June 24. Ephesians 1:15. Blessed day 24. Love for All the Saints.

Ephesians 1:3-16. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints. 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

The greatest of all our spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus is the Father’s deep love for us. All of the blessings that Paul has listed in Ephesians 1:3-14 flow from God’s love. Because He loves us God has forgiven us, and redeemed us, and adopted us. And this love was not in response to anything. God loves us because he loves us, not because we have done anything to deserve that love. In fact he loved us even before we were born. “IN LOVE he predestined us.” Before time began he loved us.

And now the result of this great spiritual blessing is our love for all the saints.

Love

As we’ve already noted faith and love always go together. Faith must come first, but also love will always result from faith. Why? Because our faith is in God’s love. Love WILL produce love.

Here again Paul’s thoughts are not something he just made up. He is telling us what our Savior Jesus has already told us.

John 13:34-35. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

And then, just as Paul does here, Jesus connects this new commandment to our reception of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:15-17. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,17 even the Spirit of truth.

What all this means is that our love for each other is not self-produced. Rather it is produced by our union with Christ. God’s love for us in Christ bears the fruit of Christ’s love in our lives. This is why Paul is giving thanks – because their love for each other is proof of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s proof that they have the Holy Spirit. It is the proof of being blessed.

This is why we said that love must follow faith. Only when I believe that I am fully loved by God and that this love is unconditional and eternal, only then will I be able to freely love unconditionally. Only then will I have nothing to lose, nothing to prove, nothing to gain. When I have this kind of freedom, the freedom that only comes from the love of God in Christ, then I can love ALL the saints.

All the Saints

This is the crux of the matter: ALL. The love of Christ in us does not pick and choose who to love. It does not discriminate. There are no favorites. No racism, sexism, classism, or any other kind of ism. Like a parent who loves all of their children equally (maybe differently, but equally), there is no proportional loving in Christ. The cross has leveled the ground for all of us.

Some think there is a difference between Christ’s command to love one another and Christ’s command to love our enemies, but we could argue that there actually is no difference. The church is a gathering of natural enemies. Think about the church in Paul’s day. Jews and Gentiles now joined in Christ (this will be Ephesians 2-3 btw). This is both a miracle and a mystery. These two groups of people would never have worshiped together, lived together, sung together, loved each other – not before Christ.

But now Paul is encouraged that they have love for ALL the saints. Not just those saints that are like them. But even the saints that they have nothing in common with, nothing except Jesus. Because he is enough.

This is a love that can and must love through culture, through history, through past oppression, through systemic injustice, through rivalry, through misunderstanding, through ignorance. Through everything. Christ has purchased this love for us. And he modeled this love for us. He loved us FIRST. When we were still his enemies.

“To live is Christ” has blessed us with the eternal love of God. A love that never fails even when we do. This same love compels us to love, not just the saints we like, but ALL the saints. That is what love is – loving those that you might not like. Loving those who you naturally would have no business loving. Loving differently yet equally. Loving from our faith in the glorious grace of God in Christ.

This is fun. But starts with us.

This is better, starts with God.

June 22-23. Ephesians 1:15. Blessed day 23: Faith THEN Love.

Ephesians 1:3-16. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

Yesterday we asked the question “What is a Christian?” And then we proceeded to show that there are two things that make a Christian a Christian: faith and love. Faith in the Lord Jesus, and love toward all the saints.

Today we want to see that the order here is important. Faith THEN love.

Faith first.

Our faith is in an objective truth. First and foremost ours is a religion of facts. We believe the Good NEWS. Not the good idea. Or the good philosophy. Or the good opinion. Or the good concept. The Good NEWS. Historic fact. Jesus lived. Jesus died. Jesus rose. You died with Jesus. You rose with Jesus. You are united to Jesus by the indwelling Spirit. These are facts. Admittedly those last three are spiritual realities not physical. But they are realities nonetheless.

Our faith is not about probabilities. It’s about realities. Did God say it? Did God do it? Did God promise it? Our faith doesn’t make things happen. Our faith is in what has already happened or what God has already promised will happen.

The Christian life begins with faith. Faith in the saving work of Christ. “Jesus died FOR me and I believe that.” Our life doesn’t move past this object of our faith – Jesus Christ. But our understanding of the work of Christ may grow. We move from Jesus died FOR me to I died WITH Jesus. We grasp more and more our union with Christ (the whole point of this blog).

