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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Matt's Messages - The Holy Spirit Assures Us Of Our Relationship with God

“The Holy Spirit Assures Us Of Our Relationship with God”
The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit
February 24, 2008
Ephesians 1:13-14, Romans 8:15-17

This is the third message in our series on the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit–our relationship with the Third Person of the Trinity–God the Holy Spirit.

The first message was about Who the Spirit is. We learned 4 things that we’re going to see again, and again, and again:

The Holy Spirit is God, worthy to be worshiped.
The Holy Spirit is a Person, able to be related to, to fellowship with.
The Holy Spirit is Mysterious, beyond our comprehension and out of our control.
And the Holy Spirit is Christ-Centered, intent on “spotlighting” the Lord Jesus Christ.

That’s Who He is.

And then last week, we began to talk about what He does. What the Holy Spirit does in our lives. His precious ministries to us.

And the first was: The Holy Spirit Brings Us to Christ.

The Holy Spirit Brings Us Conviction. [Of Sin, Righteous, and Judgment]
And the Holy Spirit Brings Us Regeneration (New Birth).
And the Holy Spirit Brings Us Conversion–turning from sin and turning to Jesus Christ.

If it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit, we wouldn’t have a relationship with God.

Around here, we talk about “Glorifying God Through a Love Relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Well, that relationship is only possible because of and through the Holy Spirit.

But how certain is that relationship?

How certain is our relationship to God?

How sure is that relationship that we have with God?

How sure are you of your ongoing relationship with God?

How sure are you of your salvation?

How sure are you that you are going to heaven?

How sure are you that are a child of God? And why?

Those questions brings us our next ministry of the Holy Spirit:

THE HOLY SPIRIT ASSURES US OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

He doesn’t just bring us to Christ and then leave us there.

He carries us through.

He doesn’t just bring us to conversion and then leaves us up to our own devices. “Good luck!”

He is careful and powerful to provide assurance to all Real Christians that their relationship with God is real and ongoing and unbreakable and safe and secure and sure.

The Holy Spirit Assures Us of Our Relationship with God.

We’re going to see that in three main ways this morning. Two from Ephesians chapter 1.

We’re going to read verses 13 and 14 before we pray.

This is the end of a long and powerful paragraph about what our Triune God is up to in the world and in our lives–His plan to bring Himself glory through saving us.

I wish we had time to review the whole thing–how God the Father chose us and how God the Son redeemed us–but we’re going to skip down to verse 13 and see what God the Spirit is up to in assuring us. Verse 13.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having 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.”

Notice how Paul begins with the Gospel.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”

Real Christians Believe the Real Gospel.

That’s the starting point of the Christian life. And last week, we saw that this is also a ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings us to Christ through that gospel.

But Paul picks up the Holy Spirit’s ministry here. Second sentence of verse 13.

“Having believed [the gospel], you were marked in him [Christ] with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit...”

When you believed the gospel, you were marked with a seal.

Not the sea animal that barks and has flippers and loves to eat little fish!

Not that kind of a seal. This is a seal of ownership.

Like one of those old time wax drops onto a envelope and then a special ring is pressed down onto the wax to “seal” the envelope until the appointed person and no-one but the appointed person opens it.

The seal was a mark of ownership.

#1. THE HOLY SPIRIT ASSURES US OF OUR OWNERSHIP.

Notice what Paul says. He says that when we believed the gospel (v.13), we were marked with a seal (what is the seal?)–the promised Holy Spirit.

The Spirit had been promised in the Old Testament to come in new and broader ways.

The Spirit had been promised by the Lord Jesus to take His place in His disciples’ lives.

The Spirit came at Pentecost and the New Covenant Church was born.

And when people come to believe the Gospel, they get the promised Holy Spirit.

He comes into their lives and takes up residence in their hearts.

And He acts as a seal.

“You were marked with a seal–the promised Holy Spirit.”

