Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 13
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999|
|Dr. Barber examines the issue of the security of the believer. Can a Christian loose his or her salvation? Dr. Barber explains why not!|
The Security of Our Redemption – Part 1
We’ve been talking about the marvel of our redemption. It appears to me that what Paul is doing in the book of Ephesians is very unique. As a matter of fact, you have to study it all the way through to catch the flavor of what I’m about to say, especially chapters 1, 2 and 3. He’s trying to let the Gentile believers understand that they didn’t get anything different than what a Jewish believer got when he got saved. In other words, sometimes the Gentiles would think, “Well, the covenants were not for us, the promises were not for us, therefore, somehow maybe we didn’t get everything the Jewish believers got.” Well, Paul is assuring them that everything that he got as a Jewish believer they got as a Gentile believer when they received the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s say that a friend of yours bought a Toyota, and the Toyota factory has just come out with a warranty on all Toyotas. That’s why he bought one, because that warranty is like no other warranty. It covers the car for the life of the car no matter how many miles, anything that breaks down, even a flat tire. It was really exciting to him to find that out. Well, something he didn’t know and something that folks hadn’t said a lot about was that warranty not only covered his Toyota but it covered any kind of car that Toyota helped make. So, you go out and buy a Geo Prism. Now you didn’t know and the friend didn’t know that Toyota helped make that car along with General Motors. You buy it at a General Motors dealer. You go home thinking that you just got the car and whatever warranty they gave you, but you did not realize that everything the Toyota owners got you were going to get because Toyota helped make that car. Well, one day you get a letter, and in the letter it says, “All the terms that were good for Toyota owners are also good for you, because Toyota helped in making the car that you bought.” Well, that would be a joyous day, wouldn’t it?
Well, what Paul is saying is, “You Gentiles, you got everything the Jews got. When you receive Christ and the Jew receives Christ it is the same. You’re made one in Him, and the promises are the same. You don’t get more because you’re a Jew when you become a believer than you do when a Gentile becomes a believer.” He has assured the Gentile believers of the marvel of their redemption. He’s writing to a Gentile church, and he makes certain that you understand that in chapters 1, 2 and 3.
Let me go back and review real quickly. We saw the sphere of our redemption. We saw that not only were the Jews included, but the Gentiles were not excluded. That’s the beautiful thing. If you take a look at verse 11 he says, “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 should be to the praise of His glory.” Those Jews hoped in Christ before He came, but after He came we have an inheritance. Look what he says in verse 13: “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.” In other words, the Jewish believer got an inheritance. Paul says, “but also you Gentiles have been sealed in the Holy Spirit as a promise of that same inheritance. What we got you got. You didn’t get any more or less than what we got when we received the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The sphere of our redemption. He did not exclude Israel, but that’s not the point. He included the Gentiles.
Well, secondly, we looked at the standard of our redemption. It’s in verse 13. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation…” First of all, the standard is, we must hear it and listen to the truth of the gospel of our salvation. That’s the Word of God. You may hear somebody’s testimony. If they do not include God’s Word then you may be inspired to want to get saved. You may be convinced that you need to be saved, but you’re not going to get saved just by their testimony. The Word of God is the seed that must fall into our heart. That’s what convicts us of sin in our life. We hear the gospel: that Jesus came, lived a sinless life, went to the cross for our sin, and rose the third day, ascended and was glorified. That convicts us of being sinners. We need to hear the truth of the gospel.
He goes on to say, “having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit.” Now what does it mean to believe? Well, we’re going to come back to that in just a second when we get to our third point. There will be two parts to my third point.
We’ve looked at the sphere of our redemption: He did not exclude Israel, but He included the Gentiles. We’ve looked at the standard: after hearing you believe the truth of the gospel. But I want us to look at the security of our redemption.
There are many people who believe that you can lose your salvation. They say, “God will not walk away from you, but you can walk away from Him.” I believe there is a problem with that view. I believe that is contrary to Scripture, and I want to try to prove that to you in the statement that “you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Let’s look at verse 13 one more time because that phrase is powerful. “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.”
Now why do some people believe that you can lose your salvation? Personally, I think part of the problem is what we have just addressed, and I’m going to go back over it a little bit. It’s an erroneous view of what salvation is. A lot of people who think they have lost their salvation never had it to start with. You know, particularly as Baptists we’re known by other denominations to have a weakened, watered-down view of salvation. That may be true or not depending on the church that you grew up in.