Faith is receiving this life of Christ in us. It is the rejection of all self-effort to bring about change in our own lives and instead embracing grace. Glorious grace. It is trusting that we are fully loved. Fully accepted. Fully forgiven. Fully redeemed. And wondrously adopted. We must trust the spiritual blessings that Paul has listed for us here in Ephesians 1. Receiving this grace by faith is what brings change. This vertical faith in the Lord Jesus is what produces the horizontal love toward all the saints.

“You’re gonna have to trust me.” Even when it doesn’t make sense? This is how unconditional love is born.

Then love.

The classic error that most Christians make is that they try to sustain the emotional level of love that they feel when they first get saved. New in Christ brings with it new feelings not unlike the infatuation that occurs with young lovers. But inevitably life throws some curve balls your way. Illness, job loss, heart ache, death of a loved one. Or just the passing of time. The feelings of love for Jesus begin to fade.

Why do we hear so many Christians every day complain about other Christians? Why do we hear Christians say things like “I love Jesus but not the church?” Why do so many Christians devour each other? Judge each other? Destroy each other? Avoid each other?

It’s because they tried to live from the love motive instead of from the faith motive. They started with love, things got hard, the feelings dissipated, and love turned into judgment and comparison and flat out dislike.

True unconditional love, love toward the saints (also known as love for your enemies) is only possible from faith. And from the freedom that faith provides. A self-effort or trying harder and harder to love one another will never work. Why? Because its root is in the flesh. In law. Not grace. And not faith in that grace. Or to say it another way: we must let ourselves be blessed before we can ever be a blessing. This is why Paul is so thankful to God for them. Because their genuine love proves their genuine faith in God’s glorious grace.

Faith and love are both crucial to the Christian life. But love must be founded upon faith. Faith in those facts we talked about earlier. Not love as simply a feeling. But love that flows from truly trusting the goodness of God.

Start with love and it becomes a conditional love that will eventually run out. Start with trusting the character and promises of God and it will result in an unconditional love that grows and grows.

“To live is Christ” is both faith and love. But it is a faith that produces love. Trusting and receiving the blessings of being in Christ produces Christ’s love in and through us toward all the saints. Faith THEN love.

June 21. Ephesians 1:15. Blessed day 22: Faith and Love.

Ephesians 1:3-15. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

What is a Christian?

Obviously this is a really important question, one that we all need to be able to answer. Fortunately for us Paul has made it easy to answer by giving us a two-point outline of what a Christian is in Ephesians 1:15.

  1. A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus.
  2. A Christian has love toward all the saints (the Church).

This is not a new revelation from Paul. Jesus taught us this two-part definition of a Christian also. It is especially highlighted in John’s gospel account. Just before dying on the cross Jesus told his disciples to believe in him (faith).

John 14:1. Believe in God; believe also in me.

And right before this he told them to love one another.

John 13:34. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

In fact in John’s gospel we could say that these two things (faith and love) are what constitute obeying Jesus’ commandments. Which Jesus also directly connected to the coming of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:15-16. 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper [the Holy Spirit], to be with you forever,

Of course the first question that comes to mind when you read this is “what are Jesus’ commandments?” But as we just pointed out he has already answered (although admittedly a bit cryptically) that his commands are to believe in him and love one another. But just to make sure we don’t miss it, John’s first epistle makes it perfectly clear:

1 John 3:23-24. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

So what is a Christian? Someone who has faith in the Son and love for others. And these two things are the commandment of Christ that we must obey. Trust Jesus. Love one another. Pretty simple huh?

And yet it can feel so profound and so difficult. If we’re honest we will admit that we rarely seem to be trusting and loving as we are commanded.

But here’s what we must remember – every Christian IS doing these two things: trusting and loving. How? Because every Christian has the Holy Spirit. Every Christian is united to Christ.

  1. We are IN Christ. We are forever loved. God will always be faithful to us. The sin nature has been removed causing us to trust Jesus forever.
  2. Christ is IN US. His love and faithfulness live in us. They are the spiritual blessings that the Spirit pours into our hearts. He is trusting and loving through us.

