11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11–14)
If you had a great inheritance coming, would you worry about it’s security?
Imagine being the child of someone like Bill Gates, heir to a fortune worth billions, but much of it is tied up in the stock market.
One morning you wake up and find out that the stock market has crashed and the stocks have lost fifty percent of their value. Over the next few days and weeks, the stocks continue to decline. How’s your feeling of security?
Each believer has an inheritance in Heaven worth a billion times billions times whatever the richest man is worth today. How can we know that it is secure?
Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we [Jews] have obtained an inheritance,
being predestinated according to the purpose of him
who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
11 ἐν αὐτῷ,
ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν,
προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ,
I. OUR INHERITANCE IS SECURED BY GOD’S PREDESTINATION
“being predestinated according to the purpose of him” — Don’t be afraid of the predestination word. It’s for our benefit. Our inheritance is secured in eternity past by God’s choice.
We cannot understand how God can choose us and we still choose him of our own will without there being any contradiction; but we don’t need to worry about it: our minds are finite and limited, but in God’s infinite wisdom, the system works somehow.
Ours is not to argue how predestination works, ours is to believe both sides as they are presented in scripture and to bask in the benefits and security of knowing that God had you in mind before the foundation of the world!
Nothing that you did or can do will shake your place in God’s plan, because he knew you, chose you, predestinated you, before the foundation of the world!
II. OUR INHERITANCE IS SECURED BY GOD’S POWER
“who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:” — “worketh” (ἐνεργοῦντος, ἐνεργέω) is the word that we get words like energy and energetic from. God did not just create the world and leave it be, he is involved today…he’s energetic!
What that means that he is working in your life to bring good things to pass, even when those good things seem pretty bad for us. The same word is used in Philippians—
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)
Romans 8:28 has a similar word, συνεργέω (like synergy) that means “to work together with”—
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
What this means is that no amount of bad things happening to you, like losing everything in the stock market, will affect your inheritance!
But that’s not all that secures our inheritance, we read on…
Ephesians 1:12 That we [Jews] should be to the praise of his glory,
who first trusted in Christ.
12 εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ,
τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ·
Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye [Gentiles] also trusted,
after that ye [Gentiles] heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation:
in whom also after that ye believed,
ye were sealed [ἐσφραγίσθητε] with that holy Spirit of promise,
13 ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς,
ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας,
τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν,
—ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ Ἁγίῳ,
III. OUR INHERITANCE IS SECURED BY GOD’S SEAL
“ye were sealed [ἐσφραγίσθητε] with that holy Spirit of promise” — Later, in Ephesians, we read:
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
What does it mean to seal something? In Bible times, a seal was often a ring with the insignia of an official engraved into it. A letter might be rolled up, a bit of wax applied to keep it shut, and the ring used to stamp it with the seal. We often do the same with official documents today.
What does a seal convey?
A king or governor’s seal was used to secure something, like Pilate allowing his seal to be put on Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 27:62-66) to protect it from those nasty disciples who might steal the body.
For the believer, when we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us, giving us a sense of security that we are truly saved.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Romans 8:16)
A king would sometimes mark his valuable items with his seal, to mark ownership. A biblical example is found in Jeremiah, who had bought some land and sealed the deal—
9 And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver. 10 And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances. (Jeremiah 32:9–10)
The believer is also marked by the Holy Spirit as being owned by God—
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
We entirely and eternally belong to God—can you trust God with his possessions? Then you can trust him with yourself, for eternity!
A seal was also used to mark something as authentic, for example, as really being a letter from the king. Our driver’s licenses have certain watermarks and other features that act like seals in that they prove that we have the real thing and not a forged license.
The Holy Spirit is how God stamps us with his seal, proclaiming that this person is mine and is authentically part of my family.
A seal carried the king’s authority with it.
Alexander the Great is said to have sent an emissary to Egypt. This emissary was without weapons or military escort, but he carried the seal of Alexander the Great. He met with the king of Egypt, who stood with his army behind him.
The emissary communicated to the king the message from Alexander the Great: discontinue hostilities against Alexander’s interests. The king of Egypt, wishing to save face, said that he would consider the request and let the emissary know.
The emissary drew a circle in the dirt around the king of Egypt, and said, “Do not leave the circle without informing me of your response.”
What an audacious move. The emissary was unarmed and without military support. The king could have had him drawn and quartered for such a bold move against him. One unarmed man against the entire army of Egypt. Except for one thing.
The emissary carried the seal of Alexander. He carried the authority and power of Alexander. To touch the emissary was to touch Alexander. To disobey the emissary was to disobey Alexander.
The king of Egypt stood in silence, then said, “Tell Alexander he has his request,” and stepped out of the circle. (Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary [Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999], 101–102)
In the same way, believers also carry God’s authority, in that we are to proclaim and preach the message he has given to us.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
So our inheritance is secure because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. There is one more guarantee given to us, found in verse 14—
Ephesians 1:14 Which [the Holy Spirit] is the earnest [ἀρῥαβὼν, down payment, guarantee] of our [Jews and Gentiles] inheritance
until the redemption of the purchased possession,
unto the praise of his glory.
14 ὅς ἐστιν ἀρʼῥαβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν,
εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως,
εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ.
IV. OUR INHERITANCE IS SECURED BY GOD’S DOWN PAYMENT
The word “earnest” means a down payment or a deposit. The Holy Spirit is the down payment. Because he indwells us, and helps us, we know that our inheritance is real and secure.
How do you know that you’re going to Heaven? Do you have a deed in your hand? Have you visited and checked out your mansion (if you say you did, then we need to talk!)?
It’s the Holy Spirit that encourages our spirit and keeps us believing that Heaven, our inheritance, is real and we’ll be there someday. Jesus was speaking to the disciples, but I think this applies to all believers—
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)
Our inheritance is secure, but what is our inheritance?
(1) First, obviously, it’s an eternal home in Heaven—
2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)
(2) It’s a new body, one that will not be susceptible to disease, decay or sin.
1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: (2 Corinthians 5:1–2)
(3) It’s being free from sin and the temptation to sin. Imagine having a perfectly pure relationship with everyone, and one’s that as intimate as the closest married couple.
This is one reason that there will be no marriage in Heaven (John 20:34-36), we will have perfectly pure and intimate relationships with all people.
Imagine no jealousy, envy, arguments, etc.
(4) Our inheritance will be having our true desires fulfilled in Christ. We know that we are supposed to desire only Christ today, but we’re distracted easily.
When we receive our inheritance, our desires will be all for Christ. Augustine declared that “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee.”