Ephesians 1:13
And in Him, having heard and believed the word of truth--the gospel of your salvation--you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
Sermons
Assurance; Or, the Spirit's SealingJ. Flavel.Ephesians 1:13
Believers are SealedJohn Pulsford.Ephesians 1:13
Difference Between Belief and TrustLuke Tyerman.Ephesians 1:13
Faith in ChristT. Croskery Ephesians 1:13
How Divine Grace is ManifestedR. J. McGhee, M. A.Ephesians 1:13
Relation to God ExperiencedEphesians 1:13
SealedM. Rainsford, B. A.Ephesians 1:13
Testimony of ExperienceDr. Haven.Ephesians 1:13
The Biography of TrustM. Rainsford, B. A.Ephesians 1:13
The Double SealJ. Flavel.Ephesians 1:13
The Effect of Hearing the GospelD. Rees.Ephesians 1:13
The Ephesians' FaithJ. Lathrop, D. D.Ephesians 1:13
The Functions of the Word and the SpiritPaul Bayne.Ephesians 1:13
The Gospel of SalvationAndrew Thomson, D. D.Ephesians 1:13
The Great Christian GiftBishop Moberly.Ephesians 1:13
The Inheritance and the SealW. Alves, M. A.Ephesians 1:13
The Means of SalvationT. Croskery Ephesians 1:13
The Prayers of an ApostleT. Croskery Ephesians 1:13
The Seal of GodH. M. Villiers, M. A.Ephesians 1:13
The Sealing of the SpiritC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 1:13
The Sealing of the SpiritJ. Vaughan, M. A.Ephesians 1:13
The Sealing of the SpiritT. Watson.Ephesians 1:13
The Spirit's Application of the Promises to the Believer's HeartThe PulpitEphesians 1:13
The Spirit's SealW. Graham, D. D.Ephesians 1:13
The True Position of AssuranceC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 1:13
The Way of SalvationTrapp.Ephesians 1:13
Trusting Brings SalvationC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 1:13
Truth and TrustLuke Tyerman.Ephesians 1:13
Union of Faith and TrustLuke Tyerman.Ephesians 1:13
The Forgiveness and Inspiration of the Adopted ChildrenR.M. Edgar Ephesians 1:7-14
The Redemptive Predestination of God in its Subjective and Objective AspectsD. Thomas Ephesians 1:7-14
Priority in the Purpose of RedemptionR. Finlayson Ephesians 1:11-14
SealedW.F. Adeney Ephesians 1:13, 14
The Sealing of the Holy SpiritT. Croskery Ephesians 1:13, 14
The Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. This double title is significant because the faith which cometh by hearing has a relation at once to the understanding and to the will. The Word of truth is to satisfy the understanding; the gospel of salvation is to satisfy the will, which embraces Christ as he is freely offered in the gospel. It is the "Word of truth" - not cunningly devised fables or illusory dreams of men; for it comes from the God of truth, it has Christ the Truth for its substance, and the Spirit of truth applies it by imparting a true spiritual discernment of its meaning. It is "the gospel of your salvation;" for it is "the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16). Therefore we ought all "to take heed what we hear (Mark 4:24), and to ponder one of the signs of a godly character, "He that is of God heareth God's words" (John 8:47).

I. THE SCRIPTURES ARE NECESSARY TO OUR BELIEVING. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). "Receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). Not but that in some extra- ordinary cases God seems to have converted men without the agency of preaching or of the written Word - Divine mercy suddenly coming into contact with men that were not seeking for it, and found in quarters where it might least be expected. It is very doubtful, however, whether in cases of this sort, the Word of God, once learned but long forgotten, may not have been revived by the Spirit of God as the means of salvation. The Scriptures "make wise unto salvation" (2 Timothy 3:15), and souls need to be nourished up with the words of faith and good doctrine, even with the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ. The parable of the sower shows the uses of the seed (Matthew 13.).

II. THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS NECESSARY TO THE DUE RECEPTION OF THE WORD. Thus the Word of God is called the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12), which he holds in his hand as an instrument of power. We are "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God" (1 Peter 1:23). The influence of the Holy Spirit is uniformly distinguished from that of the truth itself; because it is necessary to the reception of the truth (1 Corinthians 2:12-15). It is true that faith cometh by hearing, but there is a hearing which brings no faith; therefore the Spirit is needed to give effect to the truth. "Open thou mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of thy Law." Men see by the light, yet the eyes of the blind are not opened by the light. The Spirit must give efficacy to the Word, that it may save the soul.

III. WE OUGHT TO STUDY THE SCRIPTURES IN A RIGHT SPIRIT.

1. Reverently, because they are the Word of God, and not the word of man.

2. Meekly (James 1:21), with a humble and submissive temper.

3. In faith (Hebrews 4:2); for else the study were utterly unprofitable.

4. Prayerfully (Psalm 10:17); for the Lord will thus prepare the heart.

5. Practically (Matthew 7:24, 25), that our life may be a comment upon the Word. - T.C.







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.
1. God, by the hearing of His word, makes us partakers in His Spirit (John 6:45; Ephesians 4:21; Colossians 1:6). As the ground cannot be quickened with fruits till it receive seed and the clews from heaven, no more can our soul be quickened with the spirit and fruits of the Spirit, till by hearing it has taken in this seed immortal, and drunk in this heavenly shower of God's Word. It is not every hearing which is accompanied with the Spirit, but hearing with the heart, so as the heart is affected to do what it hears.(1) Where there is much hearing, yet the Word is not there heard as it should be. Some are viler after hearing than before. With much hearing they have become past hearing. As those who dwell near the continual roaring of mighty waters become deaf through constantly hearing such a great noise, so there are many who have so long had the Word of God in their ears, that they cannot discern anything in it, no matter what is spoken.(2) This must teach us to attend on hearing. Wouldst thou keep the Spirit from being quenched? Despise not prophecy, i.e., hearing the Scriptures opened to thy use. Even as the conduit pipes carry the water hither and thither, so does the Word convey the graces of the Spirit into our hearts.

2. The word of the gospel is that which, being heard, brings us the quickening Spirit. Hence the ministry of the gospel is called the ministry of the Spirit.

3. All God's promises made in Christ are true and faithful.(1) Let us not give God the lie by our deeds. "He that believeth" not, maketh God a liar."(2) Let this strengthen our faith toward the promises of God.

4. It is not enough to hear, but we must believe before we can partake of the good Spirit of Christ.(1) Let us labour to be one with Him by faith.(2) Let us take care that our faith is active and productive of holiness. Otherwise it is worthless.

5. The faithful are, as it were by seal, confirmed touching their salvation and full redemption (Ephesians 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:22). As God sealed His Christ, as the Person in whom He would be glorious by working our redemption, so He seals us who are believers, for persons who shall have redemption by Him. Even as persons contracting do mutually seal and deliver each of them their deeds in several: so between God and the believer; the believer does by faith set to his seal, as it were, that God is true in that which He promises (John 3:33), and God seals unto the believer that he shall be infallibly brought to the salvation he has believed.(1) A seal sometimes makes secret the thing sealed. So the graces of the Spirit make believers unknown to the world.(2) A seal distinguishes. Believers are set apart from the world.(3) A seal authenticates.

