Sealed in Christ

Sealed in Christ

Home Church Service 8/28/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

When my family and I meet for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. This message was designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points Paul is making. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”                                                                     Ephesians 1:7-14 (NASB)

Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase, “The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” Good Housekeeping is an American magazine, based in New York City, that made a name for itself and became a major influencer of American society, particularly among women, by its review and endorsements of household items and cleaning tips. The first issue was published on May 2, 1885, and today it has well over 5 million subscribers. In 1900 the magazine began what would become the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, which formally opened its doors in 1910. The year prior, in 1909, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval was established.

Any product that advertised in the magazine and carried the seal of approval came with a two-year limited warranty. Some 5,000 products have been given the seal. The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval has changed over the years, but the point hasn’t – a seal shows authority, acceptance, authenticity and ownership. Seals were used in the ancient world in very similar ways as today. Cargo was sealed before shipping; letters were sealed to provide authenticity and validity to the recipient, and even the tomb of Jesus was sealed to warn off any would-be grave robbers. In part two of our look at the position of the Christ follower, we find Paul reminding us we too have been Sealed in Christ.

We have redemption, the forgiveness of our trespasses, through the blood of Christ. We have been given wisdom into the mystery of God’s will – the summing up of all things, in heaven and on earth – in Christ. We have been Sealed in Christ after hearing and believing the message of truth. The Holy Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance at the redemption of God’s own possessions, to the praise of His glory.

We have been saved by the blood of Christ; our sins removed. We have understanding of God’s will – Christ in charge of all things. We have been Sealed in Christ after responding to the gospel message; the Holy Spirit given as a deposit to our inheritance in Christ, to the praise of His glory.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “As Christ followers, why are we Sealed in Christ?”

As Christ followers, we are Sealed in Christ with a view to the coming administration and the redemption of God’s own possessions.

1). As Christ followers, we are Sealed in Christ to receive forgiveness and wisdom.

Forgiveness and wisdom help us understand the mystery of God’s will – the summing up of all things in Christ.

The Christ follower finds their redemption in Christ. To be redeemed means to be purchased and set free at a price; to purchase or buy back some item or person that would otherwise be lost, destroyed or taken prisoner. It is the language of the ancient marketplace, so it is not too far fetched to think of today’s pawn shop. The price that has been paid for the Christ follower is the blood of Christ. We are free from the bondage and slavery of sin, free from the power of this world and free from the power of Satan.

We have been forgiven. The word forgiven means to carry away and brings to mind the Day of Atonement when the high priest sent the scapegoat into the wilderness carrying the sins of the nation Israel on its back. Christ died to carry away or remove our sins that they might never be seen again – no written accusation can stand against us for Christ has taken our sins away. Knowing that we have been redeemed and forgiven, we now have free access to God the Father!

The ultimate cause of our redemption is the riches of divine grace. Put another way, our redemption is in accordance with and because of God’s grace. This should make it crystal clear that we have been redeemed in grace alone! God loves us with an unbelievable love – so much so that H is willing to do whatever is necessary to save us. That includes giving us wisdom and insight. Once again, we find these blessings are found in Christ.

Wisdom is the ability to see life from God’s perspective, while the word insight can also be understood as understanding. Christ followers are given these blessings that we might know the mystery of God’s will. Wisdom is the Greek word, Sophia. In Christ we able to see and know the truth, to grasp the great truths of life and to know what to do. With insight or understanding, we know how to use truth and how to do the truth; we can see which direction to take. It is the ability to solve the problems of the day. This is practical, common-sense understanding.

These blessings have been given to make known the mystery of God’s will. This is the disclosure of a previously hidden secret – an event to be revealed at the end of the age. This cannot be understood by mere human wisdom, it must be revealed by God through the Holy Spirit to those who love Him. Part of what is being revealed is the salvation of the Gentiles and to an extent, the salvation of Jews who practice what we call orthodox Judaism but come to Christ at the end of time.

The mystery being revealed here is the summing up of all things in Christ. This is God’s ultimate goal – the uniting of all things in heaven and on earth in Christ. The phrase summing up suggest the “main point,” and “sum or summary.” This is God’s act of bringing all things together, in or under, Christ – God is unifying all things in Christ. Once again, Christ is the focal point of creation. John 1:3 tells us that all things were created through Him and apart from Him, nothing could come into being. Now Paul tells us it is God’s will that Christ bring our fragmented and alienated universe back into a unified state at the end of the age.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

As a Christ follower, how does knowing that you are forgiven impact how you live your life before others?

As a Christ follower, Jesus has taken your sins away. How does this knowledge impact your daily life?

As a Christ follower, how are you using wisdom to see and know the truth?

As a Christ follower, is Christ the focal point of your life? How?

As Christ followers, we are Sealed in Christ with a view to the coming administration and the redemption of God’s own possessions.

2). As Christ followers, we are Sealed in Christ in praise and truth.

We offer praise to the glory of God for His message of truth – the gospel of salvation.

