Sealed And Secure!

Ephesians 1: 13-14

The third person of the Trinity is the Holy Ghost.
He is also called the Holy Spirit.
He lives within the Christian.
He helps us pray. He guides us.
He helps us in all our needs.

Alexander the Great once sent an emissary to Egypt.
This representative of the great ruler traveled without weapons or military escort carrying
only the seal of Alexander the Great.

The emissary met with the mighty King of Egypt.
The King stood with his army behind him.
Yet, the emissary communicated the message from Alexander the Great:
"Cease hostilities against Alexander's interest."

The King of Egypt, wishing to save face, said that he would consider the request and let
the emissary know.

Hearing that, Alexander's emissary drew a circle in the dirt around the King of Egypt and said,
"Do not leave this circle without informing me of your response."

That took nerve!

That emissary was unarmed and alone.
The King of Egypt had an entire army at his back.
Yet the King dared not touch the man because he carried the seal of Alexander the Great.

To touch the emissary was to touch Alexander the Great.
To disobey the emissary was to disobey Alexander.
To harm the emissary would be harming Alexander.

The King realized this.

After a long, tense moment in which he assessed his options, said,
"Tell Alexander he has his request," and then the King stepped outside the circle.

We Are Sealed.

Today, people wear signet rings as jewelry.
In the ancient world the ring barring the insignia of an official was a form of power, authority or validation.
When stamped into hot wax, the ring transferred a seal or insignia.
If a letter or a public proclamation bore the seal of a king or a governor,
it was a immediately recognized as carrying all the weight of that office.

In the Scripture we see several instances in which seals play a prominent role.

For example, when King Darius had Daniel thrown into a lion's den, the King had his servants
blocked the entrance with a stone and place the seal of his signet ring on that stone.

No one dared break the seal without incurring the wrath of the King. (Daniel 6)

In the book of Esther, when the King gave Haman power and authority,
"the King Ahasuerus took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman...
then the King's scribes were summoned... and it was written just as Haman commanded...
being written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the Kings signet ring
(Esther 3: 10,12)

When the Roman soldiers rolled the stone over Jesus' tomb, they sealed it with Pilate's seal.
No one dared break the seal without incurring the wrath of Pilate.
An official seal gave the bearer power and authority,
but the power and authority were only as significant as the person behind the insignia.

In Ephesians 1: 13, Paul tells us that, "After we have listened to the message of truth"
and "having also believed," we have been "sealed" with the Holy Spirit of promise.

The Holy Spirit is our seal!
The God of the universe has stamped His mark on our souls.

That mysterious miracle takes place within us when we cross from death into life,
and that happened when we received Christ into our hearts.

Upon believing, the blessings of the Holy Spirit come to us because,
"... having also believed, [we] were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
who is given as a pledge of our inheritance.
.." (Ephesians 1: 13-14)

We Are Secure.

In addition to being sealed, we are also secure.
Nothing can never happen to remove us from God's ownership and protection.

We know this because Paul writes that the Holy Spirit was given to us as a pledge.
A pledge is a down payment guaranteeing the rest of the payment in full at a later date.
In ancient documents, the word translated here as "pledge" was used
to refer to earnest money exchange in the purchase of an animal or even a wife.

In the New Testament, the word also occurs in 2 Corinthians 5: 1-2, 5:
"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building of God,
a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan,
longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven... Now He who prepared us for this very purpose
is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge [or down payment]

The point is this: when we believe in and receive Jesus as our Saviour, we are born again spiritually.
But we are not born again physically.

In order to go to heaven, we will discard this old body we are in, and get a new body.
That happens when we die or when Jesus comes again -- whichever comes first.

We are redeemed spiritually.

God has left us on earth to advance His cause.
As a guarantee that He is going to complete the redemption process,
He has given the Holy Spirit to live in each of us.

That is His down payment... His assurance to us that today will come
when He will give us a new body and receive us into heaven. (Romans 8: 23)

Because God would never enter into an agreement without being true to the agreement
-- we are secure in Him.
Because God will never lack the resources to make the full payment after He has made
a down payment -- we are as secure as the character and riches of God.

