A Word for Today | Ephesians 1:13
When John Bunyan’s Christian arrived at the gates of the Celestial City, in Pilgrim’s Progress, he presented a certificate he had received when he trusted the gospel and was forgiven his sins. The document was carried to the King, who inspected it for authenticity. When it was approved, Christian was admitted into the shining city for an eternity of happiness. Bunyan was referring to the seal of the Holy Spirit which a Christian receives when he or she believes. Paul writes: “When you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, [you] were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13). Having spoken of the Father ordaining our salvation (Eph. 1:4-6) and the Son accomplishing our salvation (Eph. 1:7), Paul now gives praise to the Spirit, who applies salvation to those who were chosen by the Father and redeemed by the Son.
In Paul’s day, a wealthy person would choose an emblem as his official seal and affix it on wax to a letter or object. In this same way, Paul speaks of God sealing all who belong to Him by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Scholars identify four purposes of a seal. The proper seal authenticates something as genuine, like the seal on a passport today. In this way, the indwelling Holy Spirit identifies a Christian as genuine. Second, a seal marks something as belonging to its owner, like a brand on livestock. Our possession of the Spirit is God’s way of saying, “You are mine.” Third, like the seal that was placed on Jesus’ tomb, the Holy Spirit secures God’s people for eternal life. Because of the Spirit living within us, our faith will not fail! Fourth, a seal concludes a business transaction. “The deal is sealed,” we say, and when God sends to us His Holy Spirit, He has in an important way taken the last step needed to ensure our entrance into heaven.
Can you detect the presence of God’s Spirit in your life? You can if you love God’s Word, if you trust in Jesus, if you are striving against sin, and if you want other people to be saved through faith in Christ. The believer who can see these things in his or her life has the right to say, “I am sealed by God for salvation!” And when you arrive at the gates of heaven, the same Holy Spirit who leads you in faith today will certify your right to enter into glory. What a wonderful gift God provided when we were marked with a seal, “the promised Holy Spirit”!
In Christ’s Love,
 John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), 136.