A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, March 19, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *5/11/2012
In whom you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the
gospel of your salvation: in whom also after you believed, you were
sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our
inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the
praise of his glory. [Eph 1:13,14]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Eph 1:13"]
[See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Eph 1:14"]
I have taken the whole passage for the sake of completing the sense,
but I have no intention whatever of preaching upon all of it.
Practically I only need for the topic of this morning the following
words: — “In whom also after you believed, you were sealed with that
Holy Spirit of promise.” The sealing of the Holy Spirit will be the
subject of our meditation. There are many who have believed in the
Lord Jesus Christ who are extremely anxious to obtain some sign for
good, some witness from God which shall render them quite sure that
they are saved. They have not yet reached the full assurance of
faith, and they feel uneasy until they attain it. They feel that
these matters are too important to be left at all uncertain, and
they, therefore, pine for some sure witness or seal. Men will not
risk their estates, and no spiritually sensible man will endure to
have his soul and its eternal affairs in jeopardy for an hour: hence
this anxiety. It is true that by the way of faith only the fullest
and best assurance may be reached, but many who truly believe in the
Lord Jesus Christ are not yet aware of this, and their trembling
hearts crave for a testimonial from the infallible God to certify to
them that they are indeed saved. Yes, and I conceive that even more
advanced saints, who know more fully where their standing is, and
confess that they can only walk by faith, still often sing with very
great emphasis of desire —
Might I but hear thy heavenly tongue
But whisper “Thou art mine,”
That cheerful word should raise my song
To notes almost divine.
Though we can and do believe, and can claim the privilege which
belongs to those who have not seen and yet have believed, yet we
would be glad to have a sight sometimes. We sometimes wish we could
know by sure mark and evidence and sign that our experience is after
all a reality, and that we are indeed born by God.
Oh tell me that my worthless name
Is graven on thy hands!
Show me some promise in thy book
Where my salvation stands!
Now, in the best sense, this seal which we seek after is to be had; indeed, it is plainly seen by many of God’s children. It does not supersede faith, but it rewards and strengthens it. There is a way by which God speaks to his own, and assures them that they are his; there is a pledge, and an earnest, and this is freely given to the people of God. May God’s own Spirit enable me to speak correctly on this weighty subject.
2. The text says, “After you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise”; and, therefore, first, I shall call your attention to the position of this sealing; secondly, to the benefits which arise out of it; and thirdly, to the sealing itself, which, indeed, I shall endeavour to explain all through.
3. I. First, let us speak of THE POSITION OF THIS SEALING. We are desirous to get some confirming seal from God set upon our souls, some sure sign that we are indeed his own people. That sealing we can have, God bestows it; but let us notice very carefully, lest we make a mistake, where that sealing comes in.
4. It does not come before believing. According to the text it is “after you believed, you were sealed.” Now, there are hundreds of people who are craving for something to see or to feel before they will believe in Jesus Christ; this is wickedness, and the result of an unbelief which is most offensive in the sight of God. If you demand a sign before you believe, you practically say that you cannot take God’s mere word for your comfort, that the sure word of testimony recorded in the Bible is not enough for you, that the solemn declaration of God may after all be false; at any rate, that you find it impossible to rest your confidence upon that alone, and must see something besides. If not a miracle, perhaps you demand a dream, or a strange feeling, or a mysterious operation; at any rate, if you do not see some sign and wonder, you declare that you will not believe. You do, in fact, say to God, “If you will not go out of your way to give me what I ask for, and to do for me what I demand, then I will call you a liar to your face, by refusing to believe you.” Ah, my hearer, this will not do; this is to provoke the Lord to jealousy, and he who does this shall receive no sign whatever, except it is the sign of the unbelievers of Chorazin, for whom the day of judgment shall be more intolerable than for Sodom and Gomorrah.
Notice also that this sealing does not necessarily come at once
with faith. It grows out of faith, and comes “after you believed.”
