Treasury of Faith index
THE EARNEST, THE SEAL, THE ANOINTING:
BEING ESTABLISHED IN CHRIST BY THE SPIRIT
by J. W. Jepson, D.Min.
Copyright © 2006 by J. W. Jepson. All rights reserved, including the right to grant the following permission and to prohibit the misuse thereof: The Author hereby grants permission to reproduce the text of this article, without changes or alterations*, as a ministry, but not for commercial or non-ministry purposes. *Permission is given for publication of excerpts and condensed versions.
Let's go exploring! I found something interesting and I want you to come with me to see it. It is tucked neatly among some other treasures in a place known as 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22. "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit . . . ." (NIV).
First, we see that God is doing four distinct, progressive things in believers by the Holy Spirit. He is establishing us together in Christ; He anointed us; He sealed us; He gave the deposit (arrabon, "earnest") of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
We see also that only one of the four is in the present tense: making us "stand firm"--establishing us--"in Christ." This is continuous, progressive action. The other three are actions of the Holy Spirit that take place in order, beginning with the deposit (earnest) of the Spirit and working each in its own way toward our establishing in Christ.
The Earnest Of The Spirit.
Before we came to Christ, the Holy Spirit worked to bring us to repentance and faith. The moment we received Christ as our Savior, we received the deposit (earnest) of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. This is also called the "firstfruit" of the Spirit (Romans 8:23). This includes: (1) being born of the Spirit (John 3:3-8); (2) the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts (Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 1:22); (3) the witness of the Spirit that we are the children of God (Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:14-16; 1 John 4:13); (4) being placed into the body of Christ by the Spirit and drinking of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13); (5) living and walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18; Romans 8:12-14); (6) the assurance of the resurrection of our bodies to eternal life (Romans 8:11).
Now that is a powerful dimension of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in every believer in Christ, even though it is only the "entry level." Many Christians live their entire lives on that level. It is sufficient to get us to Heaven, of course, but it stops short of the fullness of the Spirit.
The Seal Of The Holy Spirit.
The "earnest" of the Spirit is only the beginning. Jesus indicated that clearly. First, we come to Jesus and "drink" of the living water (the Holy Spirit); then, He (the Spirit) is to become a well, a fountain, of living water springing up into eternal life (John 4:14). Again, first we drink; then the living water (the Holy Spirit) becomes rivers flowing out from within us to others (John 7:37-39). Notice how the two statements of Jesus parallel each other. There is a big difference between drinking of the Spirit and the Spirit springing up as a well, a fountain (John 4). Likewise, there is a big difference between drinking of the Spirit and the Spirit flowing out of us as rivers (John 7).
God wants believers to go on from the earnest of the Spirit to the fullness of the Spirit. This is the seal, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and it happens after we believe on Christ for salvation. Ephesians 1:13 says that in (or by) Christ, "after you believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise" (KJV). The literal translation is "having believed, you were sealed . . . ." This is the usual Greek construction, and we find it again in Acts 19:2, "having believed, did you receive the Holy Spirit?" In each reference the believing precedes the sealing.
Also, God does not use words unnecessarily. Ephesians 1:13 says "the Holy Spirit of promise." This refers to the promise of the Father that Jesus announced in Luke 24:49. "Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you" (KJV).
So, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer at salvation is the "earnest of the Spirit." The seal of the Holy Spirit that we receive when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit is (in turn) "the earnest of our inheritance [emphasis added]" (Ephesians 1:14 KJV).
The earnest of the Spirit is inward ("in our hearts"). By definition a seal is outward, observable. A seal is a sign, a witness. Documents are sealed. Seals identify ownership. Seals indicate approval (e.g. the "seal of approval" on some products). Seals are also identifying marks of workmanship.
The observable "seal" of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking with "other tongues" as the Holy Spirit prompts and enables (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-47; 19:1-7).
Before God sent the Holy Spirit to the Church and the world, He "sealed" Jesus (John 6:27). This was before God gave speaking with other tongues as the sign; so the "sealing" consisted in other observable witnesses: the dove (representing the Holy Spirit), and the voice of the Father (Matthew 3:16, 17).
Jesus said that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is given to believers for effective witness (Acts 1:8).
So, "do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30 NIV).
The seal--the baptism in the Holy Spirit including its integral and observable physical sign--is the gateway into the Spirit-anointed life. Many believers are baptized in the Holy Spirit, but go no further. They are content with the initial experience, not realizing that God wants them to move on into the continuously anointed life.
In the Old Testament the word "anoint" in the sacred sense is maschach. In the New Testament the word is chrism. It means to smear or pour, usually with oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the “Anointed"--the Messiah, the Christ.
To anoint is to prepare for and separate to God and His service. Jacob anointed the pillar (Genesis 31:13). The tabernacle, the altar, the laver, the vessels, were anointed.