I happen to come from a liberal church in Virginia. As I grew up, I heard God loves you, yes, God has a wonderful plan for you, yes, Jesus is God’s Son, yes, but I never understood repentance and what belief really was. Nobody ever taught me what it meant to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. When I was nine-years-old I ran down the aisle because I didn’t want to go to hell. What nine-year-old wants to go to hell? I did whatever they told me to do. I was baptized in the church. I was told by the preacher, “Yes, you’re saved.” I was thirty-two-years-old before I came to understand the gospel, the truth of the gospel from the Word of God. When I saw that, I saw myself, and when I saw myself, I understood my problem. Had it been presented correctly to me earlier, perhaps that would have been different, maybe I would have been receptive to it.
What does it mean to believe? Pisteuo is the word “believe.” What does it come from? Pistis, which means “faith.” When I believe, I put my belief, my trust, in somebody and what they’ve done and who they are. What does it mean to put your trust into someone? It comes from the word peitho, which means “to be persuaded to the point that I’m overwhelmed to surrender.” Surrender is built into the word. It doesn’t mean you understand at the moment that you receive Christ, but God looks at your heart. Man looks on the outside.
When a person is overwhelmed by the Deity of Christ then he is brought to a place of bowing and surrender. Until that happens there has not yet been belief. Belief is more than the intellect. Belief is more than emotion. Belief has something to do with the will of an individual.
Isaiah saw the Lord in Isaiah chapter 6. What did he do? He fell to his knees and said, “I am a man of unclean lips.” You cannot see who He is as revealed by the Holy Spirit to your heart until you’re willing to surrender. When you see Him you bow, and that bowing is what that belief is all about. The way I receive Him is by surrendering myself to Him. You see, Jesus is not just the truth. He’s not just the life. He is the Way. When we come to Him we realize our way has been wrong.
What are we saved from and what are we saved to? Those are questions we must ask. One of the problems with people believing they can lose their salvation is a watered-down plan of salvation. It’s not biblical. Therefore, they don’t know what believe means. They come out with all kinds of ideas about it. Certainly I can understand why some people would say, “Well, that person must have lost his salvation because no Christian could live that way.” That’s the first point. But I want us to go much deeper than that.
Let’s look here in verse 13: “you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Now this is what I’ve been wanting to get to. What does it mean to be sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise? The word “sealed” is sphragizo. It’s in the aorist passive. Aorist tense means at a specific point and time. It agrees with the participles used earlier, “having believed” and “having listened.” It all happens almost simultaneously. A person hears it. That word “listen” doesn’t mean just to hear. It means “to hear and understand with a willingness to cooperate,” and when that person hears it, and that person believes it, at that very moment the Spirit of God examines that man’s heart and seals him in the Holy Spirit of promise. It all happens at the very moment of belief. When I’ve heard and understood, I’ve received, I believed, that sealing takes place right then.
The process of sealing had three basic meanings throughout Scripture. Later we’re going to look at those three and show you how the Holy Spirit, who is the seal, does all these things. First of all, it was done to confirm that something was genuine.
I was reading a magazine this past week. In the magazine there was an article about a Rolex watch, a presidential Rolex Watch. While I was looking at it I was thinking, “Wow, those things cost thousands and thousands of dollars, they tell me.” Then I looked at what it said at the bottom of it. It said, “Originally advertised at $99.99, but on this sale alone it’s for $20.” I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. It’s a Rolex, a presidential Rolex. It costs more that $99, I know.” Then I looked at the bottom. It said, “Exact replica of a Rolex. It even fools the Jewelers.” I got to thinking. Anything man seals can always be duplicated. But what God seals, friend, you better pay attention to. When God seals something, it’s proven to be genuine.
Secondly, it means to mark as your own property. In other words, if you had your seal stamped on it, it meant it was yours. There was an official ring that the king would have, and he would put his seal on things. It was official property, a piece of one’s own possession.
Thirdly, it meant to make sure that something was secure. I can’t wait to show you this in Ephesians chapter 4. It means to make sure that something was secure. It’s sealed, not by man, but by the Holy Spirit of promise.
Before we draw any more conclusions, I want to show you something here. It just emerges out of the text. He says, “you’re sealed.” What is the seal that God puts on us when we believe after having heard the gospel of Jesus Christ? The seal is the Holy Spirit of promise. Now when was the Holy Spirit promised and who was He promised to?
Turn with me, if you would, to Jeremiah 31:31. Let me read for you Jeremiah 1:16 while you’re finding your place. This is what’s going on at the time these words are spoken. God says through His prophet, “I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.” This was a terrible time in the history of God’s people. The tribes had split under Rehoboam’s reign. Ten tribes had gone North, and were called Israel. Two tribes had gone to the South, and they are called Judah. In the midst of all that calamity, about to be overtaken by the Babylonian empire, about to be taken out of their land for seventy years, God promises something that we need to pay close attention to.
