Sealed with the Holy Spirit.
In much of the controversy over the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I have noticed that very little is said about the term; "Sealing of the Spirit" or "Sealed with the Spirit". I wrote a post on Dr Lloyd-Jones' view of the sealing of the Spirit in October last year. He said;
"If I were asked to give a diagnosis as to what is wrong with the Christian church today, and as to what has been her chief trouble for a number of years, I would suggest that it is her failure to understand this statement". Ephesians 1:13: "In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise".
I am developing an informal series based on Dr Ern Baxter's statement that the Kingdom of God only becomes reality through the Holy Spirit. Yesterday we saw his views on the gift of prophecy. Today I want to reprint his sermon notes on the sealing of the Spirit that I discovered in his archive.
- Ephesians 1:13 - "In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise".
- 2 Corinthians 1:22 - "God hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts".
- Ephesians 4:30 - " ... the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption".
1. Who Does the Sealing?
- John 6:27 - "Him (Jesus) hath God the Father sealed".
- Ephesians 1:3, 13 - "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath ... sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise".
- 2 Corinthians 1:22 - "God hath also sealed us".
In John, the Father seals the Son. In the Epistles He seals the sons! The divine title is significant and ought not to be ignored.
2. Who Are Sealed?
Only the Saved are sealed! It is the "purchased possession" (Eph 1:14) which is sealed. It is for those who "trusted after they heard the Word of Truth" (v13). The great "Pattern" however, as indicated by the Word is Jesus. We can learn much about the sealing of the sons as we investigate the sealing of the Son. The great difference of course being that Jesus was sealed because of what He was in Himself and we are sealed because of what we are "in Him" (Ephesians 1:13). There is little doubt that the sealing of Jesus is intended to refer to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him after His baptism at the Jordon as recorded by the four Gospels. The three synoptic Gospels do little more than record the experience and so we turn to John's Gospel to discover the spiritual significance (John 1:15-34).
Many unwittingly indulge in an ancient heresy in trying to prove that Jesus only became the Son of God at this point. That this was the time and place of His being "made manifest to Israel" (John 1:31) is the testimony of Scripture, but the Word is also quite definite in safeguarding the Deity of the Son right from birth (Isaiah 9:6, Luke 1:35, Gal 4:4). Two words in the Johanine record are of considerable interest to us in our investigation. They are "manifest" and "bare record". It is also significant that John makes no mention of the 'Voice from heaven' as recorded by the other three Gospels. The descent of the Holy Spirit alone was the signal that John was cautioned to watch for (John 1:33). This was the manifestation, identification and public authorization of the Son of God! The seal did not make Him the Son but rather was the public manifestation that He was the Son.
- Galatians 4:6 - "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts".
The sealing is an "Also" experience ... "In whom also" (Ephesians 1:13). "God hath also sealed us" (2 Corinthians 1:22). Paul writing to the Ephesians is not merely laying down a theological law, he is recounting an actual experience that had taken place in the lives of the Ephesians. Have we any account of this experience in the Word? Indeeed we have (Acts 19:1-7). A careful and prayerful persual of this passage will show that the reception of the Holy Ghost was an "also" experience and occured "after that they believed".
3. What Does the Seal Signify?
- Christ's Tomb. (Matthew 27:66) "So they went and make the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone".
- Satan's Millenial Doom. (Revelation 20:3) "Cast him into the bottomless pit and shut him up and set a seal upon him".
- The Bag for our Transgression. (Job 14:17) "My transgression is sealed up in a bag".
- The Duration of the Holy Spirit Seal. (Ephesians 4:30) "Sealed unto the day of redemption".
(Ephesians 1:13, 14) " ... sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise until the redemption of the purchased possession".
"The allusion to the seal .. would be particularly intelligible to the Ephesians, for Ephesus was a maritime city and an exclusive trade in timber was carried on there by the shipmasters of the neighbouring ports. The method of purchase was this: the merchant after selecting his timber, stamped it with his own signet, which was an acknowledged sign of ownership. He often did not carry off his possession at the time; it was left in the harbour with other floats of timber. But it was chosen, brought and stamped (and in due time the merchant sent a trusty agent with the signet, who finding that timber which bore a corresponding imprint claimed and brought it away for the Master's use". - Bickersteth.
(Nehemiah 9:38, 10:1) "We make a sure covenant and write it and our princes, Levites and priests seal. Now those that were sealed were ...".
After a recitation of the history of Israel, and an acknowledgment of sin with repentance, a covenant was drawn up wherein certain pledges were made to serve God. All who affixed their seal put themselves under a solemn obligation to fulfill and confirm His promises. On the other hand we are exhorted to "grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).
Song of Solomon 4:12 - "A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed".
We are told that this refers to the Oriental custom of sealing the fountains to "keep out the dust of the desert as well as to declare ownership". We must not attempt to press symbols too far. There are however many delightful things suggested by this reference. God has reserved us for His very own and has givne the Holy Spirit to actualise that reservation. This is not the reservation of salvation but of fellowship. There is that "secret" place of the inner life which is reserved alone for fellowship and communion "with Him" through the Spirit. "Pray to the Father which is in secret" (Matthew 6:6). We also read of the "hidden man of the heart" (1 Peter 3:4). The word "hidden" might well be translated "secret". The "secret things unto the Lord" (Deuteronomy 29:29) and are shared with "them that fear Him" (Psalm 25:14). These are such as "dwell in the secret place of the Most High" (Psalm 91:1). All such fellowship and enjoyment of the sacred secrets is "in Spirit" (John 4:24).
NB: Quite how literalist C J Mahaney with his views of the Song of Solomon would explain this verse, I am not sure. Any attempt he would make, would seem to me to rob something of the beauty and mystery that Ern Baxter writes of here.
(1 Kings 21:8) "So she (Jezebel) wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles ...".
To execute her infamous plot, Jezebel had to have royal authority. She knew that the elders and nobles would be obedient to the King's word and seal so she used both. The seal stood for the authority of the throne! When this is translated to the spiritual realm, it is staggering in it's inference. Could it be that those whom the Father seals are invested with the authority of Heaven's throne? It is true! We have the right to the use of His Name (John 14:13) and the authority is imparted by the Seal of the Spirit (Acts 1:8).
(Job 38:14) " ... turned as clay to the seal".
That which is sealed will bear the imprint of the Seal. One cannot be sealed with the Spirit and not be different. Just as clay or wax bears the same pattern as the seal imposed on it, so the believer will resemble the Holy Spirit. "We have no right to say we have the Spirit of life if we have not the life of the Spirit. The Spirit of Truth is seen in the truth of the Spirit. The Spirit of Love is manifest in the love of the Spirit. The Spirit of grace is evidenced by the grace of the Spirit. The Spirit of Humility is evidenced by the humility of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is revealed in the holiness of the Spirit. The translation into the Kingdom of God's dear Son (Colossians 1:13) is demonstrated by the transfiguration into His character (2 Corinthians 3:18).