January 2009 • Volume XII, Issue 9
The Sealing of the Spirit (2)
The Spirit who seals us is described in Ephesians
1:13 as the "holy Spirit of promise." "Promise" is singular, referring
to the one, central, OT promise of Messianic salvation for all the elect
people of God. The "holy Spirit of promise" is the promised Holy Spirit.
Thus the OT prophesies not only salvation, including all the blessings
of Ephesians 1:3-14, by the power of the Holy Spirit; it also promises
that the same Spirit who applies Christ’s salvation to us will seal it
to us and assure us personally of our own gracious salvation.
Some might query this last point: "I know that the OT
predicts the coming of Christ and His salvation, and that the Holy
Spirit is prophesied as applying Christ’s blessings to us in the NT age
(e.g., Joel 2:28-29; Isa. 32:15; 44:3; 59:21), but where does the OT
promise that the Spirit will assure us of Messianic salvation?" Think,
for instance, of Ezekiel 36:26-28. God promises to regenerate us (26)
and put His Spirit in us (27) so that we recognise and keep His
commandments (27). In this (new) covenant, we enjoy fellowship with
Jehovah: "ye shall be my people, and I will be your God" (28). Knowing
God as our God and ourselves as His people, by the Spirit (27), is
assurance of our covenant salvation.
There is a wrong view of the timing of the NT
believer’s assurance, that the sealing of the Spirit (i.e., assurance)
usually comes some time after first believing the gospel. Some saints
may be sealed at their conversion or soon after, but many, if not most,
are only sealed years—often many years—later. According to this view,
not all Christians are (currently) sealed by the Spirit and assured of
their salvation, so ministers are to call these poor saints to a quest
for assurance. If you do not have assurance, you must seek it—earnestly,
fervently, passionately—often for many years. Then, finally, you will be
sealed with the Spirit.
Many Puritans had this wrong view of assurance,
though they were faithful in many things (e.g., double predestination,
original sin, regulative principle of worship, paedobaptism, fencing the
Lord’s table, Psalm-singing, opposition to lay-preaching, catechising,
etc.). Sadly, Martyn Lloyd-Jones—fine preacher and expositor, and
amillennialist that he was—followed these Puritans in this regard.
This idea of assurance as (ordinarily) coming some
time after believing and usually after much seeking (often for years) is
a form of second-blessing teaching. Later the content of the second
blessing became "power for service," as with revivalists like R. A.
Torrey and D. L. Moody; or entire sanctification, as with John Wesley
and the Perfectionists; or the baptism with the Holy Spirit (often with
tongue-speaking, i.e., gibberish, as the external sign), as with
Pentecostals. Lloyd-Jones, viewing assurance as a post-conversion
experience, also held to the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a second
blessing. Tragically, he gave qualified approval to Charismatic
outbreaks in South Wales and favoured R. T. Kendall as his successor in
Westminster Chapel in London. That church’s demise—Charismaticism and
Thankfully, assurance is not a second-blessing
experience (usually) received years after first believing and only after
much seeking. We are sealed with the Spirit when we believe the gospel
of Christ. At this point, we should note that the AV translation of
Ephesians 1:13 ("after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that
holy Spirit of promise") could be understood as suggesting the wrong
view. "When ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of
promise" is better. It is difficult to prove this to a general audience,
for it involves Greek grammar (aorists and participles) but the point
can be made theologically and from the context.
First, Ephesians 1:3-14 is one long sentence
mentioning "all spiritual blessings" (3) given to the "saints" (1). The
sealing of the Spirit (13) is one of these spiritual blessings given to
all Christians (and not just some and that typically years after their
conversion). Second, "all spiritual blessings," including the sealing of
the Spirit, are "in Christ" (3) who is possessed by all believers.
Third, we are "sealed with that holy Spirit of promise" (13) and God’s
unconditional promise of salvation (which includes assurance) is to all
believers. Fourth, as we saw in the last News, "seal" (13)
centrally refers to ownership. Since all Christians are owned by the
Triune God, they are sealed with the Spirit. Fifth, all believers have
the Spirit as an "earnest" (14) and they also have Him as a "seal" (13).
All God’s children are sealed with the Spirit when
they believe because assurance is part of faith. Thus the Heidelberg
Catechism rightly defines faith as consisting of "a certain
knowledge" and "an assured confidence" (A. 21).
Ephesians 1:13 teaches that the Spirit seals us
through faith in the gospel, "the word of truth," not through mystical
experiences or the Holy Ghost whispering in our ear. Believing the Word
read and preached is the way of assurance. Thus it is very important
that you listen to the true, not the false, gospel, for it is "the word
of truth" that is "the gospel of your salvation" (13).
