Posted On August 28, 2016

In Him: Sealed for an Inheritance

by | Aug 28, 2016 | Ephesians, Featured

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to walk our readers through the book of Ephesians in order to help them understand what it teaches and how to apply it to our lives. This series is part of our larger commitment to help Christians learn to read, interpret, reflect, and apply the Bible to their own lives. To read the rest of posts in this series click here.
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Ephesians 1:11-14, “In him, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 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.”

Have you ever doubted your salvation? I have. There have been many restless days and nights that I kept asking questions about my salvation. But when I read Ephesians 1:11-14, my doubts go away. Why? Because I am reminded that when I believed in the gospel, God sealed me with the Spirit for an inheritance that is to come.

In my last article, I looked at the how, the why, and the purpose of Christ’s redemption for the believer. This week, I’m looking at Ephesians 1:11-14. In this opening section, Paul praises God for the blessings that come through Christ. I find it fascinating that verses 3-14 are Trinitarian in nature. Verses 3-6, the Father elects believers, in verses 7-10, Christ redeems believers, and now we come to verses 11-14, where the Spirit seals believers for a glorious inheritance.

Our Inheritance: In Christ

Paul begins with grounding this inheritance with its location, “in him,” with “him” referring to Christ. Who is the “we” that Paul mentions in verse 11 and 12? One could argue that Paul is referring to both Jew and Gentile believers. However, Paul gives an indication as to whom he is referencing. In verse 12, Paul says “so that we who were the first to hope in Christ…” This is a reference to the Jewish believers, the faithful remnant. In the Song of Moses, the Lord calls Israel his personal possession. “For the LORD’S portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance,” (Deuteronomy 32:8-9)

Peter O’Brien writes, “It is being asserted that within the wider purposes of God’s saving plan, it was those of Jewish origin, who accepted the Lord Jesus Christ first, that have been chosen for this goal of the praise of his glory.”[1]

But this salvation was not only for the Jews. The Gentiles were included in this glorious salvation. The phrase “in him” is split in this verse. In verse 13, the phrase “in him you also” unites the Gentiles to the promises found in Christ.

Our Inheritance: Sealed by the Spirit

Paul says that our inheritance is found in Christ, and sealed by the Spirit. Just like a king seals a letter to show ownership, the Holy Spirit is God’s seal of ownership of the believer. What a comfort this is for the believer! We do not have to worry about “losing” this inheritance because the Holy Spirit is the seal which guarantees this inheritance.

This inheritance is guaranteed by the Spirit. What is this inheritance? The believers’ full redemption from this sinful flesh. Oh, how we all await that day!

When we will cast off this mortal coil and put on the imperishable. Paul says this inheritance is ours “until we acquire possession of it.” The Reformation Study Bibles references Paul use of the word “possession” in two ways: (1) the acquiring of the complete inheritance of which the Holy Spirit is the guarantee, or (2) God’s people are His “inheritance” which He will redeem finally and fully in the resurrection.[2]

Our Inheritance: To the Praise of His Glory

Paul ends this section with the results of the Father’s election, the Son’s redeeming, and the Spirit’s sealing to the praise of His glory. Back in verse 6, Paul says a believer’s election was all for “the praise of his glorious grace,” (v. 6). At the end of this section, Paul says believers “sealed by the promised Holy Spirit,” is to “the praise of his glory.” So Paul begins and ends this section with one unifying them: the praise of His glory. This is all for the praise of His name. The God, who created us, is the God who redeems us and seals us. And these acts lead to the praise of his name. For He has done great things for us.

Practical Application

Believer, when you doubt your salvation, look to Jesus. Jesus is the redeemer of your soul and the Spirit is sealer of your soul. Your salvation is firm in him.

As the hymn, “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place” beautifully communicates, “I need no other argument, I need no other plea, It is enough that Jesus died; and that he died for me.”

D.A. Carson said at The Bethlehem Pastor’s conference, “It’s not the intensity of our faith, but the object of our faith that saves.” Your glorious inheritance in Christ is fully sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Believer, be assured that your glorious inheritance is awaiting that glorious day. The Day when Christ returns and restores all things or we go and be with him. This assurance is found not in the sincerity of your faith, but the strength of the one your faith is in. Be vigilant! Fight the good fight of faith! For you are God’s possession, redeemed by the Son and sealed by the Spirit. Your assurance is secure! Trust in the Father’s election. Trust in Son’s redemption. Trust in the Spirit’s sealing.

[1] Peter O’Brien, “The Letter to the Ephesians,” in The Pillar New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 116.

[2] The Reformation Study Bible Notes.

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