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Description: Sealed With The Holy Spirit 5
Sealed with the Holy Spirit 5
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Will you take a Bible please and turn to Ephesians 1:13. I know we’ve been on this verse maybe four
or five times, but Ephesians, we’ve said, is the most profound of the books in the whole Bible, and
certainly the most profound of Paul’s writings. And anyway the Bible has depths and layers of
meaning and of light that it takes you a long time to plumb and I think it’s better to do a few of
those layers of light every Sunday rather than try to do them all at once, so that’s why we go back
and back again to certain verses. Ephesians 1:13 reads, “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,” that’s it. And I‘ll just mention to you, and you can count them yourself, but from verse
three to thirteen which is I suppose eleven verses, “in him” or “in Christ” or “through Christ” is
mentioned ten times.
So that’s how largely that truth figures in these first eleven verses. And “in him”, means this:
that God, before there was ever a world down here, he in fact saw Christ, and created him, and in
him created all of us in him, the billions of us were all created in him. And God saw what we would
do in Christ, and then Christ descended into death with us in him, before the foundation of the
world. And then by God he was raised up to God’s right hand with us in him, and then all of that
was moved into the world and took place whenever the creation occurred. And then his death on earth
was in 29 A.D. and then his resurrection in I suppose 33 A.D. or thereabouts.
So that’s how it took place and what is important for us to grasp is that everything that happened
to him happened to us because we were in him. Everything that happened to him happened to us. Our
creation took place in him, our crucifixion took place in him, our resurrection took place in him,
where he goes we go, and it is not possible for one of us to be outside of him – separate, by
ourselves. We can believe the lie that we are outside and separate from him if we want, but it’s
purely a lie. There is no possibility; you’re in him or you’re simply not in him, but in fact you
are in him and whatever happens to you happens in him.
Actually a possibility of not being in him is not a possibility. It’s not a possibility because
there is no life outside him. God hasn’t arranged for the continuation of any life outside Christ
so everything that happened to him happened to us. And that’s the importance of that, because of
the great egotistic attitude that we have inherited from our forefathers that thinks it has to “get
into him.” We’re almost born with that legalistic belief that our job is to get into him. No. No;
we have never been out of him. We are created in him, we’re crucified in him, and we’re resurrected
and ascended to God’s right hand in him. So all that has happened in him, and that’s the
significance of this verse, you see, because the verse runs in verse 13, “In him you also,” and then
leave out the relative clauses or the adjectival clause, “You also, who have heard,” etcetera,
etcetera, etcetera, “But in him you also,” and then jump to the last clause of the verse, “Were
sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”
So the actual truth is that in him we also were sealed with the Holy Spirit. We have been sealed
with the Holy Spirit and so it is in a sense not something that we have to seek; it is something
that has occurred, something that has happened to us in Christ. That’s why so much emphasis is put
on faith in the Bible. And of course we miss the point of it in a way, because we keep thinking of
faith as a work that we do. We keep thinking of it as the thing that gets us into him, whereas
faith is simply accepting and receiving all of this.
There’s one thing that Wesley said that I think is valuable for us who have been brought up in the
Evangelical tradition, or I suppose even the legalistic tradition of either Evangelicalism or
Catholicism, and it is that faith is not just “a speculative rational thing, a cold lifeless assent,
a train of ideas in the head.” Faith is not just that. It’s not just a speculative rational thing.
And I think some of us think, “Oh yes, well that’s right, I believe that I was created in Christ.
Yes, the Bible keeps saying that so I believe it.” But the fact is that it’s not just a speculative
rational thing. It’s not just something you speculate about and you think, “Yes I must remember
that now: I was created in Christ, now if I hold onto that thought that will help me to live like
him.” No, that’s a speculative rational thing. You may say, “But I hold it intensely. I hold it
as intensely as the bravest martyr.” You can add feelings to a speculative rational thing, but it’s
still just a speculative rational thing that is held very intensely and very emotionally. So it’s
important to see faith that accepts this is not just a speculative rational thing, a train of ideas
in the head. And sometimes we think, “Yes I must keep that idea in my head, I was created in Christ
and I was crucified with him, and I’ve been raised with him. That’s it — I must remember that. I
must keep that idea in my head.”
