The Spirit of Hope
“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 5:5 ESV
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11 ESV
“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….” Ephesians 1:13 ESV
Dear Church Family,
The Holy Spirit has been the source of intense debate among Christians over the last century or so, but there is some truth in calling the Spirit “the Cinderella of the Trinity.” According to Paul, the Spirit completes our relationship with God (Romans 8:15), gifts us with abilities to serve and build up the church (1 Corinthians 12-14), and produces Christian virtues like love and kindness (Galatians 5:22-23). There is one aspect of the Spirit, however, that deserves more attention: the role of the Spirit in the future hope of Christians.
In the first passage quoted above (2 Corinthians 5:5), the Spirit is a “pledge” or “guarantee,” something like the down payment on a house. From the seller’s side, a down payment guarantees that the house will not be sold to another; from the buyer’s side, it is an agreement that the rest of the payment is coming. In a similar way, God has “purchased” us, and the Spirit is his promise that the rest of our salvation is coming. In this life, the Spirit is a “foretaste of glory divine.”
That brings up the second passage: Romans 8:11. Although this passage only implies that it was the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, it comes right out and declares that the Spirit will be God’s agent in the resurrection of believers. In other words, when God implanted his presence in us to give us a taste of our ultimate salvation, he also implanted in us the power that will one day give us new life beyond death.
Ephesians 1:13 calls the Spirit a “seal,” which was a stamp or roller that could make an impression on wax or clay. Seals served several purposes in antiquity. First, a seal was a mark of authenticity and authority (see Genesis 41:42). The king’s seal on a document carried the king’s authority. Second, witnesses to a contract would affix their seals to the documents (see Jeremiah 32:11-14). Finally, seals proved that a document—say, a king’s orders to his generals in the field—had not been opened by the enemy. So, for example, when a prophecy is said to be “sealed,” it means that it has yet to be revealed (see Daniel 12:9 and the “seven seals” in the book of Revelation). The Spirit is God’s mark of ownership—including his promise of protection—on us. We are authentically his children because he has marked us as his own. I hope you enjoy the seal of God today. That seal is also to promise of eternal life in the resurrection.