6. The Holy Spirit, and the graces of the Spirit, are the seal assuring our redemption.

7. The Holy Spirit, not only as a seal, but as earnest money, confirms to us our inheritance. It is not with the Spirit and His gifts as with the sun and its light — the body of the sun being in the heavens, while the light is with us here on earth; but we are to conceive the Spirit Himself dwelling in this sanctuary of grace which He has Himself erected in our souls. Even as men assure others that they will pay them the whole sum due for this or that, by giving an earnest; so God makes us, as it were, part payment, that we may be persuaded of His gracious purpose of bringing us to our heavenly inheritance.

(1)An earnest is part of the whole.

(2)An earnest is but little compared to the whole.

(3)An earnest assures him who receives of the good intention of him with whom he contracts.

(Paul Bayne.)

The Pulpit.
The "sealing" of the Spirit is evidently a distinct act from faith, and the "sealing of the Holy Spirit" appears to be a metaphorical expression to denote that the same Divine Agent who had implanted in their souls a principle of faith, and brought this principle into exercise, had likewise produced in their minds an assurance of their interest in the premises of the gospel, and in the blessings of salvation by a Redeemer. Preliminary observations.(1) There is such a Being as the Holy Spirit (Genesis 6:3; Proverbs 1:23; Luke 11:13; John 7:37-40; Romans 8:16, 26; Ephesians 4:30).(2) The Holy Spirit is a Divine Person.(3) This Divine Spirit is the subject of many revealed and precious promises.(4) A true and saving faith in Christ is the special gift of the Divine Spirit — a principle produced by His gracious operations on the heart, and ordinarily effected by means of a preached gospel.(5) It is the peculiar office of the Holy Spirit to carry on and complete the work of sanctification in those who believe, and to comfort their minds by a sweet and spiritual application of the promises of grace in Christ Jesus to their souls.(6) It is a matter of unspeakable importance to know and believe, on substantial evidence, that we are the subjects of the Spirit's sanctifying and comforting influences. We inquire, then, "How may we know this?"

1. Our characters must answer to the characters of those who have a right to claim an interest in the promises. They only who are brought to believe truly in Christ are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

2. We must be led to see our need of His assistance.

3. Our state must be that of those for whom the promises are designed. Sorrow for sin, fear of God, etc. (Psalm 31:19; Psalm 27:14; Psalm 18:30; Psalm 37:40; Psalm 32:10; Psalm 112:7). If God be not the object of our reverence, confidence, and love, these promises do not belong to us.

4. In the application of a promise of Scripture to the heart, the Holy Spirit impresses the mind with a conviction that the promise is true, and gives the soul a persuasion on scriptural grounds, that God is both able and willing to perform it.

5. We may know that a promise of Scripture is applied to the mind by the Holy Spirit, when, upon a strict and impartial examination, we are directed to conclude that we are possessed of those several qualifications and graces of the Christian life which are inseparably connected with a right application of the promises to the heart (see Galatians 5:22, 23). These graces are not the causes, but the necessary evidences of an interest in the promises.

6. There is ground to believe that we are interested in the promises, when our general conduct, both personally and relatively, answers to the rules and obligations prescribed in the Word of God (Hebrews 12:14).Inferences:

1. Let us rejoice in the promises of revelation, and bless God for them.

2. Let us examine, strictly and closely, the foundation of our title to the promises.

3. Let those who have felt and enjoyed the application of the promises to their souls remember their obligations to sovereign mercy.

(The Pulpit.)

Let us observe how the operations of Divine grace are manifested in those who are the objects of it — that is, how those who are the objects of Divine grace are to be known.

I. THE POWER OF DIVINE GRACE WAS PROVED IN THEIR ATTENTION TO THE WORD PREACHED BY THE APOSTLE.

II. FAITH IN THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, AND TRUST IN THE LORD JESUS, IS THE MANIFESTATION OF THE POWER OF DIVINE GRACE.

III. THE POWER OF DIVINE GRACE, AND THEIR ELECTION TO THEIR INHERITANCE, WERE MANIFESTED BY THE OPERATIONS AND INFLUENCES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON THEM.

(R. J. McGhee, M. A.)

I. THE GOSPEL WHICH THE EPHESIANS HEARD IS DESIGNATED —

1. The word of truth, because in itself emphatically and entirely true. History, not romance. Christ's miracles were real events, manifesting the divinity of His person and mission; His doctrines, precepts, promises, threatenings, are the truthful declarations of the God of truth.(1) Evidential proof, from the testimony of the Church, etc.(2) Moral proof, from the witness of heart and conscience. The gospel, in some mysterious manner, is its own sufficient witness, and convinces the conscience of every man who prayerfully peruses it, that it is not a fable, but the word of truth. A most merciful provision of Almighty God! A man goes as a missionary among far off barbarians; how is he to convince these that the gospel he is gone to preach is not false, but true? How can the man do it? He has not the power to heal the sick, as the first evangelists and preachers of Christ's gospel had; he has not power to hush the elements, to expel devils, or to raise the dead, and, by such means, win the confidence and faith of his barbarous congregations. Nor would it be of any use for him to point out to such barbarians the evidences of Christianity arising from miracles and from history; such things are above their comprehension. Yet, despite all this, the man succeeds, and everywhere multitudes voluntarily renounce their idols and embrace Christianity — the gospel carrying kith it its own credentials, and commending itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.(3) Divine truth, taught by God Himself, and which none but God could teach, and the very truth which meets man's needs, is found in the gospel. The gospel is a sun of God's own kindling, and the more you look at it the more you are dazzled by its unearthly splendour and Divine magnificence. Its truths are too big to be the inventions of the human intellect. It is a sun which knows no eclipse and no change.

2. The gospel of salvation.

(1)Salvation is its great theme.

(2)Salvation is the end at which it aims.

II. THE FAITH AND THE TRUST WHICH THE EPHESIANS EXERCISED ON HEARING THE GOSPEL.

1. Historical belief in the Messiah-ship of Jesus of Nazareth.

2. Heartfelt trust and hope in His sacrificial sufferings and death, for present and personal salvation. Having believed Him to be what He said He was, they were emboldened to trust that He would do what He had promised.

(Luke Tyerman.)