Kings, priests and prophets were anointed as an act of setting them in a place, an office, or a position of spiritual authority. When Aaron was anointed to be the high priest, the oil was poured on his head and flowed down to the bottom of his robes (Psalm 133).
People were anointed with oil in bestowing God's blessings. Jesus' disciples anointed people with oil and healed them (Mark 6:13). The sick are directed to call for the elders of the church, who are to anoint them with oil and pray over them the prayer of faith (James 5:14, 15)
Because Jesus is the anointed, He fulfills all the meanings of anointing. He declared this in the synagogue of Nazareth, His home town, when He read from what we know now as Isaiah 61:1-3 and announced publicly that Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled in Him (Luke 4:18, 19).
Quoting Psalm 45:6 and 7, Hebrews 1:9 says concerning Jesus, "You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy" (NIV).
The Holy Spirit inspired The Scriptures. He also illuminates The Scriptures to believers, particularly Spirit-filled believers. "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things" (1 John 2:20 NKJV). That is, all of you know the truth. Verse 27 says "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it taught you, remain in him" (NIV).
Of course, believers need knowledgeable, Spirit-anointed teachers to instruct them in the truth, but believers do not need some "guru" to reveal to them what the truth is. The Holy Spirit witnesses to the truth (The Scriptures). A truly spiritual person can detect false teaching immediately.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit promotes and preserves unity in the Church. Believers are to co-operate with the Holy Spirit by "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3 KJV).
Machinery needs oil, and more machinery requires more oil. Without oil there is friction and heat, and things grind to a halt. So it is in the "machinery" of the church. The anointing of the Spirit eliminates the "squeaks."
Also, as oil in a hydraulic system can lift and move amazing loads, so the anointing of the Holy Spirit will accomplish what we can never do apart from His anointing. Remember Ephesians 4:30. Do not trifle with your anointing.
The anointing brings power, authority, and victory. Isaiah 10:27 says, "the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing" (KJV). Most versions of the Bible miss the point of this verse. It reads literally "before the oil."
Hezekiah was the anointed king of Judah. Sennacherib sent his Assyrian army against Jerusalem. Isaiah prophesied that the Assyrian yoke would be destroyed because they had come against "the Lord's anointed." Read what happened in Isaiah chapters 36 and 37.
As a son of David and the anointed king of Judah, Hezekiah was a type of Jesus, the Anointed One.
Yes, the anointing of the Holy Spirit breaks the "yokes"--yokes of sin, habits, fear, past failures, defeating memories, anger, bitterness, unbelief, the errors and delusions of Satan--anything that defeats us and keeps us from experiencing the abundant life Jesus came to give us (John 10:10).
Likewise, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to empower believers to do the works that He did and even greater works (John 14:12).
God anoints believers for various ministries (Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11, 12). The original deacons were full of the Holy Spirit, even for the task of feeding widows in the church (Acts 6). Two of them, Stephen and Philip, did evangelistic work accompanied by mighty miracles.
In 1 Corinthians 12 we read the list of the nine supernatural "gifts" of the Spirit (pneumatika, "spirituals").
As Jesus said there would be, there is an outflow of the "rivers of living water" from a Spirit-anointed believer in everything that person does wherever that person is--home, school, work, church, recreation--everything. When a Spirit-anointed believer comes into a situation, it should change the dynamics of that situation.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon us! Let us continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit and stir up the gift of God that is within us (2 Timothy 1:6).
Being Established By The Spirit.
It is possible to be born of the Spirit, baptized in the Spirit, anointed with the Spirit, and still be "wet behind the ears."
Some people have been powerfully anointed but who fell because they were not established in some basic moral principles. They thought that because they were powerfully anointed, character was not essential. After all, they were anointed. Wasn't that all that mattered?
Samson is a classic example of this. He was anointed but self-indulgent. When he saw a Philistine woman, he said to his father, "Get her for me, for she pleases me well" (Judges 14:3 NKJV).
Without character, anointing will be lost.
Then there are people who are both godly and anointed, but are still immature. Born again, Spirit-filled, godly and anointed teenagers are still "as green as grass."
In the book of Acts we have the record of young John Mark. He joined Barnabas and Saul (Paul) on an early missionary journey. Things went well in Cyprus, but when they got into Pamphylia, John Mark got "cold feet" and went home. Things were easier with the believers back in Jerusalem than with hostile pagans (Acts 13:1-13). Later, he became established and had a productive ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).
Being established is a life-long process in the believer. It is continuous, on-going, and should be progressive. We never come to the place in this life where we stop growing, where we cannot become deeper and stronger in some way. In fact, Paul himself, a mature believer, says that God "establishes us with you in Christ."
The original Greek of the New Testament has two words for "establish." One is bebaiao: "make firm, ground." The other is steridzo: "steer, fix one's course, stabilize."
