Ephesians 1:13-14

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

Sermon Transcript:

Good morning, everyone. I made sure to turn that off right before I came on. I want to say good morning to those of you here in Mount Laurel, those of you online, those of you here in Collingswood. It’s great to be with you as we continue in our series. There’s a show on Netflix called Brain Games. Anyone ever see Brain Games?

It’s a little docu series about what I believe is the most complex, created thing in all the universe, the human mind. It’s fascinating the way the mind operates and in this, this docu series they do little anecdotal experiments on what, on what they’re doing. On how the mind operates and what ways it’s, you know, can have distortions if it looks, you know, they show those kind of pictures and you figure out what you think the picture is and then you find out, oh, it’s not that.

But, one of the shows that they did, we just watched this last Wednesday, they came to people and they, they studied the, the effect of religion on the mind, was their desire. And what they did as a little experiment is they would go to people in a cafe with a bunch of money. And they would first ask them questions on, First they’d say something simple like, What’s your favorite color?

Purple. Okay, purple’s your favorite color. If I give you five dollars, Will you say that purple’s not your favorite color? No, I’m not going to lie for 5. If I give you 10, ah, my morals are higher than that. I’m not going to lie. If I give you 20, I hate purple. Give me the money. Right? So this happened over and over with a whole bunch of different questions, and, and at each time, as the money went up, so did the willingness to be like, all right, okay, on this issue, I’m willing to bend.

Then they asked a final question. They said, what do you believe about God? They say, I believe in God, say with you 5 to say you don’t. How many of you think took the money? None. Ten dollars. Twenty dollars. The money went up and up until they’re literally in the show waving this cash in front of people’s faces.

Not one of the people they interviewed that believed in God was willing to take the money to say they didn’t. They did it also with people who did not believe in God. How many people do you think took the money? To say actually I do believe in God for the sake of the money. None. None. Because what we believe about God is very personal to us.

It’s very core. For people who do believe in God, for people who don’t believe in God, it’s not a decision or thought people take lightly. When we come to this Ephesians letter that we’re looking at, And we’re coming to, to realize that these are people, both Jew and Gentile, that would be in Ephesus, but then the letter distributed to people scattered throughout Asia.

These are people who have changed their opinion about God. Nobody grew up from when they were two and now that they’re 70 in the church. These are people who are relatively new believers, people who have gone a different way than what they have learned. People who have been willing to change because they encountered something worth a lot more than cash waved in front of the face.

They’ve encountered God. And so when we read the New Testament, when we read from people like this church in Ephesus, We’re reading of hungry people, people who, who have said, yes, I believe, yes, I’m willing to change because of this encounter I’ve had with this Christ. Tell me more. And in this letter that we have in Ephesians.

Paul tells them more. This letter that we’ve been looking at, we’ve been looking the last three weeks at verses 3 through 14. This, this 3 through 14 in English, if you look at your English Bible, has a lot of different sentences. It does not in the Greek. It is one sentence, the longest theological sentence in the New Testament.

When you do work with Greek, the Greek language and do this in seminary and stuff, you start with English, we’ll do this, but this is kind of how you start graphing sentences. She swims. How does she swim? Well. What type of well? Very well. Okay? Then you’re going to add verb, you’re going now, verb, no object in this sentence.

But this is how you begin graphing. Here is a picture of Ephesians 3, 3, or Ephesians 1, 3 through 14. I know you have that in your notes. You had already figured it out. This sentence is the most complex and theologically dense sentence in the entire New Testament. Paul is writing to hungry people and is giving them food.

What we have looked at as we’ve looked at this sentence is the three persons of God that have a role in this incredible story of grace that Paul is describing. Pastor Mark talked about God, the father as the architect, the one with the plan. Talk to Pastor Jared talked about set Christ, the second person of the Trinity as the agent, both the agent in creation that spoke the universe into existence, the agent in the gospel, whose very life and body were the ones who created the gospel story.