Therefore, we can say that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
We have been identified as God's own possession.
We are protected by His authority.
We are secured by the down payment of His Holy Spirit who lives in us,
and who is the guarantee that God will give us a new body and receive us into heaven.
Then we will be totally redeemed.

A couple of predictable questions arises when we study or examine this passage.

One question is: what do you do with passages of Scripture that seem to suggest
that you can lose your salvation?

What about those people who seem to have a conversion experience and then return to
a degenerate lifestyle?
What about those who claim to believe in Christ, but show no evidence of change in their lives?
What about verses like Galatians 5: 19-21:
"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry,
sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying,
drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned
you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God

What about that?

It is true that once we are saved, we are always saved!
Nothing can reverse what is ours, once we are in Christ. (Romans 8: 31-39)

But it is also true, that if a person's life evidences no ongoing change,
there is no Biblical basis for assuring the person was ever saved in the first place.

We cannot say to someone who claims to be a Christian, but is living in flagrant, willful sin,
"I know you are not a Christian."

But we can say, "Your lifestyle gives you no comfort from Scripture to assume that you are a Christian."

If a person truly believes (in the Biblical sense of the word, which means not just head knowledge,
but also heart response), then he is not only sealed by the Holy Spirit,
but he has also been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge. So, he is secure!

The second major question that often comes up is: is it possible to be a Christian and live in sin?
To answer that, look at 1 Corinthians 5: 1-5:
"It is actually reported that there is immorality among you... for you have become arrogant,
and have not mourned instead... I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction
of his flesh,
that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus

The Corinthians Paul is addressing here were Christians, yet they were living in terrible sin.
So, yes, Christians do and can sin, and still be Christians.

The apostle John has written in 1 John 1: 8-9:
"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

However, if we, as Christians, live in prolonged, willful sin, the Lord may allow sorrow, unhappiness,
and even calamity into our lives to convince us of the error of our ways and bring us to our senses.
He may even take our lives. (1 Corinthians 11: 27-32; 1 John 5: 16-17)
Our body may be destroyed, but our soul will be saved.

Once we are saved, we are always saved.
We have trusted in Jesus as our Saviour.
We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, Who has been given as a down payment
for our ultimate redemption in heaven.

True belief involves commitment to the truth, and a personal embracing of that truth.
True belief has colossal consequences: salvation, redemption, forgiveness, and eternal inheritance.

When we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, all these wonderful blessings are secure.
The vault, the entire glories of heaven, and all the promises of God lies open before us.

All of these riches are on deposit in our eternal bank account, safeguarded more than any
earthly bank could ever be.
We won't end up like the family of the rich old man, who gathered for the reading of the will.
They heard the attorney read the will: "I, Charles Smith, being of sound mind, spent it all."

As Peter writes in 1 Peter 1: 3-4:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy
has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away,
reserved in heaven for you.

I read the story of a man named, Frederick Nolan, a Christian living in North Africa,
who was fleeing from his enemies during a time of persecution.

Relentlessly, they chased him on foot through the African countryside
until he fell exhausted into a small cave.
He expected his enemies to find him soon, but he was not able to keep on running,
and there was nowhere else to hide.

Sitting there, waiting for death, he noticed a spider weaving a web.
Within minutes, the little insect had woven a beautiful pattern across the small mouth of the cave.

When his pursuers arrived, they saw the spider's web, and assumed that he could not be in the cave.
They had determined that, if he had entered the cave, he would have broken the web.
So they went on, and Nolan was safe.

Later, Nolan wrote:

"Where God is, a spider's web is like a wall.
Where God is not, a wall is like a spider's web

That is like the Holy Spirit and our security in Him.
The Holy Spirit takes up silent residence within us.
He is quiet.
His presence might seem like a spider's web.

But not so, "Where God is, a spider's web is like a wall."
God has woven the web of the Spirit over the doorway of our life.

He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise,
claiming us as His own possession and protecting us with His power.
He has pledged Himself to giving us a new body and receiving us into heaven.

Praise His holy Name!
We are saved and secure forever!

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White