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Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Sealed by the Holy Spirit

The Building Blocks of Eternal Security

Many securists lay claim to be sealed by the Holy Spirit as another absolute guarantee of their salvation. But is it a bonafide claim?

What if the guarantee spoken of in regards to our sealing was only a misinterpretation? What, exactly, is the seal that Paul speaks of? Is it any different than his referring to sealed as in his ministry being sealed by believers? Is it any different than his stating that Abraham's circumcision was a seal of his faith?

Let's first discuss what the seal is and it's implication. 

"In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:13-14 RSV 

Now we have the definition of what the seal is. We can assume that it is the Holy Spirit, Himself, and that He is the guarantee of our inheritance "until we acquire possession of it". Now we are faced with another question. If the Holy Spirit is our guarantee until we acquire possession, then does it mean that we don't possess eternal life as we speak? 

"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." 1 John 5:11-12

So then, we DO have current possession, so to speak. God has given us eternal life, but it is in Jesus. If we are in Jesus then we have eternal life. If we don't have Jesus then we don't have eternal life. In other words, Jesus is in actual possession of this eternal life, we share in it with Him. We have the privilege of participating in it with Him. "...the free gift of God is eternal life IN Christ Jesus, our Lord." Romans 6:23 RSV

The Securist uses the argument that if eternal life can be terminated, then how can it be eternal? The problem with this line of reasoning is that it rest upon a faulty assumption. To the Securist, God implants a bit of this eternal life into us in such a way that it becomes a tangible personal possession. This can't be so if the life is in the Son and we must be in the Son to partake of it. He that hath the Son hath the life. This life is "shared" with men, not given as a tangible possession, but none the less, we DO possess eternal life in the present.

Back to our discussion of sealing.

"And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30 

This verse is used extensively by Securists to prove OSAS, but by itself really proves nothing. In fact, studying this verse you will find that it is actually a warning, rather than a proof! 

First off, the Securist lays claim on the word seal. We have discovered what the seal is. But is this seal binding? I am asking that, even though the seal denotes a guarantee of future possession, does it guarantee that the seal, itself, is guaranteed? 

The word "seal" in and of itself does not give any indication that it can or can not be broken. Many Securist claim that it can not because it is implied by "unto the day of redemption". They take "unto" as meaning "till" or "all the way to" the day of redemption. The problem with this is that it is a misinterpretation of the original language. In fact, most version of the Bible interpret "until" as "for" the day of redemption. The idea being that we are sealed with a "view" of the day of redemption. This is not a guarantee. 

So this passage doesn't imply that the sealing is guaranteed clear up until the day of redemption. If so, then we need to have the Securist explain if Romans 10:10 actually means "believes until righteousness" or "confesses clear up until salvation". 

This same word for seal (sphragizo), used in these verses, is also referred to in Matthew 27:66, "So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard "(NIV). It is stated in verses 59 and 60 that the tomb was not owned by the ones that sealed it. That in itself doesn't give credence to using this analogy to prove OSAS. Also, this seal didn't protect the tomb from being opened, did it? It was placed on the tomb to show that it hadn't been tampered with. A guarantee must be read "into" this scripture. 

The passage DOES imply that we can grieve the Holy Spirit, which IS our seal. This is implied by the sheer fact that it says NOT to grieve the Holy Spirit. Doesn't that imply that there is a possibility of this happening, with a possible outcome being that the Holy Spirit may leave you, thereby breaking the seal? If any implication can be pulled from this verse, it is that the seal can be broken, rather than being unbreakable.

So now we see that the Securist has no credible proof that the "seal" itself is guaranteed unbreakable, only that what the seal denotes is a guarantee.

Let's take it a step further. If the seal is not proven to be unbreakable, what about the guarantee that it contains?

We have seen Ephesians 1:13-14 above. The NIV renders it as "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."

From 2 Corinthians we find two more references to the Spirit being our guarantee:

"He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." 2 Cor. 1:22 NIV

"Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." 2 Cor. 5:5 NIV

All three verses tell us that the Holy Spirit is our guarantee of receiving our inheritance. Notice that they also state that the Holy Spirit is a deposit giving that guarantee. So is that an absolute guarantee?

We get a completely different rendering in the King James:

"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, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:13-14 KJV

"Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." 2 Cor. 1:21-22 KJV

"Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." 2 Cor. 5:5 KJV

Let's look at Young's Literal Translation of these verses. 

"In whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth -- the good news of your salvation -- in whom also having believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, to the redemption of the acquired possession, to the praise of His glory." Ephesians 1:13-14 YLT

"And He who is confirming you with us into Christ, and did anoint us, is God, who also sealed us, and gave the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" 2 Cor. 1:21-22 YLT

"And He who did work us to this self-same thing [is] God, who also did give to us the earnest of the Spirit;" 2 Cor. 5:5 YLT

Notice that all three verses from the NIV state that the Holy Spirit is a deposit, yet all three verses from the KJV and the YLT use the term earnest, rather than deposit. And the term guarantee can not be found in the KJV or YLT verses. So what's the difference? Big deal...deposit, earnest...same thing. Right?

The Vine's Expository Dictionary has no listing dealing directly with the word "deposit", but refers us to "commit" which has no reference to any of the verses in question. But "earnest" is defined as a deposit given by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed. The word rendered as "earnest" is arrabon. In modern Greek arrabona is an engagement ring. Getting a picture here? Perhaps that the Holy Spirit is, in a sense, an engagement ring given by the groom to his bride to be? Doesn't that equate to the symbolism that the Bible uses in reference to the relationship between Jesus and His church? "Earnest" is the proper rendering. 

Since the term "deposit" isn't listed in reference to these verses, let's use the next best thing, a standard dictionary. The Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary describes "deposit" as being "something placed for safe keeping as money deposited in a bank or money given as a pledge or down-payment". "Earnest" is defined as "something of value given by a buyer to a seller to bind a bargain" or as "a token of what is to come".

Examining these definition, you will find that neither has "guarantee" associated with it as part of it's meaning, yet it is inserted into the verses of the NIV and some others by the interpreters that did the translations. The only thing we see that "deposit" and "earnest" have in common is that they are both given as a down payment to bind a deal, yet an "earnest" is also defined as something that is a token of what is to come.

To take it further, the term "token" is defined as a symbol, a distinguishing feature, a small part representing the whole, or something given as a guarantee. OK, OK, I hear you! There it is! A GUARANTEE!!!!

But this is a guarantee referring to guarantee of authority, right or identity. It has no application to a guarantee of our inheritance, which is what these passages are dealing with. With that out of the way, we can concentrate on the other three definitions, and an "earnest" as pertaining to these passages could be any of these.

But we are looking to see how it implies any guarantee. With that in mind, we should use "earnest" (the properly rendered term) in a financial application. What is an earnest? As stated before "a deposit given by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed". In today's world, an earnest is forfeited by the buyer if he fails to hold up to the agreement, and must be returned by the seller if he should back out. With that in mind, we can see that "guarantee" has no connection with either "deposit" or "earnest". If we fail to keep our part of the New Covenant, God has every right to take back or forfeit His earnest, which is the Holy Spirit, of Whom we are told NOT to grieve!

Rendering the term "guarantee" in these verses is a mistake by the translators and serves as a great example of how translators can choose words to match their own theological beliefs. The actual rendering of "earnest" doesn't support the use of the term "guarantee". "Earnest" is the proper rendering and should not have been replaced by "deposit". They were added by translators. Anytime we come to a passage as important as this one is to our theology, we need to look at several renderings and study the original words to come to a proper and true understanding.

Next: Can't Be Erased From The Book of Life

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