And today, in verses 13 and 14, we’re gonna look at the Holy Spirit. The one who applies this message to his people and and truth be told throughout this long sentence in Ephesians 1 3 through 14, you have the Holy Spirit dancing all over it as you do the father and the son. In this incredibly, I’m going to use the word mysterious idea of the Trinity.

One author I appreciate says, the mystery of God is not something you can’t know. The mystery of God is something you endlessly know. It’s something that you never solve, but it’s something you’re always finding more about. This sentence, As much perhaps as anywhere in the new testament gives us a view into the dance of the trinity I’m going to read verses 13 and 14 of ephesians 1 then we’ll pray together in him You also and that’s speaking of christ in christ you also When you heard the word of truth the gospel of your salvation Believed in him again speaking of christ We’re sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.

To the praise of his glory

father son, holy spirit We we come to submit ourselves to you this morning. We come here in mount laurel Here in collingswood to hear your voice We believe if we are to take your scripture seriously That you are here right now

We pray you would speak and we would hear and we would enjoy The reality of what it means to know this spirit and his role In the greatest story ever told in jesus name. Amen four things. I want to mention about the spirit from the text this morning The first is our relationship with the spirit is not extractable From our relationship with the father And the sun we’re only looking at two of the verses of the very long sentence But if you look at the the first first person that we’re looking at in here, you can pop that on the screen The image on the screen is there’s a couple pronouns.

Okay. There’s actually eight pronouns in this or personal pronouns in this sentence in this part of the sentence I should say the first is in him You also, when you heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel, your salvation, believed in Him. The in Him is used often from 3 to 14. It’s used to describe Christ.

This story happens. This story is taking place. This story only happens. The party is only thrown. Of the gospel because it is in christ the one who died and resurrected, but that’s not the only person Mentioned in the text go ahead to the next slide We also have the holy spirit and then refer back to as who we’re talking about this morning Okay, so we have in him meaning christ and then we have the holy spirit in the next slide It finishes the praise of his glory.

If you look back to the context of this long passage with 3 to 14, it is speaking about the blessings and praise of the glory of the father, the father, son and Holy Spirit. Jared, maybe he’s not. He’s probably a later service guy, but Jared and I were complaining last week of like, Hey, we’re supposed to only talk about one member of the Godhead, but you know, he’s here, he’s here, he’s here.

How do we get this here? And as we’re talking about today, the Holy Spirit. We can’t talk about him, not in light of the father and the son. You cannot have one without the other. In Galatians 4, 6, Christ speaks of, it’s of his spirit, and because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

But Christ himself in John 14 writes this, But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you many all things and bring your in remembrance. That I have said these things to you. The, the spirit is from the Father, the spirit primarily. That’s what we see in your testament, but it also says the spirit is of the son from the son.

There is in this a parsing out of who does what to some degree, and there is some that we see in this text, but there is not one without another. We cannot uphold one without upholding the other. In fact, we cannot speak of one correctly. Without, as it says in our passage, the glory of one another.

Secondly, we have, we do have a unique relationship with the Holy Spirit. While it’s not extractable from the Father and Son, we have a unique, unique relationship with the Spirit. First things, the text says we are sealed in Him. We are sealed in Him. Eric Raymond notes this when he writes, we read in Revelation 7 verse 3 that God places a seal on his people to identify them and protect them from wrath.

There is a seal placed on it and in the text, it’s past tense. You were sealed with the Holy Spirit, a finished work. We belong to him also about being sealed. We’re under a binding contract. The text goes on to say a guarantee. Of our inheritance a part of this seal. We have partial blessings The word is said that we have a down payment Or an earnest basically a partial part of the inheritance and the text will go on to say until we acquire Full possession of it.

We have part of this inheritance What I believe that means is we have part of the blessings of god primarily Through the holy spirit now the future inheritance of god’s people will also be in in full physical Relationship with God, the father, God, the spirit and God, the son. But we right now have a partial possession of that in our full communion, primarily with the spirit.