Because of our union with Christ by the Spirit we share his own faith and love. What this means is that the two-fold commandment to believe and to love has already been obeyed by him and the power to continue obeying has supernaturally been granted to us through him.

And so the question isn’t do you perfectly trust Jesus and love others each day. We all know the answer to that. The question is do you WANT to? Not have all your behaviors changed, but has your heart changed? Do you desire at all to trust Jesus and love other Christians? If you want to then you are. Not perfectly yet. But you are. Trust me.

It’s rare that my Christian life feels like Jack and Rose. But a little faith mixed with a little love can go a long way.

Beyond this it is also crucial for us to understand that this two-fold definition of a Christian is also the definition of what it means to be Spirit filled. Spirit led. Spirit controlled.

The Holy Spirit isn’t taking any of us beyond these two things: believe in Jesus for salvation and love others as Jesus does.

This is why Paul is so excited and giving thanks for them, because of these two simple facts: they have faith in Jesus and they have love toward the Church. He’s not excited about all the miracles they’re doing, or all the buildings they’re building, or all the service projects they’re accomplishing, or all the money they’re raising. He’s excited because he sees in them the two true marks of the Holy Spirit – faith and love.

“To live is Christ” (and our love for Jesus) is marked by these two things – we trust Jesus and love his Church. If you’re trying to graduate past these you’re headed in a wrong direction. Yes it is this simple. Yes it is this profound. Yes it has been done for you by Christ. Yes you are also doing it as Christ. His faith and love are in you because Christ is in you. His Spirit is in you. His life is in you. What grace!

June 20. Ephesians 1:15. Blessed day 21: Faith in the Lord Jesus.

Ephesians 1:3-15. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

Paul introduces his letter to the Ephesians with this definitive absolute statement: in Christ we have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He then proceeds to walk us through these blessings (as we have done in this blog over the past few weeks) landing us on the greatest of all blessings, the glorious presence of God himself in us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.

Now in verse 15 the Apostle shifts from telling to praying. He’s been telling us what our spiritual blessings are in Christ. Now he will spend the next several verses giving thanks and petitioning God on our behalf. He’s not listing more blessings, but he is expounding upon the blessings he has already listed. We will find in this prayer the results of our spiritual blessings, including the three-fold grace of faith (v15), love (v15), and hope (v18).

Faith in the Lord Jesus

Paul sees the Ephesian’s faith as the outpouring of their union with Christ. Because they are in Christ and share all of his spiritual blessings, the supernatural result is their notable faith. A faith that he has heard about from far away in Rome’s prison.

in the Lord Jesus

Usually any discussion about faith begins by trying to define or describe the nature of faith itself. But our union with Christ demands that we begin with a discussion about the OBJECT of our faith – the Lord Jesus.

Maybe you tend to think about your faith in terms of amount (I need to have more faith) or effectiveness (if I had more faith God would bless me more). But the result of this thinking is that the object of our faith is now our faith, and not our union with Christ. The object of our faith must be the Lord Jesus. We must trust what he has accomplished on the cross. Forgiveness. Redemption. Adoption. Holiness.

The Lord Jesus is not just the object of our faith, he is also the source of our faith. There is no faith apart from his grace. This is a bit deep, but it is only because Jesus incarnated and united himself to humanity and then lived a life of faithfulness that we as humanity can ever have faith. Our faith was first his faith. How do we know? Because we were chosen, BEFORE TIME, in him.

And not only is the Lord Jesus the source and object of our faith, he is the result of our faith. In his Galatians commentary, Martin Luther said “Christ is present in our faith.” When we live by faith we are making the Lord Jesus present physically in our own bodies. I know this one may be hard to wrap our heads around, but this is the great truth of our union with Christ. By faith we believe that we are IN Christ. But also by our faith Christ IN US is expressed, made visible, manifested to the world around us.

Malcolm’s misguided search for grace leaves him with only faith in himself.

Faith

Now that we have begun to understand the connection of our faith to our union with Christ, that our faith can never be devoid of Christ, we can try to discern the nature of this faith. In other words, what does faith look like in everyday life? Is faith just believing or is it doing? Does faith result in something? Is it just correct belief? Or is it also correct living? Obedience?