Did you know that you are marked man?
You are a marked woman?
You are a marked boy or girl?

If you have come to believe the gospel and have come to Christ, the Holy Spirit has come to mark you and seal you–a seal of ownership.

The Holy Spirit Assures Us of Our Ownership.

I think of it as like a brand.

Anybody here branded a cow before?

What does that white-hot-seared mark mean on the back-side of a steer?

This animal is marked. It is owned.

Do you think of yourself as owned?

Do you think of yourself as “God’s possession?” (That’s in verse 14!)

I think that Americans especially have a hard time with this idea. We think of ourselves as free and independent.

“Nobody owns me! I’m my own man! This is a free country!”

But that’s not Christianity.

Christians are owned. We are marked. We are sealed.

God says about us, “Mine!”

How does that make you feel?

It should give you some great assurance in your relationship with God.

When you believed the gospel, you were marked as belonging to God.

And God doesn’t take that lightly!

He doesn’t lose track of His possessions. He doesn’t leave them lying around.

He greatly cares about them.

And He protects them from all others.

Be glad that you belong to God, because everyone belongs to someone–and if you don’t belong to God–beware of who you would belong to.

If you read the book of Revelation closely, it becomes clear that in the End, there are only two marks. The mark of the Beast and the mark of Christ. Which would you rather have?

When you believed the gospel, you got the Holy Spirit.

And that means that you are sealed, marked, owned.

Because of the Holy Spirit, God is saying, “Hands Off! She’s mine! He’s mine!”

Isn’t that reassuring?

It is when you realize who else might try to have a claim on you.

But it gets better than that. He’s not just a sealing mark.

He is also a deposit. V.14

“Having 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.”

The Holy Spirit does more than just mark us as a seal.

He also serves as a down payment.

That’s what this word the NIV translates “deposit” means–a down-payment.

The King James has “an earnest.”

You know what that is?

Let’s say that I want to buy Jeff’s house.

How much do you want for it, Jeff?

Let’s round it off to, say, $100,000. I’m sure it’s worth a lot more.

I tell Jeff that I want to buy it. And I promise to buy it. And as a down-payment, as an earnest payment, as a deposit, I give him $25,000. One quarter of the whole.

Have I just committed myself to that purchase, or what?

I sure have.

I’ve said, “Here is a deposit, there is more just like it coming. Guaranteed.”

Well, that’s what the Holy Spirit is.

He’s a down-payment. A deposit. Guaranteeing that there is more to come.

But He’s not guaranteeing a payment of us. He’s guaranteeing our inheritance. V.14

“[The Holy Spirit] is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession–to the praise of his glory.”

Because of Jesus and the Cross, God has made us precious promises as heirs.

What promises?

Total Forgiveness.
Eternal Relationship with God.
Unspeakable Joy.
Pleasures at God’s Right Hand.
Resurrection Bodies.
Power for Holy Living.
Experiencing the Unending Love of God.
Seeing God and Gladly Worshiping Him Forever!

And so much more.

How do we know? How can we be sure that we’re going to inherit these promises?

We’ve got the Holy Spirit as a deposit.

He’s the earnest money, guaranteeing what is to come.

#2. THE HOLY SPIRIT ASSURES US OF OUR INHERITANCE.

The logic is this: If He gave you His Holy Spirit (God Himself coming to live with you and in you!), how will He not give you everything else He has promised?

He will!

It’s guaranteed!

How does that make you feel?

Do you need to hear that this morning?

Maybe you’re feeling like the promises of God are unfulfilled in your life.

Maybe you feel forgotten, left behind, abandoned.

When you believed the gospel, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance until that day when you are fully redeemed to praise of God’s glory.

We live between the “already” and the “not yet.”

But what we have “already” in the Holy Spirit guarantees that the “not yet” is the “will be.”

The Holy Spirit Assures Us of Our Ownership, and the The Holy Spirit Assures Us Of Our Inheritance.

And it gets better even than that!

