And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you 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.
In yesterday’s reflection, I asked the question: Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ really true? According to Ephesians 1:13, the answer is clearly “Yes.” But this leads to a further question: How can I know that the Gospel is true?
There are different ways to answer this question. We could, for example, study the Scripture, showing how the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ is taught, not just in the New Testament, but also throughout the Bible. Another approach would be to use reason to consider the claims of Christianity, including the central claim about what God has done through Christ. This approach is central to the field of apologetics, from the Greek word apologia, which means “defense.” It is found, for example, in C. S. Lewis’ classic, Mere Christianity.
Ephesians 1:13 points to a different kind of evidence for the truth of the Gospel: “When you believed [the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation], you were marked in [Christ] with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” Paul explains that when you first put your trust in Christ as your Savior, not only did you receive the gift of salvation, but also you received a special kind of seal. In the ancient world, owners of property (including slaves) would mark what belonged to them as proof of ownership. Paul draws upon these common practices to show that when we accepted the Gospel as true and put our faith in Christ, we were sealed by God through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Spirit in your life says to the world, “You belong to God.” The Spirit also reassures you of this fact if ever you doubt it.
You might wonder how you can know that you’ve been sealed with the Spirit. Our passage today does not tell us, but other passages in the New Testament would point to such experiences as baptism, the gifts of the Spirit, and the counter-cultural reality of Christian community. For the earliest Christians, belief in the Gospel led to a transformed life, and this transformed life demonstrated the truth of the Gospel.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What helps you to know that the Gospel is true? In what ways have you experienced the presence and power of the Holy Spirit?
PRAYER: Thank you, dear God, for claiming me as your own through Christ. Thank you for sealing me by your Spirit. Thank you for marking me as your own.
Help me, I pray, to have confidence in this truth. May I see myself as you see me, as one who has been sealed by you. May I be continually encouraged and guided by the fact that I belong to you, both now and forever. Amen.