DOCTRINE OF THE SEALING MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
A. Definition and Description.
1. From the Greek verb SPHRAGIZŌ σφραγίζω meaning, “seal, seal up, set a seal upon, affirm, authenticate, certify, or acknowledge,” linked with HAGIOS PNEUMA for “Holy Spirit,” we understand the doctrine of the Sealing Ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
2. In ancient days sealing was a signature guarantee. It was equivalent to a signature on a contract that guarantees something. When a king sealed a proclamation, it became a law. When people signed a contract by using a wax seal, it was their guarantee from their integrity that they would fulfill their part. Therefore, sealing as a signature was used as a guarantee of transactions, authentication of invoices, contracts, laws, directives, orders, and policies of kings or rulers. . Sealing was used to ratify treaties or agreements, and the sealing of tombs, libraries or treasuries indicated ownership.
3. Three Passage of Scripture specifically speak to the “Sealing of the Holy Spirit,” including; 2 Cor 1:22, Eph 1:13; 4:30.
4. The Sealing of the Holy Spirit is something never mentioned in the Old Testament. Therefore, it appears to be something God has done for Church Age believers only, since the Day of Pentecost. The sealing of believers in the Church Age serves as a classification and identification peculiar to heaven and the outworking of the Divine purpose.
5. It is the very presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer which constitutes the seal. Therefore, this doctrine is closely related to the doctrine of the Spirit’s Indwelling.
6. As noted above, a seal signifies security, safety, ownership, and authority or responsibility. The seal is provided as the token for the believer of what will be brought to its conclusion at the “Day of Redemption.”
B. The Sealing of the Holy Spirit.
1. Who Are Sealed.
As with indwelling, sealing belongs to believers only and to all believers. Only those who believe are sealed and thus the act of believing becomes logically, though not chronologically, the cause of the sealing, Eph 1:13. In 2 Cor 1:22, in spite of the Corinthians many failures, Paul says all are sealed. He makes no exceptions. All are sealed. In comparison to Eph 4:30, if the sealing of the Spirit was a reality only for the “spiritual,” it would not be necessary to exhort such to cease grieving the Spirit. But all are exhorted because all are sealed with Him. Every reference to sealing contemplates it as a finished act, dependent only upon saving faith. Therefore, every Christian receives by faith the fact of the indwelling Spirit as God’s seal, setting him apart to eternal redemption.
2. The Time of Sealing.
Like indwelling, sealing takes place at the moment of our salvation. Therefore, the Spirit is given to us and we are sealed in Him when we believe, Acts 2:38. In Eph 1:13, the phrase, “having also believed,” is not necessarily significant of time but of cause. The sealing was immediate upon believing in Jesus Christ, whenever that occurred in your life. It was “after” in the sense of cause and result. From the fact that all believers are sealed by the Spirit, it is apparent that sealing occurs once and for all, as demonstrated by the fact that all who are sealed are “sealed unto the day of redemption,” Eph 4:30.
In addition, sealing is not an “experience” that confirms the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, nor can the believer pray for the sealing of the Spirit. It is a great gift “given” from God, 2 Cor 1:22; a great truth to be accepted by faith as a token of the unfailing purpose of God in salvation.
3. The Agent(s) of Sealing.
Sealing is a work of God since there is no appeal to any person, saved or unsaved, to pray for or to strive for this reality. Since it belongs to all believers, it is evidently wrought by God at the moment one is saved and as an essential factor in salvation. The sealing of the Spirit marks off the full measure and intent of God with respect to those who are saved according to His purpose, cf. Rom 8:28.
Clearly God the Father does the sealing of believers, 2 Cor 1:22. Less clear is the question of whether the Holy Spirit is also an agent. Eph 4:30 seems to indicate that He is because it uses the phrase “by whom.” However, this could mean “in whom,” based on the use of the participle. Eph 1:13 is ambiguous; no preposition is expressed. The Spirit may be the Agent or the sphere of the sealing, or both, i.e., we are sealed by the Spirit and in the Spirit.
4. The Duration of Sealing.
Sealing is to the “day of redemption,” Eph 4:30. This refers to that future day when our redemption shall be fully accomplished; including receiving our resurrection bodies cf. Rom 8:23. Thus the sealing guarantees the complete fulfillment of God’s promises to us. No believer can become unsealed on his way to heaven. Therefore, sealing represents our eternal security.
5. The Significance of Sealing.
a. Security. The greatest significance in the sealing of the Holy Spirit is the eternal security of the believer. It is plainly stated that the seal is placed on the believer with a view to keeping him safe “for the day of redemption,” Eph 4:30, the time of complete deliverance from all sin. The matter is not left in human hands, but is dependent entirely on the power of God.