We are not in every case sealed at the moment when we first trust in
Jesus. I am persuaded that many who believe in Jesus enter into peace
directly, and perceive at once the blessed assurance which is
involved in their possessing the Holy Spirit; but with many others it
is not so. I have frequently been asked this question, “What is a
person to do who does believe in Jesus, but yet is not conscious of
peace and joy, but is filled with such a conflict within that the
utmost he can do is to cling to Jesus with trembling hope?” I have
replied, “If you believe in Jesus Christ you are saved; the best
evidence that you are saved lies in the assurance of the word of God
that every believer has eternal hope.” Whether you feel that you
are justified or not is not the point, you are to accept God’s word,
which assures you that everyone who believes is justified: you are
bound to believe the testimony of God apart from the supporting
evidence of inward experience, and if it were possible for you to be
a believer for many years, and yet to find no peace, still you would
have no right to doubt what God says because you do not feel peace,
but you are bound to hold on to God’s promise whether you enjoy peace
or not. My firm belief is that where there is a real faith in the
promise of God, peace and the other fruits of the Spirit come as a
necessary ultimate consequence, but even then they are not the basis
of faith: the word of the Lord is the sole foundation upon which
faith builds. Some people have a kind of confidence in God, but
they are also looking for confirming signs, and they spoil the
simplicity of their faith by having one eye on Christ and another eye
on their peace of mind. Now, my friend, this will never do. You are
bound to believe in God as he is revealed in Christ Jesus to
salvation, altogether apart from peace, joy, or anything else. The
witness of the Spirit within is not the basis nor the cause of our
faith: faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. I,
being a sinner, believe that Jesus Christ came into the world to save
sinners, and I rest my soul upon him, believing that he will save me;
this is to be my standing, seal or no seal, sign or no sign. My
dependence is not to be upon the seal of the Spirit, but upon the
blood of the Son. The Spirit of God never takes the place of the
Redeemer, he exercises his own particular office, which is to take
from the things of Christ and show them to us, and not to put his own
things in the place of Jesus. The foundation of our hope is laid in
Christ from first to last, and if we rest there we are saved. The
seal does not always come with faith, but it follows afterwards. I
have said this because I am afraid lest in any way whatever you
should leave the simple, plain, and solid basis of confidence in the
finished work of Jesus Christ, and in that only. Remember that a man
who believes in Jesus Christ is as truly saved when he does not know
it as he is at the time when he does know it; he is as truly the
Lord’s when he mourns in the valley of humiliation as when he sings
on the mountaintop of joy and fellowship. Our basis of trust is not
to be found in our experience, but in the person and work of our Lord
I dare not trust the sweetest frame;
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Notice, also, concerning the position of this sealing, that, while it
is not the first, it is not the last thing in the divine life. It
comes after believing, but when you obtain it there is something
still to follow. Perhaps you have had the notion that if you could
once be told from the mouth of God himself that you were saved, you
would then lie down and cease from life’s struggle. It is clear,
therefore, that such an assurance would be an evil thing for you, for
a Christian is never more out of place than when he dreams that he
has ceased from conflict. The natural, fit, and proper position for a
soldier of Jesus Christ is to be at war with sin. We are wrestlers,
and our normal condition is that of “striving according to his
working who works mightily in us.” This side heaven, if there is a
place for building a nest and taking one’s ease it is not the place
for you: you are a pilgrim, and a pilgrim’s business is to be on the
road, pressing forward to the home beyond. Remember, if there are
seats of ease, and no doubt there are, they are not for you, since
you are a runner in a great race, with heaven and earth for
witnesses. Cessation from watchfulness means ruin to your soul, the
ending of conflict would show that you could never gain the victory,
and perfect rest on earth would show that none remained for you in
heaven. Even if the Spirit of God seals you, what will it amount to?
To the inheritance itself; so that you can say, “I have attained
perfection?” Certainly not! No, brethren, the Scripture says, “Which
is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of the
purchased possession.” This side of heaven all you can obtain is a
pledge of the perfection of which heaven is made up.
There rest shall follow toil,
And ease succeed to care:
The victors there divide the spoil;
They sing and triumph there.
Here we must labour, watch, run, fight, wrestle, and agonize; all our forces, strengthened by the Eternal Spirit, must be expended in this high enterprise, striving to enter in at the strait gate: when we have obtained the sealing our warfare is not ended, we have only then received a foretaste of the victory, for which we must still fight on.
