Ephesians 1:13-14

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 15, 2006


There is a flow of thought in the book of Ephesians. One person has described this flow as “Sit-Walk-Stand”. The idea is that the first three chapters are about “Sit”, about how we have been “seated in the heavenlies” with Christ and have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. The next two chapters are about our “walk”, how we are to live our lives as Christians. The last chapter is about “stand”, how we are to stand against the devil in the spiritual warfare we constantly face.

Before we learn how to “walk” or how to “stand” against the enemy, it’s important that we have a good grasp of what Christ has done for us as we are “seated” with Him.

We now finish a list (1:1-14) of some of the spiritual blessings we have as Christians. These blessings are not about what we’ve done for God, but about things that God has done for us.

He chose us, predestined us, and made us accepted (vs. 4-6)

He redeemed us, forgave us, and has poured out His rich grace on us (vs. 7-8)

He’s made known to us the mystery of His will (vs. 9-10)

He’s given us an inheritance (vs. 11-12)

:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed,

In the previous verse, Paul was talking about the early Jewish Christians …

(Eph 1:12 NKJV) that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

And now he continues that thought, talking about what has happened to these Gentile Christians who have also trusted in Jesus.

What is the word of truth that they heard and believed?

It’s what we call the gospel (You could write this down …)

The Problem (Rom. 3:23; 6:23)

We are all sinners.
We are separated from God because of our sin.

The Answer (John 3:16)

Jesus died for our sin.
God loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross and pay the penalty of our sins. He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.


The Application (John 1:12)

We receive God’s forgiveness and eternal life by trusting in Jesus, counting on Him to pay for our sins.

When we talk about people being “saved”, we mean that they are saved from the ultimate consequences of their sins – they are saved from hell itself. When a person is “saved”, they are forgiven, they are given a new life when they hear this message and they make a choice to trust in Jesus.

(Rom 10:13-17 NKJV) For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

For some of you here this morning, you don’t need to go any further than this verse. For you, you are realizing that you are all like all of us, you are a sinner. And perhaps today you are beginning to realize that there is a solution to your problem. The solution is Jesus. And you need to ask for His help.

{14} How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? {15} And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!" {16} But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" {17} So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

For some of us, we need to realize that God’s method of changing the world involves people being changed one at a time, and that method is through sharing God’s Word with people, letting people know what Jesus has done for them. How will they know if we don’t tell them?
For some of us, it may be something quite dramatic. Last night some of us were watching the documentary, “Beyond The Gates Of Splendor”, a film about the five young missionary men who died in Ecuador in 1956, killed by a band of primitive, savage people. This week a film hits the theaters called “End of the Spear”, telling the same story. Five young men who felt that they wanted to be a part of a movement to bring the gospel to people who have never heard before. What seemed so tragic was hearing that they weren’t killed because they had offended these people with the gospel, they were killed because one tribesman told a lie about them because of a marital dispute, and a group went out and killed them. And yet in the end, because of this tragic series of events, the entire tribe came to know Jesus, and a society of brutal, ruthless people to whom murder was a regular part of life, was changed forever.
For some of us, these verses may not be any more dramatic than realizing that God wants us to open our mouth to tell our friends about what Jesus has done in our lives. You don’t have to travel to a foreign land to be a part of this plan of God’s. You just have to open your mouth.

:13 you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

the Holy Spirit of promise – He is called the “Holy Spirit of promise” because He was promised to come. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His disciples:

(John 14:16-17 NKJV) "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; {17} "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

The main idea behind verse 13 is to get you to the word “sealed”. After we heard the gospel and believed, God did something for us, He “sealed” us with the Holy Spirit.

This is what happens to every person who believes. They are sealed.

Every person who has come to that place of trusting in Jesus has this “seal” of the Holy Spirit.

(1 Cor 3:16 NKJV) Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

you were sealedsphragizo – to set a seal upon. In older times, people would seal a letter by dripping hot wax on the fold and pressing a “signet” ring into the wax, leaving an impression.

Paul uses the paring of “sealed” and “guarantee” when he writes to the Corinthians:

(2 Cor 1:21-22 NKJV) Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, {22} who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

There are four different ideas that this “seal” carries:

1. A finished transaction

Even today, with some types of sales, the finished documents are embossed with a “seal”, indicating that the deal has been finished.
We have been saved. We have been purchased by Jesus Christ. The deal is done. The Holy Spirit in our lives reminds us that it is finished.
There may be times when we backslide and sin. We need to turn from our sin and receive God’s forgiveness, but we don’t need to be saved again – that is finished.

2. Ownership

In Paul’s day, Roman merchants would travel to Ephesus to choose their goods, and then have the goods boxed in crates. Then they would melt some wax on the crate and the push their signet ring into the wax as a way of identifying this crate as belonging to them. Then the crates would be shipped from the port at Ephesus to Puteoli, the port of Rome. There the merchant’s servants would identify their master’s shipments by the wax seal.
It’s a little like our luggage tags we use to identify our luggage as it arrives at the airport luggage claim area…

Airport Mistletoe

It was slightly before Thanksgiving. The trip went reasonably well, and he was ready to go back. The airport on the other end had turned a tacky red and green, and loudspeakers blared annoying elevator renditions of cherished Christmas carols. Being someone who took Christmas very seriously, and being slightly tired, he was not in a particularly good mood. Going to check in his luggage (which, for some reason, had become one suitcase with entirely new clothes), he saw hanging mistletoe. Not real mistletoe, but very cheap plastic with red paint on some of the rounder parts and green paint on some of the flatter and pointier parts, that could be taken for mistletoe only in a very Picasso sort of way. With a considerable degree of irritation and nowhere else to vent it, he said to the attendant, “Even if I were not married, I would not want to kiss you under such a ghastly mockery of mistletoe.” “Sir, look more closely at where the mistletoe is.” (pause) “Ok, I see that it’s above the luggage scale, which is the place you’d have to step forward for a kiss.” “That’s not why it’s there.” (pause) “Ok, I give up. Why is it there?” “It’s there so you can kiss your luggage goodbye.”