Look at Jeremiah 31:31. “’Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.’” Israel has already been taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Judah is left, and yet God has not forgotten His people. He says to Israel, the ten tribes of the north, and to Judah, the ones that are about to be overtaken by Nebuchadnezzar, “I will make a new covenant with you.” Now what He’s saying is, “I’m going to do something radically different inside you, not outside you, but inside you.” Every covenant they have been under, the covenant of law, had to do with their works on the outside. It could not do anything to them on the inside. God says, “I’m going to give you a new covenant and when that new covenant comes, I’m going to do something within you. It’s not going to be like this any more. It’s not going to be like my people running off to other gods, running off and rebelling and not wanting to even mention my name. No sir! I’m going to make something different with you. I’m going to change you from within instead of without.”
So, the promises of the new covenant begin to unfold. Look in verse 33. He promises, “’But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it.’” God says, “I’m going to change you so radically inside, I’m going to write my Law on your heart.” Listen, this was written at a time when they had lost His Law. As a matter of fact, when they came back from the Babylonian captivity they found the law. Nehemiah read it at the Watergate, and when he read it, the people fell down and prostrated themselves before God and said, “Oh God, how could we get this far away from your Law?” So they came up with two groups of people, one the scribes and the other the Pharisees. The scribes were to continue to read that Law so the people couldn’t stray so far the next time. The Pharisees were their police force to make sure the people did what the scribes came up with.
God said, “It’s not going to be like that anymore. You’re not going to be able to walk away from it. You’re not going to be able to just turn your back on it. I’m going to write my Law within you. It will be written on your heart.” What a radical difference for Israel. You can walk away from church, folks, you can walk away from your Bible, but if you’re in the new covenant, you can’t walk away from the Law of God. It’s inside of you, written on your heart. You cannot sin and continue to sin and continue to sin. God’s Law is written on your heart.
Verse 33 goes on to say something that I think is very, very important. It says, “and I will be their God.” Now you may think that’s insignificant. Who was their God right now? Things made by human hands. What is God saying? “There’s going to come a day when I’m going to do something so radical inside of you, I’m going to change you so that you won’t be chasing after other gods, and if you do it won’t be for long. You’ll be so miserable you’ll run back to me. I will always be your God.” But He goes on to say, “and they shall be My people. They won’t be ashamed of Me anymore. They won’t be like Jonah, on a boat, who was ashamed to tell them that he was a Hebrew and a servant of God running from his own God. No, it won’t be like that anymore. They will be my people. I will be their God. Israel, Judah, look up. I’m promising you a new covenant. I’m going to do something radically different within you that’s going to change you from the inside out.”
God says, “I’m going to do something brand new with you. I will never turn My back on you to do good to you.” In other words, God says, “I’ll have such a relationship with you that you can trust Me all the days of your life that whatever I do in your life is good. It will never be for harm because we’ll have a relationship that we don’t really have right now. It’ll be from within, not from without.”
Well, let’s turn to Ezekiel 11:19 and find something else about the new covenant that was promised to Israel and to Judah. These are two of the specific prophets God used to tell them of an upcoming covenant that was absolutely brand new, a radical new covenant. The word chadash, means “brand new, never before understood nor seen.” If you’re in the old covenant, yes, you can prove that you can lose your salvation, absolutely. But because of the new covenant you can’t do it. It’s brand new. God’s doing something from within.
In Ezekiel 11:19 it says, “And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” What He’s doing here is so beautiful if you can see it. He’s contrasting something. How yielding is stone? Stone doesn’t yield. It’s hard. It’s unyielding. How yielding is flesh, a piece of soft flesh? You know what soft flesh feels like if you’ve ever handled a piece of raw meat. It says, “I will give you a brand new heart. This heart within you will be changed so that you will want to obey Me. You will not be like you’ve been up until now with hearts of stone. You’re going to have hearts that are yielded. I’m going to put a brand new spirit within you. Oh Israel, Judah, I’m going to do something so radically different you’ll never again be the same. I’m going to change you.”
Who was it first promised to? It was promised first of all in the new covenant promise to Israel and to Judah. Once He comes into a person’s heart, He radically does some house cleaning. He runs the devil out of here. The blood of Jesus has already cleansed the vessel, and now the Holy Spirit has moved in. When He moves in He says, “I will cause you to walk in my statutes.”
