Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (God the Holy Spirit: Salvation)

Regeneration

Baptism

Sealing

Though mankind was created in the image of God, perfectly suited for fellowship with him, as a result of Adam’s sin the entire human race is born in sin, alienated from God, and subject to his judgment. As an overflow of his grace, the Triune God purposed to save a remnant of his creation through the atoning work of God the Son. Scripture teaches, however, that the saving benefits purchased by Christ’s cross are applied to believers through the work of the Holy Spirit. In this section, we outline his work with respect to salvation.

Regeneration

The first step in the Spirit’s application of salvation is regeneration. Fundamental to understanding regeneration are the realities of spiritual death and life. Every human being who has ever lived has suffered from spiritual deadness (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:1, 5). Will they ever live again, and if so, how will that happen? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit give new spiritual life to those who were previously dead in their sins (Rom. 8:2, 6, 10–11). Regeneration directly addresses this gracious act of God.

WORD PICTURES

Scripture pictures regeneration using four different images: (1) spiritual birth, (2) spiritual cleansing, (3) spiritual creation, and (4) spiritual resurrection.

Spiritual Birth (Titus 3:5). The Greek word normally translated “regeneration” (palingenesia) appears only twice in the New Testament (Matt. 19:28; Titus 3:5). Matthew uses it to refer to the millennium as a regenerated world, but in Titus it refers to salvation. A combination of two words, palingenesia literally means “born again” (see Gal. 4:29). The same idea appears in 1 Peter in the Greek term anagennaō, which also literally means “born again” (1 Pet. 1:3, 23) and has been translated so. When speaking to Nicodemus, Jesus told him, “You must be born again,” using two Greek words that literally mean “born from above” and that refer to spiritual rebirth by God who dwells above (John 3:3, 7; see James 1:17). John’s first epistle repeatedly refers to being born of God (1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18). In the act of regeneration, the Holy Spirit has brought conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8–11), and he provides assurance of salvation afterward by bearing witness to the believer of its reality (Rom. 8:16; 1 John 3:24).

Spiritual Cleansing (Titus 3:5). Paul twice uses the Greek word loutron to refer to those who are filthy with sin (Isa. 64:6) being washed clean by regeneration (Eph. 5:26; Titus 3:5). After Paul recounts the many heinous sins of the Corinthians (1 Cor. 6:9–10), he uses the Greek word apolouō to describe their being washed, which he associates with the sanctification of salvation and justification (1 Cor. 6:11).

Spiritual Creation (Titus 3:5). In Titus 3:5, Paul uses the Greek word anakainōsis, which literally means “new again” and is translated “renewal.” This is a compound word using kainos, which means “new in quality,” in contrast to neos, which means “new in time.” Paul employed both words for “new” in his epistles. When emphasizing newness in quality of life, he chose kainos to describe God’s redemptive creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 4:24); when intending the newness in time of spiritual life renewal, he turned to neos (Col. 3:10). Because of regeneration in the sense of spiritual renewal, Christians have a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17) with new spiritual capacities (Rom. 6:18, 20; 1 Cor. 12:3). The regenerated, renewed believer has been graced with a condition even better than what Adam originally had before his fall into sin and his experience of God’s curse. Adam was innocent, but the regenerated believer is declared righteous—the Holy Spirit’s spiritual re-creation, alive to God.

Spiritual Resurrection (John 6:63). Both Paul (2 Cor. 3:6) and John (John 6:63) declare that the Spirit gives life. Elsewhere, Scripture states that God gives life (John 5:21; Rom. 4:17; 6:13; Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13). John reveals that Christ gives life (John 5:21). Obviously, a coordinated Trinitarian effort is involved in bringing spiritual life to those who would otherwise be spiritually dead. Thus Scripture portrays regeneration as a spiritual resurrection.

THE OLD TESTAMENT

Were Old Testament believers regenerated, or did regeneration begin at Pentecost? The answer is definitively that both Old Testament and New Testament believers experienced regeneration.

Two different lines of reasoning reveal the same affirmative conclusion. First, since only those who are “born again”—that is, regenerated—can be in the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5, 7), and second, since Old Testament believers were salvifically in the kingdom of God, Old Testament saints were necessarily regenerated. Approaching it from a different angle, since it is impossible for a believer to be justified by God without being regenerated, and since Old Testament believers were justified (Rom. 4:1–12; see Ps. 32:1–2), then Old Testament saints were regenerated.