Imagine a storm at sea. There is a ship tossed as the merest plaything on the maddened waves, while the tempest round about roars like a black spirit from the vast abyss, and the sky overhead is bent down with the rumbling vengeance of rolling thunder. The sails of the ship shiver; the planks give way; the men on board are pale with terror, for they are all conscious that they are in the utmost danger of being drowned. Their hearts beat; their bosoms heave; their lips quiver; their eyes stare. They think as they best can of their beloved friends, far, far away; and then they look at the foaming, boiling, billowy sea which is likely to become their grave; and for awhile all is deep, and dead, and significant, and solemn silence. At length silence can endure no longer; and now, mingling with the howling and raging of the storm, you hear cries and groans and prayers, such as none but persons who are conscious that they are perishing can utter. In this fearful crisis a boat appears, and approaching them it offers to rescue them, and promises to ensure their safety. How is the offer treated? One group of the drowning men believe that the boat is not a pirate, but a friend — that its pretensions are sincere, and that its flag is genuine; but they still stand and fear and hesitate. One says that the boat is for the better class of passengers, not for a poor, miserable, degraded wretch like him. Another is free from all fear such as that, and yet he hesitates to step into the boat. Why? He looks at the dashing waves; and he listens to the howling winds, and he thinks of the distance between him and the nearest shore; and, all things being thus considered, he fears that the boat is not strong enough to outride the storm; and hence, despite warning words and inviting looks, the poor timorous man in question, as well as the self-deprecating one already mentioned, neglects to rush into the boat, and so is lost. Here you have a representation of an immensely numerous class of persons in the Christian Church — persons who believe in Christ, and yet for various reasons fail to trust in Christ. How many believe in Christ as a Saviour, but dare not trust in Christ as their Saviour! They believe He waits to save others, but they dare not trust that He will save them. How many others, again, there are who, whilst they believe that Christ loved them and gave Himself for them, dare not trust in the simple means which Christ has prescribed (or sinners being saved! They dare not. Looking, on the one hand, at the badness of their hearts, and the guiltiness of their lives, and then, on the other hand, looking at the simple and easy method of salvation which Christ propounds, they dare not trust in its sufficiency. They fear the thing is too simple to be right, and they say they dare not trust for the welfare of their souls, in time and in eternity, merely on the merits of another. This may be quite sufficient, but they are afraid it may be otherwise. There they are, believing Christ, but not trusting Christ; and for want of trust they perish.

(Luke Tyerman.)

Another class on the foundering ship see the lightning's flash, and hear the thunder's roll; they see the ocean tossed in tempest, and think of their distance from the nearest haven. Their plight is perilous — terrifically perilous; but the boat approaches, and is close at hand, They read the inscription on its flag; they listen to the invitations, and to the pledges of its commander; they count the cost; they know that the case is desperate. Anyhow, they feel their case cannot be worse than it is; and so, amid the tattering of sails and the splintering of masts, and forked lightnings and thunders terrible, amid howling winds and dashing waves, amid hearings and rockings and creakings and crackings, the poor perishing wretches make a rush, and, with a desperate leap, they trust themselves to the lifeboat which offers them assistance. Such were the Christian converts at Ephesus. They believed in Christ; i.e., they believed that He was no adventurer, but, in reality, what He professed to be:; but in addition to that historical faith in Christ there was also trust in Christ. They not only believed Him to be a Saviour, but trusted in Him as their Saviour — even theirs. Renouncing trust in everything else, they trusted in Christ, in His merits alone, for acceptance with God, and for the gift of eternal life in Him. Damned or saved, cursed or blessed, sink or swim, they made the venture, and put their whole trust for personal and for endless salvation in the merits and mediation of this Divine Redeemer. And with what result? In this lifeboat of salvation, launched by the illimitable benevolence of God, crimsoned all over with the blood of the Paschal Lamb, and bearing a banner emblazoned with the Cross, they found all they needed. The wind was sometimes boisterous; the sea was sometimes rough; ever and anon the waves dashed the rocks, lashed the cliffs, and seemed to splash the very skies; but in the midst of all the violence the boat is borne without a shrunken plank, or a tattered sail, or a splintered mast.

(Luke Tyerman.)

I. THE OBJECT OF THEIR FAITH.

1. The word of truth. It contains all that truth which concerns our present duty and our future glory.

2. The gospel of our salvation, It discovers to us our ruined, helpless condition; the mercy of God to give us salvation; the way in which it is procured for us; the terms on which we may become interested in it; the evidences by which our title to it must be ascertained; and the glory and happiness which it comprehends.

II. THE FORWARDNESS, AND YET REASONABLENESS, OF THEIR FAITH. They trusted in Christ after they heard the word of truth. They acted as honest and rational men: they did not trust before they heard it, nor refuse to trust after they heard it.

III. THE HAPPY CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR FAITH.

1. The sealing of the Spirit.

2. The earnest of the Spirit.(1) The virtues of the Christian temper, which are called the fruit of the Spirit, are to believers an earnest of their inheritance, because they are, in part, a fulfilment of the promise, which conveys the inheritance.(2) The graces of the Spirit are an earnest of the inheritance, as they are preparatives for it.(3) The sealing and sanctifying influence of the Spirit is especially called an earnest of the inheritance, because it is a part of the inheritance given beforehand. Concluding reflections:

1. Our subject teaches us that all the operations of the Divine Spirit on the minds of men are of a holy nature and tendency.

2. Our subject strongly encourages humble souls to apply to God for the needful influences of His grace.

3. It appears that we can have no conclusive evidence of a title to heaven, without the experience of a holy temper.

4. We see that Christians are under indispensable obligations to universal holiness.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

I. We are to consider THE INTERESTING LIGHT IN WHICH THE GOSPEL IS REPRESENTED IN THE TEXT.

1. It is described as the word of truth. And it is thus designated, because it is not the word of man, but in truth the Word of God.

2. It is the gospel of your salvation. The best explanation of the word gospel, perhaps, is that given by the angel to the shepherds, when he announced to them the birth of the Saviour in these words, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy," etc.(1) It is the gospel of our salvation, in the first place, because it acquaints us with our need of salvation. It does not take for granted that all is well with us. It does not flatter our pride, by giving us a lofty description of the dignity of human nature, or by furnishing us with a favourable account of our spiritual condition, Like a faithful friend, it lays before us a true, though a painful statement of our case. Like a skilful physician, it probes our wound to the bottom.(2) But while it thus acquaints us with our disease, it does not leave us in the dark as to a remedy — a suitable and efficacious remedy. It does not, like the priest and the Levite in the parable, leave us to perish unpitied by the wayside. Like the good Samaritan, it has compassion on us, and binds up our wounds, pouring in oil and wine. It reveals to us a new and living way, opened by the obedience and death of God's incarnate Son, through which we may not only escape the dreadful consequences of our sins, but secure to ourselves the possession of a glorious and eternal inheritance.

3. Moreover, the gospel, when accompanied with the influence of the Holy Spirit, is itself the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

II. THE BIASSED EFFECT WHICH THE HEARING OF THIS GOSPEL IS STATED TO HAVE HAD ON THE EPHESIANS. "In whom," that is, in Christ, "ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation." Christ is the sum and substance of the gospel. All the rays of its Divine light meet in Him as in their common centre. But it may be asked, What is meant by trusting in Christ? — or, What does the expression imply?