Why are we heirs? Why do we have an inheritance coming from God?

Because we are the adopted children of God.

#3. THE HOLY SPIRIT ASSURES US OF OUR ADOPTION.

Turn back to Romans chapter 8, verse 15.

There’s so much in that chapter to see, but what I want us to catch this morning is that we are not marked as owned and guaranteed our inheritance, we are assured of being God’s adopted children. Romans 8:15.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear [nothing to fear], but you received the Spirit of sonship [Or the Spirit of Adoption–another name for the Holy Spirit]. And by him [by the Spirit] we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ [Listen to this!] The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

So much here!

When you and I believed the gospel, we received the Spirit.

And He’s not a spirit of fear or of slavery.

He is the Spirit of Sonship or Adoption.

And as that Spirit, He has this ministry: He testifies to our own spirits that we are God’s children.

The Holy Spirit speaks to our human spirits and tells us that we belong to God.

“You are a son of God!”
“You are a daughter of God!”
“Jesus is your elder brother!”
“You are adopted into God’s family!”

Now, there is more to Christian assurance than that. The Bible has several lines of teaching to develop assurance of our relationship with God.

I highly recommend two books on the subject, How Can I Be Sure I am A Christian? by Donald Whitney and Do I Know God? by Billy Graham’s grandson, Tullian Tchividjian.

They go into other ways that we know that we are God’s children–including whether or not we bear the family resemblance! We learned all this Fall about how to tell the Real Christian from the fake.

But this is a sweet fundamental reality–the inner witness of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit Himself testifies to our spirit that we are God’s children!

Verse 17 aims again in the direction of our inheritance. We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ–and we will share in the “already” in His sufferings–and some day soon in the “not yet,” we will share in His glory!

But what I want to end with is to see how this affects us in verse 15.

The Spirit Assures Us Of Our Adoption.

And that means we can call God, “Abba, Father!” V.15

“And by him [the Holy Spirit] we cry, ‘Abba [Daddy! Pa!] Father!”

The Holy Spirit tells our hearts that we have a Father/Child relationship with God!

That’s amazing!

What do call God when you pray?

Do you know that are invited to pray, to talk to God?

And not just as King of the Universe? Not just as Lord of all Creation.

But as Father? As “Abba?”

Because you have the Spirit of God, you can cry, “Abba, Father!”

And there is no greater privilege!

How do you know? One way is that the Spirit speaks directly to your spirit.

The Holy Spirit Assures Us Of Our Adoption.

Did you need to hear that this morning?

I think probably a number of us did.

Maybe things are going really poorly right now for you. I don’t know.

But I know that I regularly need to be assured of my relationship with God.

Because my feelings go up and down and up and down like a roller-coaster.

We’ve had 3 months of sickness in our house. When you’re sick, you often don’t feel all loved and happy and good with God.

But I can call God, “Father!” “Father, I feel awful!” “Father, Help us to get past these illnesses.” “Father, I love you.”

Why can I say, “Father?” Because His Spirit testifies to my spirit that I am His son.

Now, you only get this assurance if you have believed the gospel.

Remember Ephesians 1:13, “You were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”

That’s the good news of Jesus death to pay for sins, His burial and His resurrection to give us new life! You’ve got to turn from whatever you have been trusting and trust in this message.

“Having believed this message, [you get the Holy Spirit]...”

Have you believed the gospel?

Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your King and Rescuer?

If you have, if you are trusting in Jesus Christ:

The Holy Spirit Is Assuring You of Your Ownership. You belong to Christ!

The Holy Spirit Is Assuring You of Your Inheritance. It’s guaranteed. Everything that He has promised you will come–because you have the down-payment now.

The Holy Spirit Is Assuring You of Your Adoption. You are a child of God.

Believe it. Know it! Be sure. Rejoice. Relax! Obey!

Look forward to your inheritance.

And cry out to God as Abba, Father.

Be assured of your relationship with God.

Because of the Holy Spirit.

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