TRINITARIAN INVOLVEMENT

All three members of the Godhead were involved in some aspect of regeneration, since Scripture says that all three give life:

       1.    God the Father (John 1:13; 2 Cor. 5:17–19; Eph. 2:4–6; Col. 2:13; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:3; 1 John 5:11)

       2.    God the Son (John 1:12; 5:21)

       3.    God the Holy Spirit (John 3:3, 5–7; 6:63; Titus 3:5)

This is why Jesus gave the baptismal formula, “… baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). This statement recognizes each member of the Godhead because of their individual and combined involvements in regeneration.

THE HOLY SPIRIT AND GOD’S WORD

Salvation comes only by God’s will, not by human will (John 1:13; Eph. 2:8–10; James 1:18). While all three members of the Godhead make unique contributions to the effort of regeneration, Scripture emphasizes that it is by the complementary interaction of God’s Spirit (John 3:3, 5–7; Gal. 3:2–3, 14; 1 Thess. 1:5; Titus 3:5) with God’s Word (Rom. 1:16; 1 Thess. 1:5; 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:23) that regeneration takes place.

Therefore, regeneration involves the triune God’s instantaneous impartation of eternal spiritual life to people who were formerly spiritually dead but have embraced Christ by faith because of God’s grace. This act of efficacious grace is effected entirely, without human aid, by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. This creation of new life results in believers being new creations with a new nature, new abilities, new desires, new relationships, and new responsibilities—forever.

THE BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND APOSTASY

Despite the glory of the Spirit’s work in salvation, Scripture identifies two instances in which people decisively exclude themselves from the Spirit’s regenerating work. First, there are those who commit the unpardonable or unforgiveable sin, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31–32; Mark 3:28–30; Luke 12:10). Jesus taught about this as the Pharisees repeatedly confronted him and charged him with breaking the Sabbath. Jesus explained that his compassion for his hungry disciples (Matt. 12:1–7) and for a man with a withered hand (Matt. 12:9–13) were examples of the true fulfillment of God’s law. Not only this but also the claim to be Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8), along with the divine healings (Matt. 12:13) and exorcisms (Matt. 12:22), undeniably demonstrated that Jesus was the divine Messiah (Matt. 12:23). Unable to deny his power, the Pharisees sought to sway the crowds by insisting that Jesus worked his miracles by the power of Satan rather than the power of God. Jesus noted the absurdity (Matt. 12:25–26) and hypocrisy of such an accusation (Matt. 12:27). They had no good reason to suppose Jesus’s miracles were demonic; they simply did not want to accept his divine authority.

In this context, Jesus identified the Pharisees’ accusations as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31), for it was by the Spirit that he performed these works. Such blasphemy is unforgiveable (Matt. 12:32). Though the Pharisees had received the clearest revelation of Jesus’s authority, their hearts were so hardened that they refused to accept what they knew to be true, and levied a slanderous charge in a malicious attempt to silence him. As a result, Jesus declared them to be past the point of repentance and forgiveness. It is this hardened, determined, willful rejection and unbelief—even in the face of the most undeniable evidence—that characterizes the unpardonable sin. In sum, one commits the unforgiveable sin by witnessing the acts of the Spirit of God in Jesus and, because of a hard heart of unbelief, attributing those acts to Satan.

Second, Scripture also identifies those people who counterfeit their profession of faith in Christ—outwardly and temporarily giving the appearance of being truly regenerated by the Spirit, only to eventually fall away and abandon the faith (e.g., Heb. 2:1–3; 3:7–13; 6:4–6; 2 Pet. 2:20). This is apostasy, a term that means “to fall away.” Professing Christians who identify themselves with Christ and then subsequently renounce him prove themselves to have never truly been converted, demonstrating by their going out from the fellowship of the faith that they were never really in Christ (cf. 1 John 2:19). Peter wrote that for these spiritual impostors, their last state becomes worse than the first, and that it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known and then turned away (2 Pet. 2:20–21). This is because it is impossible for someone who has truly abandoned the faith in the light of full revelation to be renewed again unto repentance (Heb. 6:4–6). Similar to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, apostasy consists of a hard-hearted, resolute rejection of Christ and of regarding as false the truth of God, from which there is a point of no return, so to speak. Though that point may only be knowable to God, there is a kind of rejection that excludes the possibility of repentance.