What might help us is knowing that the Greek word for faith, pistis, can also just as easily be translated as faithfulness. In fact, in Greek thought, and probably in Paul’s thought, the idea of faith and faithfulness are never to be separated. Faith always results in faithfulness. Even Jesus himself expressed his faith in great faithfulness. Imagine if we said that Jesus had faith but then he failed to actually go to the cross. We would have good reason to doubt his faith wouldn’t we?

Faith as a spiritual blessing

In what way is faith a spiritual blessing? A gift?

Faith is only a gift if it actually changes how we live. The indwelling life of Christ has no meaning if we never actually live like Christ. Faith is appropriating (or as Paul calls it in Romans 6, considering) the life of Christ. It’s the ability to take all of these spiritual blessings in Christ that Paul has listed and allow them to take hold of our heart, our mind, our very life, and then let them result in a life that actually looks like the life of Jesus – submission, sacrifice, obedience, forsaking evil, and loving (more on that tomorrow). This ability to appropriate the blessings is itself another great spiritual blessing.

“To live is Christ” is to live a life of faith in the Lord Jesus – the object, source, and result of our faith. It is a living faith just as ours is a living Savior. It is the spiritual blessing that allows us to receive and respond to all other spiritual blessings.

Faith is more of God’s glorious grace.

Just like Ephesians 1 this song is very Trinitarian…a good one to have on repeat.

June 19. Ephesians 1:14. Blessed day 20: Guarantee.

Ephesians 1:3-14. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 13 In him you …were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee/deposit of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Because we are in Christ we share in every one of his spiritual blessings. How? Because we have the life of Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the greatest of the spiritual blessings. God’s presence. God’s life. God’s love.

Here in Ephesians 1:13-14 Paul brings together two of the Spirit’s roles in our salvation. First, the Spirit is God’s seal. His mark of ownership. We are possessed by God for all of eternity and the Holy Spirit is the seal of that ownership.

Also, Paul says, the Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee of our future inheritance. The word guarantee means deposit or down payment. A promise made now toward a future fulfillment.

One of the best illustrations of this truth is an engagement. When two people get engaged they make a promise to each other today that they will get married in the future. In the ancient biblical days it was called a betrothal. The betrothed or engaged couple was legally bound to one another (think about Joseph and Mary from the Christmas story) just as we are legally bound to God. The betrothed couple enjoyed some of the blessings of being married without enjoying all of the blessings of being married (wink wink). In our culture we give an engagement ring to prove that we are committed to our future wedding. In Paul’s day promises were made, gifts exchanged, a bride price paid, and a house built. These all served as the guarantee that one day a wedding would happen.

Look at Jesus’ language in John 14 right before his crucifixion:

John 14:2-3. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

This is betrothal language. Jesus has asked us to marry him. When we say yes we are brought into his promise to return one day and take us to himself and consummate the marriage. And then we will live with him forever in the eternal joy and bliss of his presence.

So let’s think about this for a minute. What did God give us when he proposed to us? It wasn’t a ring or any other earthly thing. It was himself. The guarantee that we will be in God’s presence one day is that his presence is in us today.

John 14:15-17. 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,17 even the Spirit of truth

When Jesus proposed to the Church and made a marriage promise to her, he left us with a guarantee, a deposit – the Holy Spirit of truth.

Or we could say that when God left earth he left God here with us to guarantee that God would send God to return for us and bring us to God.

There is literally no greater deposit that God could leave behind, no greater guarantee than himself.

And yet we still doubt.

Why?

Most likely because what we have now is a deposit. It’s not the full payment.

The good news.

We are getting a little taste of eternity right now. We have every spiritual blessing – NOW. We are truly forgiven, redeemed, and adopted. We are positionally holy and blameless. We have been shown the mystery of God’s will, the goal of all history, the uniting of all things in Christ. We have been made heirs of God. We await a glorious inheritance. We live for the glory of God’s grace. We are experiencing life in God’s presence. All of this right now. Today.

The bad news.

We are not experiencing the fullness of God’s presence. In our position we are holy and blameless but in our condition we still struggle with endless temptations and sin. Our suffering is great. The battle is raging outside of us and inside of us. The flesh is wreaking havoc within and the Enemy without. And so we doubt and question our salvation. But the Spirit as God’s guarantee is meant to bring us hope, faith, and love if we would let him.