The spirit is sealed. Secondly, another past tense verb. The spirit has been promised. Who promised the spirit? Well, the father and the son did there’s Old Testament prophecy that has promised this and then Jesus himself Said that this is blend the plan the whole time I will go and I will give you something better a better situation when the Spirit comes After I am gone few Holy Spirit Implications our relationship our unique relationship with the Spirit I believe will change the least eternally.

When we look at the relationship with the father and the son, actually being physically present with them, our communion with them will change more than our uninhibited communion right now. with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the primary agent of God on Earth. Christ went up and sent Holy Spirit down.

Secondly, our communion with the Spirit is not inhibited by time and space in the same way as we are with the son and father. This in no way means what we can’t know the son. We can’t know the father. When Christ was here, what did he say? He said, Oh, you already know the father. Because you know, the son, the spirit was, he speaks as not speaking words on his own, but only that has been told to him to say.

So to know the spirit is to know Christ is to know the father. But our relationship with the spirit is unique. Our communion with the spirit is unique. Lastly, our communion with the son and the father is through the spirit, unlike it will be in heaven.

Third, the Christian life happens by the Spirit’s work in us. We’ve talked about in this giant sentence, Ephesians 1, 3 14, God as the architect, God the Father as the architect, God the Son as the agent, and God the Spirit as the applier of this gospel work. We cannot live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit.

I, let me say that simpler. There is no Christian life without the Holy Spirit. Our relationship with the Spirit is crucial for our relationship With god our church tradition falls in line. There’s lots of different church traditions in church history Our church tradition we have Would be called the word centered tradition as in we’re really really big on the bible.

It’s on our sign out there We spend At least half of our worship services talking about the bible Most of the programs that we do as a church Include teaching the bible. We are big bible people. We are from the word centered tradition. We want to take seriously That God wrote a book and he gave it to us to understand that is a beautiful thing about our faith tradition in following What the bible teaches?

We must take the real tangible And beautiful relationship with the holy spirit Seriously in james. It says oh you believe in god. That’s cool. So do demons Belief and cognitive understanding of God is, is not what the Bible itself is after. The Bible itself is pointing towards communion.

A. W. Tozer writes this, sound Bible exposition, there’s no way you can read that. Can you read that? You can? You’re all lying. You’re like, Oh yeah, I can read that. But my wife couldn’t read that, but I could read that. I’ll read it to you just in case. Sound Bible exposition. is an imperative must in the church of the living God.

Amen. Without it, no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term, but exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any spiritual nourishment, whatever, for it is not mere words that nourish the soul. Hear this church, but God himself and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth.

You cannot say. What I wanna do is honor the Bible. What I wanna do is learn the Bible. What I want to do is be all about the Bible and have that be the end of the sentence. Why? What we want to do is is to honor God, and in that process, we realize he speaks to us through his word in the process. We are.

Our main focus is to understand. This miraculous dance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and how we have in His grace and power in the architect of the Father, the agency of the Son and the application of the Spirit are included in that the scripture points us to a reality. It is not the reality itself. If you want to look at a point to what we’re talking about today, the point to the passage as we looked at the father and son.

Today we look at the spirit simply. Get to know the Holy Spirit in your life because he is real. He really does talk. He really is personal and available

and a little bit wild. He doesn’t always conform to what we think he would do or doesn’t always speak the way we think he should or when we should but to follow the spirit of to to follow the Christian message. There is no other way but through the Spirit of God. Amen.

Lastly, don’t worry, you’re not leaving yet. I know you’re like, lastly, oh yes. I see you, Matt. I’m just kidding, I saw you walk in earlier.

The trinity includes his people in the dance. There are more pronouns in the text. If you flash up the image that we had of Parsing out some of these personal pronouns. We’ve got Christ, Holy Spirit, and the Father, but there’s more pronouns. Go ahead to the next slide. Thank you. There’s more arrows, lots of arrows.