When you come to trust in Jesus, you now belong to God. He owns you. He has bought you.
(Mat 13:45-46 NKJV)  "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, {46} "who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

You are that pearl of great price, and He sold everything to purchase you.

His ownership of you is a good thing. When you arrive at that distant shore, you want to have God’s “seal” on you so He will claim you for His own.

3. Security

Sometimes a seal was used as a warning to others not to touch something.  A little like putting that yellow police tape around a crime scene, it told people that breaking the seal would bring the police.
When the Romans put a “seal” on the tomb of Jesus, they weren’t trying to make it airtight.  They were securing the tomb. It was a message to anyone intending on robbing the body of Jesus that they would face the wrath of Rome if they tampered with the tomb.
We have this invisible mark of the Holy Spirit on our lives. You and I may not be able to see this mark, but those who live in the spiritual realm can see it.
It’s not going to keep us from difficult times.  But if Satan or one of his fellow demons wants to put a hand on you, they know they’ll be in trouble with God Himself.
(1 John 5:18 NLT)  We know that those who have become part of God's family do not make a practice of sinning, for God's Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot get his hands on them.
I wonder if this security “seal” doesn’t also have another function as well.  Today, certain items in the store will carry some sort of RFID tag, something that will set off the alarm system if it isn’t deactivated.  If that item goes places in the store it isn’t supposed to be (like out the door), the alarms go off.  And I wonder if that isn’t why Christians tend to get “caught” more than non-Christians.  It seems that you can send a non-Christian to a bar to have a few drinks, and he gets home without a problem.  If you send a Christian to do the same thing (which means he’s doing something he shouldn’t), he’ll get pulled over by the police.  Sometimes we’d just be better off if we didn’t even try, that old “security” tag is going to set off those heavenly alarms.

4. Authenticity

A signature or a wax seal on a letter indicates that the letter is genuinely from the sender.
Years ago I worked in a bank as a teller.  I remember having training to spot counterfeit bills.  There are certain things that you look for on a currency bill to help determine whether it is authentic.
The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is the mark of an authentic Christian.
(Rom 8:9 NKJV) …Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
I’m not sure how to describe this sense of authenticity to you.
Sometimes we confuse it with emotional experiences. 

I find it common for people to say after a moving musical concert, “Boy was that ever anointed, the Holy Spirit was sure at work”.  And sometimes that is exactly what happened.  Yet sometimes it’s just that they people playing the music did a good job, and you happen to like their style of music.

The Mormon church wants you to read their Book of Mormon and see if you get a “burning of the bosom” as you read it.  But it’s difficult to know if it’s God’s Spirit talking, or heartburn from the pizza last night.

But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a witness of the Spirit.  It’s very real.  I think it’s something you refine over time.

As a teller, the more you handle money, the easier it gets to spot a counterfeit.  A really good teller can tell a counterfeit simply by feel.  Yet even in a bank, when you spot a counterfeit, all the experts come over and examine it closely to see if it really is a counterfeit or authentic.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “It is not simply our lip profession, our religious activity, or our good works, but the witness of the Spirit that makes our profession authentic.” [1]

:14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

redemption of the purchased possession – that’s when we go to heaven. That’s when God picks up His “luggage” at the airport.

guaranteearrhabon – a down payment.

When you buy a house, you have to make a “down payment”, showing that you are sincere about purchasing the house. The down payment is a promise that the rest is coming and you intend to make the full purchase.

For us, the Holy Spirit is like a “down payment” of heaven. Those times when you’ve sensed the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, when you’ve seen the Holy Spirit working in you and through you, those are just little tastes of what heaven is going to be like.

When Paul is teaching the Corinthians about the new bodies that God is going to have for us in heaven, he writes,

(2 Cor 5:5 NKJV) Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
Again, the assurance we have of our future in heaven is guaranteed by this “down payment”, the work of the Spirit in our lives.


The best is yet to come

The Spirit is a promise that there is more to come.
The Fork
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with cancer and had been given 3 months to live. Her Dr. told her to start making preparations to die (something we all should be doing all of the time). So she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what she wanted to be wearing. The woman also told her pastor that she wanted to be buried with her favorite bible. Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. “There’s one more thing.” She said excitedly. “What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply. “This is very important.” The woman continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The pastor stood looking at the woman not knowing quite what to say. “That shocks you doesn’t it?” The woman asked. “Well to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the pastor. The woman explained. “In all my years of attending church socials and functions where food was involved (and let’s be honest, food is an important part of any church event; spiritual or otherwise); my favorite part was when whoever was clearing away the dishes of the main course would lean over and say “you can keep your fork”. It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming. When they told me to keep my fork I knew that something great was about to be given to me. It wasn’t Jell-O or pudding. It was cake or pie. Something with substance. So I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them, “Something better is coming so keep your fork too.” The pastor’s eyes were welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman goodbye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that that woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was coming.
At the funeral people were walking by the woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over the pastor heard the question “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled. During his message the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either... He was right.
So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently that there is something better coming.

The Holy Spirit is a little like that fork. He’s a reminder that there’s more up ahead. More substance. Better things. Heaven.

[1]Wiersbe, W. W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989. Eph 1:13.