Ephesians 1:13,14. Ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.
In a very true and real sense, the things promised in the covenant are already the property of believers. “All things are yours.” The great Father might truly say to each one of the sons who abide in His house, “All that I have is thine”. The inheritance is already ours, say the old divines, in the promise of God, in the price paid by the Lord Jesus, and in its first principles which are infused into us by the Holy Spirit. In His sure promise, the Father has already “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”: He has not only resolved to enrich us in the future, but even now He has endowed us with the treasures of His love. The Lord Jesus has not merely made us heirs of an infinite estate in the ages to come, but He has brought us into immediate enjoyment of a present portion. As the Scripture says, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance.”
The Holy Spirit is in many ways the means of making the promised heritage ours even now. By Him we are “sealed”. We know with certainty that the inheritance is ours and that we ourselves belong to the great Heir of all things. The operations of the Holy Ghost upon us in our regeneration, and His abiding in us by sanctification, are certificates of our being in grace, and of our being inheritors of glory. Beyond all other testimonies of our being saved, there stands this sure and certain evidence, namely, that the Spirit of the living God rests upon us. Repentance, faith, spiritual life, holy desires, upward breathings, and even “groanings which cannot be uttered”, are all proofs that the Holy Ghost is working upon us and working in a way peculiar to the heirs of salvation. Life breathed into us by the Holy Ghost is the great seal of the kingdom of God to our souls. We need no dreams nor visions nor mystic voices nor rapturous feelings; the quickening and renewing of the Holy Ghost are better seals than these. The Spirit of promise does not prepare men for a blessedness which shall never be theirs. He who hath wrought us to the self-same thing will secure that blessing to us for which He hath prepared us. The faintest impress of the seal of the Spirit is a better attestation of our part and lot with the people of God than all the presumptuous inferences which self-conceit can draw from its heated fancies.
Nor is the Holy Spirit only the seal of the inheritance, He is also the earnest of it. Now an earnest is a part of the thing itself, given as a guarantee that the remainder will be forthcoming in due season. If a man is paid a part of his six-days wage in the middle of the week, it is earnest-money. In this an earnest differs from a pledge, for a pledge is returned when we receive that which it secured. But an earnest is not returned, for it is a part of that which is promised. Even so the Holy Spirit is Himself a great portion of the inheritance of the saints; and in having Him we have the beginning of perfectness, of heaven, of eternal glory. He is everlasting life, and His gifts, graces and workings are the first principles of endless felicity. In having the Holy Ghost, we have the kingdom which it is our Father’s good pleasure to give to His chosen.
This will be made clear by a few moments’ reflection. Heaven will much consist in holiness; and it is clear that, as far as the Holy Ghost makes us holy here, He has implanted the beginnings of heaven. Heaven is victory; and each time that we overcome sin, Satan, the world and the flesh, we have foretastes of the unfading triumph which causes the waving of palms in the New Jerusalem. Heaven is an endless Sabbath; and how can we have better foretastes of the perfect rest than by that joy and peace which are shed abroad in us by the Holy Ghost?
Communion with God is a chief ingredient in the bliss of the glorified; and here below, by the Spirit of God, we are enabled to delight ourselves in the Lord and rejoice in the God of our salvation. Fellowship with the Lord Jesus in all His gracious designs and purposes, and likeness to Him in love to God and man, are also chief constituents in our perfected condition before the throne; and these the Spirit of holiness is working in us from day to day. To be pure in heart so as to see God, to be established in character so as to be fixed in righteousness, to be strong in good so as to overcome all evil, and to be cleansed from self so as to find our all in God – are not these, when carried to the full, among the central blessings of the beatific vision? And are they not already bestowed upon us by that Spirit of glory and of power which even now rests upon us? It is so. In the Holy Spirit we have the things we seek after. In Him the flower of heaven has come to us in the bud; the dawn of the day of glory has smiled upon us.
We are not then such strangers to the promised blessings as common talk would make us out to be. Many repeat, like parrots, the word, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor 2:9); but they fail to add the words which follow in the same scripture: “but God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.” What cruelty thus to cut the living child of Scripture in halves! The Holy Spirit has revealed to us what neither eye nor ear has perceived; He has drawn back the curtains and bidden us see the secrets hidden from ages and from generations. Behold, in the life of God within your soul, the everlasting life which is promised to them that love God. The life of glory is but the continuance and the outgrowth of the life of grace. Behold, in reconciliation through the atoning blood, that celestial peace which is the groundwork of eternal rest. See, in the love of God shed abroad in the believing soul, a foretaste of the fragrance of felicity. Mark, in the immovable security and hallowed serenity of full assurance, a forecast of the infinite repose of Paradise. When our inward joys swell high, and burst into a song, then we hear preludes of the heavenly hallelujahs. If we would know the clusters of Canaan, lo, they are brought to us by those emotions and anticipations which, under the guidance of the Spirit, have gone, like spies, into the good land and brought us hence its choicest fruits!
It is not only that we shall have an inheritance: but we have it. In having the Holy Spirit, we are already put in possession of the land which floweth with milk and honey. “We which have believed do enter into rest” (Heb 4:3). “Ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, and to an innumerable company of angels” (Heb 12:22).
What remains for such persons, thus made partakers of a divine inheritance in the Son of God, but that they walk worthy of their high, holy, heavenly calling? “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col 3:1).
1. A chapter from the book, According to Promise.