The Holy Spirit who is God’s deposit, earnest and pledge, guaranteeing that He will give is the inheritance that was promised us, until the acquired redemption of those who are God’s purchased possession, and we acquire possession of it, to the praise and extolling of his glory. (Ephesians 1:14. The Lannon Expanded Version)
The gift of the Holy Spirit is the seal of God on a person’s conversion as well as the earnest deposit guaranteeing the recipients that Christ is to return to redeem the possession He has purchased. Verses 13 and 14 of Ephesians 1 informs us that this is a fact.
Non-Pentecostal Christians claim that being born of the Spirit is simultaneously being sealed by the Spirit, and that being born of the Spirit is the pledge that guarantees Christ’s coming to redeem them. Claiming this as the biblical truth makes a nonsense of the meaning of verse 14. The verse clearly states that the guarantee and confidence comes from experience of the sealing. How can it be a guarantee of something if there is no clear experience of the sealing. The Bible is down to earth as it speaks from heaven, and when it talks of a known and certified deposition made by God, pouring out His Holy Spirit upon us, it is not using western rationale that logically works out the theology of that “sealing” as a theological concept. God stabs through the man made nets and cobwebs of theology with the dagger of experience, and the sword of sensient experience.
Wind, fire, tongues and supernatural prophecy was the sealing in Acts 2. Unlike the non-pentecostal non-charismatic Christians on the planet who justify their sealing of the Spirit by referring to scriptures like, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His,” and then logically saying that if I have was born of the Holy Spirit, and if everybody born of the Holy Spirit “has” the Holy Spirit, that must mean that Ephesians 1:13-14 is talking about me.
It is this writers conviction that even though it is true that one must have the Holy Spirit if one is born of the Holy Spirit, that possession of the Holy Spirit is not the sealing of the Spirit that Paul is talking about here. Verse 13 says that folks in Ephesus were sealed, “after that” they believed. A direct translation of the Greek is “having believed, you were then sealed.”
In the gospels Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” but He still commanded them not to leave Jerusalem until they had been baptised in the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the sealing. It is the definitive experience that locks the believer into knowing he is owned by God and is experiencing the Holy Spirit.
Once the Pentecostal outpouring started catching fire all around the world, Christian ministers, who up to that point of time had never dared to bring up the subject of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, suddenly started declaring that what happened in Acts 2 was a one off, and through that sort of federal experience that the 120 had, everybody who has ever received Christ since is “obviously” baptised in the Spirit. But if that was even slightly leaning towards the truth, how come they still needed Peter and John to pray over the converts in Samaria? If every believer is baptised in the Holy Spirit why did Paul ask the believing disciples in Ephesus if that had “received the Holy Spirit since,” they “believed?”
I suggest that the utility of the sealing of the Spirit is exactly what happened in the house of Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11. If they had claimed to be saved, Peter would have had a problem with the doubts he had at that time about gentiles becoming Christians. But the Holy Spirit fell on them as He did on the disciples at the beginning in Acts 2. It was that seal of the Spirit, that deposit of the very Ruach of God that settled it for Peter. The sealing made it experientially a non negotiable fact. Gentile Cornelius was justified by faith in Christ and truly converted. A fact that may have been argued against, but for the experience of the baptism. And note, the rest of the leaders were ready and willing to argue with Peter about the weird claims concerning gentile conversions until he told the story of the sealing baptism of the Holy Spirit.
I know that Reformist pastors will claim me to be a heretic when I say that it was the experience that seals thebeliever, and it is the experience of receiving the baptism that causes the believer to know He is guaranteed by the foretaste of heaven and the Spirit filled existence.
Baptism means immersion – total immersion. Baptism into water, suffering or death cannot be entered into without all the senses of body soul and Spirit knowing about the experience. How is it then possible that human being that is immersed into the Spirit of God not know whether He is sealed or not. Those that claim that conversion to Christ is the sum total of it all, and that to labour the doctrine of the Holy Spirit or the baptism in the Spirit is to detract from the evangelical truth that, “it’s all about Jesus,” are playing with fire. It was “all about Jesus” until we arrived at the last supper and John 15. There was the promise of “another comforter,” and the Person whom we claim the gospel is all about referred us to wait on Him, in fact He commanded the disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they were baptised in the Holy Spirit. The plain inference explicit in the words of Christ is that we cannot make our message “all aboy Jesus” until we are immersed in the Holy Spirit that clothes us with the same power that Christ lived with and walked in.
In fact to take my case further, it is a fact understood in evangelical minds that Jesus never preached nor performed any miracle until He had received a the Holy Spirit falling upon Him at the Jordan river and “remaining upon Him.” The gospel message is all about Jesus because He was anointed by the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit and arguably baptised in the Spirit at the Jordan river.