7. This is the true position of the sealing. It stands between the grace which enables us to believe, and the glory which is our promised inheritance.
8. II. We will notice, secondly, what are THE BENEFITS OF THIS SEALING, and while we are doing so, we shall be compelled to state what we think that sealing is, though that is to be the subject of the third point.
9. The sealing spoken of in the text does not make the promises of God to be true. Please notice that. This text has been preached upon as though it stated that the Spirit of God set his seal upon the gospel and the promises of God. Well, dear friends, it is true that the Spirit of God witnesses to the truth, and to the certainty of the promises, but that is evidently not intended here, for the text says, not that the promises were sealed, but that “you were sealed.” You are the writing which has the stamp put upon it; you yourselves are sealed. It is not even stated that the Spirit of God seals up covenant blessings as gold is sealed up in a bag, and reserves them for the chosen seed; the text tells us that believers themselves are thus reserved, and marked as the Lord’s particular treasure, and it is upon believers themselves that this seal of the Holy Spirit is set. No, brethren, the Holy Spirit does not make the promises sure, they are sure by themselves; God who cannot lie has uttered them, and therefore they cannot fail. Nor, my brethren, does the Holy Spirit secure our interest in those promises; that interest in the promises was secured in the divine decree, before the earth ever existed, and is a matter of fact which cannot be changed. The promises are already secure for all the seed. The Holy Spirit makes us sure that the word is true and that we are concerned in it; but the promise was sure beforehand, and our interest in that promise was sure, too, from the moment in which it was bestowed upon us by the sovereign act of God.
10. To understand our text, you must notice that it is bounded by two words, “In whom,” which two words are twice given in this verse. “In whom after you believed, you were sealed.” What is meant by “In whom?” The words signify “In Christ.” It is in Christ that the people of God are sealed. We must therefore understand this sealing as it would relate to Christ, since so far, and so far only, can it relate to us. Was our Lord sealed? Turn to John and there you have this exhortation: “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for that food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give to you: for God the Father has sealed him.” [Joh 6:27] There is the clue to our text. “God the Father has sealed him”: for since our sealing is in him, it must be the same sealing.
11. Notice, then, first, that the ever blessed Son was sealed on the Father’s part by God’s giving a testimony to him that he was indeed his own Son, and the sent one from the Lord. Just as when a king issues a reclamation, he sets his physical seal to it to say, “This is mine” so when the Father sent his Son into the world, he gave him this testimony, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” He said this in words, but how did he give a perpetual testimony by a seal, which should be with him throughout life? It was by anointing him with the Holy Spirit. The seal that Jesus was the Messiah was that the Spirit of God rested upon him without measure. Hence we read expressions like these: “He was justified in the Spirit,” “He was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead.” “It is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.” Now, the Spirit of God, wherever he abides upon a man, is the mark that that man is accepted by God. We do not say that where the Spirit merely strives at intervals there is any seal of divine favour, but where he abides it is assuredly so. The very fact that we possess the Spirit of God is God’s testimony and seal in us that we are his, and that just as he has sent his Son into the world, even so he sends us into the world.
12. Secondly, to our Lord Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit was a seal for his own encouragement. Our Lord condescended to restrain the power of his own Godhead, and as a servant he depended upon the Father for support. When he began his ministry he encouraged himself like this — “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted.” He found his stimulus of service, he found the authorization of his service, he found his comfort and strength for service, in the fact that God had given him the Holy Spirit. This was his joy. Now, brothers and sisters, if we want to be encouraged for holy service by feeling quite sure that we are saved, where must we get that encouragement from? Read in the First Epistle of John, and there the seal of God is described — “Hereby we know that he abides in us by the Spirit whom he has given to us.” [1Jo 3:24] Read also in the next chapter, “Hereby we know that we dwell in him, because he has given to us his Spirit.” [1Jo 4:18] So that just as the seal which comforted our Lord, and made him to know in times of depression that he was indeed beloved by the Father was that he had the Spirit of God; so to you and to me, brethren, the possession of the Spirit of God is our continuous encouragement, for by this we may know beyond all question that we dwell in God and God dwells in us. The seal answers a twofold purpose; it is on God’s part a testimony, and to us an encouragement.