Paul makes a shift here, making a distinction between two groups: Jewish believers and Gentile believers. While it is true that Gentile believers share in the blessings of God, the Jews were the first to be called or chosen. From the beginning the Jews have been chosen to receive an inheritance from God that will be completed and finalized in Christ at the end of time. The Jews were the first to trust in Christ, the first to hope in Christ and the first to believe in Christ. This is to the praise of His glory.

When Paul says “you also” he is now referring to the Gentile believer who has responded to the message of truth – the gospel of salvation. Because Gentile have believed they are marked as God’s possession – sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the pledge – the deposit or guarantee – of our assurance that we are God’s children, entitled to an inheritance – His riches and goodness. Through the hearing of the Word, the Gentiles now trust in Christ, they now hope in Christ, and they now believe in Christ. This too is to the praise of His glory.

Both Jews and Gentiles now have something to praise His glory. The Jews are the first chosen, the first to trust, the first to hope and the first to believe. God is in the process of fulfilling all He has spoken and promised to the Jewish people. This alone is cause to praise His glory. At one point the Gentiles were far off – separated from God and His blessings. Now they too can trust, hope and believe in Christ. They have been made a part of God’s family, able to share in His blessings. Once again, more than enough to praise His glory.

Both groups, Jews and Gentiles, will be unified in Christ t be His bride. Both groups are chosen to BE the praise of His glory. Both groups are sealed as God’s own possession by the Holy Spirit. Thus, both groups have received a promise – a deposit – of an inheritance through the Holy Spirit. And both groups will be redeemed – bought at a price and set free – at the end of time through Christ Jesus. As God’s own possession, both groups are to BE the praise of His glory.

Finally, both Jews and Gentiles have heard the message of truth – the gospel of salvation. Both groups have responded aby believing the message of truth making this the gospel of their salvation. This, however, does not mean that the entire Jewish nation will be saved, nor does it mean all Gentiles will be saved. Once again, we find it is only those Jews and Gentiles who are in Christ at the end of time.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

As a Christ follower, how are you trusting in Christ today?

As a Christ follower, what are you praising Christ for today?

As a Christ follower, do you still cling to the message of truth? How?

As Christ followers, we are Sealed in Christ with a view to the coming administration and the redemption of God’s own possessions.

Good Housekeeping is an American magazine, based in New York city, it made a name for itself, particularly among women, with reviews and endorsements of household items and providing cleaning tips. In 1909 the magazine established the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, stamping its approval on some 5,000 items.

Seals were used in the ancient world much as they are today. Cargo, letters and even the tomb of Jesus were sealed to show authority, approval, authenticity and ownership. Today, Paul reminds us that as Christ followers, we too have been Sealed in Christ.

As Christ followers we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. This seal has been given to those who love the Lord to show they belong to Him. We are now obedient to the authority of God Almighty, no longer are we enemies at war with Him. We have gained approval and acceptance before God the Father through our faith in Christ Jesus. We have been authenticated as children of God with adult standing in the family of God. Most importantly, our ownership has changed – we belong fully to God, purchased and set free by the blood of Christ.

This ownership came with new privileges and responsibilities. Our first and most important responsibility is to live in Christ. We must learn that awareness of God’s presence and living in Christ are key to all of life. We fall into sin when we forget the presence of God. And how strange is it to forget where you live?! We must know and understand we live BEFORE God and IN Christ – in other words, we must know we live in a defining presence. The very foundation and ethics of our faith are found in Christ. Of course, there are other responsibilities, such as offering our praise and worship to God alone, working to become more Christlike, and sharing the story of our faith and hope in Christ, but let’s now take a look at the benefits of our new ownership.

We must grasp our reality of being blessed and valued in Christ. So often this world tries to tie our value to what we do for a living or the stuff we own in this world. But in Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing of the Holy Spirit. These blessings are perfect, permanent and last forever. They may be blessings in health or finances but these blessings are meant for the inner person – these blessings are meant to move us closer to Christlikeness!

We have also been chosen – predestined to adoption! In Christ we find a new life in a new family – the family of God. Here we are a child of God with full privileges as an adult, able to claim our inheritance immediately. However, we must remember this chosen status comes only at the initiation of God – this is His sovereign choice made before the foundation of the world. God has chosen to allow flawed and broke people to join His family – He chooses us and yet He gives us freedom to choose and act independently; He woos us and accepts us, giving us a dignity that nothing else can ever replace.

Finally, we are chosen to be perfect – holy and blameless before God through Christ Jesus. Remember, there is no human honor or accomplishment that can make you righteous or earn your salvation, only Christ is righteous. Our righteousness comes through Christ, so too does our holiness. In Christ we are set apart and consecrated to God. We are without fault or flaw, perfect before the Father, through our faith in Christ. Our belief and trusting in Christ is an active faith – a continual action. And all of this happens because of the grace of God who freely and graciously gives salvation to those who love Him and are found to be living in Christ.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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