SEALED BY SOVEREIGN GRACE
There are three important words we are going to see in this text, and it’s something that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds as we go through this passage about the inheritance we have through the gospel.
Three very important words that bring rest and comfort and blessed assurance to the promises given by God, Himself. Why is that expression “By God, Himself” important to emphasize. See…..
I break my promises from time to time. (Ask my children and my wife)
You break your promises from time to time. (Ask your family & friends)
It is human nature to break promises. (It’s part of our selfish fallen nature)
Governments/politicians break promises. (That’s a no brainier)
Advertisers break promises (not as good of a product as they promised)
Employers and employees break promises (The promises of wages or hours increased, to lack of production and unreliability.
Preachers and church members break promises (say one thing and do another or nothing at all to help)
We need to understand! Some are made with the best intentions and others are made in order to deceive and exploit. And sadly all of us at some point in time find ourselves both making and receiving promises that, for whatever reason, do not materialize.
Here is where I say “But” But we can be eternally thankful that God’s promises are not like ours. Every promise He makes, He keeps. As the Hebrew writer said “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Heb 10:23. And just like Abraham, we should be fully assured that what God promises He is able and certain to perform. Paul penned these words “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” Rom 4:19-21
How about after Abraham was blessed with the Son of promise! “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." Gen 22:1-2. Then we read “Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you." And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together.” Gen 22:5-8
Here is the beautiful part of God’s promises “Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD (pre-incarnate Christ) called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." Gen 22: 11-14
This was a picture or prelude to what would happen many years later when the Lord Jesus Christ would take our place from a promise that God made in the first gospel message. Gen 3:14-15 reminds us of this wonderful promise “The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Paul in this portion of his letter is reminding us about the many blessing we have in Christ Jesus. And these three words predestination, heard and sealed are important to understand the many blessing we receive from a holy God.
The divine perspective and grounds of our inheritance (v11-v12)
“In Him”…having been predestined” God’s appointed plan for the universe is to bring all things on Heaven and earth together. The goal of creation is neither chaos nor disharmony but unity, and the point of unity will be His anointed King.,The phrase “we have received or obtained” speaks of something in the future that is sure to happen. And it’s through Jesus Christ that we have received and await this glorious inheritance in Christ Jesus.
How has this happened?
How do we have such a future that awaits us? According to God’s sovereign purposes.
Sovereign means: There are no limits to God’s rule. This is part of what it means to be God. He is sovereign over the whole world, and everything that happens in it. He is never helpless, never frustrated, never at a loss. And in Christ, God’s awesome, sovereign providence is the place we feel most reverent, most secure, most free.Through God’s sovereignty Paul says we have been “predestined according to the One who works out everything in agreement with the decisions of His will.” God’s perspective on how you entered grace…… You were predestined... "being predestined" According to His purpose... "the purpose of him" Upheld by His power... "who works all things" for His praise... "to the praise of his glory" This universe is destined for glory and Christians are predestined to participate in and witness to that glory. As Christians we are what we are because of what God chose to make us before any man was created.
As John MacArthur said in his commentary “ From eternity past He declared that every elect sinner, though vile, rebellious, useless and deserving of death who trusted in His Son would be made righteous as the One in whom they put their trust.”
As we’ve already seen “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” (v4). Look what Paul writes “God…who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (v11). Let that sink in this morning! It’s a hard truth to swallow, but it’s so amazing to know God love extends beyond the Heavens and for us the recipients of this grace we will never be disillusioned. Because God never breaks His promises and He has had this plan from the beginning. Our inheritance with Christ is yet another of the amazing and magnificent blessings with which the Father has blessed us in the Son.
The Human perspective and the Guarantee of our inheritance (v13-14)
You’re perspective on how you entered grace…..You heard the word of truth and responded in belief. We know in the church there is a tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s will. A tension that, in man’s limited and imperfect knowledge, man is incapable of fully reconciling. Understanding that we know the truths are in perfect accord in God’s mind and that knowledge should satisfy us.
Someone has pictured the divine and human sides of salvation in this way! “When you look towards Heaven you see a sign that reads “Whosoever will may come.” And after you enter Heaven you look back to that same sign and read on the other side “Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.”
