And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.
I own a small house in Colchester which I rent out. My tenant moved out at the end of January, and for a few weeks the house was empty, with no sign of a tenant moving in any time soon. I got a bit worried because I need the rental income to pay the mortgage! Then, one day towards the end of February, when I happened to be at the house, a prospective tenant came to look around. She agreed to take the house, but was not able to move in until March 29th. I was a bit worried that she might pull out until she put down a deposit. I was relieved when she did! This demonstrated that she was serious about renting my house, and was unlikely to change her mind.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, tells his readers that when they heard and believed the gospel, they were marked with a seal, “the promised Holy Spirit.” The image of a seal is important, since a seal denotes ownership. When the Holy Spirit is received by believers, it marks them out as God’s possessions, his personal belongings, which cannot be taken by anyone else. Not only that, but the Holy Spirit also acts as “a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance.” God lays down a deposit, in the form of the Holy Spirit, in all those who believe. This is a deposit promising that we will gain our inheritance when we die; as co-heirs of God’s kingdom with Jesus, we will enjoy the same inheritance that he has, and be raised to live with God in heaven. Since we have been marked with the Holy Spirit, we can have absolute confidence in God’s promise of eternal life. He is serious about us, and will not change his mind with regard to our salvation.
Sometimes we can feel far from God. We can have doubts about out faith, about whether God could possibly love us, and about whether we really do have eternal life. But Paul is clear in these verses: if we have believed the message of truth, we are included in Christ’s inheritance, we belong to God, and he has already placed a deposit within us guaranteeing our eternal life. What an amazing situation to find ourselves in!