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Description: Sealed With The Holy Spirit 2
Sealed with the Holy Spirit 2
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Today we’ll make a gentle transition back to Ephesians. If you’ll turn to Ephesians 1:13, where we
were some weeks or months ago, “In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of
your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” We’ve talked
a little about the word of truth that we’ve heard and another possible translation that gives a
slightly different view of it is you’ve heard the explanation of reality.
The explanation of reality is – starts with John 1:1, if you’d like to look at it. John 1:1, “In
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” So at the very beginning, and you can’t
really say at the very beginning of God because that’s beyond us to speak of, but in the beginning
before there was any earth and I presume before there was any universe, then there was the Word.
And the Word was the first – thing is the wrong word but it was the first expression that ever came
from God that was just in himself and then he spoke forth his Son, his only begotten Son Jesus and
that was all there was.
That’s it. The Word was with God. The best we can do in theology is to say the Word is co-eternal
with God but we know that in some sense the Father is first. There’s that piece in Corinthians
that says, “Then Jesus will render all things up to the Father.” This implies that Jesus is the
second and that the Father is the first. But at that time there was just God and Jesus his Son.
There was nothing else. There were no creatures, and no angels, and no universe, there was just
Jesus there with God.
We have talked about the next step and you don’t need to look at it because we’ve read it often
before, but it’s Colossians 1:15 where it says, “That Jesus is the express image of God.” He is
like God in every way. He is God’s only Son and he is all the likeness of God. Everything that God
has, Jesus has. Then, of course, comes that shattering phrase, “He is the express image of the
invisible God, the first-born of all creation.” That’s the first hint that you get that Jesus has
anything to do with any existence outside himself and his Father.
That’s the first time it occurs to you that Jesus has anything to do with creation. Of course, for
years I think you were the same as I was, you read that verse and you just took it for what it was,
a kind of abstract statement that you couldn’t make sense of. We, of course, have begun to realize
that it means what it says, “That Jesus was God’s only begotten Son.” Then it seemed almost at that
moment, though there we’re losing ourselves in the language of time, when we’re really talking about
eternity. At that very moment, Jesus was destined by his Father to be the first-born of creation
and that God in that sense, and it’s so difficult for us to grasp it, God projected himself out of
himself into something that was separate from him.
That is he projected himself into what we know as creation. He did it in his own Son. His own Son
who was invisible, and eternal, and purely spiritual also at that moment became the first-born of
creation. Now we know what we call that first-born, but of course then – well, it was a
contradiction because it meant he became the first man. That’s what he showed himself to be
thousands of years later in Palestine. He showed himself to be a man like us, a human being like us
men and women. So, at that very moment, Jesus became the first human being.
We have gone a step further in that, because shortly after that statement in Colossians, the goes
on, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.” Then in verse 17, “He
was before all things.” He was before everything. And then, “In him all things were created.” At
that moment then, everything was created in Jesus. The world, the planets, the stars, all the
beings, and most importantly, we, ourselves were created in Jesus. Because you remember, Paul says
to the Ephesians, “We here, we’re God’s workmanship. We were created in Christ for good works which
he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” [Ephesians 2:10] We were made inside
We are so used to living in this fallen world; so used to accepting the absolute lie that we are
separate creatures that we have to think about it a bit to really accept that we were created in
Jesus and indeed, that we are still part of Jesus. Now I’d just remind you of that, if you’d just
maybe look at Colossians because it makes it so clear there. Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of
the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and
on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all
things were created through him and for him. He is before all things,” and then this is the verse
— the clause that I thought was important to look at in black and white, “And in him all things
hold together.” Of course, we’re so used to looking at each other and seeing, Joe is defined by
the perimeter of his body and that is Joe, and that’s Martha, and that’s Trish. This is Ernest, and
that’s Joanne, and we’re defined by this self-contained creature that of course we have so long
ignored the reality that it’s very – it takes an effort of our minds to grasp — that we are still
It is in him that we hold together. We are held together here, if you’d like to put it crudely, our
bodies, the atoms of our bodies are held together in this particular shape inside him. He is at
this moment – it’s as if he has a lot of little plastic balls here that are the shape of Greg. He
holds them up all together and if he let go for a moment, these would fall away. We all hold
together inside Jesus. We are inside Jesus. We are nothing apart from Jesus. And we’ve read that
John 15 so often that we kind of use it as a mantra, “Oh yes, he’s the vine, we’re the branches,”
and we believe, “Oh, without me you can do nothing. Oh yes, we need your help.” But it’s literally
true, without him we don’t even exist.
Our only existence is inside him. You can see how complete has been the lie that we’ve accepted
because of course, we’re absolutely sure that we are separate creatures and that our job is to try
to link ourselves up with Christ. At least in our attitude to things, and if possible our hearts,
and maybe sometime in the future after this life is over, we’ll somehow be absorbed into him. But
it’s false, we are in him at this moment. We are part of him. You are nothing but a bit of Jesus.
I am nothing but a bit of Jesus. You can see what we’ve done with that dear statement about the
body of Christ. You know how we’ve done it, “Oh, it’s as if Joanne is a leg, and it’s as if I’m an
eye and it’s as if Trish is an ear and we all have different functions.” And we’ve reduced it all
to our function and we’ve treated that whole mighty statement as if it were just an outline of the
ministries inside the body of Christ instead of seeing we are literally a bit of Jesus.