1. It implies that we have faith in His power or ability to save; faith in the all-cleansing virtue of His blood, in the perfection of His righteousness, in the prevailing efficacy of His intercession, in the all-sufficiency of His grace, in the everlasting strength of His arm, in His providential care and protection. Such a faith as this, it is plain, is absolutely necessary in order to our having anything like trust or confidence in Him. We must be fully persuaded that He can help us.

2. That trusting in Christ implies that we have faith in His mercy and grace, no less than faith in His power. It is not a persuasion of ability alone that can inspire confidence in the applicant for Divine aid. He must be equally convinced that sympathy and benevolence are connected with it; in other words, he must believe that there is in Christ a disposition to exert His almighty power for his relief.

3. Trust in Christ implies a simplicity of dependence upon Him for salvation.

4. Trust in the Lord, when steadfast and immovable, such as we may suppose that of the Ephesians to have been, implies a lively hope and expectation of receiving from Him all things that appertain unto life and godliness. A child, while he is conscious of being under the care and protection of a kind and affectionate father, fears nothing; but looks up to him with confidence for a due supply of all his wants. That parental love, tenderness, and care, of which he has constantly received the most pleasing and substantial proofs, leave him no room to doubt his father's disposition to succour and provide for him, but beget and cherish in his bosom the most lively hopes and expectations. Similar, then, are the feelings which those who trust in Christ manifest towards Him.

(D. Rees.)

Trust in Christ is the fruit of faith in Him. We cannot believe God's record concerning Christ without trusting in Him; and faith, which is the root of trust, cometh by hearing the word of the truth of the gospel. The word heard produces faith, and the Holy Ghost is the seal of the word believed. Trust in Jesus Christ regards Him from our standpoint as He is revealed to us in the word of the truth of the gospel. But the gospel reveals him to us from God's standpoint as "all in all," made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. There is nothing that God sees to be good for us that we may not have by trusting in Christ. "He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about." Imagine being in the centre of the circle of mercies! — mercy above, mercy beneath, mercy around us. All God's fulness is laid up for us in Jesus Christ, and abounds to us in superabounding mercies. Jesus Christ was the promise of the Old Testament to be believed. The Holy Ghost is the promise of the New Testament, and is from Christ to us who believe the seal of our union with Him. "In whom ye also trusted." There are three truths here stated, and referring in common to both those who first trusted in Christ and "ye also."

1. "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth."

2. "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance" (ver. 11).

3. "In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance." We both have trusted. We have both obtained an inheritance. We have both been sealed. "Chosen! in Him before the foundation of the world." Blessed! adopted! accepted! redeemed! forgiven! — and sealed for all these in Him!

(M. Rainsford, B. A.)

I. THE APOSTLE HERE SHOWS HOW OR BY WHAT MEANS THE INHERITANCE IS OBTAINED, i.e., how anyone comes actually to have a right and interest in it. When speaking of his own interest in the inheritance, the apostle's mind was occupied with a sense of that sovereign good pleasure of God, which is the foundation of all grace and mercy, and he seized on the opportunity of rendering praise to that original cause of his salvation. And so he might have spoken with regard to the Ephesians, for they likewise had been predestinated unto the adoption of children. But he rather refers in their case to the means by which that had been brought about under God. These are first, the word of truth, the gospel of salvation; second, the hearing that word; and third, the believing in Christ through the word. The first may be called the outward means, viz., the word read but especially preached; the second the inward means, hearing, i.e., the inward passage of the word through the sense of hearing and the intellect; and the third, the inner or inmost means, viz., faith, which is a thing of the heart or soul within. This accords with the statement made elsewhere, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Here is a threefold cord not easily broken, by which man, in a way suitable to his nature, is drawn effectually heavenward from the horrible pit and the miry clay, into which all have plunged by sin.

1. The outward means, "the word of truth — the gospel of salvation." The latter of these clauses explains the former. "The word of truth" is "the gospel of salvation."

2. The necessity of hearing the word of truth, the gospel of salvation. This is the means by which the saving truth of God reaches the conscience and the heart.

3. It had become effectual to the Ephesians, who, after they had heard, says the apostle, believed in Christ. The truth had penetrated into their hearts, and there produced all those effects which at last resulted in a living faith or trust in the Saviour. How the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, had operated, what process it had followed, what advancing states of mind, conscience, and feeling it had given rise to in the inner chamber of the soul, the apostle does not delay to specify. Certain convictions would be produced — convictions of ignorance, of depravity, of guilt. New light broke into the mind on spiritual and heavenly things, setting before them in clear manifestation God's blessed and holy nature, His righteous law, His inflexible justice, whilst heaven and hell were disclosed to view. The terrible dominion of Satan, and their own bondage under him to sin, were revealed. Then the Deliverer, the Son of the Mighty One, was preached to them, nigh to justify, able to save to the uttermost. Seeing and believing all this, their hearts were at length moved in willing obedience to the gospel of their salvation. They submitted to the righteousness of God in Christ, and cast their own to the winds.

II. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PRESENT ADVANTAGES POSSESSED BY THOSE WHO HAVE OBTAINED THAT INHERITANCE, AND WHO ARE THE HEIRS OF ETERNAL LIFE?

1. Believers are sealed and made safe by the Holy Spirit. It is commonly understood that a seal put upon a letter or document secures it against detriment from any unfavourable quarter. The breaking of a seal would bring down the strong penalty of the law on the offender. The seal of the sovereign is the highest guarantee that can be afforded for the validity of any right, title, or possession which a subject can enjoy.

2. Believers are evidenced of the Holy Spirit as sealing them.

(W. Alves, M. A.)

Salvation in its proper sense means deliverance from something that is feared or suffered. For though salvation is sometimes taken to denote the happiness of heaven, yet still even then it directs our attention to those miseries out of which it is necessary that we be rescued before heaven can either be attained or enjoyed. That we may understand, therefore, the full import of this term, salvation, so frequently used and so vaguely apprehended, we must look to the situation in which we stand as sinners. We must look to it in its every aspect and in all its extent. We cannot at present do more than take a rapid sketch of those particular and specific benefits which are denoted by the term salvation in reference to the evils from which it delivers.

1. It implies deliverance from ignorance — not from ignorance of human science or of worldly objects, with which however the gospel that reveals it does not forbid us to make ourselves acquainted, and upon which it throws a sanctifying light — but from ignorance of God, the first and the last, the greatest and the wisest, the holiest and the best of beings; the maker of all things; the centre of all perfection; the fountain of all happiness.

2. The salvation here spoken of implies deliverance from guilt.

3. The salvation we have been considering implies deliverance from the power of sin. We are naturally the slaves of this power. Sin reigns in us, as the descendants of apostate Adam. We cannot throw off its yoke by any virtue or efforts of our own. And so long as it maintains its ascendency, we are degraded, and polluted, and miserable. But provision is made in the gospel for our emancipation.

