Ephesians 1:11-14 – The Spirit’s sealing of the Christian’s inheritance

Ephesians 1v11-14

The Spirit’s sealing of the Christian’s inheritance.




Brief review of sections 1 and 2 below:-


OUTLINE OF v 3-14:


Facets of salvation.

  1. 1:3-6. Past. The Father’s electing – (adoption)
  2. 1:7-11. Present. The Son’s redeeming – (forgiveness)
  3. 1:12-14. Future. The Spirit’s sealing   – (inheritance)


Today we come to look at the 3rd point – future – our inheritance as Christians.


ILLUS.: Lottery fever has swept through UK in the last few months – some have bought a ticket just for the fun of it or out of curiosity not expecting to win anything. Other have a compulsive desire to win and spend vast amounts in the hope of winning the jackpot. The motive, I don’t believe, is to contribute to charity. The motive for the majority is greed.

Putting aside for a moment the ethical / moral implications of lotteries let ne ask you:

If I came up with a cast-iron guarantee to provide the winning numbers and offered people the chance to win a million pounds [guaranteed] – I bet they would be lining up. The condition would be that you would have to give all your money – everything you had – in order to qualify. The prize would not be next week but possibly in 6 months or a year BUT it was guaranteed.


Would you be willing to give everything knowing that you would definitely receive £1,000,000 or more?


What is it that makes such a proposition appeal to all of us? There is the greed element but there is also the desire for security and we are led to believe that security is measured in monetary terms.


But even if I could guarantee you a million pounds a year from now it would still only be temporary. Because either the million pounds will be used up Or you will die and leave it all behind.


But God promises something that is far more valuable than the Lottery jackpot and something that will last forever.

Listen to what Peter says:-


1 Peter 1:3-4

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, (NIV)

Going back to the Lottery illustration most people would say they were willing to suffer for 6 months if they knew there was a million pounds at the end of it. Well what is this life in comparison to eternity and we are not necessarily called to suffer – on the contrary, for the most part, we are greatly blessed now, which, as we will see, is only a taster of what is to come.


Let us look at the Christain inheritance.




1. We, ourselves, are God’s inheritance

and we receive and inheritance from God.


2. Our inheritance is given by God’s grace.


3. Our inheritance is received by believing faith.


4. Our inheritance is assured:

– by God’s seal              }

} the Holy Spirit

– by God’s deposit         }






11 In him we were also chosen, {Or were made heirs} {or chosen to be God’s inheritancee}


The word that is translated “chosen” in the NIV is actually a compound word that means to give or to receive an inheritance. So id could quite easily be that “we were chosen to be his heritage”. which is not inconsistent with the reaching of scripture.

It is quite clear form the teaching of the OT the Israel was God’s possession:-

Isaiah 43:20-21

20 ………………. I provide water in the desert

and streams in the wasteland,

to give drink to my people, my chosen,

21 the people I formed for myself

that they may proclaim my praise. (NIV)

Exodus 19:5 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. (NIV)

This is not only referring to the Jews but also to the gentile Christians:-

1 Peter 2:9

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, …………. that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)

There are not two kinds of inheritance – one for Jews and one for Gentiles – Notice Paul’s progression through these verses:-


Ephesians 1:11-14

11 In him we were also chosen, ………13 And you also were included in Christ .[14]………. our inheritance ………………… (NIV)

WE – YOU – OUR. There is one people of God and they are His treasured possession – his inheritance. God in his sovereign will has determined that you and I along with ALL others believers [past, present and future] are his inheritance. We are God’s inheritance…….. BUT not only that




As I said earlier, this word “chosen” can mean to give or receive an inheritance.

That which we receive from God is Jesus Christ Himself – how many times have we seen in this passage that everything we have is “in HIM” .

“In Him” – we have every spiritual blessing – are chosen – adopted – redeemed – forgiven – predestined – given hope – are God’s possession ………….


BUT inheritance is primarily future – what we have received is wonderful enough but it is only a taste of what is to come.


But why I ask you are we given this inheritance in the first place – what is the reason for God’s favour – WHY????


— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, …… 7 ………, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.




God’s plan of salvation begins with grace and he brings it to fulfillment:

Ephesians 1:11

11 …………, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, (NIV)

Our destiny is not determined by the unpredictable whim of a fatalistic diety – The heathen gods of Paul’s day were very fickle – as are the gods of today – there is not certainty about the future.


ILLUS.: In Islam no one’s salvation is guaranteed – you can be the most devote Muslim but the attainment of paradise is uncertain because they Worship an almighty Allah but an Allah who can on Judgement day send anyone or everyone to hell. Because while he might be all-powerful he is not a loving Father who I can know.


But the God of the Bible is not like that – he not only makes plans that include every aspect of creation BUT he also accomplishes – in time – everything that he planned in eternity.


We need to be careful that when we talk of God’s plans and about predestination that we don’t fall into the trap of being Deists – those who believe that God wound up the universe like an overgrown clock and now its runs on its predetermined course. The blue-prints of history. NO! NO! God is not like a computer who only does what he is programmed to do. God is a person. Yes he has plans BUT he is actively and continually working within his plans. The words “works out” comes from the word meaning energy – God’s energizing power that make his plans work out.




We have said many times in the past that salvation is all God’s work and that is true – it is!! But that does not mean that we are simply passive blobs. The is a human responsibility to respond to God’s offer of redemption in Christ.


It is clear from vv.12-13 that there was a respond from those who heard.

Ephesians 1:12-13 12 ….. we, who were the first to hope in Christ, …………. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, (NIV)

There is a human part to salvation. Throughout the Bible there is a tension between God’s sovereign will and people’s responsibility. As we have said the last few weeks, if we go to one extreme to the detriment of the other we become unbiblical – we must hold these two things in tension.


