The Holy Spirit’s Influence on Us
THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO SEALS BAPTIZES AND FILLS
PENTECOST PAINTING BY LOUIS GALLOCHE 1670-1761
Ephesians 1: 13-14
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.
When we believed and fully trusted that Jesus of Nazareth is exactly who the Bible says He is we received the Holy Spirit. One way of expressing the certainty of the Christian hope is to say that the people of God have been “Sealed with the Spirit.” The term, sphragizo occurs three times in the Epistles; (II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). In the Old Testament the literal meaning of sphragizo is somewhat more common, but in the New Testament (at times also in the Old) the term is used only metaphorically, in the sense of “ratify”, “confirm”, “attest”. In the three texts in which Paul uses the term it refers to the marking of the believers as God’s property. The Holy Spirit is the mark of the child of God. But the sealing has a reference to the end of the age, for God will deliver all those who have his stamp on them (cf. Revelation 7:4).
The background for the concept of sealing may be seen in tattooing, or in the marking of Cain, or in the marking of Jewish house with blood at the first Passover, or in the marking of the foreheads of the faithful before the judgment from Ezekiel 9. The seal of the old covenant, circumcision, must also be considered as a form of sealing. It is not surprising, since the believers are incorporated into the Christian community by baptism (which is often related to the work of the Spirit), that baptism is known by some as sealing.
However, sealing with the Spirit as an assurance of the hope of the believer can be seen as the “earnest” (deposit) of the Spirit (II Corinthians 1:21). It is even more explicitly stated in Ephesians 1:13, 14: 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.
It is worth noticing here that the sealing with the Spirit takes place when men listen unto salvation to the word of truth, the Gospel.
That the sealing has an eschatological reference is borne out even more clearly in Ephesians 4:30, where the apostle informs us that we were sealed with the Spirit “unto the day of redemption.” The Christ-event, which lies in the past, is made real for us by the Spirit, which also assures us that final redemption awaits us at the end of this age, obviously yet future. This word of assurance, however, is coupled with the admonition “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God by whom ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
In two of the three passages, which speak of the sealing with the Spirit, the Spirit is called the arrhabon. If we add II Corinthians 5:5 to II Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 1:14, we have the three passages in which the Spirit is spoken of as the “earnest.” The word arrhabon is a Semitic lending term meaning “surety” or “pledge.” In Genesis 38:17, 18 and 20 the substantive is used for the pledge, which Judah gave Tamar. As a rule the word occurs as a verb in the Old Testament, but always with the basic idea of surety or guarantee. Nowhere, however, does it signify the partial payment of a money debt. It is as a word used by those who grant loans so that in Greek that ‘earnest-money’ becomes more than a pledge; it is a partial down payment. A pledge is taken back when the contract is fulfilled, but earnest money is payment in advance of full payment. God who has promised us to redeem us will never take back His promise. It is against His nature.
Therefore, when we believe, the Holy Spirit seals us with Himself. This sealing is the earnest deposit that God gives the believer as a pledge that the believer has eternal security and God will redeem His chosen at the “Day of Redemption”.
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something that is automatic at the point of salvation. This person is baptized by the Spirit into the Church. There seems to be a lot of confusion concerning the baptism of the believers. As Dr. Ryrie so aptly points out in his book on the Holy Spirit, much of this confusion is related to some individual’s experiences. He goes on to say that it is difficult if not impossible to persuade some individuals that their experience is not scriptural. Church tradition is also another source of the introduction error into some believers thought process. Many who are raised in a certain environment are unwilling to accept that their particular practice is unscriptural.
Further since there are several baptisms mentioned in Scripture some people will fail to distinguish between the different types. They begin to confuse the types and cross one’s characteristics over to another. Once a person actually gives his life to Christ the Spirit baptizes him. It does not happen again to the same individual after that immediate event. I Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Greeks, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” This gives the thought mentioned earlier of being baptized into the church.
We are given a place in that body, the church, at the very point of salvation. Several characteristics must be offered in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of this Scriptural concept.
A) It is for all believers, no mater their spiritual condition. The Corinthians were carnal and babes and they are classed as being baptized, and are seen as the temples of the Holy Spirit.