One time my wife and I were traveling by train through Portugal. I remember standing at a place in the coach where I could see the track. I stood as still as I could and fixed my eyes on the track as the train sped over it. Even though the items on the ground were flashing by, the track itself never moved. It appeared as though I was looking at a still photo of the track. Had the train deviated from that precisely laid track, the result would have been a horrible wreck.
Life is like that. God's word is a precisely laid track. We must stay on it. If we do not, we are headed for a train-wreck.
As we look at 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22, we see that God is establishing believers in Christ by the Holy Spirit. Earlier Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that Christ "shall also confirm you unto the end, . . . blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:8 KJV). Even earlier yet Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers, "But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NKJV).
God establishes us in the truth. This involves right thinking, wisdom, faith. Paul writes, "Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, . . ." (Romans 16:25 KJV). "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught" (Colossians 2:6, 7 NKJV).
Likewise Peter writes, "Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth” (2 Peter 1:12 NKJV). "Present" here does not mean present in contrast to past, but present in contrast to distant. It is the truth that has been established and is always present with us.
When I was studying for the ministry in San Francisco, I frequently walked by a construction site where preparations were being made to erect a tall building. Day by day the workers dug deeper and deeper into the earth-quake prone ground. It seemed as though they would never stop digging. One day they reached bedrock. From there they built and built, higher and higher, until the towering top floor was completed. They knew that if their building was going to withstand the forces that would come against it, they could not build upward until they had placed the foundation on a solid footing. For us, that solid footing is the word of God, with Christ Jesus Himself the Cornerstone.
We are being established in grace, not in legalistic traditions. Hebrews 13:9 tells us not to be carried away by various strange teachings, "For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not by foods . . . " (Hebrews 13:9 NKJV). "But the God of all grace . . . make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (1 Peter 5:10 KJV). The grace of God will teach us true holiness (Titus 2:12).
We are being established in holiness. Biblical moral principles are primary. God puts top priority on morality. "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end he may [e]stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:12, 13 KJV).
God is working to establish and stabilize us in all of life and in all we do. We are to be established in every good word and work (2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17). A Spirit controlled, Spirit led, Spirit anointed person should be steady and dependable in marriage and family, in church, on the job, everywhere. This includes and requires emotional stability.
My father was a World War I veteran. He told me a story about a lady who was bubbling with excitement. "The war is going to be over in two weeks!" she exclaimed. Someone asked her how she knew that. She replied, "My son has just been drafted into the army, and he hasn't kept a job over two weeks in his entire life!"
Many Christians are not yet stable. They are "on again, off again, gone again, Flanagan." (No offense intended to those named "Flanagan"). Some think that because they are "led" here and there, they are highly spiritual. "God told me" slams the door on all communication. No one is allowed to challenge that, disagree with that, reason with that. It claims a divine authority for whatever notions pop into the head of the person who asserts it. It clothes personal and spiritual immaturity and instability with an imaginary robe of spiritual independence and sovereignty. It enables a person to control others. Thus God gets the blame for a lot of people's foolishness
God does tell people to do certain things. If they are truly of God, they will be confirmed by biblical principles, wise godly counsel, common sense, and convergent circumstances. Psalm 1 tells us how to become "like a tree planted by the rivers of water."
Yes, God is establishing us together. God sets the members in the body, the church, as pleases Him (1 Corinthians 12:18). A man once said to me, "I'm just a corpuscle running through the body of Christ." That was a new one for me! In fact, I do not find it anywhere in the Bible. Psalm 92:13 says, "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God" (KJV).
Paul wrote to the Romans that he wanted to see them so he could impart to them a spiritual gift--to be encouraged together with them by their mutual faith--to assist in establishing them (Romans 1:11, 12).
Paul sent Timothy to establish the believers at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:2).
Of course, we also have a responsibility to establish ourselves. It is not going to happen to us without our active participation. James 5:8 says, "You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (NKJV).
We read in 2 Peter 1:12 that the apostle commended the believers for being "established in the present truth," yet he warns them (and us) not to be led away with the error of the wicked and fall from our own steadfastness (2 Peter 3:17). In 1:10 he urges believers to make our calling and election "sure" (bebaiao).
Jesus warned the church at Sardis, "Be watchful, and strengthen [sterison] the things which remain, that are ready to die" (Revelation 3:2 KJV).
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said that a person who hears His words and does them is like a man who builds his house on a rock. When the storms come, that house stands. By contrast, the person who hears His words and does not do them is like a man who builds his house on sand. When the storms come, the house collapses (see Matthew 7:24-27).
There is only ONE foundation--Jesus Christ. All else is built on shifting sand. Is your life built on Him?
Jesus Christ is THE way (John 14:6). Is He steering your life? or are you wandering in confusion or perhaps confidently heading toward a disastrous end? Jesus assures you, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12 NKJV).
If you are already a follower of Jesus Christ, ask yourself, "Am I becoming a stronger, more stable Christian?" Open up to the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Let Him fill you, strengthen you, establish you, stabilize you, guide you.
". . . being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6 NIV).
Treasury of Faith index