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Studies in Ephesians

Proclaiming the Unsearchable Riches of Christ (see 3:8)

Chapter 1:1-14

Salvation “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” In Christ

When Paul put pen to parchment in his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, he was writing to people who seemed to be in very uncertain circumstances. This city, famous for its majestic temple to the pagan goddess Diana, was a hostile environment for those who belonged to Christ. Strong opposition to the Gospel, as well as the fact that their founding pastor, Paul, was a prisoner in Rome, made life uncertain for them.

Uncertainty about the future is a plague on heart and soul which the Lord, through the apostle’s words, wanted to spare them. The Lord wants to give confidence and certainty to you, too.

So Paul opens his letter to the Ephesian church by giving you a peek into “the heavenly places,” by showing you how God planned your soul’s salvation from eternity. He wants you to know that, no matter what your earthly trials and troubles may be, the main thing — your salvation — is absolutely certain in Christ. It is, in fact, “signed, sealed, and delivered” in Him.

SIGNED In Christ’s Own Blood

The first thing to know about being certain of going to heaven is that everything begins and ends “in Christ.” Paul says so more than ten times in these fourteen verses–in order to drive the point home. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (v. 7).

If there were any question about who Jesus was or what He did for you on Calvary’s cross, then your arrival at your heavenly home would only amount to a wistful “maybe.” But there is no question about it. Redemption through Christ’s blood is an accomplished fact. God has established these things as undeniable truths in His Word, the Scriptures which cannot be broken.

Since the blood of God’s Son certainly was shed for you, then it certainly was a complete payment for your sins, and it certainly does make you accepted with the Father. There is no reason to doubt it!

SEALED With The Holy Spirit Of Promise

Your wavering heart may tell you: “Yes, but salvation comes only to those who receive it by faith. I believe in Christ now, but how can I know whether I will conitinue in faith till the end?”

It is true that you can find no strength or certainty in yourself for these things. Paul’s answer, again, is to look to Christ. For in Him, ” . . . having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance . . . ” (v. 13).

If going to heaven depended on keeping yourself strong in faith, you would certainly stray off the path of life and be condemned forever. But your faith does not depend on you, any more than the payment for your sins depends on you. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that drew you to Christ, and it is His work that will keep you in Christ.

The present proof of this is the Spirit’s work in you right now, through the powerful Gospel in Word and Sacrament. In the Holy Spirit you have God’s guarantee, His seal of assurance, to give you confidence!

DELIVERED By The Father From Eternity

Just how certain does God want you to be, in Christ, that heaven will truly be your home?

So much so that He reveals that even before He made the world He decided you would have salvation! “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself . . . ” (vv. 4-5).

This is a very humbling thing, because you can’t take any credit at all for something that was given to you before you were even born. But more than that, it inspires rock-solid confidence to know that what the Son accomplished on Calvary, and the Spirit seals for eternity, the Father had already planned as your destiny.

It is true that the Scriptures warn believers to be on their guard against the real possibility of falling from faith and being condemned. And when we closely examine our own hearts, we will find sin, weakness of faith, and nagging doubts there. Hardly a reason for confidence!

There is a cure, thank God. The right way to be certain is to look outside of ourselves. Look up, up where Christ is, in heaven!

If doubts ever darken your doorstep, get out Ephesians chapter one and read it over . . . and over . . . and over. It will give you a look into eternity at God’s will for you in Christ. It will help you see that your salvation is not only signed and sealed, but already delivered — IN HIM!

–Pastor Bruce Naumann