Aren’t you glad we didn’t do all three through 14 at one time? All these other arrows in him, you, Ospel, the gospel of your salvation, our inheritance, we acquire possession of it. There’s more going on than the Trinity. There’s the involvement of God’s people in the Trinity, Father, Son, Spirit. Our role in the story of grace is also included in this passage.

The reason we are given the scripture, the reason why we are sent the Holy Spirit, Is there something bigger than just salvation? There’s something bigger than just understanding and being brought, into a clean relationship with God. There is deep communion, the very purpose for which the scripture, the spirit, and salvation have happened.

I’m going to do something a little weird. I’m going to read something like an allegory. I’m going to do this. The reason I’m doing this is because like we’re talking about the dance of the trinity. It’s a, it’s a word Pastor Mark used three weeks, three or four weeks ago when he spoke. And it’s a word we use fairly often about it.

And, and, and some of you had dancers and some of you, that word means a lot. Some of you are less so. but I wondered if I could, if we’re talking about this in both, it’s intellectual Understanding of parsing out and drawing circles and and things but also How that connects with the soul. I wonder if I could just ask you to close your eyes if that helps And I’m just gonna read something over you and ask you to be part of a little exercise So we talk about what this looks like.

Imagine that you are at a dance. Go into your mind, into your high school gym, or wedding reception hall, or wherever a dance was gathered in your history. Yes, I’m serious. Pick a place. Put your soundtrack to the moment. Whether your era was Sinatra, Carpenters, Bee Gees, Cha Cha Slide, Black Eyed Peas, or Taylor Swift.

Whatever your era was, YMCA probably sneaks its way into the list. It’s true. But put yourself there, in that place, hearing the music, hearing your music. Somehow every song is hitting you perfectly. The songs are each an invitation to the dance floor, like a pull to nostalgia, an uncomplicated joy. But there’s a problem.

You don’t really know how to dance. You don’t dance. There’s another problem, too. This one feels like a bigger one. It’s a giant punch stain you just acquired on your carefully selected yellow sweater. Punch mixed with some gloppy pieces of raspberry sherbet that you were made sure you got into your cup that didn’t stay in your cup long.

This stain can only be partially covered by your folded arms in this dark corner of the reception hall. You thought about going to the bathroom and cleaning it up, but how would you get it clean anyway? It’s a chance others would see you. You knew you came to the dance already with a hole in the armpit of this sweater and you’re convinced that you could keep it cleverly hidden.

Punch gate, however, too much. Yet the music, it pulls on you. The joy on the faces of the dance floor, they kind of make you frustrated, but you know you want to be smiling like that. Resentment and frustration get mixed in too. Some good old fashioned cynicism. Look silly to be out there and you convince yourself that you wouldn’t want that even if you could Even with a clean sweater and some dance experience You send some sarcastic friend the text to your friends about those idiots on the dance floor All of which you have carefully typed and sent with your arms folded in sweater disguise But all around that you couldn’t shake what was most true You wish you could dance at the center of the floor covered in smiles laughter and joy is the dance circle You Three people are equally running it.

They’re weaving and waving and pulling others in. They’re having so much fun. They’re so alive, so fully here. They take a break and come over to the punch bowl to drink the now sherbert less punch. They come over and smile. The younger one starts serving the other’s punch. He asks if you need a refill. No, I’m good.

You say how do you like the music? The older one looking one asks It’s okay. I guess you say they wait a bit clearly. They’re letting you fill the empty space. I actually Love it. You stammer out You should dance the wild the wilder looking one says while his feet were already going to the next song that one embodied dance But you stare him down with one of your classics.

Are you kidding me looks and say You I don’t dance. The younger one asked one more time, and you were just irritated enough to wag a finger back at him to keep him quiet. No, you say. But when the finger came out, so did the viewing angle. All three had seen the stain. None of them looked surprised. Fine, you say, pulling out your arms.

