12: The Badge of Salvation

Lesson 12: The Badge of Salvation

Ephesians 1:12, 13

What is the “mark” of a Christian? How can you tell whether or not a person is really saved? Well, some people would say that you can just “see it in their eyes.” Or maybe it is in the way they dress or talk. There is a whole segment of Christianity that would say that it is based on the things that they don’t do! But in the passage at which we are going to look today we will see what the mark of a real Christian is.

Look with me at Ephesians 1:12-14:

That we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. (13) In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom you also believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, (14) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

These verses come at the end of the longest sentence in the Bible – which we have been looking at for several studies now. And it is interesting that that longest sentence is about the subject of salvation. As we have looked at it we have seen: the blueprint of salvation in verses 3 through 6, and the basis of salvation in verse 6b through 12. Now we come to the third aspect of salvation in verses 13 and 14. In these two verses we find out what it really is that shows that we are Christians. And it may not be the kind of “mark” that you would expect.

But to get that badge of salvation in its proper context, let’s look first at the sequence of salvation that is brought out in verses 12 and 13.  First, by way of background, let me just point out something about verse 12: Notice that Paul speaks about “we who first trusted in Christ.” Obviously he is talking about himself and the other “first generation” Christians. But in verse 13 he says “in whom you also trusted.” So here he is talking about that second generation of Christians that included the Ephesians – and you and me by extension. And the point is that this is the way the gospel is passed – from one generation to the next. Have you ever thought about what would have happened if that first generation of Christians had not passed on their faith to others? And really, is it any different with our generation? Are we being careful to preserve the gospel for the generations coming along behind us?

Do you really want to make an impact on society? Well, there may be a number of ways to do that, but the only way that really lasts from one generation to the next is to lead people to Jesus Christ! And whatever we may get involved in by way of “social action” should have that as its ultimate goal, otherwise it is only temporary in its effectiveness. It is a good thing to teach people how to plant crops and dig water wells, and make use of the free enterprise system, but if they don’t hear the gospel in the process, they are just unsaved farmers and well diggers and bankers.
Now what we have been talking about has to do with “the sequence of salvation” from one generation to the next. But there is another aspect of this sequence that I want us to notice, in verse 13, and that has to do with the sequence that takes place within the heart of the individual believer when he accepts Christ as savior. First there has to be “hearing” – “in whom you also trusted after you heard the gospel of your salvation. . . .” This fits in with the point we have just been making – the importance of sharing the gospel with others. And notice what it is that

they heard: “the gospel.” We must be sure that what we are telling them is the gospel. Surprising­ly enough, I think this is one of the most overlooked principles in all evangelism. How many times have you heard the gospel presented as “give your life to Christ” or “turn to Christ” “open your heart to Christ” or some other generalization like that? But that is not the gospel. The gospel is that you and I and everybody around us are sinners by nature and because of our sin we are bound for hell. But God loves us and sent His Son to die on a cross as punishment for the sins we have committed. That is the gospel. Nothing more, nothing less.

But there is a second step in the sequence. Look at the first line of verse 13 again: “In Him you also trusted. It is not enough to just hear the gospel; it must also be trusted. And what does it mean to trust? Well, the last part of the verse gives a synonym with which we all are familiar. “In whom you also trusted having believed. . . .” So we have to hear the message of the truth of the gospel; then we have to believe it; put our trust in it. Let me ask you today: have you actually trusted Christ as your Savior now that you have heard the truth?

When we have heard and believed, a third thing happens, with which we are not as familiar, because it is invisible to us: we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Most people are at least generally familiar with “hearing” and “believing,” but many Christians have not stopped to think about this third step in the sequence: the “sealing” of the Holy Spirit. But that is the subject of the next verse and the next section of our study.

In verse 14 we have the details of this “sign” of our salvation: the “seal” of the Holy Spirit.

Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the promised possession, to the praise of His glory.

In the era of history in which Paul wrote these words the seal was a much more common item than it is today, although it is still used in some instances. But in New Testament times the seal was a drop of wax that had been heated and softened and pressed with a signet ring of an official of some kind. And this verse tells us the purpose of the seal: it made the document to which the seal had been affixed official, something like what we see on graduation diplomas even today. But there is another shade of meaning brought out in this verse, and that is that the seal is a guarantee of our inheritance.” This verse is one of the places where the old King James Version might make things more clear. It uses the word “earnest” – the Holy Spirit is “the earnest of our inheritance . . . . “If you have ever put a contract on something you were going to purchase you probably know what an “earnest is. You put some “earnest money” on deposit to assure the seller of your good intentions. And this verse is saying that one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to

be an “earnest” – a promise that God is going to do all that He said He would do about our salvation!

Now that is clear enough, perhaps, but I want us to look at some other things that God has told us about this “seal” or “badge” of our salvation. First of all, there is an example of a seal given to us by God Himself in Romans 4:11. In the verses just before this Paul has been establishing the fact that Abraham (and all of the Old Testament saints) were saved in exactly the same way we are in this New Testament time – by faith. In Genesis chapter 15 we find one of the several times that God repeated the covenant that He had made with Abraham to make him the father of many nations. And Genesis 15:6 says that “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. And then as a reminder of that act of faith God told him to circumcise himself and all of his descendants. And Romans 4:11 says

“And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised

So God gave Abraham a “seal” – a physical reminder of his relationship with God. And the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is that same kind of seal and reminder!

But not only do we have an example of a seal in the scripture, we also have a lot of information about the effects of the seal. Go back to Ephesians 1:14:

Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the promised possession, to the praise of His glory.

We have already seen in verse 14 that the presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s “earnest money,” but look at the time involved in that: “until the time of the purchased possession. “Here is another reason I believe and teach the doctrine of eternal security. And again and of course, it has nothing to do with anything we have or have not done. It is something that God has done. You see, as long as we have the Holy Spirit, whom God has given us we have our salvation. And how long will we have him? Well, this verse says “until the redemption of the purchased posses­s­ion.” God has paid for His possession and someday He is going to come back and pick it up.

But there is another interesting comment about that in John 14:16. There, as Jesus was telling his disciples about the fact that he was going to be leaving them soon, He said “and I will pray the Father and he will send you another comforter that he may abide with you forever.” So you see, it is not egotistical or illogical to say that we will not lose our salvation; it is simply a matter of believing what God has said.
Perhaps the most important effect of this “seal” is that it assures our salvation. But there are several others that are important also. First look at 2 Timothy 2:19

Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal: “the Lord knows those who are His, and “let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

I love this verse and it becomes more and more important in this society in which we live. It is so difficult to know who is a Christian and who is not. And you may even wonder about yourself sometimes. But look at this: “The Lord knows who are His – whether we do or not. And we should be extremely careful about judging – saying “that person couldn’t be saved” and so forth. The Lord knows those who are His.

The badge of our salvation is one of the best examples of the loving grace of God. It is wonderful enough that He saved us, and that He promised to return for us to be with Him forever. But in addition to all that, He loved us enough give us a “sign” or a “badge” of all those things: the living Spirit of God present in our everyday lives and actions.

The badge of our salvation is one of the best examples of the loving grace of God. It is wonderful enough that He saved us, and that He promised to return for us and that He said that we will live with Him forever. But in addition to all of that, He love us enough to give us a “sign” or “badge” of all of those things: the living Holy Spirit within us! In our next study we will see that the presence of the Holy Spirit accomplishes many other things, but for now lets just thank our loving God for the assurance we have that He is going to keep us for Himself until the day that we stand in His presence.

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