The concept of sealing includes the ideas of ownership, authority and responsibility, but above all security. Sealing assures us of the security of God’s promises to us, especially our salvation. We can be certain that:
1) He possesses us.
2) We have a secure salvation sealed by and with the Spirit.
3) His purpose is to keep us to the day of our full redemption.
4) We have an eternal inheritance waiting for us in heaven.
The person of the Holy Spirit, possessing all the attributes of God, by His presence is the pledge or guarantee of the abiding grace of God the Father given to us. As God has promised that His Spirit will abide in the believer, so the Spirit Himself as the seal of our salvation should bring all assurance to our hearts.
b. Purity. In addition, Eph 4:30 mentions, “Do not grieving the Holy Spirit by whom you are sealed.” Grieving the Holy Spirit means we are walking in sin. The thought of “the day of redemption,” when we will be perfected and without sin any longer, should shame us about sin in our lives today. The fact that we have a relationship with the Holy Spirit who is grieved when we sin should motivate us to purity. What sins grieve Him? Any and all sins! But in the context of Eph 4:30 is sins of the tongue; verbal sins are in view. As you know, what comes from our mouths is indicative of what is in our hearts. Therefore, the thought of being sealed by and in the Holy Spirit should cause us to guard our minds and lips, so that we do not grieve the Spirit by which we have been eternally sealed.
c. Praise. In addition, though there is no corresponding experience connected with the sealing of the Spirit, this peculiar ministry is, nevertheless, real and should call forth ceaseless praise to God as faith lays hold of that which God has revealed, Eph 1:14, “…to the praise of His glory.”
C. God the Holy Spirit makes Five Signature Guarantees.
1. God the Holy Spirit guarantees that your faith alone in Christ alone is effective for salvation. He takes the unbeliever’s faith alone in Christ alone and makes it effective for salvation. He guarantees His ministry of making that faith effective for salvation. God the Holy Spirit puts His seal on the unbeliever’s faith alone. This is also called Efficacious Grace.
2. The Holy Spirit guarantees eternal life at the point of salvation to everyone who believes in Christ. He does this by the creation of the human spirit, to which God the Father imputes eternal life. God the Holy Spirit seals that eternal life, Eph 4:30.
Eph 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed (SPHRAGIZO) for the day of redemption.”
God the Holy Spirit guarantees the eternal security of the believer at the moment of salvation. You cannot cancel the forty things God does for you at salvation. You cannot undo what God has done. You cannot renounce your faith in Christ and no longer be saved. There is nothing you or all the power of hell can ever do to cancel this guarantee.
3. God the Holy Spirit guarantees the Portfolio of Invisible Assets for every Church Age believer. There are two guarantees of our Portfolio of Invisible Assets: the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit at salvation and the indwelling of Christ as the Shekinah Glory, 2 Cor 1:21-22.
2 Cor 1:21-22, “Now He who establishes, (Portfolio of Invisible Assets), us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts, (part of the portfolio), as a pledge.”
4. As noted above in Eph 4:30, God the Holy Spirit guarantees the redemption of the body on the day of redemption. Redemption of the soul occurs at the moment of salvation, Rom 3:24; Gal 3:13; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14. Redemption of the body occurs at the Rapture or resurrection of the Church, Rom 8:23, “…the redemption of our body.”
Col 1:14, “In whom (Jesus Christ) we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
5. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise as guarantee of our eternal Inheritance, Eph 1:14, “given as a pledge” is from the noun ARRHABON that means, “deposit, pledge or a first installment.” In the NT it is used figuratively and speaks of the Holy Spirit, which God has given to believers in this present life, to assure them of their future and eternal inheritance, KLERONOMIA, in Christ. See also 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5.
2 Cor 1:21-22, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”
2 Cor 5:5, “Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.”
God who purchased us from the slave market of sin through our Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice upon the Cross, has not yet received us to Himself in heaven, nor physically given us our inheritance. Therefore, He has given us His Spirit as security on His legal rights towards us, and as a guarantee that we will one day receive our inheritance. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is a first installment that guarantees that everything God has given and promised in Christ will eventually be realized. Cf. Rom 8:32.
Rom 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”
Therefore, the Sealing of the Holy Spirit guarantees the believer of their salvation, Divine assets, resurrection, and eternal inheritance.
6. All 5 sealing ministries of the Holy Spirit are equal in force. All five have the same power and the same equality.