B) It is by the Holy Spirit. Much of the confusion stems from people building their doctrine on experience and poor interpretation, rather than proper exegesis of the Scriptures. John the Baptist mentions this baptism in Matthew 3:11, (John the Baptist is speaking) “I, indeed, baptize you with water unto repentance, but he who cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire.” The Spirit baptism is promised by John the Baptist and the indications are that this baptism would come from Christ in some manner. (See also Mark. 1:8, Luke. 3:16, John. 1:33. It is significant if all four gospels record the information.) Luke makes mention of a baptizing that was to take place yet future. This baptism was the first occurrence of the work of the Spirit in bringing people into the Church. Acts 1:5, [Christ speaking] “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” The initial Baptism of the Spirit was on the day of Pentecost in Acts two when the Spirit descended and began the church age.
C) This baptism is for the Church age only. The Church age began with Pentecost not Adam, Abraham or some other early patriarch as some theologians would have us believe. This is particularly true of those who seek to blur the distinction between Israel and the Church. It was not mentioned in the Old Testament and is not mentioned again after the end of the Book of Acts. This seems to put closure on a confusing position that some take suggesting that this event reoccurs to the same individuals.
D) It can be a non-experiential work of the Spirit. That is, it occurs whether the believer is aware of it or not. Some believers sense a new awakening and others simply see their lives gaining a new direction or order. Others still do not sense anything at first and gradually find themselves examining spiritual studies in a deeper manner.
E) It brings about our union with Christ in His death unto sin in our lives. Colossians 2:2 and Romans 6:1-10 discuss our dying to the old life and putting on the “New Man” which can only happen if God gives us a new heart by His Spirit.
F) This particular baptism does not guarantee a special power. It places us in a position in Christ where we are enabled to receive power. The spirit as a result of being baptized into the Body will give us gifts. However, some such as the carnal Corinthians received the Spirit and continued to live as they had before. They did not demonstrate a special power as a result of the initial Spirit baptism.
- Filling of the Holy Spirit
The baptism of the Spirit is different than the filling of the Spirit. Filling has the idea of control by the Spirit. The baptizing is the act, which causes the new believer to enter into the body of Christ. You can be saved and baptized into the body with out being filled with the Spirit. Filling is something that is subsequent to our salvation and is related to our walk. Baptism is related to our position in Christ. Therefore, the filling of the Spirit is the influence or control the Holy Spirit exercises over us when we yield ourselves to Him. The Spirit of God, who has given us new life and who has taken up residence within us, wants to fill our lives with His goodness and power. He wants us to let Him take control of our lives. Even so, He does not use His power as God to overwhelm us; rather, He fills us only as we submit to Him.
In this sense, then, being filled with the Spirit means that we have placed ourselves under His influence and control. We have yielded to Him, letting Him take over our lives.
The Bible itself uses the word “filled” in the same way (see Luke 6:11; Acts 5:17; 13:45).
To be filled with something, therefore, means to be under its control. This truth is stated clearly regarding the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” Paul used this analogy because a person who becomes intoxicated with alcohol places himself under its influence or control. Similarly, a Christian who submits to the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit puts himself under His influence or control. Both the person who consumes enough alcohol to become drunk and the Christian who yields to the Holy Spirit have placed themselves under the control of something or someone outside themselves.
On the Day of Pentecost, people who heard the apostles speak in languages they had never learned accused them of being drunk. Even though that experience characterized the baptism of the Spirit they were filled too. Moreover, in the pagan ceremonies of Paul’s day, worshipers often got drunk to have a “religious experience.” The analogy, therefore, had some background in Paul’s thinking. A group of Spirit-filled Christians singing with great enthusiasm may have a superficial resemblance to a band of pagan worshipers, drunk with wine, singing praises to their gods.
The similarity, as already indicated, is only for illustration. A person who is drunk with wine, and therefore under its control, suffers impaired judgment. He says and does things he normally wouldn’t do, and he often can’t remember what he did. On the other hand, a person filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore under His control, enjoys improved judgment, acts in a sane and responsible manner, and remembers what he is saying and doing while being controlled by the Holy Spirit.
We are greatly influenced by whatever it is that “fills” us. If we are filled with anger, we will be influenced to such an extent that we will say and do things we may later regret. A person who is filled with anger against God may become so controlled by his hatred that he becomes irreverent, blasphemous, defiant, and rebellious toward everything.
To be filled with the Holy Spirit, then, is to be so influenced by, controlled by, or permeated by Him that we will reflect God’s moral character and be strengthened by His power. We will be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled-virtues that Paul referred to as “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22,23).
Daniel E. Woodhead