13. But the seal is meant to be an evidence to others. The Father set his seal upon his Son in order that others might discern that he was indeed sent by God. John says, “I did not know him: but he who sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, ‘Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I saw, and testified that this is the Son of God.” The Spirit, then, was upon our Lord the seal for recognition; and, beloved, so it must be with us. We cannot be known by our follow Christians except by the possession of the Spirit of God. Have you ever noticed how Peter claimed for the uncircumcised the rights of church membership? He says, “God, who knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did to us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith”: [Ac 15:8,9] so that to Peter the possession of the Holy Spirit was the broad seal of heaven which the Lord never sets upon a heart where there is no faith. The same argument had been felt in all its power by him when he said, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we have?” Paul used this as his test concerning the sons of men; for he says in Romans, “You are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now, if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ he is none of his”; [Ro 8:9] plainly indicating that the absence of the Spirit is fatal, for the divine signature is not at the bottom of the document; but if the Spirit of God is there, then all is right, for the Lord never puts his seal to anything which is not sound and true. Rest quite sure that where the Spirit of God remains there the gospel of Jesus Christ has been written on the heart, and the man is saved.
14. Further, the fourth effect of the seal upon Christ was that it was a witness to the world. The Spirit of God upon Jesus Christ was not recognised by the ungodly world to be indeed divine, but they perceived and were astonished at something about him which they did not understand. He spoke with authority and not as the scribes, and they confessed “Never man spoke like this man.” They did not know what spirit he was of, but they knew they hated it, and immediately they began to oppose him. Now, brothers and sisters, if you have the same seal as your Lord, which is described in the text as “the Spirit of promise,” the same result will follow: men will wonder about you, misunderstand you, and oppose you. And what is the reason? Never in this world did the Spirit of promise appear without opposition from the spirit of bondage. Isaac was the child of promise, and did not Ishmael, who was born after the flesh, persecute him? The two seeds, of the flesh and of the promise, are at daggers drawing with each other. When the Lord sets his seal upon you by giving you the Spirit of promise, so that you are not under the law but under Christ, the world will know it; they will not admire you, but they will strive against you to destroy you.
15. Once more, the seal upon our Lord Jesus Christ intended for a fifth reason, namely — for his perseverance even to the end. A seal is set upon a treasure which we intend to preserve; and so the precious Redeemer was sealed. Now, you will say to me, “But dare we speak of Jesus Christ as being preserved by the Spirit of God?” My dear brethren, we must never forget the wonderful self-denial of Christ in that he laid aside his own divine power, and while he was in this world he said the Father was greater than he, and he became a man so as to pray, and to believe, and to depend upon the Father. Jesus Christ put himself into such a condition while he was here that he relied upon the Spirit of God to uphold him. Do you doubt it? Turn to Isaiah, and you have it there in these exact words: “Behold my servant whom I uphold!” [Isa 42:1] See how he humbles himself, as a servant, to be upheld by the Lord. “My elect, in whom my son delights. I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring justice to the Gentiles: he shall not cry nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street: he shall not break a bruised reed, and he shall not quench the smoking flax: he shall bring out judgment for truth.” [Isa 42:1-3] There can be no doubt that this is Christ; for these very words are quoted concerning himself. Now, what comes of the upholding of the blessed Spirit? “He shall not fail nor be discouraged until he has established justice in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his law.” [Isa 42:4] So that the Spirit of God upheld Christ, and sustained him, and kept him, until his life’s work was finished, without his failing or being discouraged. My brethren, this is how you and I must be kept; this is the seal which we need, which shall preserve us as the consecrated ones of God, so that when he comes, he shall find us under seal and safe.
16. Let me now summarize. Upon our Lord Jesus the Spirit of God acted as a seal, namely, as God’s testimony that he was his Son, as an encouragement to his own heart, as an evidence to others, as a witness to the world, and as a help to perseverance, even to the end. The sealing of the Spirit will confer the same benefits upon us: “in Christ Jesus after you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.”
