Sunday, 24 January 2016

Having the Spirit

We thought tonight about having the Holy Spirit as believers. The passage we considered was Ephesians 1:13-14. He has been given to us because the Father has kept the promises he made in the Old Testament about the coming of the Spirit and Paul reminds his readers that this fulfilment is a reason for praising the Father.

The involvement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers has many aspects. One that is mentioned here is that he comes to believers because they have been united to Christ by faith when they believed in him. We know from elsewhere that they believe because the Spirit had regenerated them and that he becomes the link between them and Jesus.

Paul focuses here on the beginning and the end of the Christian life on earth. The beginning is seen in his description of the sealing of the Spirit. The Father gives the Spirit as a mark of his ownership of his people – the presence of the Spirit is the identifying mark of a genuine believer. The Spirit is a permanent mark as well as a personal one. He is given to all Christians and never leaves them, even when they sin and fail.

It is inevitable that some, if not most, of the Ephesian believers were slaves who had been branded by their owners, and perhaps rebranded when sold on. Those sealings would have been very painful events for them. The sealing they received from God was very different. In fact, there was no pain because all the pain had been borne by Jesus when on the cross. He bore the pain so that they could have the promised seal of the Spirit.

If the Spirit as the seal marks the beginning of the Christian life, then having him as the earnest or guarantee points to the end of a Christian’s life in this world – or we could say that in this way Paul points us to the fullness of life that believers will have when they receive their inheritance. The idea behind the word ‘earnest’ or ‘guarantee’ is that of a deposit that a person makes of a future payment. This is a reminder that the eternal state will be an intensely Spiritual experience.

So we can deduce two consequences of having the Spirit. First, the presence of the Spirit will enable us to understand our security in Christ – we have the Spirit as the seal that we belong to God. Second, the work of the Spirit is to make us heavenly minded – this can be deduced from the fact that he gives foretastes or samples now of what it will be like to be there.

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