It isn’t just a train of ideas in the head, a cold lifeless assent, yet sometimes we’ve said, “I
believe that. Yes I assent to that. I assent to the Apostle’s Creed, and I assent to this idea
that you’ve just presented and this concept. Yes I assent to that and I give my intellectual
agreement to that.” It’s not just a cold lifeless assent. Faith is not just a speculative or
rational thing, a cold lifeless assent, a train of ideas in the head, but a disposition of the
heart. And that’s the real acceptance here; it’s a disposition of the heart. It’s the heart
feeling towards Christ that he is part of you, that you are part of him. It’s closeness to Christ.
It’s a heartfelt awareness that you are in him and that he is in you, its closeness to a person; a
disposition of the heart.
It’s where the heart is disposed in every way to that fact and that truth. That’s the very
atmosphere in which the heart operates. It’s the atmosphere of Christ. The heart doesn’t feel
anything that is outside Christ. It doesn’t feel about anything outside the truth that it is in
Christ. The whole heart is disposed as Christ’s heart is disposed, because that’s the reality of
it. And so if you give your speculative agreement to the intellectual concept, then you’re not
living in the reality. You’re trying to live in part of the reality but you’re not living in the
reality. You’re only living in the reality when you’re aware, “This is Christ, I get up this
morning, he is all around me. Lord Jesus, you are all around me. Lord, your heart is pounding
inside mine. It’s your mind Lord that is lifting up. That old mind of mine has been done away
with, it’s your mind — what are you thinking” so that there’s really no difference between one and
There’s a modern poem that is actually about physical love, but it said, “Lovers in the act dispense
with the meum-tuum. “Meum” is in Latin “my” and tuum is “yours.” So the poem is saying they
dispense with “this is mine” and “this is yours.” Of course, the indication in the poem is of
intercourse I suppose, but here that’s the truth; someone in Christ dispenses with the meum-teum.
You dispense with the idea that, “This is yours Christ, and this is mine.” It is rather “everything
is yours and I am yours, and I don’t think of myself as outside you.” That’s part of what it means
by disposition of the heart, you’re not aware of yourself apart from him, so that’s part of what
this phrase “in him” means and it’s in that sense that in him you were sealed with the Holy Spirit.
In him you are sealed with the Spirit.
Last Sunday evening we started to talk about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, especially in regard to
the question of tongues, and so maybe we could just look at the details that are mentioned in this
verse, you, “were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” and the way the Greek runs it is, “You were
sealed with the Spirit that is Holy, that Holy Spirit that was promised.” And if you look at
Matthew 3:11, you’ll see the promise there. Matthew 3:11, were John the Baptist’s words initially.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose
sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” He will
baptize you, so that’s the promise. John explained, “Now the Messiah, when he comes he will baptize
you with the Holy Spirit.” And that’s part of why this verse says, “You were sealed with the
promised Holy Spirit,” this was not something that was a surprise to those of us who were brought up
in Judaism, this is something that we’ve been taught to look for as coming from the Messiah.
And then the other reference to it that is so well known is Acts 1:5. Jesus in verse 4 was with
them in Jerusalem. Acts 1:4, “And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from
Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me, for John
baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” And that’s
why Ephesians says, “You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” You were sealed with the Holy
Spirit that was promised and not only by the Old Testament prophets but he was promised also by John
the Baptist and was promised by the Messiah himself; Christ.
Now I’d like to touch briefly on the whole issue of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. And it might
be good to look at the four clear instances in Acts – actually it’s only in Acts; we get the idea
that there are many, many references to baptism with the Holy Spirit yet actually there are just
four, and they’re in Acts. One is in Acts 2:1-4, and is about the day of Pentecost. “When the day
of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven
like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there
appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were
filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
And that was the great initiation of the new dispensation of the Holy Spirit; they were filled with
the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.