4. The salvation of the gospel implies deliverance from the ills and calamities of life. It does not imply this literally. For under the dispensation of the gospel there is, strictly speaking, no exemption from bodily disease, from outward misfortune, or from the thousand distresses that humanity is heir to. But Christ has given such views of the providence of God, He has brought life and immortality so clearly to light, and has so modified and subdued the operations of sin, which is the immediate or the ultimate cause of all our sufferings, that these are no longer real evils to them that believe.

5. The salvation here mentioned implies deliverance from the power and the fear of death.

6. And then, while the salvation revealed in the gospel implies our deliverance from all these evils, it also implies our admission into the heavenly state. It is in order to bring us there at last that all the other benefits we have been speaking of were conferred upon us. We were delivered from ignorance that we might know what heaven is — that we might be made acquainted with the way that leads to it — that we might be aware of the preparation necessary for dwelling in it. We were delivered from the sentence of condemnation that our forfeiture of heaven might be annulled, and that God might justly and consistently introduce us into its recompense and its glory. We were delivered from the power of sin that, by the removal of moral depravity, and the renewal of God's image on the soul, and the cultivation of holy habits, we might be qualified for the exercises and the joys of heaven, which are all most pure and immaculate. We were delivered from the ills and calamities of life as to all their evil influence, that they might be made instrumental in purifying our character, that they might be prevented from discouraging us in our progress towards heaven, and that they might enhance our blessedness there, by the greatness of our transition from trouble and sorrow to rest and joy. And we were delivered from the power and the fear of death that soul and body, united as constituent parts of the same redeemed child of God, might become, in heaven, joint partakers of that felicity for which they had acquired a joint title, and for which they made a joint preparation, upon earth; and that, regarding death as a messenger of peace rather than as the king of terrors, the prospect of his coming to summon us away might comfort us in the midst of those distresses, while it stimulated us to the discharge of those duties by which our meetness for glory would be hastened and matured.

(Andrew Thomson, D. D.)

"Well," says one, "then if God commands me to trust Christ, though I certainly have no reason why I should, then I'll do it." Ah! soul, do it then. Can you do it? Can you trust him now? Is it a full trust? Are you leaning on your feelings? Give them up. Are you depending a little on what you mean to do? Give that up. Do you trust Him wholly? Can you say, "His blessed wounds, His flowing blood, His perfect righteousness, on these I rest. I do trust Him, wholly"? Are you half afraid to say you do? Do you think it is such a bold thing? Do it then; do a bold thing for once I Say, "Lord, I'll trust Thee, and if Thou cast me away, I'll still trust Thee; I bless Thee that Thou canst save me, and that Thou wilt save me." Can you say that? I say, have you believed in Him? You are saved, then; you are not in a salvable state, but you are saved; not partly, but wholly saved; not some of your sins blotted out, but all; behold the whole list, and it is written at the bottom of them all — "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

They

(1)heard;

(2)believed;

(3)were sealed.Faith is our seal. Assurance is God's seal. God honours our sealing to His truth by His sealing by His Spirit. There must be the bargain before the earnest.

(Trapp.)

Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise
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.)

This sacred presence of the Holy Spirit of God in our hearts, with its three great effects —(1) of making us God's beloved and accepted children,(2) of joining us invisibly in a close and mystical union with Christ and His Church, and —(3) of giving us a gift of new, sacred, spiritual life or vitality, is in its own nature everlasting. Having received it, we are in privilege, and should be, and may be, in fact, eternally possessed of it. The gift cannot wear out, nor can God cease to love His own children. There is no mortality or decay to which the gift is subject, for the gift is the seed of eternal life, by the presence of the eternal Spirit. And God loveth His own children, the accepted members of His Beloved, with an everlasting love. Nor can the gift be rendered frustrate by any direct malice or attack, or craft or subtlety of devil or man working against it; sin only, unrepented, can grieve, or wound, or quench the Holy Spirit, so as to make that cease, and come to an end, which is in itself, and in the design and desire of God, everlasting. But it is of the essence of this sacred gift to be capable of degrees. We received it as infants in such measure and degree as infants are capable of; we received the germ, the principle of Divine life. As the natural life in infants is a tender and precarious gift, hitherto capable of none of the greater exercises of older and more confirmed strength, needing tender and watchful care of nurse and mother, and slowly learning the natural lessons of strength and energy which the full estate of manhood is designed to enjoy and use, such in its tenderness, and need of tender care, is the spiritual life in infants. It is as the early spring and budding of vegetable life, when first the hair-like root is protruded from the bursting seed, and the soft colour and tender substance of the germinating plant give but faint promise of the rugged strength of the full grown oak. For infants indeed it is enough. Dying in their infancy, before actual sin, they are, as the Church teaches from Holy Scripture, undoubtedly saved. They pass pure and spotless to God's sacred presence, there to enjoy forever such degrees of bliss as suit their infant but perfected souls. But for those who are spared to the prayers and love of parents, and grow on through the opening years of childhood, passing by imperceptible degrees into the time when they can choose and determine, yield or resist, obey or disobey, the measures of infantine grace will no more suffice, than the early gift of animal or vegetable life would suffice to keep up the strength or growth of animal or plant without its regular and necessary aliment. They need the constant food of prayers, the training of Christian discipline, the habit of yielding up their will, the habit of unquestioning obedience, the unhesitating spirit of dutifulness, the gradual growth of affectionate and trusting love, the temper of industrious and rejoicing duty. These will bring them safely, by God's blessing, to their next stage. By such culture the Holy Spirit who is within them will be cherished, and His gifts not checked.

(Bishop Moberly.)

I. WHAT DOES THE SEALING MEAN? Clearly it is a figurative expression. To be "sealed" by God implies that we are His and loved by Him — that we are in that sense distinguished from the world at large — that His love is free, unmerited, simply a gift of His affection — that it secures us, and keeps us safe forever; and it is in this way that the believer looks up and perceives his blessed state in the sight of God.

II. HOW LONG IS THIS SEALING TO ENDURE? It is not to last forever; but "until the redemption of the purchased possession."

III. WHO ARE THE PARTIES that are thus sealed? The redeemed from among men. Unconverted, ungodly, and worldly men have no part in this.

(H. M. Villiers, M. A.)

What is this seal? It is a signet, or a signet ring, used by kings and others, for various important ends, some of which we shall now mention.

1. The seal was attached to letters to give them the royal authority; and so the Church is the epistle of Christ, known and read by all men (2 Corinthians 3:3). The gifts and Daces of the Holy Spirit are the seal of God upon this epistle of His mercy, where the nations of the world and the angels of heaven may read His manifold wisdom (Ephesians 3:10).

2. The seal is used to secure the possession of property (Romans 15:28), and to show that it belongs to a particular master and no other. It has His seal. Jesus Christ has purchased His people with His own precious blood, and the sealing of the Spirit is the mark that they belong to Him.