17. III. Thirdly, let us consider THE SEALING ITSELF.
A great deal has been said on this point which has tended to foster
superstition. Some have supposed that there is a separate act of the
Spirit of God in which he seals believers. It may be so, I will not
raise the question; but I should be very sorry if any man here,
living in sin, should nevertheless look back upon some time of
religious excitement or enjoyment and say, “I am safe, for on that
occasion I was sealed”; and I should be very sorry to have any
brother take as the sure reason why he is saved some remarkable
experience which he underwent on a certain day long past. A seal is
for the present, and is not a mere memory, but an object palpable
now, and before the eyes. I am afraid many have been deceived
into carelessness by the notion of a sealing received long ago. Let
us seek out the truth. According to the text, as far as I can read
it, here is a man who has believed in Jesus, and he desires a seal
that God loves him: God gives him the Spirit, and that is all the
seal he can wish for or expect. Nothing more is needed, nothing else
would be so good. The very fact that the Spirit of God works in you
to will and to do, according to God’s good pleasure, is your seal;
you do not require anything more. I do not say that any one operation
of the Holy Spirit is to be regarded as the seal, but all of them
together, as they prove his being within us, make up that seal. It is
better, however, to keep to the doctrine that the Spirit of God in
the believer is himself the seal.
Thou art the earnest of his love,
The pledge of joys to come,
And thy soft wings, celestial dove,
Will safe convey me home.
19. Now, let us look at what the context tells us about this. If you read on, the apostle tells us that wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God are part of the seal. Kindly turn to the chapter and follow the apostle’s line of argument. He says, “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith, … do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” [Eph 1:15-17] See, then, if you have believed in Jesus Christ the Spirit of God comes upon you, and he gives you wisdom and revelation. Doctrines in the Word which you never understood before become clear to you — “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened”; the blessings promised are more distinctly discerned, and you see “the hope of your calling, and the riches of the glory of the Lord’s inheritance in the saints.” The deeper truths, which at first quite staggered and puzzled you, gradually open up to you, and you see and appreciate them. More especially you discover the glory of Christ and see the exceeding greatness of the power with which the Lord works in the saints “according to the working of his mighty power, which he performed in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in what is to come.” [Eph 1:18-21] You drink deep into the blessed thought that Jesus is the head over all things to his church, and you obtain some glimpses into the mysterious doctrine that the church “is his fulness, the fulness of him who fills all in all.” Now, brethren, if we know these things properly the Spirit has taught us, and the consequence of it is that we say to ourselves, “Certainly I must be a child of God, for I never understood the things of God before.” How could I have learned them if I had not been taught by God. The Master seems to stand by our side and say, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” If you have been made to see the abounding grace of God, the grandeur of the plan of salvation, and the choice beauties of the blessed person of Jesus Christ, you have a sure seal upon your soul, for like the blind man in the gospels you can say, “One thing I know, whereas I was blind now I see.”
20. Following on to the next chapter you will see that the Spirit of God works life in every man who possesses him, and that life becomes another form of the seal. “He has quickened you who were dead in trespasses and sin.” [Eph 2:1] That life is of a new kind, and has a renewing power, so that men forsake the course of this world, and no longer fulfil the desires of the flesh and of the mind. They trace this new life to God, who is rich in mercy, who in his great love by which he loved them, even when they were dead in sins, has quickened them together with Christ. They trace this life entirely to the grace of God, — “by grace you are saved”; and they see that this life produces good works in them, “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works.” I need not explain how this life uplifts us to sit in the heavenlies with Christ, for most of you know all about it; you have received a life from above, a living and incorruptible seed is in you, you have passed into a new world, you have feelings, desires, fears, hopes, such as you never knew before, and thus your outward life is also changed, so that you follow after what is according to the will of God. Now, brethren, what can be a better seal for you that you are indeed saved than this life which you feel within? This is the way in which the Spirit of God seals you, by making you partakers of the divine life, which never did reside in the unbeliever yet, and never can dwell apart from faith. To “as many as received him, he gave power to them to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on his name.” “He who believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” So that wisdom and life, which are both sure results of the indwelling of the Spirit of God, are a seal to us that we are really saved.