The more good news.

Because we only have the deposit and not the full presence of God, the good news is that there is an even greater reality yet to come. This is not all there is. Praise God! Yes, we have every spiritual blessing, but we don’t have every physical blessing. The world around us is in chaos. But not forever. There is hope. There is resurrection. There is physical blessing awaiting us. We can only imagine what it will be like when our bridegroom returns for us and every spiritual blessing collides with the physical blessings that await us on the New Earth as the New Creation.

“To live is Christ” places us in this place of “already but not yet.” Already we are indwelt by the presence of God and given an inheritance. But not yet do we fully possess it. This leaves us living lives of hope with humility. No regrets. No bucket lists. No FOMO. Eternity awaits. And all the spiritual and physical blessings of our glorious groom will wash over us. Until then we are betrothed brides patiently awaiting the return of Christ while the Spirit of Christ fills our hearts with his love for us. Just as he will forever.

June 18. Ephesians 1:13. Blessed day 19. The Promised Presence.

Ephesians 1:3-13. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

It’s rare for us to find someone this side of heaven that always keeps their promises. In fact, it is pretty much impossible. Relational strife, absentee parents, outstanding debts, incomplete assignments, missed appointments, forgotten anniversaries and birthdays, and unmet expectations prove that we have all failed to live up to what we have said we will do. I know I have.

But what kind of blessing would it be if we had someone in our life that never ever ever broke a promise? Someone that, no matter what, you could always count on to be there for you. If they say it they mean it. And their word is their bond (or should I say seal). That’d be pretty amazing, right?

Mike teaches Eleven about promise – “It’s something that you can’t break…ever.”

Of course we’re talking about God. Specifically, here in Ephesians 1 the promise that God has made and kept is giving us the Holy Spirit – you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

Promised is a word in this text that you may be tempted to fly right by. But it’s actually an extremely important word. Especially as relates to our union with Christ.

The Holy Spirit is no afterthought. It’s not some random add-on that we have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has always been the giver of life, biological life and spiritual life. God’s eternal divine life has always only been possible by the power of the Spirit and the presence of God. What all of scripture shows us is that we must be in God’s presence to truly live.

No Spirit. No presence.

No Spirit. No life.

When Adam and Eve sinned and spiritual death entered the world it was characterized by the removal of humanity from the presence of God. The Old Testament story from the fall in Genesis to the exile of God’s chosen people in Babylon is the story of God manifesting his presence among the people. The shekinah glory cloud. The Tabernacle. The Temple. God allowing humanity to be in his presence.

Along the way God made covenants with his people. Promises. God promised that he would be their God and they would be his people. Abraham. Moses. David. With each of these covenants God promised to always be there. To be accessible.

Mike promises Eleven his presence (and Eggos).

But these covenant promises meant that humanity could be in the presence of God, not that the presence of God would be in us.

The reality is that you can’t have the first without the second. We could never live within God’s presence without first being made holy and blameless by the indwelling presence of God. Holy and blameless in the Old Testament meant sacrificing a whole lot of animals. It meant purity rituals. Day of Atonement. Priests. Ceremonies. And doing it all over and over again because it didn’t actually make anyone holy or blameless, it just bought us time.

When God made a plan before time to save us both FROM our sin and death and TO his eternal life, that plan meant that we would need to be given the Holy Spirit. God’s presence would have to indwell us. Not just us in God’s presence. But God’s presence in us. God revealed this promise to mankind in the New Covenant. It was unlike all those previous covenants. They promised God WITH us. But the New Covenant promises God IN us.

So when Paul speaks of the blessing of the promised Holy Spirit he’s not making up a new idea. He’s talking about the New Covenant which was prophesied 700 years earlier.

Ezekiel 36:26-27. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

And then this promise was repeated by Jesus himself just before his death.

John 14:16. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.

And so let’s look again at Ephesians 1:13. The New Covenant promise of God’s presence is fulfilled in Christ. Not just Jesus living among us on earth – God with us. But union with Christ – God in us. When you believed in Christ you were placed into him and sealed with the Spirit. The same Spirit that God promised he would give us hundreds of years earlier.

But how? How can God’s presence live IN us? God can only dwell in purity right? Right.