Now in chapter 8, which is the second instance, they don’t actually speak with other tongues. Acts
8:15, verse 14 gives you the continuity of the sentence, “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard
that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and
prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them.”
So those people had believed they heard the word of God, received the word of God. So they seemed
therefore to be Christians in that sense, verse 15 “who came down and prayed for them that they
might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been
baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the
Holy Spirit.” And there’s no mention that they spoke in tongues in that instance.
And then the third one is in Acts 10 and there again they did speak with other tongues, Acts 10:44,
“While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word,” and these were
Gentiles, you remember, “And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter,” that is,
his companions, “were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the
Gentiles for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, ‘Can any
one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And
he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for
some days.” It’s interesting that there the Holy Spirit came upon them, but they had not been
baptized in the name of Jesus. In the previous one they were baptized in the name of Jesus, but the
Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them. So it’s just interesting to remember that.
So there are two instances where they spoke with tongues, and one instance where they didn’t, and
then the last one in Acts 19 where they also spoke with tongues. Acts 19:6 and you can start at
verse 5 to catch the continuity. “On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with
tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve of them in all.” So there are those four instances
in the Acts of the Apostles, and actually in all of the fourteen Epistles there isn’t a mention of
the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
In one of the Epistles Paul deals in detail with the gift of tongues, but the gift of tongues is
normally thought of as separate from tongues as a sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so we’re
talking about speaking in tongues as a sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and whereas there is
obviously, a gift of tongues that have continued down through the centuries. But the real issue
with the baptism of the Holy Spirit is it always accompanied by tongues? Well no; in three of the
four instances it was, but in one it wasn’t and that’s enough to explain clearly that of course you
can be baptized with the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues. And it isn’t really right
scripturally to say, as maybe some Pentecostal’s would say that the speaking in other tongues is the
accompanying sign that proves to you that you’re baptized with the Holy Spirit. Well it’s not so in
Acts and of course in thirteen or fourteen Epistles there’s no mention of it even by Paul. So it’s
maybe worth just remembering that.
What I think is more important is that in Jesus all of us were sealed with the Holy Spirit. Why?
Do you remember the mess that is described in that lesson we read in Romans 1 where men gave up God,
so God gave them up to their passions and to anger and to all kinds of vicious feelings and
attitudes and motives? That’s why the Holy Spirit and the sealing with the Holy Spirit are so
vital. If you’re just your mother’s daughter, if I’m just my father’s son, then I behave like my
father and you behave like your mother. We think like them; we think as little people, little
creatures on this earth. I think of some of the attitudes of my mum and dad and I’m sure they’re
typical of many parents who felt, “Well if we don’t look after ourselves nobody will look after us.
You have to go out and earn your own money, you have to take care of yourself, nobody else is going
to take care of you.” And so there was that; somewhat of fear, and somewhat of anxiety, we would
probably all say it was good common sense, but really there was fear and anxiety and certainly a
feeling that you were just a tiny little family, that there were just the few of you and the outside
world was pretty big and pretty threatening. There were all kinds of attitudes in there that you
and I inherited from our mums and dads.
What if you are not really the son or daughter of your mum and dad? What if you were not first
created inside your mum? What if you were the son or daughter of Jesus Christ? What if you were
actually created inside him? Created inside the son of the Creator of the universe, created inside
the Master of the universe? Not only that but what if you are in him at this moment, if you are
part of him. It’s overwhelming. If you step back and say, “Really? You mean the one whose power
raised the person from the dead? You mean the one who healed the leper? You mean the one who had
such confident brightness about his Father in his morning prayer times? You mean I’m in him?” You
can see that everything changes and only the Holy Spirit can enable us to live in the completeness
of that change.