3. As the seal is the conclusion of the letter or the agreement, so it signifies often the last, the end, the perfection; thus the Moslems call Mohammed the seal of the prophets, viz., the last and most glorious of them. In this respect also the sealing of the Spirit is full of meaning. He is the last of the heavenly witnesses, and to blaspheme Him is certain destruction.

(W. Graham, D. D.)

We have been already told we were chosen! blessed! adopted! accepted! redeemed! forgiven! and made an heritage! in Christ. Now, in addition to all, this great fact is added: "In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." This is the consummation of our Divine security. The shepherds of earthly flocks seal them separately with their own name, for distinction and identification. Their seal is a dead thing, but it marks the owner's property. God seals his flock individually for His own possession by a living seal — the Holy Ghost. The metaphor here employed alludes to the ordinary use of a seal amongst men.

1. A seal is affixed to valuable property for its protection, identification, and security. It does not make the property precious, or give it value; but because it is valuable the owner seals it for its protection. Because we are valuable to God, the Holy Ghost seals us. We are His jewels: united to Christ, members of His body, and therefore the Holy Ghost seals us.

2. A seal is affixed to a man's act and deed, to make it irreversible.

3. A seal affixed is a public attestation and token of the sealer's promise, purpose, and undertaking. When the believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit, this is God's public assertion before earth and heaven that His act and will and deed is the salvation of His redeemed.

4. A seal imparts its own image and likeness to that which is sealed. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." A new understanding, a new will, new affections, a new creation — a divine nature! God's Spirit seals Christ into the soul!

5. A seal establishes a matter. See 2 Corinthians 1:21 (where this is defined): "Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God: who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."

6. Probably there may be an allusion to Acts 19:1-16. Formerly such signs followed; but now we live by faith, not by sight. If it be asked, "How, then, can I know if I am sealed?" By the actings and operations of the Holy Ghost! After that ye heard the gospel of your salvation, ye also trusted, and after that ye believed ye were sealed. Have we heard the gospel? Not only with the outward ear, but also with the heart, the inward ear. If this is so indeed, then give the Holy Ghost the credit: He it is who alone has opened your eyes. In Christ a man is called into a new position in the world, a witness for Christ; he is made a new creature in Christ, and the Holy Ghost imparts a new nature, and stamps the impress of God's likeness upon the character, to fit him for the new position he is to occupy. All believers are thus sealed, and equally so. They are equally united to Christ, and equally indwelt by the Holy Ghost. Why, then, are some Christians so much less holy, happy, assured, than others? The answer is suggested in the text: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Alas! we grieve the Holy Spirit. There is no question as to His sealing us; but can a man who grieves Him in his daily walk and conversation be as happy, holy, assured as the man who lives to Serve Him?

(M. Rainsford, B. A.)

Whoever longs for a feeling of security — whoever sighs for a fuller certainty of God's love — to that man it will be a pleasant thought that one of the offices of the Holy Spirit is to "seal." And it will make it the more happy for every Christian to receive this "seal," if he recollect, for a moment, that his Master Himself had it — for Christ testified it, concerning His own person and His own work — "Him hath God the Father sealed" — which word, "sealed," we are to understand to refer, first, to His baptism, when "the water," and "the voice," and "the dove," all designated His grace and mission; next, to His miracles — those witnesses of His power and His truth — but still more to His own infinite perfections, and His spotless reflection of the Father's character — through all which Christ was stamped, for His vast enterprise. Though we can only have in small measure, what He had "without measure," still the very same "sealing"; in baptism — grace — good works — and God's own likeness. Now, in this "sealing," the first, and I might say only, requisite — for God will take care of the rest — is to have a soft and an impressible heart. And, thank God, the "Sealer" is the Softener — for He prepares His own work! Why, the great end, brethren, of half which happens to you in life — inwardly and outwardly — is to turn the iron of nature into the wax of grace. Here is the ecstasy of childhood — here is the immense importance of yielding to early drawings. Who can tell the hardening influence, day by day, upon the man, who is daily leading a worldly life? Who can tell the callousness, which one allowed sin is always depositing upon a man's life? And what is the consequence? There is an end to "sealing." The heart cannot take an impression. It is when one is able to say, "My heart is like melted wax," that the "sealing" begins. The handle of "the seal" may be what God pleases. It may be a promise — it may be a word — it may be the Bible — it may be a sacrament — it might be my preaching at this moment. But the actual "seal" is beautifully described by St. Paul to Timothy. It has two sides. The one is God's own electing love; the other is personal holiness. What stamps any man a child of God? First, God's free choice and favour. What next? The sanctifying of the Holy Ghost — in him and on him. And thus God puts the two together, and sums it up — "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity." This, then, is "the seal" — exactly what you would have expected it to be — His own sovereignty, side by side with His own image. Now, the effect of this "sealing of the Spirit" will be threefold. First, in its very nature it unites; and to be fastened, indissolubly fastened, to Christ — we in Him, and He in us; we in Him for our justification, and He in us for our sanctification — is exactly the first thing a poor sinner needs. This fastening the soul to Christ, the Spirit does. And He does it thus: He brings us near; first, Christ to us, and then us to Christ; He makes Him attractive, pleasant, precious, necessary, to a man's soul: and then the man's soul confiding, communing, all-abandoning to Christ. Then He draws the two closer ant closer, till He rivets, with thousands of acts of love downwards, and thousands of little thoughts of gratitude upwards — passing and repassing — till He binds all — with His own Omniscience and with His own Omnipotence — and "the seal" is made. Secondly, it is a man's credential, that he has the Lord authorizing him and empowering him. It is a man's credential to himself. Is there the conscience within a man which will tell him when he is a Christian? Will there be a voice, and may a man believe that voice? Assuredly. How could it be otherwise? Can the great Presence of God be in a man and not speak? It tells a man; and, while it is telling him, it awakens a voice within the man, to repeat it to himself. "The Spirit itself also beareth witness with our spirits" — the voice of the echo — "that we are the children of God." But not to ourselves only. Do not you know, brethren, that every one — who is a believer — is an epistle, to be "known and read of all men"? and that God has sent you out, like a letter; and that the letter is directed to the whole world — that the whole world may "read" you. And the world will "read" you. Whatever else the world may choose to "read," or not "read," they will "read" you. And to this very end the Spirit has "sealed" you, and set you apart by "the sealing" — that all men may "read Christ" in you; and that you, having His name and His likeness, may go, accredited, to all men, and that you may carry Him — His love — His work — His glory — into every society wherever you go. Therefore go — go, as a man who has a royal mark — go, as a man who is made for one purpose — go, as a man who has authority given him to speak! And thirdly, "the seal" is for safe keeping and holy preservation.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Many sincerely seeking souls are in great trouble because they have not yet attained to an assurance of their interest in Christ Jesus; they dare not take any comfort from their faith because they suppose that it has not attained to a sufficient strength. Their mistake seems to me to be this — they look for ripe fruit upon a tree in spring, and because that season yields nothing but blossoms, they conclude the tree to be barren. They go to the head of a river — they find it a little rippling brook, and because it will not float a "Great Eastern," they conclude that it will never reach the sea, and that, in fact, it is not a true part of the river at all. They look upon themselves as being little children, and such they are; but because they cannot speak plainly on account of having been so newly born, they therefore conclude that they are not the children of God at all. They put the last things first. They make comforts essentials. There are three steps by which the hallowed elevation is reached. The first is hearing — they heard first the preaching of the Word; the second is believing; and then, thirdly, "after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise."

