Praise the Spirit’s Glorious Grace

Christ Covenant Church
Rev. Marq Toombs
24 February 2019
Epiphany

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[ sketch notes ]

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mini-series on the Holy Trinity: One God, Three Persons

Today we focus on the Spirit and his glorious grace.

The glory of the Spirit’s grace is revealed in sealing and securing our salvation in Christ.

Recap Series

“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.”

“In the doctrine of the Trinity we feel the heartbeat of God’s entire revelation for the redemption of humanity.” (Bavinck)

So far we have seen that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. The Father blessed us, elected us, predestined us, adopted us in Christ.

And in Christ we have been redeemed, we are being reconciled, and we will be rewarded.

Last, but not least, we will see that the Spirit seals us and secures salvation for us.

This is what we will explore today.

Ephesians 1:13–14

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The word of the Lord.

Groom and Bride

“Kill the dragon get the girl!”

That’s how Nate Wilson summarizes the whole story of the Bible in Notes from a Tilt-a-Whirl.

“Kill the dragon get the girl!”

According to the Scriptures, that’s just what Jesus did.

In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul calls the relationship between Christ and the church “a profound mystery” (vs. 32).

+ Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy. We see this in his gracious sacrifice at the cross. (vs. 25)

+ Christ cleanses her by the washing with water through the word. We see this in his gracious sacrament of baptism. (vs. 26)

+ Christ will present her to himself as a radiant bride, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. We see this in his gracious word in the preaching and teaching of the gospel of grace. (vs. 27)

+ Christ loves the church as his own body. He feeds and cares for his body. We see this in his gracious sacrament of the Lord’s supper. (vs. 29)

Jesus Christ came into the world to kill the dragon and get the girl.

He went to war for her and laid down his life for her.

He purchased her life with his blood.

He paid the bride-price for her, in order to earn the right to take her as his bride.

And not only that, he also gave her a glorious gift as a sign and seal of his promise to take her as his wife, and to keep her safe and secure. Always.

What is that glorious gift? The Holy Spirit.

Person and work = center you on Christ, consecrate you to God, convict you of sins, conform you to the image of Christ, comfort you in sorrows, counsel you in life. The Spirit’s gracious work is to change your life for your good and God’s glory.

The point Paul makes her is that the gift of the Holy Spirit seals us with the unbreakable promise of divine love. It also secures us with an eternal pledge of redemption. 

Seal

Esther 8:7-8; Song of Solomon 8:6; 2 Timothy 2:19

In Esther 8, Gentile King gave a Jewish man his signet ring and said, “You may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.”

If that is true of a sinful, human king, how much truer is it of our righteous, divine King? The word and seal of the gospel cannot be revoked. The gifts and call of God are irrevocable. They cannot be broken or taken back.

In Song of Solomon, the bride says to the groom, the lover to the Beloved, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.”

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, that prayer request is granted in love. Christ’s promises to his church-bride are sealed to the church with the Holy Spirit, not only upon our hearts, but upon his heart.

God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

The Lord knows whether you are his, and you know whether you are the Lord’s because you bear the seal of the Spirit. The Spirit is an indelible mark of grace that distinguishes God’s people from the rest of the world; that distinguishes those who will be saved by grace, and those who will be condemned by wrath. Ezekiel 9:4; Revelation 7:3; 9:4 = baptism 🙂

If you do not have the Spirit of Christ, you are not yet his. But if you have the Spirit of Christ, “The Lord knows you are his.” Not only that, but as one who belongs to the Lord, you must “depart from iniquity.” The Holy Spirit changes us into holy people.

Secure

Security deposit vs engagement ring

In context of the story of the Bible, and especially the Book of Ephesians, I want us to go with the more romantic engagement ring / matrimonial analogy.

The Holy Spirit is Christ’s engagement ring to the church.

In Mexico arras = A wedding tradition in which the groom gives his bride a gift of thirteen gold coins in an ornate box. Thirteen refers to Jesus and the apostles, who serve as witnesses of the promise. Thirteen also refers to months in year, twelve for prosperity, thirteen for poverty: “for richer or for poorer”. The coins are an earnest sign and seal of the groom’s promise to provide for his wife and their family. They are also a sign and seal of the bride’s trust in his ability to do so. (Source: Based on Conversations with Mexican friends, a Jeweler in Oaxaca, and Wikipedia)

2 Corinthians 1:21–22  And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Christ will come for the church no matter what. He will take her as his bride, and treat her as his treasured person.

until we acquire possession of it = a better translation is “until God redeems his possession” (ESV / Study Bible) // “who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (NIV / much better than the ESV)

Like the Levites and priests in the OT, our inheritance is not found in land, money, homes, or things – it is found in the Lord.

As baptized believers, we are the Lord’s special treasured possession.

The Holy Spirit guarantees that we will inherit the Lord, and the Lord will inherit us. In other words, “I am my beloved, and he is mine!” (Song of Solomon 2)

The Holy Spirit applies salvation to all the church, the vast community of God’s elect throughout all history from the creation of the world to the consummation of it.

The Spirit gave you ears to hear the true gospel of salvation; the Spirit opened the eyes of your heart to receive the gospel; the Spirit gave you the gift of faith to believe the gospel; the Spirit was set as a seal upon your heart to secure your salvation in Christ.

This is the Regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

By the grace of the Spirit, the Lord’s church will stand before God in the judgment and say, “Here I am, signed, sealed, delivered – I’m yours!”

Signed in baptism. Sealed by the Spirit. Delivered by the cross.

The crux of the matter:

The Father loves you. Jesus is on your side. The Spirit is for you.
God is relentless in his pursuit.*

(*adapted from a saying by Eugene Peterson)

Response: Eulogy, a good word of praise, for the Triune Savior — “to the praise of his glorious grace

“Now let us fall down before the majesty of our good God” (Calvin): 

O God, Father of glory, I give you thanks for Christ Covenant Church, and I pray that you may give us all the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Father-God, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know — what is the hope to which you have called us, what are the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of your power toward us who believe, according to the working of your great might, that you worked in Christ when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Eph. 1:16-21