Proper 10 (B), July 13, 2003
The people of Ephesus would understand this portion of Paul’s
writing, “. . . you were sealed with the Holy Spirit” because of
their geographical location. Ephesus was a maritime city and carried
on an extensive timber trade. Merchants of the neighboring port
cities would buy the timber from the lumber masters of the area.
After selecting their timber, they stamped it with their own signet
ring, which was an acknowledged sign of ownership. He often did not
transport his timber at that moment, but left it in the harbor with
other floats of timber. It was chosen, bought and stamped; and in due
time the merchant sent a purchase agent with the signet ring to claim
the timber. Without that signet ring the timber would not be given to
Bickersteth wrote, “Thus the Holy Spirit impresses on the soul now
the image of Jesus Christ; and this is the sure pledge of the
I. God’s Possession through the Spirit of Truth
The seal of the Spirit is the seal of Truth emblazoned on my
heart and soul. The power of living is not solely in me alone, but is
accompanied by God through His Spirit working through me as yeast in
dough. The Truth is that I am limited in what I do and say; how I act
and live; am or am not.
Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor said, “God does not care . . . whether I
am happy or not. What God cares about, with all the power of God’s
holy being, is the quality of my life . . . not just the continuation
of my breath and the health of my cells – but the quality of my life,
the scope of my life, the heft and zest of my life . . . fear of
death always turns into fear of life, into a stingy, cautious way of
living that is not really living at all . . . to follow Jesus means
going beyond the limits of our own comfort and safety. It means
receiving our lives as gifts instead of guarding them as . . .
The truth is, we do not possess life – God does. Are you willing
to acknowledge that truth? His seal of truth will be upon you as you
II. God’s Possession through the Spirit of Faith
My faith must be centered in Jesus. The New Testament writers
used the word pistis which means a firm steadfast belief, persuasion
or conviction based on hearing evidence. The words reliance and trust
are synonyms for faith and are lodged in Jesus who is the revelation
of God. Willard Taylor and Kenneth Grider wrote, “Faith, then, is
that belief which a soul has in the infinite wisdom, power, and
goodness of God. Being quickened by the Spirit, he is able to
believe, claim, and experience the promises of God.”3
It is the Holy Spirit who will assist us in our journey of faith.
III. God’s Possession through the Spirit of Promise
What characterizes the Spirit of Promise? I believe it is in the affirmations of God.
- Affirming that the promise that Christ is the Savior
of the World and that He has come to cancel the power of sin in
- Affirming that the Holy Spirit is the
promised guarantee of our inheritance of faith until the redemption
of the purchase of the possession – me!
that the Holy Scripture is the promised revealer of the will of God
concerning me in all things that are important to my salvation
- Affirming that the promise of free will to choose right from wrong behavior.
The Holy Spirit is grounded in the present to give us that power and guidance to be a part of the promises of God.
The great Methodist songwriter Charles Wesley “sang the theology
of the Methodist revival, and sang so often in the language of Paul,
prayed in song often for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In one verse
of one of his most expressive hymns, portrayed the work of the Holy
Spirit by pleading,
‘Send the Spirit of Thy Son,
To make the depths of Godhead known,
To make us share the life divine,
Send him the sprinkled blood to apply
Send him our souls to sanctify,
And show the seal us ever thine.'”4
The Holy Spirit of Promise is not an option, but an essential possession in our Christian experience.
1 G.B.F. Hallock, Five Thousand Best Modern Illustrations (New York: Richard R. Smith, Inc., 1931), 631.
2 Jan Karon, Patches of Godlight (New York: Penguin Books, 2001)np#
3 Richard Taylor, Editor, Beacon Dictionary of Theology (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of K.C., 1983), 207.
4 Lloyd Ogilvie, Gen. Editor, Communicator’s Commentary Galatians-Philemon by Maxie Dunnam (Waco: Word Books, 1982), 155.
Sermon brief provided by: Derl Keefer, Kansas