Well known ILLUS.:Picture a doorway as you look towards heaven – from the human side the sign above the door reads “WHOSOEVER WILL MAY COME”. After you have entered heaven you look back and the eign above the door on the inside reads “CHOSEN IN HIM BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD”


The human side of salvation is the people [both Jews and Gentiles] must respond to the gospel message. Until there is a response to God our situation remains hopeless.


Ephesians 2:12 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel [THE PEOPLE OF GOD] and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (NIV)

The first thing that people need to do is to “HEAR”

Ephesians 1:13 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. ….., (NIV)

This hearing is not just a physical hearing with your ears BUT a spiritual hearing with your heart – a believing hearing.

You can listen to the accounts of Jesus Christ’s life – his death and resurrection – you can even agree with his teachings –

—- BUT until you BELIEVE and exercise faith in him you remain outside the Kingdom of God. That is why Paul continues in this verse 13 :…… Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.


There needs to be a hearing and a believing – it is not a sign of weakness to believe and Trust in Jesus Christ. In a society where success and independence are prized as high ideals it is not popular to admit that you need God. This is esp. true of men – BUT listen, if you want success, if you want to be involved in an enterprise where the profit margins are unbelievable high and the ultimate capture of the world market is guaranteed – where you have a product cannot be match by another competitor – if that is what you want THEN join God’s company. It is called THE CHURCH [The kingdom of God] And as an added benefit it has a pension plan that is out of this world!!


Any other business that you are involved in – no matter how good or successful it is – it will no last – it is a best a very short-term investment. Take an eternal view – God has an inheritance for you that will last forever.


And Christian if the only way for anyone to know this is by the “Hearing of the Word of God” [ and it is the only way] then we have a responsibility, an obligation to pass on the message.


Romans 10:9-14 9 …….if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. …………………. ……. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (NIV)

That is why witnessing, and evangelism and missions is not an option for the Chruch or for the individual Christian – it is not a suggestion that we might like to agree to if we so choose – it is a command to be obeyed and if you are not in some way involved in the spread of the gospel then you are disobedient.


And if you are not a Christian you are also disobedient because [Acts 17:30 30 ]………., but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. (NIV)

If people refuse to repent and turn to God He will eventually punish them because they have refuse to obey his command to repent and believe in him. BUT why would anyone want to do that when he offers them a place in his kingdom.


Once you have believed your inheritance is assured!




When you become a Christian you receive the Holy Spirit. He takes up residence in your life.


Romans 8:9

9 ………….. if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (NIV)

But when the Spirit lives in you he not only protects, strengthens and encourages you but he also guarantees your inheritance in Christ.

Romans 8:16-17 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,….. (NIV)

Paul says in verse 13 “we are marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”


….. : BY GOD’S SEAL.




A seal was used to guarantee the genuineness of a document or product. The king’s seal would be pressed into the hot wax to show it came from him. Even today products have seals of approval to show that they are genuine and good quality.


Today companies have registered trade marks which show the genuineness of the article – they go to grant lengths to protect those Trade Marks.


The Holy Spirit is the Christian trade mark – when the Holy Spirit lives in a person the result is spiritual fruit. Showing the genuineness of the Christian life.



ILLUS.: Cowboy movies – wild west – cattle branding to show ownership.

In Paul’s day slaves were sometimes branded with their owner’s seal to show to whom they belonged.


Christian’s are marked by God – not with external branding but God’s seal on the heart.

Christian, God owns you. You are God’s possession. He has marked you and no one dare remove that mark nor can they. Satan may try to persaude you that you are not God’s – he may try to place all kinds of doubts in your mind – “You are not good enough to be God’s!!” “No! I’m not but he chose me, he has marked me and I am his!”



A seal guarded the product against tampering.

ILLUS.: Why did the Jewish leaders want Pilate’s seal on the tomb of Jesus – so that no one would tamper with it. Death was the penalty for breaking a Roman seal.


A Roman seal could not protect the tomb because the power behind the seal was inadequate in the face of God’s resurrection power BUT when God puts his seal on someone he has the power to back it up –


How do we know that this is true – how do we know that this promised inheritance will be forthcoming…..




ILLUS.: Before a couple get married the Groom-to-be give the bride-to-be an engagement ring – it is his pledge that he will marry her.


The word used here for deposit is the same word used in Modern Greek for engagement ring.


ILLUS.: When you buy a house or car you put down a deposit. That is not just a promise to buy but it is also the first installment – the down payment.




In this the guarantee is not separate from the thing it is guaranteeing, but it is part of it, it is the first portion of it. In the same way the Holy Spirit is not just a guarantee of our Christian inheritance but is part of it. We already have our inheritance in part – We are God’s possession now but that will be fully realised in the future when we see Christ.


God is not just promising us a future inheritance but has given us a taste of it now.


Why Has God done this – for his glory – when we take the glory we rob God – God created us to praise him and for his glory. Sin destroyed that but God’s redemption in Jesus Christ restores it. Everything we are and everything we have has Christians is from God and the glory belongs to him.


Saviour, since of Zion’s city [Kingdom of God – God’s people]

I through grace a member am,

let the world deride or pity,

I will glory in your name:

fading are the world’s best pleasures,

all its boasted pomp and show;

solid joys and lasting treasures

none but Zion’s children know.     [John Newton ][Hymns for Today’s Church #494]












  1. We, ourselves, are God’s inheritance


     we receive an inheritance   from God.


  1. Our inheritance is given by God’s grace.


  1. Our inheritance is received by faith.


  1. Our inheritance is assured:

     – by God’s seal     }

                                      } Holy Spirit

     – by God’s deposit }



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s