Ephesians 1:11-12 – In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the council of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
I hate to beat a dead horse (where do some of these expressions come from?), but since Paul did it first, I am going to follow suit. These verses say that we have obtained an eternal inheritance in Christ, which was planned in advance, before the world was created. As adopted children we are the praise of his glory in two ways.
One, in a passive manner. This involves us being the undeserving recipients of grace. We are a testimony to God’s grace, because we did nothing to deserve it. Praise and worship should be our natural reaction to this gift.
Two, in an active manner. This involves personal holiness, obedience to God’s commands and the bearing of fruit for the kingdom God.
Paul speaks of those who were the first to hope in Christ. We would assume that the apostles were among the first to believe, having heard the gospel from Jesus himself. They spread the good news first to their own countrymen (the Jews) and then the gospel went out to the Gentiles as well. The scripture describes the gospel as radiating out from Jerusalem until it reaches the ends of the earth.
Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
While the apostles may have been the first fruits of faith in Jesus, they were certainly not the last!
Ephesians 1:13-14 – 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.
These verses start by saying that the Ephesians (and later you and I) have also believed in Jesus, after we heard the word of truth/gospel of salvation. Note that the same gospel produces salvation in all men, whether Jew or Gentile, whether born in 1 AD or 2019 AD. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. His word is a firm foundation that will stand for all time. It does not change. Just as all men believe and are saved through the same gospel, so all believers have a share in the heavenly inheritance, and all believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit, which was promised long ago.
Let’s examine the idea of being sealed. Webster defines a seal as “something that confirms, ratifies or makes secure: A guarantee, an assurance”.
In our culture, we seal documents to prove or confirm they are authentic. Have you ever taken a legal document to a notary? Normally, you sign the document in the presence of the notary, who then signs and places a seal on your document. The notary is confirming, guaranteeing or assuring others that the signature on the document is authentic.
Another example of sealing would be a brand. Have you ever seen a cow that has been branded by its owner? The brand creates a permanent mark that distinguishes that particular animal as belonging to a single, specific owner. Even if the animal is mixed with other cows, a simple glance can identify who it belongs to; the mark is a guarantee or an assurance of ownership.
The scripture tells us that when we accept Christ as savior, we are sealed or branded by the Holy Spirit, which confirms that we belong to Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now he which establishes us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
We can see from these scriptures that the Holy Spirit seals or marks us as belonging to God. However, according to verse 14, he does so much more!!
We are using the English Standard Version of the Bible in this study, but in this case, I think the King James Version is clearer. It says:
Ephesians 1:14 – Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Pop Quiz: Do you know what earnest money is?
Earnest money, also called good faith deposit, is a sum of money that a buyer pays to the seller at the time of entering a contract. Its primary purpose is to make sure that the buyer is serious about following through on the contract. Typically used in real estate transactions, earnest money may be used to give the home buyer more time before closing. It provides the seller with incentive to continue with the transaction.
The analogy of earnest money can help you and I better understand what the Holy Spirit is doing for us when he seals/brands us as belonging to Christ.
When God redeems us, he buys us back from sin. When we accept his offer of salvation, he gives us the Holy Spirit as an earnest, which is a piece of our spiritual inheritance. It shows that he is serious about following through with our redemption contract. The earnest of the Holy Spirit is upon us until God ‘closes the deal’ of our redemption, which will occur when he returns for us at the second coming. At that time, we will receive our entire inheritance. The Holy Spirit gives us incentive to stand firm until our redemption is complete.
We all recognize that our redemption is not complete at this time. But rest assured, a day will come when God will deliver us from all sin, evil, temptation, sorrow, pain and frustration.
- A day will come when we hear ‘well done, good and faithful servant’.
- A day will come when we inherit eternal life.
- A day will come when the church will be presented to Jesus as a bride, without spot or wrinkle.
- A day will come when we sit with him at the marriage supper of the lamb.
- A day will come when we see our redeemer face to face.
- A day will come when we stand around his throne singing his glorious praise.
- A day will come when we receive a new body and home (and a job) in heaven.
- A day will come when the old will pass away and all things will become new!!
I Corinthians 2:9 – …no eye has seen nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.
Notice that verse 14 also tells us that these things are “to the praise of his glory”. We did not earn any of these things; God freely gave them to us because of his great love and grace. Therefore, redemption is an eternal testimony of God’s great love to mankind. All created beings (including us) should forever be praising and glorifying him for this indescribable gift!
I encourage you to dwell on these thoughts for a while. You may find that you are encouraged. You may find that life’s momentary difficulties pale in comparison to what God has in store for you! You may find yourself bursting with praise for his mighty name! Allow that praise to well up inside you and come forth audibly. Pray and ask the Father to fill you to overflowing with the promised Holy Spirit!
Ephesians 1:15-16 – For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
Paul gives thanks to God for the Ephesian church. He also prays for them. Next time we will examine this prayer, which is found in verses 17-23.