21. Go on a little further and you will notice upon the one seal a further mark, namely — fellowship. “You were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” [Eph 2:12-14] Those who have believed in Jesus Christ are led by the Spirit of God to love their fellow Christians, and by this “we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.” Once we thought the godly to be a dull and melancholy bunch, at any rate we let them go their own way, and we were glad to keep aloof from them; but now we delight in their company, sympathise with their pursuits, and are willing to share their persecutions. We consider the saints of God the best company in the world; we would sooner sit down and talk half an hour with a poor, bedridden Christian woman, than be found in the courts of princes. This brotherly love becomes a seal of grace within our hearts, for John tells us in his first epistle, “everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.” [1Jo 4:7] “If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us.” [1Jo 4:12]
22. Even more striking is what follows, namely, that we have fellowship with God. The apostle speaks of us as reconciled to God by the cross, by which the enmity is slain, and he says of our Lord, “Through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” [Eph 2:18] I am following the course of the chapter. When you and I feel that we commune with God, that there is no quarrel between him and us, that he is loved by us as we are loved by him, that we can draw near to him in prayer and speak to him, that he hears us and condescends to grant us gracious answers of peace, these are blessed seals of salvation. Some of us can look back on times of fellowship with God, on seasons of prevailing prayer with him, and upon countless answers to our petitions: all these become infallible signs of divine love for us.
23. I shall not tire you if I ask you to notice for one moment that the apostle puts in next building up, — “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together grows to a holy temple in the Lord.” [Eph 2:20,21] Are you not conscious, believers, that you are being built up to a divinely glorious form, after a high and noble model? It does not yet appear what we shall be, but you must be conscious that layer upon layer of precious stones have been built upon the foundation of your faith in Christ. Since you have known the Lord you have made a distinct advance. At times you are afraid you have only grown downwards, but you have grown; there is something about you now which was not there ten years ago. I am distinctly conscious, somehow, that twenty years ago I was not what I am now. I sometimes feel like a bird in the eggshell! I am chipping it away bit by bit, I believe it will break one of these days, and the bird will come out; but I often feel my wings bound and cramped by the shell; I need the life in me to be developed and set free. Do you ever feel the same? Have you not felt as if you yourself were full with a far more glorious nature, and longed for deliverance from flesh and frailty. These groanings, aspirations, hopes, and desires are all seals of salvation; you will never find the ungodly moved like this. These pangs are unique to life. You are not a finished structure, but a house in the process of construction, and you may be sure that one of these days the top stone shall be brought out with shoutings of “Grace, grace to it.” But this building up through the Spirit of God is the seal of the Spirit; it is the evidence to you that God has begun a good work in you, and is carrying it on.
Last of all, the second chapter finishes up by saying, “In whom you
also are built together for a habitation of God through the
Spirit”; [Eph 2:22] and this seems to me to gather up all that I
have said before. The indwelling of the Spirit in the saints, in
all of them united, and in each one in particular, is a choice seal.
Dost thou not dwell in all the saints,
And seal them heirs of heaven?
Yes, that is the manner of the sealing, according to the prayer of
our hymn —
Jesus, my Lord, reveal
In charms of grace divine,
And be thyself the sacred seal,
That pearl of price is mine.
If you have the Spirit of God dwelling in you, you must be the Lord’s. Will the Spirit of God dwell in any temple except what God has consecrated? He may come upon men to strive with them for awhile, but he will never dwell in any heart that has not been cleansed with the blood of Jesus, nor can he possibly reside permanently in any soul which is defiled with self-righteousness and love for sin. No, beloved, if the Spirit of God dwells in you, you need no dreams, nor angels’ whispers, nor noises in the air. The indwelling Spirit is the only seal you need. I ask you, brothers and sisters, what more do you need? What more could God give you? Suppose you were to meet on the road home, an angel standing on the snow, clothed in glittering white, and that he should say to you, “I have a message from God to you” — should then mention your name and add, “You are one of God’s chosen.” That vision would comfort you for half an hour, I have no doubt, but many desponding spirits would not be comforted much longer, for the devil would say, “It was snowing! No doubt the flakes blew into your eyes; or else you have a fine imagination.” “Oh, but,” you would say, “I heard him speak.” Ah, you heard noises in your head; you are becoming a fair subject for Bedlam Asylum. I confess if you were to tell me the story, I should not make any bones about it, but should say, “You are not such a fool as to believe that, are you?” and you would find many other people of the same mind. Now there can be no doubt about the seal of the text. You have been taught by God what no one except the Spirit of God could have taught you; you have a life in you which no one except the Spirit could have given you: you are perfectly conscious of that knowledge and that life; you do not need to ask anyone else about them. A man may ask me whether I know So-and-so; but I am the best witness whether I do or not. If I am asked, “How do you know you are alive?” Well, I walk around, that is all; but I am quite sure about it, and I do not need any further evidence.