As the late the great George Canty used to say; “We have to make our theology fit the biblical facts and history, not the other way around.” I remember Mr Canty relating a sermon concerning Solomon’s temple when the Spirit of God filled the temple and floored the entire priesthood in the plain view of king and public. It was a seal of God’s blessing on the building raised to the glory of God. It was sealed in the psyche of the nation because it was sensibly experience by all the nation that was present. That story is a type, a picture or prophetic illustration in the Bible of Acts chapter 2. The baptism in the Holy Spirit fills our bodies beyond our spirits.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not an allegory, or parable, it is a factual indwelling within the entire human frame. It is the reality. Non-Pentecostals pooh pooh what I am saying because of phobias about the word “experience” or the thought of God being so incredibly tangibly imminent in our time and space world. Like toe woman at the well in John 4 who was filled with traditional religion when she said, “we know that when Christ comes He will teach us all things.” She was happy to think of the almighty all knowing Messiah as being in the future, She could justify the status quo of boring “natural” religion while they read the Pentateuch revealing the awesome supernatural planting and roots of her faith. Christ’s answer was, “I that speak to you, am He.” God was not to be relegated to the distant past or the even more distant future. He was physically present in the here and now.
Christ is in Heaven, seated at the right hand of the majesty on high, but where two or three are gathered in His name He is present by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is here in order to clarify more and more all the whys and wherefores of the gospel being “all about Jesus.” And let all my readers take note that the moment we make the message from any other construct besides the person and work and character of Jesus Christ we have missed the mark. We need the Holy Spirit more and more to facilitate us seeing the purity of the truth of the gospel. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is all about power and the demonstration of the healing, saving, delivering, prophetic power that was in the very air that Jesus breathed. Oh to be more Christ like.
If theology is truth (and some so called Christian theology is far from truth) it must teach us who and what God is, and what He does and will do. The word of truth is not just a mental wrestling with abstract concepts squeezed out of the Bible that cause questions and debates but a bold and anointed telling of who Christ is, and what He does, But it needs the anointing in order for it to be told as Jesus and Peter and Paul told it. The anointing is a euphemism for the over flow of the Holy Spirit in a persons life, an overflow fuelled by a mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit will always and ever point to Christ, identify what is of Christ, and exalt Christ with a true description of who He is. This baptism would shake people, buildings and cultures and still does. The one distinguishing feature that the Holy Spirit gave John the Baptist in order to reveal Messiah to the masses, was a statement comparing John with the Messiah. The Spirit told John so clearly that He could declare it to the masses: “I baptise you with water, but He shall baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” That statement was the only public statement that we know of that God gave John to assist the recognition of Messiah when he would finally come face to face with Him. It was after the event of the baptism that the Baptist revealed that God had told Him that Messiah would be the one upon whom He would literally see the Holy Spirit descend and remain.
The gift of the Spirit is not only a seal for present and public assurance of a person’s conversion, but an earnest, first fruit, or instalment, a pledge that the rest shall follow in an eschatological frame of reference. It is also a vindication of the historical prophetic writings of the coming of the Spirit upon all flesh. The Holy Spirit turns the black and white accounts of the gospel message into glorious technicolour, and facilitates the manifestation of the miracles that Jesus performed in the here and now of the twenty first century.
The seal of the Spirit not only gives us the full assurance of the full and glorious inheritance to come, but He gives us a right conception of its nature and being. It demonstrates for us the nature of the provision God pours out on those whom he takes as his heritage, his peculiar people. It is a taste of heaven that the Holy Spirit brings and seeds within us.
The gift is “until the redemption of the purchased possession.” My studies into the Greek phraseology assures me from three different sources that the word translated “until” literally means that the earnest of the Spirit is actually a contribution toward the result described. In other words the gift of the Spirit and the degree to which that gift is cultivated and utilised tends to bring to realisation the fulfilment of the promised inheritance.
It needs to be said that the word redemption in verse 14 is not quite equivalent to the same word used in 1:7. In verse 7 we have redemption as a purchase that is made and settled. In verse 14 redemption refers to an event to come. We are the possession of Christ by the purchase of His own precious blood. But His full ownership of us and possession of us in resurrection is future, and it is that future even of resurrection that is here referred to as the “redemption of the purchased possession.” The meaning is the completed redemption – the full and final deliverance of the Lord’s heritage from all sin and sorrow, from all the evils and disorders of this life. “Neither men nor angels are qualified to apprehend the glorious excellence of God in an abstract way; it needs to be revealed, exhibited in acts and operations,” as will be seen when Christ redeems His purchased possession. Then it will all be to the praise of His glory.