Today, read Ephesians 1.
When we left Paul yesterday in Acts 28, he was living in his own rented home and waiting for two years for his trial in Rome. During this house arrest, Paul wrote his “prison epistles”–Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon so this seems like an appropriate point for us to read them.
As we were reading the book of Acts, we saw that Paul spent two years in Ephesus (Acts 19:10) on his third missionary journey. At the end of that journey as Paul traveled to Jerusalem, Paul called for the elders from the Ephesian church to meet with him when he stopped in nearby in Miletus (Acts 20:17-38). I’m bringing all this up to remind you that Paul had a very personal interest and relationship with this particular church. This is why he wrote one of his prison letters to them while in Rome awaiting trial.
The mood of this chapter, Ephesians 1, is ebullient; it overflows with praise for God’s love and blessings (vv. 3-14) and thanks for the faith of the Ephesians (vv. 15-23). Although there are many truths in this chapter on which we could meditate, let’s focus on verse 13b-14, “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
God has promised us so much in Christ but how do we know that those promises apply to us? According to verse 13b, it is because the Holy Spirit seals us. This is a way of describing God’s ownership. The Spirit tells us that we belong to Christ. As we see the fruit of the Spirit growing and developing in our lives, it reassures us that we belong to Christ.
The Holy Spirit is more than our seal, though, according to this verse. He is also, “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance….” This means that the joy he brings us in Christ, the love that we have for other believers and that they have for us, and all the other benefits the Spirit gives us are reminders, tastes of what eternity will be like. Think of the greatest worship service you’ve ever experienced, the kind where each song drew your heart closer to God and the message filled you with awe and love for God. I’m talking about the kind of service that made you feel sad when it ended but also made you feel excited to read the word and serve God while singing his praises. This is what eternity with Jesus will be like and the Spirit’s blessing in this way is a deposit, reassuring you that you will be there to experience that eternity and giving you a preview of what it will be like.
If the Spirit is the deposit, the down payment of these good things, then when do we get the whole package of good things? According to verse 14 it will be at “the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” “The redemption of those who are God’s possession” is the return of Christ. At that time, Christ will select everyone who has the Spirit–the seal of his ownership–and he will finish his work of redemption by glorifying our bodies and sanctifying our hearts and minds fully. Then he will welcome us into the eternal worship service that never ends.
This is why you have the Holy Spirit–to remind you of all that is coming for us in Christ in eternity. So be encouraged no matter what happens today and walk in the Spirit obediently as a child of God.