I. To begin then, faith cometh by HEARING. The preaching of the gospel is God's soul-saving ordinance. It hath pleased God by the "foolishness of preaching" to save them that believe. In every age God raiseth up men who faithfully proclaim His Word, and, as one departs, another arrives. Elijah ascends to glory, but his mantle falls upon Elisha. Paul dies not until Timothy is in the field. The true preacher has a claim upon men's attention. If God has sent him, men should receive him. The hearing of the gospel involves the hearer in responsibility.

II. After hearing came BELIEF. We know that believing does not always follow hearing immediately. There is a case told of Mr. Flavel having preached a sermon which was blessed to a man, I think eighty-five years afterwards, so that the seed may lay long buried in dust; yet, had not that man heard that sermon, speaking after the manner of men, he had not received the quickening Word. You may have heard the gospel long in vain, and it should be to you a source of very serious inquiry if you have done so. Faith will yet, we trust, come while you are hearing.

1. This belief, you observe, is called trusting. Kindly look at the verse: "In whom ye also trusted." The translators have borrowed that word "trusted," very properly, from the twelfth verse. Do not, because you see it in italics, think that is not properly there. It is not in the original, but being in the twelfth verse it is very rightly understood here. Believing then is trusting. If you want it summed up in the shortest word, it is just this — trusting Christ. A message comes to me upon good authority — I believe it; believing it, I necessarily trust it. My receiving of the message is so far good, but the essential act, the act essential to salvation, is the trusting — the trusting Christ. The process of faith may be thus illustrated. You knew a friend of yours to be perfectly reliable — you are in debt. He tells you that if you will trust him to pay the debt, he will give you on the spot a receipt for it. Now, you look at him, you consider his ability to pay it, you consider the probability that he means what he is saying. Having once made up your mind that he is truthful, you could not then say, "I cannot believe you." If you once know that person to be truthful, I utterly deny that you can hold any argument about your power to believe him. So, if Jesus Christ declares that He "came into the world to save sinners," and, if He tells me, as He does tell me, that "whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" — if I am already enabled by God's Spirit to believe in the perfect truthfulness of Christ, I should be lying unto my own soul if I said I had not power to believe in Him. Understand, power to believe in Christ is the gift of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit has given that power to all men who know the perfect truthfulness of Christ.

2. Observe this, further, that faith is due to Christ. The faithful and true Witness demands of me that I should believe what He says. Not trust God's own Son, the Mighty God, the Redeemer of men! It is due to Him that thou shouldst with thy whole heart lean upon Him, and give Him all thy confidence.

3. This faith is essential to salvation. Assurance is not essential, but no man can be saved unless he trusteth in the Lord Jesus Christ. You may get to heaven with a thousand doubts and fears; you may get to heaven without some of those graces of the Spirit which are the ornaments of the believer's neck, but you cannot get there without the life-giving grace of faith.

4. Remark, again, this faith is not required in any particular degree. In order to salvation, it is not declared in Scripture that you are to believe to a certain strength, but if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed — if that be a mountain-moving faith, surely it shall be a soul-saving faith. Faith is not to be estimated by its quantity but by its quality.

5. Observe, further, that this faith is very variable, but it is not perishable. Faith may go to an ebb, as the tide does, but it will come to a flood again. When faith is at its flood, the man is not therefore the more saved; and when faith is at its ebb, the man is not therefore the less saved; for, after all, salvation does not lie in faith, but in Christ; and faith is but the connecting link between the soul and Christ. Faith may take Christ up in its arms, like Simeon, and it is true faith; but, on the other hand, faith may only venture to touch the hem of Jesus' garment, and that faith makes men whole.

III. THE HOLY SPIRIT'S SEALING.

1. This sealing is evidently distinct from faith — "after that ye believed, ye were sealed." Believing, then, is not this sealing; and assurance, although it be akin to believing, is not believing. There is a distinction between the two things. I want you to notice the distinction. In faith the mind is active. The text uses verbs which imply action: "ye trusted," "ye believed"; but when it comes to sealing it uses quite another verb: "ye were sealed." I am active in believing — I am passive when the Holy Spirit seals me. The witness of the Spirit is a something which I receive, but faith is a something which I exercise as well as receive. In faith my mind does something, in being sealed my faith receives something. If I may say so, faith writes out the document, there she labours, but the Holy Spirit stamps the seal Himself, and there is no hand wanted there except His own. He stamps His own impression to make the document valid.

2. It is clear from the context that assurance follows faith — "after that ye believed." The apostle does not say how soon. Brookes gives the case of a Mr. Frogmorton, who was one of the most valuable ministers of his day, but was thirty-seven years without any assurance of his interest with Christ; he did trust Christ, but his ministry was always a gloomy one, for he could not read his title clear to mansions in the skies. He went to the house of a dear friend, Mr. Dodd, to die, and just before he died, the light of heaven streamed in — he not only expressed his full assurance of faith, but triumphed so gloriously, that he was the wonder of all round about him. He also tells us of one Mr. Glover, who had been for years without assurance of his interest in Christ; but when he came to the fire to be burnt, just as he saw the stake, he cried, "He is come! He is come!" and instead of being heavy of heart as he had been in prison, he went to the stake with a light step. Three martyrs were once chained to the stake, two of them rejoicing; but one was observed to slip from under the chains for a moment, and prostrate himself upon the faggots and wrestle with God, and then coming back to the stake, he said, "The Lord has manifested Himself to me at the last, and now I shall burn bravely." So, indeed, he did, bearing his witness for his Lord and Master. Assurance, then, is not to be looked for before faith. You might as well look for the pinnacle before the foundation; for the cream before the milk; for the apples before you plant the tree; for the harvest before you sow the seed. Assurance follows faith.

3. Assurance is to be found where faith was found. "In whom ye also trusted" — as I get my faith out of Christ, so I must get my assurance out of Christ.

