Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts, 2nd Corinthians 1:22.
A principal work of the Holy Ghost from the Day of Pentecost until the Day of Redemption is performed by the Spirit of God in the lives of those who have received saving grace through Jesus Christ.
Previously, we saw that people who believed through faith prior to Jesus Christ being glorified could not receive the Holy Ghost because he had not yet been given. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified, John 7:39.
We saw that on the Day of Pentecost, those believers who were in the upper room received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Subsequently, we saw that those believers who had not been in the upper room received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of an apostle's hands, (Acts 19:1-7). We saw that when non-Jews received the gospel, they did not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until the Apostle Peter who had the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19) laid hands on them (Acts 8:17).
We saw that once the Gentiles had received the Holy Ghost, they never again needed to have hands laid upon them to receive the Holy Ghost. They received the Holy Ghost immediately upon believing. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word, Acts 10:44.
What we can plainly observe as we read through those passages is that a great transition took place in how the Holy Ghost was received, and we will see that in that transition the Holy Ghost began a powerful work in those who have received the saving grace of Jesus Christ. To receive Jesus Christ is to receive the Holy Ghost.
Colossians 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.
Simply put, there is no person still alive today who received Jesus Christ prior to the Day of Pentecost. There is no Gentile still alive who believed on Jesus Christ prior to the Apostles laying hands on the Samaritans in Acts Chapter 8. The transition is complete. Today, very single person who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ through faith in his completed work has received the Holy Ghost.
We will now look at how the Holy Ghost seals believers, and what is the purpose of that seal.
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, Ephesians 1:13. The first work that we see here is that in sealing the believer the Holy Ghost makes a believer secure through promise. There is a promise inherent in that seal.
There are many great works performed in a believer's life upon his conversion. Those works should be the envy of every man and woman and should make them desirous of the grace of God in Christ Jesus. The Apostle Paul was to tell Philemon, That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus, Philemon 1:6.
Salvation changes people for the better. One sign of real conversion is the wonderment that a new believer has in the inward changes manifest deep within them. As a pastor of a church wherein we have seen much grace in the lives of coverts, it has been my joy to witness the changes in people and their families. Yet, my greatest joy comes when a new believer testifies to the wonderment they have experienced at an inward change in their life that they had never thought possible.
We have a man in our church who was raised with unspeakable cruelty and sexual perversion performed against him. By the time that I met him, he was the veteran of jails in Florida, New York, and Vermont. He had an ungovernable temper that manifested itself in violence. The psychiatric community had told him that there was nothing else that they could do for him.
A few days after his conversion he called me. He told me that that very day he had started getting angry. For the very first time in his life he saw what was happening to him. For the first time in his life, he saw his anger starting to take hold and he was able to stop it. He knew that to be a work of God. Years of hard prison time, years of heavy medication, years of psychiatric counseling had never helped him. Now, after 40 years of misery, the Holy Ghost intervened and showed him how to stop his anger.
As marvelous as that work of God is in his life, and as marvelous as the great work that God still does with and through him, the greatest single work that the Holy Ghost has done in him is the work of sealing him until the Day of Redemption.
Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
Romans 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
Romans 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
We await that great day when God redeems his purchased possession. We await what is commonly called the rapture. We can be sure that every single person who has received Jesus Christ has also received the Holy Ghost, and that they are sealed with that holy Spirit of promise until that great day, the Day of Redemption. The Apostle Paul has left us a description of that seal. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity, 2nd Timothy 2:19.
The seal is described by this phrase; The Lord knoweth them that are his, and let everyone that nameth name of Christ depart from iniquity. From the moment a person believes on Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost seals that person. One of the great works of that seal is to let that person depart from iniquity. He does not force them to depart from iniquity, he lets them. The man in our previous example had spent years behind bars contemplating the horror of his anger. He had spent untold years on psychotropic medicines seeking to curb his anger.
Yet the seal of God in his life not only confirmed to him that the Lord knew him, it also let him depart from iniquity. It did not force his anger to stop as perhaps a lobotomy or incapacitating medications might have done. When he was made free by Jesus Christ, there were no longer chains upon his will. It showed him that he was no longer bound. He could now depart from iniquity if he so chose. It was not just him that was sealed. The Holy Ghost has sealed every single person who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ since the great transition described in the Book of Acts.
We know from scripture that there will be another transition. It will not be gradual as we saw in the Book of Acts, it will be abrupt. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way, 2nd Timothy 2:7. The great letting work of the Holy Ghost is accomplished by sealing the believer. It lets the believer depart from iniquity. Just as the Holy Ghost descended from heaven on the Day of Pentecost, he will be taken back into heaven.
One of the common arguments against that biblical truth is that by reading the Book of Revelation, we can clearly see that the Spirit of God is at work in believers during the great tribulation. Therefore men reason that if there is evidence of the holy Ghost working in believers during the great tribulation, he could not have been taken up.
As we saw in earlier posts, the Holy Ghost has always worked in believers. He worked in believers in the Old Testament. He worked in believers during the transition, he works in believers today, and he will work in believers after the rapture. We also saw how that work changed.
We saw it worked differently in believers prior to Jesus Christ being glorified. When Daniel's 70th week resumes the covenant with Israel, the Holy Ghost will be there again just as he was when Jesus Christ breathed the Holy Ghost into the apostles in John 20:22; And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. As we saw in an earlier post (here), those same apostles who had the Holy Ghost breathed into them for a specific purpose, later received the Holy Ghost as we do today.
As the plan of God unfolds, and as the covenant of Israel resumes for its 70th week, the Holy Ghost who today indwells as a seal, will be taken up into heaven. He will not be letting men depart from iniquity as he once did.
That doesn't mean that men cannot depart from iniquity. Men have always had that ability. When they depart it will not be the specific agency of God letting them do so as it is today. Instead, the work of God will be to damn all those who had heard a clear presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, 2nd Thessalonians 2:11.
The Holy Ghost will be active in those prophets and apostles who are resurrected to preach the gospel to the remnant of Israel just as he spoke through men of old during the time of the Old Testament. There is much confusion concerning 2nd Thessalonians and most of it comes from men correcting the King James Bible.
As I relate in an earlier post (here), Pastor Matt Furse has done a great job exposing the hypocrisy of fundamentalists who change words in a King James Bible to try to prove a pre-tribulation rapture. Absolutely no change to the text is needed if you keep the Day of Christ in 2nd Thessalonians 2:2 exactly as the King James Bible says it. The Day of Christ is the day in which Jesus Christ comes back and is seen all over the world.
Both Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul warned of people who would claim that day was upon us. The Apostle Paul makes it crystal clear that that day cannot come until the seal of the Holy Ghost in the believers is taken away in that Day of redemption that we call the rapture. Then, and only then, the man of sin can be revealed.
The Holy Ghost does indeed do a great work in believers today. He teaches the bible to those who will study (1st John 2:27). He helps in prayer (Jude 1:20). He distributes gifts (1st Corinthians 12:11). But, sealing us to the Father just as Jesus Christ was sealed, is truly a great gift and our eternal security is wrapped up in that. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed, John6:27.