from the supporting evidence of inward experience. The foundation of our hope is laid in Christ from first to last, and if we rest there we are saved. The seal does not always come with faith, but it follows after.
3. Note, also, as to the position of its sealing, that, while it is not the first, it is not the last thing in the Divine life. It comes after believing, but when you obtain it there is something yet to follow. Perhaps you have had the notion that if you could once be told from the mouth of God Himself that you were saved, you would then lie down and cease from life's struggle. It is clear, therefore, that such an assurance would be an evil thing for you, for a Christian is never more out of place than when he dreams that he has ceased from conflict. Here we must labour, watch, run, fight, wrestle, agonise; all our forces, strengthened by the Eternal Spirit, must be expended in this high enterprise, striving to enter in at the strait gate: when we have obtained the sealing our warfare is not ended, we have only then received a foretaste of the victory, for which we must still fight on. This is the true position of the sealing. It stands between the grace which enables us to believe, and the glory which is our promised inheritance.
II. We will notice, secondly, what are THE BENEFITS OF THIS SEALING, and while we are so doing, we shall be compelled to state what we think that sealing is, though that is to be the subject of the third head. No, brethren, the Holy Spirit does not make the promises sure, they are sure of themselves; God that cannot lie has uttered them, and therefore they cannot fail. Nor, my brethren, does the Holy Spirit make sure our interest in those promises; that interest in the promises was sure in the Divine decree, or ever the earth was, and is a matter of fact which cannot be changed. The promises are already sure to all the seed. The Holy Spirit makes us sure that the word is true and that we are concerned in it; but the promise was sure beforehand, and our interest in that promise was sure, too, from the moment in which it was bestowed upon us by the sovereign act of God. To understand our text, you must notice that it is bounded by two words, "In whom," which two words are twice given in this verse. "In whom, after that ye believed, ye were sealed." What is meant by "In whom"? The words signify "In Christ." It is in Christ that the people of God are sealed. We must therefore understand this sealing as it would relate to Christ, since so far, and so far only, can it relate to us. Was our Lord sealed? Turn to John 6:27, and there you have this exhortation: "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed." There is the clue to our text. "Him hath God the Father sealed:" for since our sealing is in Him, it must be the same sealing.
1. Notice, then, first, that the ever-blessed Son was sealed on the Father's part by God's giving a testimony to Him that He was indeed His own Son, and the sent one of the Lord. As when a king issues a proclamation, he sets his seal manual to it to say, "This is mine;" so when the Father sent His Son into the world, He gave Him this testimony, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." He said this in words, but how did He give a perpetual testimony by a seal, which should be with Him throughout life? It was by anointing Him with the Holy Spirit. The seal that Jesus was the Messiah was that the Spirit of God rested upon Him without measure. Hence we read expressions like these: "He was justified in the Spirit," "He was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." "It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth." Now, the Spirit of God, wherever it abides upon a man, is the mark that that man is accepted of God. We say not that where the Spirit merely strives at intervals there is any seal of Divine favour, but where He abides it is assuredly so. The very fact that we possess the Spirit of God is God's testimony and seal in us that we are His, and that as He has sent His Son into the world, even so does He send us into the world.
2. To our Lord Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit was a seal for His own encouragement. Our Lord condescended to restrain the power of His own Godhead, and as a servant He depended upon the Father for support. When He began His ministry He encouraged Himself thus — "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has sent Me to bind up the broken hearted." He found His stimulus of service, He found the authorization of His service, He found His comfort and strength for service, in the fact that God had given Him the Holy Spirit. This was His joy.
3. An evidence to others.
4. A witness to the world. Christ "spake with authority." Men knew not what Spirit He was of, but they knew they hated it, and straightway they began to oppose Hind. Those who have the same seal must expect the same treatment. Never in this world did the Spirit of promise appear without opposition from the spirit of bondage.
5. For perseverance to the end.
III. Consider THE SEALING ITSELF. The very fact that the Spirit of God works in you to will and to do according to God's good pleasure, is your seal; you do not require anything beyond. I do not say that any one operation of the Holy Spirit is to be regarded as the seal, but the whole of them together, as they prove His being within us, make up that seal. It is better, however, to keep to the doctrine that the Spirit of God in the believer is Himself the seal. Now let us look at what the context tells us about this.
1. If you read on, the apostle tells us that wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God are part of the seal. See, then, if ye have believed in Jesus Christ the Spirit of God comes upon you, and He gives you wisdom and revelation. Doctrines in the Word which you never understood before become clear to you "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened"; the blessings promised are more distinctly discerned, and you see "the hope of your calling, and the riches of the glory of the Lord's inheritance in the saints." The deeper truths, which at first quite staggered and puzzled you, gradually open up to you, and you see and appreciate them,.
2. Following on to the next chapter you will see that the Spirit of God works in every man who possesses Him life, and that life becomes another form of the seal. "You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sin." That life is of a new kind, and has a renewing power, so that men forsake the course of this world, and no longer fulfil the desires of the flesh and of the mind. This new life they trace to God, who is rich in mercy, who in His great love wherewith He loved them, even when they were dead in sins, hath quickened them together with Christ.
3. Go on a little further, and you will notice upon the seal a further mark — fellowship (Ephesians 2:12-14). Those who have believed in Jesus Christ are led by the Spirit of God to love their fellow Christians, and thus "we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren."
4. Even more striking is that which follows, namely, that we have fellowship with God. The apostle speaks of us as reconciled unto God by the Cross, by which the enmity is slain, and he says of our Lord, "Through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." I am following the course of the chapter. When you and I feel that we commune with God, that there is no quarrel between Him and us, that He is loved of us as we are loved of Him, that we can draw near to Him in prayer and speak to Him, that He hears us and deigns to grant us gracious answers of peace, these are blessed seals of salvation.
5. The apostle next puts in up building (Ephesians 2:20, 21). Are you not conscious, believers, that you are being built up unto a divinely glorious form, after a high and noble model?
6. Last of all, the second chapter finishes up by saying, "In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit, and this seems to me to gather up all that I have said before. The indwelling of the Spirit in the saints, in the whole of them united, and in each one in particular, is a choice seal.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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,