4. This assurance, like faith, is the work of the Spirit of God. "Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." He does this in various ways. Sometimes we get the seal of the Spirit through experience. We know that God is true because we have proved Him. Sometimes this comes through the hearing of the Word — as we listen our faith is confirmed. But there is doubtless besides this, a special and supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, whereby men are assured that they are born of God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Call it sealing, or what you will, it is a fact that believers in Christ, of every age, have enjoyed an inward, filial assurance, of which we certainly hear nothing from the mere students of nature. It is well known, moreover, that the more sharply the believer's confidence has been tried, the more steadfast and triumphant it has become. How is it to be accounted for, that nature does not seal her disciples in the same way? They do not possess the restful certitude, and the joyous hope, of believers. Why do they not? Let others answer this question as they may, we answer, The Holy Spirit will not testify that nature has "The Word of Truth," namely, "The Gospel of our Salvation"; nor will He assure the disciples of nature that they are the children and heirs of God. "The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy." "When He, the Spirit of Truth is come.... He shall glorify Me." "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God — every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God...Hereby know we the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error." "We are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." Believers, then, are "sealed with the Holy Spirit," for no other reason, than that they are "in the Truth." Temporal nature is a division, — only a part of that which is perfect. Christ is unity. The men who believe in the results of scientific observation, rather than in "the Gospel of our Salvation," will discover some day that they, and "the Truth," are on opposite sides. They are the disciples of nature's facts, but at variance with truth in its eternal form. Moreover, as the only enduring and all-controlling Power must be God's truth, they will, sooner or later, find it to be a very unhappy thing, to stand opposed to the supreme governing Power of the universe and eternity.

(John Pulsford.)

It was in the course of studies in the Campo Santo of Pisa, in 1845, assisted by daily reading of the Bible, that Mr. Ruskin came into vital knowledge "of the relations that might truly exist between God and His creatures." On his journey homewards he became ill, and the thought of the pain which his death might occasion to his father and mother preyed upon his mind. He thereupon "fell gradually into the temper, and more or less tacit offering, of very real prayer," Through "two long days, and what I knew of the nights," he continued in this mental attitude of earnest prayer. What followed is the memorable experience of which we have spoken. "On the third day, as I was about coming in sight of Paris, what people who are in the habit of praying know as the consciousness of answer came to me; and a certainty that the illness, which had all this while increased, it anything, would be taken away. Certainty in mind, which remained unshaken, through unabated discomfort of body, for another night and day, and then the evil symptoms vanished in an hour or two, on the road beyond Paris; and I found myself in the inn at Beauvais entirely well, with a thrill of conscious happiness altogether new to me." The "happy sense of direct relation with heaven" experienced by Mr. Ruskin was not permanent. "Little by little, and for little, yet it seemed invincible, causes," he says, "it passed away from me." But he chronicles its departure as the gravest of all his losses, and evinces no doubt that it was a reality while it lasted. The same state of mind has, he remarks, been "known evidently to multitudes of human souls of all faiths, and in all lands." Often it was, he has no doubt, a dream; but often, also, he conceives it to have been "demonstrably a reality." If it has been a reality, in the innumerable multitude of cases in which it has been experienced, from that of Abraham to that of Bishop Hannington, then the fact of intercourse between God and man is scientifically verified.

From curiosity, a lawyer entered a meeting for the relation of Christian experience, and took notes. But so impressed was he that at the close he arose and said, "My friends, I hold in my hands the testimony of no less than sixty persons who have spoken here this morning, who all testify with one consent that there is a Divine reality in religion; they having experienced its power in their own hearts. Many of these persons I know. Their word would be received in any court of justice. Lie they would not, I know; and mistaken they cannot all be. I have hitherto been sceptical in relation to these matters. I now tell you that I am fully convinced of the truth, and that I intend to lead a new life. Will you pray for me?"

(Dr. Haven.)

I. The SUBJECT of assurance, which is and can be no other than a soul that hath closed with Christ by faith. Reflex acts necessarily presuppose direct ones.

II. The NATURE of assurance. He calls it sealing — an apt metaphor to express the nature of it; for assurance, like a seal, both confirms, declares, and "distinguishes; it confirms the grant of God, declares the purpose of God, and distinguishes the person so privileged from other men.

III. The AUTHOR of assurance, which is the Spirit. He is the keeper of the great seal of heaven; and 'tis His office to confirm and seal the believer's right and interest in Christ in heaven (Romans 8:16).

IV. Lastly, the QUALITY of this spirit of assurance, or the sealing Spirit. He seals in the quality of an Holy Spirit, and of the Spirit of promise. As an Holy Spirit, relating to His previous sanctifying work upon the sealed soul; as the Spirit of promise, respecting the medium or instrument made use of by Him in His sealing work; for He seals by opening and applying the promises to believers from the Spirit's order.

(J. Flavel.)

The sealing of the Spirit is, His giving a sure and certain testimony to the reality of that work of grace He hath wrought in our souls, and to our interest in Christ and the promises, thereby satisfying our fears and doubts about our estate and condition. Every matter of weight and concernment is to be proved by two sufficient witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). Our sincerity and interest in Christ are matters of the deepest concernment to us in all the world, and therefore need a further witness to confirm and clear them than that of our own spirits (Romans 8:16). Three things concur to the Spirit's sealing work. He sanctifies the soul; He irradiates and clears that work of sanctification; He enables it thereby to apply promises. The first is His material or objective seal; the latter His formal sealing. None but the Spirit of God can clear and confirm our title to Christ, for He only searcheth the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10); and it is His office (Romans 8:16) to witness with our spirits. This seal or witness of the Spirit must needs be true and certain, because omniscience and truth are His essential properties. He is Omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10), and therefore cannot be deceived Himself. He is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), and therefore cannot deceive us; so that His testimony is more infallible and satisfactory than a voice from heaven (2 Peter 1:19). If an angel should appear, and tell us Christ had said to him, Go and tell such a man that I love him, that I shed My blood for him, and will save him, it could never give that repose and satisfaction to the mind as the internal witness or seal of the Spirit doth; for that may be a delusion, but this cannot. The witness of our own heart may amount to a strong probability, but the witness of the Spirit is demonstration (1 John 4:24). So that as it is the design and work of Satan to cast in doubts and fears into gracious hearts, to perplex and entangle them, so, oppositely, it is the work of the Spirit to clear and settle the sanctified soul, and fill it with peace and joy in believing (John 16:7; Romans 14:17). In sealing He both attests the doctrine or object of faith, and the infused habit or grace of faith. Of the former He saith, This is My word, of the latter, this is My work; and His seal or testimony is evermore agreeable to the written word (Isaiah 8:20). So that what He speaks in our hearts, and what He saith in the Scripture, are evermore concordant and harmonious testimonies. To conclude: In sealing the believer He doth not make use of an audible voice, nor the ministry of angels, nor immediate and extraordinary revelations, but He makes use of His own graces implanted in our hearts, and His own promises written in the Scriptures; and in this method He usually brings the doubting, trembling heart of a believer to rest and comfort.

(J. Flavel.)

How sweet it is. This is the manna in the golden pot; the white stone, the wine of paradise which cheers the heart. How comfortable is God's smile! the sun is more refreshing when it shines out than when it is hid in a cloud; it is a prelibation and a foretaste of glory, it puts a man in heaven before his time; none can know how delicious and ravishing it is but such as have felt it; as none can know how sweet honey is, but those who have tasted it.

(T. Watson.)

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