Yes, Joanne is a finger of Christ. Yes, Joe is an arm of Christ. Yes, we are nothing apart from
Christ. We’re nothing apart from Jesus. We don’t exist apart from Jesus. What we see here is a
shadow but in him is our reality. So that’s why we get lost in this land. That’s why we get lost
in it, because we believe the lie that we’re separate creatures and then we start with the aid of
counselors always, and our examinations, and our schools, we start trying to find out what we would
be good at and we try to create something that we would be good at. Of course the fallen world has
a whole organization that is planned to prove that we can sin and not die and so the whole fallen
world has a pseudo organization that is outside heaven and so we fit into that. We fit ourselves
into places where they all persuade us that we’re of some use. We persuade ourselves that we’re of
some use but finally, the whole charade breaks down.
It certainly breaks down at retirement but it breaks down for most of us long before that because we
get bored with the whole thing and it does not seem to be the glorious thing for which we were made.
And so we sense that, but we get into that whole game instead of entering into the reality that God
has created for us. He has sent his own Son Jesus to this earth in the name of Marty. It’s
typical I suppose of the way we misuse biblical phrases because we’re always talking about doing
something in the name of Christ as if it’s primarily us that do it but we do it in his name and that
makes it of value. Of course, he is so kind and so meek and lowly of heart that he lives in our
name. Imagine, he lives in our name.
So God has sent his Son in the name that Greg uses. He has sent his Son to earth here in him to do
something that only he can do. How will you ever find out what Christ has come here to do inside
you? And that’s what brings the verse together, “you who have heard the explanation of reality,”
and have believed the good news of your deliverance from the frustration of the old autonomous
separate life and have believed in him were sealed with the Spirit that he promised. It is the
Holy Spirit of Jesus within each of us that can lead us moment-by-moment, day-by-day and
increasingly as the weeks past into the actions that Jesus himself is speaking – is doing and the
words that Jesus himself is speaking.
The Holy Spirit alone, because it is the very Spirit of Christ himself, the Holy Spirit alone can
lead us out of these pseudo lives that we live and into the life that Jesus himself has planned from
eternity to live in us and that’s why he seals us with his Spirit. That’s why Paul says to the
Galatians, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying Abba! Father!” That’s the
only one who knows.
It can’t be you and me doing what we think is Christian. It can’t be you and me doing, in a human
way, with our human effort, what we think Christ wants to do, or what he wants done which is worse.
Where we talk about, “We’re here to do Christ’s work.” It’s all foolishness. It’s a much finer,
and more beautiful, and more sensitive, and deeper thing than that. It is Christ himself inside you
and that’s what gives you existence, Christ inside you and you inside Christ. It’s him in his
Spirit beginning to do and say the things that you do and say.
That’s why things, the works of the flesh are wrong. It’s not just because they’re nasty, but anger
is wrong because it’s you behaving as if you were outside Christ. Christ has no trouble with a
storm on a lake, let alone somebody treating him the wrong way, or something not going right the way
he expected it to go. He has no difficulty with that. His heart is filled with confidence and
peace that his Father in his death put those things right. So, of course, his whole heart and
spirit has no anger in it at all. So, the anger is wrong not because it’s a nasty thing, or one of
those terrible bad works of the flesh. But because it is us behaving utterly in contradiction to
reality. It is us behaving utterly in a dream world, utterly in a world of deception that was
destroyed in Calvary before the foundation of the world.
It’s the same with all the other sins. Of course, that’s why the pride is so ridiculous. You
remember, I think it’s probably Milton called pride the greatest sin. The early church fathers
would have called it the father of all other sins. Well, of course, part of that is because it’s so
utterly contradictory to reality to be proud of what you can do, to be proud of your singing, or to
be proud of your abilities, or to be proud of what you’ve achieved so far, and within you is the one
who not only made you but who holds you together. He’s the one who enables your voice to make a
noise. He’s the one who enables your mind to think.
It’s like you out here showing all these wonderful things and he’s passing them to you behind the
stage. He’s saying, “Here this is mine. Here this is mine.” It’s so – it’s just so ridiculous,
it’s so contradictory to reality and that’s what’s wrong with all the works of the flesh that
they’re just blatant disbelief, they’re just blatant rejection of reality. They’re living not only
in a fool’s paradise but in the paradise of the damned really — a place where unreality was
destroyed millions of years ago by God in Calvary.
So, I certainly can see myself that there’s one way – I have one responsibility and that is to
listen to the Savior every moment and to respond immediately to his Holy Spirit so that his life
will be lived and so that he will be fulfilled. You can see it yourself in a thousand ways,
because you can see all the ways his dear mind goes, and all the terrible ways that our minds go.
So, of course, there’s only one thing to do, that is to walk close to this dear Holy Spirit of his
that is in us and abide in him.
Let us pray.
Oh Lord Jesus, we are ashamed of the way we thrust ourselves forward. We are ashamed, Lord, of our
rash life that we live, the way we cast ourselves into words and conversations, the way we engage in
actions that are filled with ourselves and filled with the stupid common sense that we think we have
when all the time within us is your still small voice. The sound of gentle stillness who has things
to do, and things to say, and things to think in us. Then we see Lord, the irony of it, things you
have to do, and say, and think in us for our happiness and for our benefit. You see Lord when we
are your enemies we are our own worst enemies. We miss the life of beauty, and peace, and love, and
joy that you live and that you have planned to live in us.
Oh Savior, we look to you now when we see we have no existence outside you. You are everything and
we are fulfilled when we live that way moment-by-moment with you as everything and what we used to
be as nothing. Lord, we thank you. Dear Father, we thank you for sending the Spirit of your Son
into our hearts and for sealing us with your Spirit. And we thank you Holy Spirit, that you alone
are able to quiet us, restrain our words, keep a lid on our foolishness, and lead us in paths of
pleasantness and ways of peace.
Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each
of us throughout this week. Amen.