See? No way I could go out there. I’ve ruined this sweater this night, and I’d like to hold on to the final threads of my dignity. The older father looking one asks with a sense of expectation, if we could help you dance, would you be willing? All right, this is a little weird. You know, the popular crowd, the dance circle people.

There’s no way they would want you out there, no matter what you were wearing, but you do you want to go? How many more dances are you going to sit back and watch anyway? I need your help you say with a small but still courageous voice They look at each other. They somehow defer to each other And yet act as one at the same time.

Who are you? I asked the older one. He said, Oh, I came up with the party and picked the music. He gets more serious and he says to you, You may not have known but I designed this whole thing with you in mind But even more than that he says if you can believe it, I actually designed you for this party Somehow you do believe it the look on the wild one’s face somehow confirms.

It’s true They are more than the ones who just shut set up this shindig It’s just so them and somehow it’s so you too the wild one was beaming now You He loved to smile. He had a clever look on his face that said, huh, now you’re getting it. You realize you’re starting to move with them. You’re not a good dancer yet, but starting to matter a little less.

Now the dance is somehow more important than your skill at it. Being with them, being there, being together, you’re out of your own head and you’re into your right mind all at the same time. Soon your hands are up and you remember the armpit hole. Moment is immediately gone. How could you let yourself get swept away in this?

We do need to do something about this outfit, says the younger one. Him saying we need to do something somehow made this a team effort. He didn’t cause the stain, but was willing to help. That one loved to heal. He was the one who threw the whole party and yet had time to help. In a moment, he grabbed his hoodie and hands it to you.

He wanted you to put it on, but he stops you. I don’t want to just hide that nasty stain. I want to replace it, he said. He holds out his hands and says, Can I have the sweater? Moments later, you are in the most comfortable hoodie you have ever worn, a perfect fit. The act was a simple transaction, but it was filled with such deep compassion, such knowing.

You look at the older one, well, you designed the party and that the younger one, you’re the one who made the party happen and made it possible for me to be part of it. And with a little bit of smile, you look at the wild one who’s still moving and laugh and say, well, what do you do around here? He laughs back and says, people ask me that all the time.

What do I do? He says with grand gesture. I am the one who’s going to teach you how to dance. With that, he grabs your hand and you are swept away to the floor in the middle of the circle. You never thought you could enter. You’re still a bit of a lousy dancer. But it just doesn’t matter. He’s teaching you and you are both laughing at the process it takes.

Some of the steps are weird and awkward and even painful. But soon the music starts to take over more than just trying, you trying to get the steps right. You look up, the father, he’s dancing now too. And then the craziest part of all this happens. You look up and see the younger one. You cannot believe what he is wearing.

He has on your sweater, his arms in the air, and the torn armpit hole is in full glory. Sherbert and Punch are still dripping off the outfit. He laughed and said, I do this all the time. You should see some of the wardrobe things I’ve worn at these parties. You can’t believe what happened to you. What is happening to you.

What you are seeing and a part of at the same time. How could you describe? Such an experience of of design of joy Of healing of hope of community with these three you are whole you are home You are part of something so much bigger than yourself You are part of the dance a dance that has everything to do with them A dance you have been made for the younger one looks at you and says And winks and he says explaining something like this Would take a very long complicated sentence at that you smile You You heard him, you knew it was true.

But somehow, more importantly, you were just simply caught up in the dance. You look at the father one, you look at the younger one, you look at the wild one. You see them as separate, but as one at the same time. And as you lock in that gaze of love, you know all of you are thinking the exact same thing. Oh man, you just can’t wait for the next song.

Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We don’t pretend to understand

the whole of who you are. We want to understand all that you’ve told us, but we want to understand, yes, theologically, but also understanding this is relational. I pray particularly for people sitting here saying I’m comfortable with Jesus dying for my sins. I’m comfortable with trying to understand God’s, the Father’s design for my life.

But I just, if I’m honest, I’m uncomfortable with what feels like the wild one, the Holy Spirit. I don’t know what to do. Spirit of the living God, our prayer fall fresh on us.