Remember this. The Holy Spirit is not an it. He’s a He. He’s a person. The person of the third person of the Trinity is going to come into our lives and will bear out all the promises God made in the new covenant. This is why the Lord Jesus had such a hard time with His disciples. They were slow to understand what Jesus was telling them. Jesus sat down with them and said, “Look guys, I’ve got to go back to the Father.” They were looking at Him and asked, “Why do you have to go back to the Father?” What is the whole new covenant hinging on? The Holy Spirit coming to live in our lives. He says, “If I don’t go back, then the Comforter can’t come.” The Comforter coming is the beginning of this new covenant that He promised to Israel and Judah.
Look in John 14:16. Jesus is trying His best to help them understand why He’s got to go back to the Father which includes going to the cross and dying for our sin. Obviously, He has not been there, yet. Verse 16 says, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper.” The word “another” means “of exactly the same kind.” He’s going to be the Spirit of Christ. Some people say, “Yes, I received Jesus, but I haven’t received the Holy Spirit.” Folks don’t make three Gods out of Him. He’s one God in three persons. You can’t receive Jesus without receiving His Spirit. They’re synonymous. That’s the mystery of the Godhead. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.” When was He promised to be in you? “I will put My spirit within them, saith the Lord.”
Look in John 16:7. It says, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” Now do you understand what took place in Acts 2:1 and 2? Here are the disciples, waiting, and all of a sudden the Lord comes and speaks to them and says, “In a very short time you will receive power.” Then chapter 2 talks about the Holy Spirit of God coming. What a historical event. It was first promised to Israel and to Judah, a promise of the new covenant. It was the inauguration of the new covenant. Jesus was the lamb sacrificed. Until His blood was shed and He had gone back the Spirit could not come. Now the Spirit comes at Pentecost, and when He comes He comes to dwell in the hearts and lives of those who believe. That was the inauguration of the new covenant. It was promised to Israel and promised to Judah.
How in the world can the Gentile be a part of a covenant promise to Israel and to Judah? You’ve got to remember that He promised to Abraham that Israel was for a reason. They were to protect a seed that would come through them, through Judah, through David and on down finally to be the Lord Jesus Christ. That seed, Galatians 3 says, is Jesus. It’s through Jesus that all the nations now are allowed in. Look in Ephesians 2:11. He says, “Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision’….” These were those Jews who, at the time Paul was writing this, got on his case when he went over to Jerusalem, because he even told the Gentiles they could be saved. He even told the Gentiles they could be allowed into covenants. They accused him of defaming the Jewish nation, defaming the temple, and defaming the law. They were just jealous because they didn’t want anybody else to be allowed into what God had promised. It says, “which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise.” What covenants of promise? The Abrahamic, the Davidic and the new covenant. The Gentiles were strangers to all of it. They didn’t even know what you were talking about: “…having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Folks, here’s the door opening up for all nations to be blessed. Christ had to come through Judah, through David, right on down just like He was prophesied to come. When He came and went to the cross, shedding His blood, vindicated by the Father as to who He was, that door swung open. Now Jew or Gentile is allowed into the same covenant of promises given to Israel and to Judah. “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”
What is Paul trying to say? He’s trying to say to those Gentiles, “We have an inheritance. Jewish believers have an inheritance. But Gentiles, you have an inheritance, and you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. That Spirit that was promised to us is now yours, made possible through the Lord Jesus Christ who brings us both from two groups into one.” We have been brought into that new covenant. The promises, all the promises, Corinthians tells us, in Jesus are “Yes and Amen.” They’re all ours in Him.
So the door swung open. What was promised to Israel and Judah becomes ours through Jesus because of the blood that He shed for us on the cross. What does that mean? That means we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of God. That seal proves that we’re genuine believers. What is the mark of the believer? It’s the Holy Spirit of God being in his life. That’s what it is. We are God’s own possession. He’s proof of that. Not only that, we’re sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. He is there to secure us, to make sure that we are kept.
Look at Ephesians 4:30: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” “I thought I have already been redeemed?” We have, but we’re going to be redeemed, not just from the power and the penalty of sin, but from the presence of sin. God says, “I’m making certain that you’re going to make it. I’ve sealed you with my own seal. My Spirit is in you.” It will keep you until the day of redemption when we go into the presence of the Father. That’s when we fully understand what salvation really is all about.
“Brother Wayne, I think I can lose my salvation.” Do you understand salvation? Do you understand the new covenant? Do you understand we are made new creatures, brand new creatures in Christ? Do you understand the Holy Spirit of God has come to live within us and change us from within? How can we lose a salvation that begins from within and works itself out?