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How Can I Know God is Real?

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30 NIV)

What does it mean to be sealed for redemption?

The image is that of a seal on a letter, I think. When a letter is sealed with wax and the initials of the sender are pressed into the seal, it affirms that the contents are truly from the sender, and intended only for the receiver. The message inside is both personal and official - even secret. A believer in Jesus Christ is sealed with the Holy Spirit.

When I gave my life to Jesus at 15 years of age, I experienced a flood of peace. I knew God had just forgiven my sins and entered my life because His Presence flooded me with peace and joy. And that experience has been repeated innumerable times as I have walked with Jesus. In times of doubt and stress and storms, and in times of rest and joy and worship, the presence of the Holy Spirit floods my heart with peace and joy, and I know in my soul that I am in Christ and He is in me.

This sealing of the Spirit when He enters the heart of a believer is what John Wesley described in his journal when he attended the meeting at Aldersgate Street:

"In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."

"An assurance was given me." This assurance that we are no longer slaves to sin but are, indeed, sons and daughters of God is the result of being sealed for redemption by the presence and power and assurance of the Holy Spirit taking up residence in our hearts.

The apostle Paul says it this way:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. (Romans 8:14-17 NIV)

If Christianity is about our following religious rules to earn a place in heaven and deliver ourselves from hell, we remain slaves to fear. We wonder if we have been good enough. We are disturbed by all the places in Scripture where God calls us to be holy and requires perfection. We know we still struggle with sin and fall short of the glory of God, and we wonder if there is hope.

But the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives adopts us as God's children and assures us we are His, and He is ours. The holiness and perfection Scripture calls for are perfectly lived out by Jesus, and He now lives in our hearts, so His holiness becomes my holiness. When God looks at me, He sees Jesus' holiness and righteousness instead of my sinfulness. I am sealed for redemption and assured of my relationship with the good, good Father who loves me more than I know.

Every time the Holy Spirit whispers a message from God to my soul, I have another assurance that I am His and He is mine. Every time the Holy Spirit comforts me in my grief or doubt or despair I am reminded that I am not a slave to fear, I am a son of the Most High God. Every time the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin and moves me toward Christlikeness I know He has not given up on me, and my sanctification depends more on His work in my life than on my effort to be good.

This is the precious ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer in Jesus, and without it we remain in the double-mindedness of "hope-so" religion. Am I a Christian, really? I hope so. When I die and meet God face-to-face, will I be forgiven and receive eternal life? I hope so. Am I growing to be more like Jesus? I hope so.

We don't have to settle for "hope-so" religion. In the sealing and assuring work of the Holy Spirit in my life, I can confidently affirm I am His and He is mine. And that is enough.


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