Monday, March 19, 2012

Sealed by Grace

Part 7 through the New Testament book of Ephesians

You can listen to the sermon here.



In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth 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 (1:11-14).


Our Inheritance 

In 2008, Sergey Sudev, a journalism student from Moldova, was left 950 million euros by an uncle he had not seen for 10 years. Sudev had no idea he stood to inherit a fortune. Then one day there was a knock at his door in the town of Komrat. His uncle’s agents had tracked him down to pass on the incredible news. The shocked student said to them, “Is this a joke?” The inheritance made Sudev one of the richest men in Moldova, where the average monthly salary is around 279 euros.

 There are many other stories of unexpected inheritances. But for the child of God, there is an expected inheritance. Paul writes, “We have obtained an inheritance” (v. 11). (Paul has already said that God “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,” v. 5).

The Greek word for “obtained an inheritance” (kleroo) means “to allot (a portion).” This is the only time it is used in the NT. (It could also be translated “made God’s inheritance.”) In the OT, Israel’s inheritance was the Promised Land. “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance” (Ps. 105:11).

What is the believer’s inheritance?

Our inheritance is our great hope: the blessings of the life to come. 

This hope will be fulfilled at the second coming of Christ.


Hope Fulfilled

How can we be sure that we will receive our inheritance? Three reasons:

1. Our inheritance was provided by Christ. 

The inheritance we have obtained is “in [Christ].” “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

When Paul says “we who were the first to hope in Christ” (v. 12), he may be referring to Jewish Christians. Later, the Ephesians (and other Gentiles) “heard the word of truth, the gospel of [their] salvation, and believed in [Christ]” (v. 13). Through union with Christ, all believers—both Jews and Gentiles—share the same hope.

2. Our inheritance was planned by the Father. 

We have been “predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (v. 11). God’s plans never fail. “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

3. Our inheritance was pledged by the Spirit. 

We have been “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.” “‘Sealed’ can mean either that the Holy Spirit protects and preserves Christians until they reach their inheritance (cf. 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:22; 1 Peter 1:5; Rev. 7:2-3) or that he ‘certifies’ the authenticity of their acceptance by God as being genuine—they bear the ‘royal seal’ (cf. John 3:33; Acts 10:44, 47). The first interpretation seems best here, though both ideas are biblically true” (ESV Study Bible, p. 2263).


Praise God! 

Twice Paul writes, “To the praise of [God’s] glory” (vv. 12, 14). What God has done reveals who God is. He is a God of amazing grace. He has done for us what we do not deserve and what we could not do. In Christ, God has blessed “with every spiritual blessing” (v. 3). (We are richer than we think!)

We should be the happiest people on earth because of what God has done, is doing, and will do for us! 

It would be exciting to discover that you inherited a fortune. But it should be more exciting to know you are the heir to a fortune of eternal blessings!