Whatever God’s reasons for designing such humanly clashing truths, we should thank and praise His holy name for saving us. The dangers in not accepting the truth of God’s divine election is this…. Man-made systems of religion that rely on rituals or works or both, not only do not lead to God, but they can become great barriers to finding Him. The only way to come is through His Son. “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." Rom 10:10-11. Nevertheless the divine mystery of election will continue to causes a person to scratch their heads. But to the trusting believer such truths are but further evidence that Scriptures and the God of the scriptures are the works of God and not man’s. This is why God didn’t leave us alone after He saved our souls out of darkness into His glorious light! (v13c)
Then you were sealed by the Holy Spirit....A seal does three things:
It proves authenticity
It points to ownership
It provides security
See, we are a people who desire and strive after assurance and securities.
That’s why we lock our doors at night, wear seat belts and have air bags in our vehicles. We invest or put our money into the bank, or have RRSP. We want security and knowing we have security calms the heart, mind and soul. Why? Because we are fallible people who break promises, and at times are unreliable. When we buy an item such as an I Pod, PS4 or Jewellery we want some assurance or a warranty that if it breaks we can get a replacement of have it fixed for free. When you buy a car or home you want assurance that the car won’t break down after you leave the Lot or the roof leaks after you sign the dotted line to purchase the home. This is why we have insurance and pre-planned funerals to find comfort and rest knowing things are going to be taken care. When you believed God’s truthful message, the gospel that saved you, you were placed into Christ and stamped with a seal that cannot be broken, erased, deleted or tampered with.
This unbreakable seal is the Holy Spirit Himself and signifies God’s total approval of you! When He looked over all that He had done in you, He saw nothing flawed or inferior whatsoever, but all was as it should be. That seal tells everyone that you belong to God and no one can ever interfere with the package because of its seal! Even more, this Holy Spirit-stamp means the postage is pre-paid to get you all the way to your ultimate destination! So you can be sure that once your journey with the Lord began, you will make it all the way to the final destination…
“safe forever, home at last.”
This is where we get the doctrine of eternal security for the genuine believer! The doctrine of security of the true believer is fundamental to the character of God. Without realizing it, those who reject the security of the believer attack the very character of God. It’s either we are sealed and God is true, or we are not sealed and His Word is false. Two of the three references to the sealing of the believer are found in this letter that we are studying.
We’ve already looked at one of them here in (V13)
The second one is ….. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Eph 4:30
The third one is found in 2 Cor 1:22 “and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
The doctrine of eternal security is gives us hope, rest and blessed assurance. It’s not to cause us to fight or debate God’s truth with the idea of making it fit our narrative or predisposition. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is God’s promise of not just redeeming us, but keeping us and no one can steal or take that away from His redeeming grace on those whom He chooses.
Think about this for a moment! From God’s divine perspective our redemption has already been accomplished. DONE, nothing more needs to be done for you or me. All finished in Christ! The only thing that is left to do for us to be complete is “glorification” we are not there yet……but that is our end game. When He saved me, He sealed me and then He laid down a payment so there would be no question of my assurance of redemption and glory in His presences.
If it is possible for a believer to lose his salvation, then God’s down payment is worthless.
If a believer can lose his salvation, God’s seal is without value.
When we think like this, what we’re doing is questioning a holy God. Because what we are doing is contradicting God’s truth, character and promises we have in His redeeming grace. God is the one who has obligated Himself. He didn’t say “I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you something to get started and then let’s see if you make it.” If that were so were would all lose our salvation!
As John MacArthur said “If you could lose your salvation you would.”
This is why we are sealed on the day of my, your redemption. The Spirit of God is God’s down payment, God’s guarantee that were are His adopted children saved by and for His glory. And when God provided the down payment, He is on the line to keep His word. That’s our inheritance and like the old saying “You can take that to the bank.” This security of God’s divine electing grace doesn’t make me want to go out and sin.
What is does do……
It’s a reminder to me that the Spirit of God who indwells in me is the holy One of God, and grieves over my sin in my life. And my sin and your sin should do the same, especially when our sin was paid at such a high cost….the shedding of His Son’s blood. Knowing this truth this morning should cause our hearts to praise God for His goodness and should cause our minds to want to live for His glory. And to live a life that is pleasing to Him because a life that is emulating His grace and love of the One who resides in me. And through Him I might evidence the fact that I am destined for glory in His presence. All because we are sealed by sovereign divine grace through the gospel that saves.