the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Have you ever bought something, only to lose it or have it stolen? My guess is that the answer is yes. Our belongings on earth can sometimes be so uncertain and fleeting. What about God? Can He also lose His possessions? If you remember, the context of these verses is that God’s children are His own inheritance. We’ll see what the Lord has done to ensure that He won’t lose any of those who belong to Him.
The last part of verse thirteen clarifies who is God’s possession. Paul reminds the Ephesians that they believed in the Gospel. That is, they acknowledged that it’s true and entrusted themselves to it. What exactly is the Gospel? In the original Greek the word meant “glad tidings.” In a nutshell the message is that Jesus is the Savior who died to reconcile mankind to God. He took our sin upon Himself and opened the way back to the Creator. That is good news indeed!
As a side note, you will notice that Paul only mentioned that the Ephesians believed. They didn’t believe and do good works. Or believe and go to church, or believe and do anything else for that matter. This and other passages make it clear that we can only receive salvation by faith. It can never be earned. Yes, good works and going to church are important, of course, but they are the result of salvation, not its means.
We have now come to an important word: “sealed.” In the ancient Greek language this term meant “to mark with a seal.” This was done for several reasons: 1) for security purposes, 2) to show ownership, 3) to authenticate something. Paul indicates that the Holy Spirit Himself is the seal given to believers. The Spirit’s work certainly parallels the purpose of a seal. He protects God’s children from the attacks of Satan, and His presence in their lives confirms that they belong to God and that their faith is genuine.
But that’s not all. Paul goes on to show us another incredible truth about the Holy Spirit. The word “earnest” is a synonym for “deposit.” If you’ve ever bought a big-ticket item, chances are good that you first gave a down payment. This money acts as a guarantee that the full amount will be paid at a later date. So basically Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit is God’s down-payment for our salvation, who will then ensure the full delivery of said salvation sometime in the future. I don’t know about you, but I find it amazing!
So when will this happen? The word “redemption” means “a deliverance or liberation procured by the payment of a ransom”, while the expression “purchased possession” indicates God’s own property. This refers to believers, to those who have become His inheritance. There will come a day when the redemption that Jesus paid for on the cross will affect not only the soul (as presently), but the body as well. Believers will be completely transformed: body, soul, mind, and spirit. To make sure that his happens, and that none are lost on the way, the Lord has given His children the Holy Spirit to act as a deposit, guaranteeing this future event.
Paul closes by saying that this will cause us to praise God for who is and what He’s done. How could it lead to anything else?