Ephesians 1:13-14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having 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.
I am particularly aware of difficulties in translation in Ephesians because it was the subject of one of my grandfather’s greatest books, The Glory of God and the Christian Calling, for which he did his own translation, influencing all subsequent English translations of Ephesians. What strikes me at the moment is that this particular section is more easily expressed in Japanese than in English, showing that in some ways Japanese culture has more in common with 1st Century Mediterranean culture than American culture does. I’m referring to the whole idea of a seal. Digital technology is rapidly removing this from Japanese culture as well, but we still have “name stamps,” carved from wood, plastic, bone, ivory, or even stone, pressed onto official documents of all sorts, generally using a specific type of ink to leave the impression. Back when such things were only hand-carved, totally identical seals were a virtual impossibility, guaranteeing a registered one was authentic. Today, modern technology makes cranking out identical copies a matter of utmost simplicity, which is why their use is fading, but they are still very much around. The point here is that the Holy Spirit is totally unique, and cannot be faked accurately. (Demonic spirits try to fake Him, but that’s another discussion.) When we have the Holy Spirit, we can rest assured that everything else God has promised is coming. That isn’t to make us cocky and presumptive, but rather to counter the devil’s lies that we have believed in vain and our salvation is fleeting. It is by the Holy Spirit that martyrs can literally go out singing praises to God!
Naturally this applies to me, since it is the inheritance of every believer. I have had some real slip-ups, and if I were God I’m not sure I’d keep me around, but thankfully, God’s not like me! He has marked me with His seal and it’s not going away, even if I ignore it or even try to cover it up at times. The point is, I’m to live like one bought and paid for by God, living for Him and not from selfish motives, allowing His Spirit full reign in my life. Gratitude for salvation should permeate every part of my life, causing not only instant obedience but also overflowing joy. The idea that the Creator of the universe would care enough about me to send His Son to die for me and then join His Spirit with mine is absolutely mind-blowing, but it is my very real experience. If I didn’t have the Bible to explain it, even I probably wouldn’t believe it! However, since I do believe it, I am to do all I can to help others come to that place of repentance and faith, so that they too may have an assurance of salvation that will anchor them and lift them up, regardless of their circumstances.
Father, thank You for arranging that beautiful opportunity yesterday to express the Gospel to that father and daughter. They are obviously seeking something, and I pray that You would reveal to them that they have found it. As I see them again over the next few days I pray that You would open their hearts and that I would speak only and exactly what You want me to, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!