Certainty of salvation is one characteristic of Christianity that distinguishes it from all of the other false religions of the world. In every other man-made religion, an individual cannot be certain that they will be accepted by their god, or receive eternal life, or admittance into paradise or heaven. The One True God, the God of Christianity, is a God of clarity, absolute truth and certainty. He means what He says, and He communicates clearly, and authoritatively. He can be trusted.
When God draws one of His elect to belief in His Son, God’s own Spirit, the Holy Spirit, indwells that individual as a preservative, securing their eternal salvation. Paul writes in his epistle to the Ephesians “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”(Ephesians 1:13-14)
What I would like to draw our focus to, is this concept of being sealed. Dr. MacArthur explains it this way in his commentary:
The sealing of which Paul speaks refers to an official mark of identification placed on a letter, contract or other document. That document was thereby officially under the authority of the person whose stamp was on the seal. Four primary truths are signified by the seal: 1. Security (Daniel 6:17; Matthew 27:62-66); 2. Authenticity (1 Kings 21:6-16); 3. Ownership (Jeremiah 32:10); 4. Authority (Esther 8:8-12). The Holy Spirit is given by God as His pledge of the believer’s future inheritance in glory (2 Corinthians 1:21)
Christian, isn’t this marvelous and encouraging news? Rejoice! At the moment of your salvation, the transaction was complete. From that moment, you have been and will always be a child of the King and a citizen of His kingdom. There is no pay per sin plan. You cannot and do not lose your salvation when you sin. All of your sins past, present, and future were paid for on the cross (1 John 1:9). “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30) The Greek word that is translated ‘it is finished’ is tetelestai, which was a term used in financial transactions meaning paid in full. People in that era would receive what we today would call a receipt when they paid their debts, and it would be stamped with the word tetelestai. That document would be legal proof that they had repaid their debts. It was final. The inspired Word of God is not written arbitrarily. Each word is specifically chosen by the Holy Spirit with precise intention. This helps us to know with confidence, His truth. And in this instance, what we can dogmatically derive is that at the moment of conversion our sins were considered by God to be paid in full, for all time. Hallelujah!
In conjunction with that transaction we also, through the authoritative and precise Word, have the knowledge that we as believers are sealed at the moment of belief by the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing our salvation. Our salvation does not depend on us. It is a sure thing because God is the one who insures it. He is not going to promise or declare something, and then not make sure it happens. He does it for His own name’s sake, and for His Son. You, fallen sinner and mere mortal, have absolutely zero power or ability to interfere with the determined will of God. What a relief!
We can be certain of this, because we have been given the down payment of the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, sealed within us by God Himself. God is the security of that promise of salvation (think of the individual or bank that is considered the security on a loan). He has authenticated us as members of His family because it is His seal of the Holy Spirit in us. That seal identifies His ownership of that individual (like the signet ring stamp of a king on a decree). And as the creator of all things, He has the absolute authority to declare a person’s righteousness, and the authority to promise to any individual He chooses a future inheritance. His gift of the Holy Spirit to a believer is a pledge guaranteeing future fulfillment (think of a down payment given to ensure a future purchase). We have the Holy Spirit now, which is a promise that we will be with Him in His eternal kingdom!
Thanks be to God, for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Soli Deo Gloria!