But what does union with Christ mean? It means you are now pure. Righteous. Justified. The temple of God. Your spirit is cleansed and sanctified. And so at his ascension when Jesus became the life giving spirit, the promise was kept. We could now receive the Promise. With this promise came every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. And with this fulfilled promise of the indwelling Spirit in the present comes the fulfillment of every future promise yet to be fulfilled.

Can we trust those promises to be fulfilled?

What you’re asking is “Can we trust God?”

And what “to live is Christ,” and the Holy Spirit in you, says is that we definitely can. More than anything else that we trust (like chairs, and airplane pilots, and passwords), we can trust the living and faithful God, who has never ever ever broken a promise. And he’s not going to start now.

June 17. Ephesians 1:13. Blessed day 18: Sealed.

Ephesians 1:3-13. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

Today we return from a short break to our Blessed series from Ephesians 1. In Christ we have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. These are not future blessings when we get to Heaven. Also, these are not earthly blessings like health and wealth. These are the blessings of the new creation that we are able to experience right now, this moment. Why? Because they are Christ’s blessings and we are united to him.

But how do we know? What is the proof of these blessings?

The Holy Spirit. God himself. The Spirit of Christ who indwells us and transforms us into the image of Christ. There is no greater spiritual blessing than the Spirit of God himself. And so Paul makes it clear that when we believed in Christ we were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.

If you’re like me, you have had numerous doubts and conversations with other Christians about the security of your own salvation.

Am I really saved?

What about now?

What about now?

And so we pray the magic prayer over and over again, re-inviting Jesus into our hearts over and over again.

The problem is that our salvation security is rooted entirely in ourselves. Our performance. Our behavior. Our feelings. It is not found in Christ alone. We are quite convinced that if we faced judgment today we would never pass the examination. But we have failed to realize once again that our judgment is no longer based on us. It’s based on Jesus. His work. It’s based on the Father. His faithfulness. It’s based on the Spirit. His seal.

In Paul’s day the seal of the emperor might be placed on a document or an item signifying that it truly came from the king himself (Jesus’ tomb was sealed shut by the Romans – same word). Or when a slave was purchased he or she might be branded in some way (sealed) to show ownership. It’s hard to know exactly which metaphor Paul has in mind (he did earlier call us redeemed from slavery). Either way the seal signifies an extremely important truth for us.

We belong to God.

Say it with me – “I belong to God.”

“I will never be alone.”

“My future is secure.”

God has written his name on you. You’re his. No one can steal you. No one can snatch you away. No one can hide you from God. In fact, God has hidden you in Christ. Think about a king writing a letter and putting it into an envelope and then sealing the envelope shut. OK, you’re the letter. Christ is the envelope (in him). And the Spirit is the wax seal. No one dares to open that envelope and remove that letter without permission. If they do the full wrath of the empire will come crashing down on that person. No force of Hell, no Satan, not even YOU can remove yourself from the envelope of God.

For you archaeology geeks. Kingly seals found in Jerusalem.

For you Toy Story geeks. Doubts make us forget who possesses us. But look at the seal.

Yes, you sin. Yes, you have doubts. Yes, your faith is weak. Yes, your life is hard.

But do you see what you’re doing? Who you’re focused on? It’s YOU. When it should be HIM. Christ is the envelope. The Spirit is the unbreakable seal. God sent the letter. The full power of the Trinity is on your side in this. God’s salvation of you is unstoppable.

Oh, and you being sinful and messing up all the time?

Well that’s actually kind of the point of this whole chapter. We’re blessed to the praise of his glorious grace (1:6 and 1:12).

For many Christianity is a life of doubts while striving to maintain a status that was earned by righteous deeds and repeated recitations. But this is not “to live is Christ.” Union with Christ is a seal. A possession. An unbreakable presence. God himself is the seal of our salvation. Not a creed and not a deed. He seals us with his very own life. His presence. A presence given to us as a gracious gift, earned by the banishment of Christ on the cross. Because he was forsaken and shunned we will never be. Ours is an eternal salvation that nothing can destroy. Not even death. We are and forever will be God’s own possession. And there is no better place to be than in the possession of our glorious God. What grace!

“When I look at myself I don’t see how I can be saved. But when I look at Christ I don’t see how I can be lost.” – Martin Luther