We see this logical (not chronological) order from
our text: preaching, faith and the sealing of the Spirit. Child of God,
the Spirit has sealed you from the time you first believed (13) all the
way to the "day of redemption," so do not grieve Him (4:30) by your sins
(25-29, 31-32)! Rev. Stewart
The Wisdom of Solomon
Question: "Solomon was gifted by Jehovah such
that he was the wisest man who ever lived (albeit in an OT context,
though this does not negate the basic facts). If we define wisdom as
being knowledge practically applied through faith, how is it to be
explained that Solomon fell? He clearly knew better than to do what he
The question arises out of last month’s News
in which I argued that though Solomon fell into idolatry, under the
influence of his heathen wives, and although Scripture’s historical
narratives do not record that he repented of his sin, nevertheless, we
can be sure that Solomon was saved, so we must consider Ecclesiastes,
which he authored by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as his
confession of sin. After all, the Lord "loved" Solomon (II Sam. 12:24)
and He always restores His erring saints, for nothing can separate us
from His love (Rom. 8:35-39).
We must remember that Solomon was a type of Christ
and that his kingdom was a type of the kingdom of heaven. Without taking
this truth into account, it is indeed difficult, if not impossible, to
understand how Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, could be so
foolish. Also the nation of Israel was itself a type of the church of
God, while at the same time a part of the church. Moreover, contrary to
the dispensationalists, Mount Zion and Jerusalem, the capital of the
nation and the seat of the throne of David and Solomon, were also types
of the church (Ps. 48; 87; 122; Heb. 12:22-23; Rev. 21:1-2).
Within that city of Jerusalem was the temple that
Solomon built and which, while symbolizing the truth of God’s covenant,
that He dwells in the midst of His people, also points ahead, typically,
to the crucified, buried and risen body of Christ in whom dwells "all
the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). At the heart of the
typical kingdom of heaven, over which Christ rules, is the temple, the
reality of which is Christ Himself in our flesh.
All these types were given by God in the old
dispensation because Israel was the church in its childhood (Gal.
4:1-6). Children are taught by pictures. The OT church was taught by the
pictures God gave in the types and shadows of the law. Solomon was one
of those pictures; so was his kingdom. Never in all OT history did the
nation attain such a pinnacle of glory, blessedness and wealth as in
Solomon’s days (cf. II Chron. 9). But that glory and wealth were also
typical of the glory and wealth of the kingdom of heaven, when the
purely material becomes spiritual—even as Canaan, the land flowing with
milk and honey, was a picture of heaven (Heb. 11:9-10, 13-16). Solomon,
as king of the typical church, was a type of Christ in more than one
way. He was a type of Christ, the true king, in his royal office, and a
type of Christ in his wisdom that God had given him. Solomon may very
well also have been a type of Christ in his building of the temple.
It is always a danger that the types be considered
the reality. I think that the Pharisees in Jesus’ day were especially
guilty of this. They confused the types with the reality and thought the
types were all they needed. They challenged John the Baptist and Christ
when both of them brushed aside the types because the reality had now
come in the work and ministry of the Messiah. They preferred the types
to the real thing. They chose a picture of heaven to heaven itself, and
a picture of Christ to our Saviour Himself.
Because the types were not the reality, but only
pictures, the types had not only to pass away, but had to show that they
were imperfect. If I want to show my pictures of Yellowstone National
Park, then I have to tell those assembled that, in fact, Yellowstone
National Park is far, far more beautiful. If these people say, "Now I
have seen the Park, so I need not go there," I can only feel sorry for
them. But those who understand that a picture cannot compare with the
reality, may be stirred up to travel to the Park to see it for
A picture book gets old and coloured slides
discolour. So it was with the types of the OT (Heb. 8:13). They served
their purpose and had to be set aside. The types were also inadequate.
They could not do what the reality did. Moses was a type of Christ as
our mediator (Num. 14:13-19), but he failed, for he was only a type. He
hit the rock in the wilderness in his anger against Israel (20:10-11)
and resigned from office when he could not bear the burden of the people
any longer—although the Lord rejected his resignation (11:11-15).
Another type of Christ, Joshua (whose name is equivalent to "Jesus"),
could not lead the people into the true rest. It takes Christ to bring
us into the perfect rest of heaven.
So it was with all the types. They were types and,
therefore, imperfect. They could not accomplish the salvation God
intended for His people. The basic reason is, of course, that man cannot
do what had to be done: only God can bring salvation, and He brings it
through Christ. Types, therefore, served the purpose of teaching the
church about the salvation they were to receive in "the fulness of
time," but the people had to learn too that the types were imperfect.
With Solomon’s sin of idolatry, the true people of
God in the nation of Israel learned that Solomon’s kingdom in all its
glory was not the Messianic kingdom. For Solomon was not the king who
could establish the true kingdom of God. They had to look beyond the
pictures to the reality, and by faith cling to the unfailing promises of
God, who graciously and lovingly told His people, already before Christ
came, about the glory and blessedness of the coming salvation.
Thus, although Solomon possessed great wisdom, being
only a type, he could not be the truly wise one. Christ is not only far
superior to Solomon in wisdom, but He Himself is the Wisdom of
God (Prov. 8, esp. vv. 22-36; I Cor. 1:30). Solomon in all his wisdom
was yet foolish. Christ, the Wisdom of God, is able to make all His
people truly wise.
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