You and I have great trouble living in reality. It is so massive, it is so magnificent, it is so
completely different, the whole atmosphere that we breathe, the whole environment in which we exist,
the whole set of resources and powers that we have are so utterly different to what we have had as
just little sons and daughters of our mums and dads, that only the Holy Spirit, only a power from
God can enable us to live in the glory of that every moment. And I think that’s maybe the biggest
reason why we were sealed with the Holy Spirit, because only then can we have the heart of God.
Only that way can we have God’s heart. Only in that way can we see things from the heart and
through the eyes of the dear person who conceived of creating millions of free will beings that
would share all the advantages that he and his own son had, and conceived of creating them inside
his son so that his son could hold onto them, even while they exercised their own will power and did
what they wanted, and so that his son could actually bear all the pains that they wanted to inflict
upon him. God conceived of that, and accepted that, and then has lived through that himself because
he was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. This dear Father committed himself to watching
Hitler send the German troops in to take a little six year old Jewish girl, and kill her and her
brother in a gas chamber. God was inside the little brother, and inside the little sister, and
inside the German soldier, and inside Hitler. And God in Jesus committed himself to all the agonies
of all those things in all those people so that he could then reconcile all that to himself and his
own will, and turn it all around so that it would bring glory to him and salvation to the beings
that he had created.
Now in order to have that heart of God in us every moment, in order to share the love of that heart,
in order to see all things with his care and his desires, only help from him can bring it about in
us. That’s part of I think, why we’re sealed with the Holy Spirit, so that we can share God’s own
heart. But we make two mistakes. One, we have this dumb magical attitude, “Yep, only if the Holy
Spirit comes upon me will I be able to experience all that, so I’m waiting for the Holy Spirit to
come. I’m waiting for it and when it comes I’m going to feel exactly the way I should feel.” It’s
unreal, you know, it’s unreal. There’s no heart; we’re not allowing the Spirit to beget in us even
the feelings of hunger that he is doing it. We’re substituting a kind of mechanical little
believeism for it all. So that’s one of our errors, we play at the thing; we’re expecting some
great “it”, some great experience to do it.
The other extreme we go to is we think we have to produce this ourselves somehow, and so we try to
work this up, and we try to manipulate it in our minds. God asks us to go the middle way. He asks
us to look at the truths that he has given us in his word, and simply accept them and as best we can
day-by-day, live in the reality of them, knowing all the time that only the Holy Spirit will be able
to completely enable us to live in the fullness of that, but we need to see that that is his will.
His will is that we will live in a triumphant, joyous, full experience; a full experience in our
feelings, in our minds, in our hearts of the reality of Jesus all around us. That’s his will for
us, and the Holy Spirit is working all the time to bring us into the fullness of that.
Somebody said to [John William] Fletcher, who was one of Wesley’s preachers and was looked upon as
his theologian, “Is it by man’s power or is it by God’s power that this comes about?” He says,
“Both, both; all that you can give and all that God can give.” So if you ask yourself “Have I been
filled with the Holy Spirit” unless somehow you’re an exception to the whole human race, what has
happened in this dear Savior has happened to you. And that’s the only attitude that is reasonable
to take in the light of those facts. But secondly, realize that even the beginnings of faith that
have started inside you have been brought by the Holy Spirit and that he is working to bring that
into fullness and absolute completeness.
I don’t know what you think of Smith Wigglesworth. I think he lived the way we’re meant to live; he
had no doubt that everything was possible. He had kidney stones and they were so bad that his under
clothing would be spotted with blood after the great healing meetings that he conducted where other
people were healed. Did he hesitate for a moment? No, he kept on going; he was absolutely certain
that in Christ that had been done. And of course it was done in his own body too, but he walked,
from the stories about it, maybe two years before that happened, but he lived in the absolute
confidence in that. Now it seems to me that’s why God has sealed us with the Holy Spirit; so that
we would experience the fullness of being in Christ every moment of every day.
Let us pray.