25. The best seal to a man’s heart must be that of which he is conscious, and about which he needs not appeal to others. Give me a seal that is as sure as my own existence: I fail to see how God himself can give me anything more sure than the gift of his Spirit working knowledge and life into me. “Oh,” one says, “but if I could hear a voice.” Suppose you did. Then the argument of fear would be that there are countless voices, and one may be mistaken for another. You were in the street when you heard it; perhaps it was a parrot or a starling in the upper window. Who knows? It is so easy for the ear to be deceived. Many a time you have said, “I know I heard such and such,” when you did not hear it, but something very like it. I would not believe my own ears, if their evidence had to do with my soul, one half so readily as I would believe my own consciousness. Since knowledge and life and other things I have mentioned just now, are all matters of consciousness, they are much better seals than anything could be which appeared like an angelic vision to the eye, or like a mysterious voice to the ear. Here you have something sure and steadfast. If the Spirit of God dwells in you, you are his, and if he does not dwell in you, you are not his.
26. Take this for the closing word, “do not grieve the Spirit of God, by whom you are sealed to the day of redemption,” but love him, honour him, and obey him; so the seal will always be bright before your eyes.
As to you who have not believed, I conclude with this sentence. — Do
not ask for seals; you have nothing to do with seals, but with Jesus.
“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.” Believe in
Christ Jesus, and when you have trusted him, then there shall come
signs, seals, and marks. May God bless you, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Eph 1]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Holy Spirit — Love Longed For” 458]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Holy Spirit — Divine Sealing And Witnessing Sought” 468]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Adoption — Adoption” 728]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3564, “Publications” 3566 @@ "Commentaries"]
458 — Love Longed For
1 Descent, immortal Dove;
Spread thy kind wings abroad:
And wrapped in flames of holy love,
Bear all my soul to God.
2 Jesus, my Lord, reveal
In charms of grace divine,
And be thyself the sacred seal,
That pearl of price is mine.
3 Behold my heart expands
To catch the heavenly fire:
It longs to feel the gentle bands,
And groans with strong desire.
4 Thy love, my God, appears
And brings salvation down,
My cordial through this vale of tears,
In paradise my crown.
Philip Doddridge, 1755.
468 — Divine Sealing And Witnessing Sought
1 Why should the children of a King
Go mourning all their days?
Great Comforter, descend and bring
Some tokens of thy grace.
2 Dost thou not dwell in all the saints,
And seal the heirs of heaven?
When wilt thou banish my complaints,
And show my sins forgiven?
3 Assure my conscience of her part
In the Redeemer’s blood,
And bear thy witness with my heart,
That I am born of God.
4 Thou art the earnest of his love,
The pledge of joys to come,
And thy soft wings, celestial Dove,
Will safe convey me home.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
The Christian, Privileges, Adoption
728 — Adoption
1 Behold what wondrous grace
The Father hath bestow’d
On sinners of a mortal race,
To call them sons of God!
2 ‘Tis no surprising thing,
That we should be unknown:
The Jewish world knew not their King,
God’s everlasting Son.
3 Nor doth it yet appear
How great we must be made,
But when we see our saviour here,
We shall be like our Head.
4 A hope so much divine
May trials well endure,
May purge our souls from sense and sin,
As Christ the Lord is pure.
5 If in my Father’s love,
I share a filial part,
Send down thy Spirit, like a dove.
To rest upon my heart.
6 We would no longer lie
Like slaves beneath the throne;
My faith shall Abba Father cry,
And thou the kindred own.
Isaac Watts, 1709.