Often the sensitive consciences of genuine believers trouble them as to whether they may have sinned so severely as to have committed the unpardonable sin or apostatized. However, both of these egregious acts involve a hardness of heart and a severe hatred for the Savior. These are not the marks of those who love Christ such that they are fearful of falling away from him. Sinning believers must continue to turn from sin and trust in the sufficiency of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection to save them from God’s wrath. For those who do, Christ has promised to never leave his own (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5) or let them be snatched away from him (John 10:28–29). God promises to finish his work of salvation (Phil. 1:6), so that nothing can separate true believers from God’s love in Christ (Rom. 8:38–39). Fearful believers ought to examine themselves, repent of sin, look to Christ alone for righteousness, rejoice in the sufficiency of his saving love, and follow after him with renewed strength.

Baptism

After God’s Spirit regenerates those who were previously dead in their sins (Eph. 2:1–3) so that they inherit eternal life, at least six significant spiritual enhancements involving the Spirit occur simultaneously:

       1.    Christ baptizes the believer with the Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).

       2.    The Father seals the believer with the Holy Spirit as a show of ownership and a guarantee of one’s salvation (Eph. 1:13).

       3.    The Spirit indwells the believer (1 Cor. 3:16).

       4.    The Spirit fills/controls the believer (Eph. 5:18).

       5.    The Spirit produces spiritual fruit in the believer’s life (Gal. 5:22–23).

       6.    The Spirit gifts the believer for service in the church (1 Cor. 12:4).

These features will be discussed consecutively in this section and in the “Sanctification” (p. 359) and “Service” (p. 379) sections below. All six occur concurrently with salvation, but each is treated individually in Scripture.

The most appropriate time to commence Christ’s promised coming of the Spirit (John 14:16–17; Acts 1:4–5) was Pentecost (fifty days after Passover, in May or June), which celebrated the Jewish Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34:22), also known as the Feast of the Harvest (Ex. 23:16). As the Jews celebrated the firstfruits of the physical harvest (Lev. 23:15–17), the new covenant era for the church inaugurated the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit’s (Acts 2:1–4; see Rom. 8:23) salvation harvest (see John 4:35 for the imagery). The Spirit now ministers under the authority of the new covenant, not the old (Rom. 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:2–11; Heb. 8:6–7, 13; 9:15; 10:1).

SCRIPTURAL CONSIDERATIONS

The expectation of Spirit baptism appears in all four Gospels and in Acts 1. The experience of Spirit baptism began in Acts 2, as recalled in Acts 11. The explanation of Spirit baptism came later, in 1 Corinthians 12.

Expectation. Matthew 3:11–12; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16–17; and John 1:32–34 all report John the Baptist’s reference to Christ baptizing with the Holy Spirit. The Greek preposition en should be translated “in” or “with” since these renderings have been used earlier in the obvious sense of “by means of” with reference to water. As one is immersed (baptizō) “in,” “with,” or “by means of” water, so is one baptized “in,” “with,” or “by means of” the Holy Spirit.

Three different baptisms appear in these texts: (1) water baptism, signifying previous repentance; (2) Spirit baptism, signifying salvation and entrance into the universal church, the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13); and (3) fire baptism, pointing to the judgment of unbelievers (Matt. 3:12; 25:41; Luke 3:16; John 15:6; Rev. 20:14–15).

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this event occurs before Christ’s baptism (ca. spring AD 26), while John refers to another occasion after Christ’s baptism (ca. fall AD 26). More than three years later, Christ gave the disciples last-minute instructions regarding Spirit baptism (Acts 1:4–5). As he prepared to ascend to heaven from the Mount of Olives in the spring of AD 30, the Lord reminded them of what John the Baptist had previously said and indicated that the initial fulfillment would be just days away as they waited in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4–5).

Experience. Ten days later, on Pentecost, John’s and Christ’s previous pronouncements came to pass (Acts 2:1–21). How can this conclusion be drawn since Luke did not explicitly record it as such? About six years later (ca. AD 36), when Peter visited the Roman centurion Cornelius’s house in Caesarea (Acts 11:13–18), he preached the gospel to this Gentile household. They were saved and received the Holy Spirit. Peter recalled (1) that it was like the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and (2) that it was similar to the words of Christ’s expectation in Acts 1:5. Thus, he concluded that what occurred on Pentecost was then happening to Cornelius’s family. Later, at the Jerusalem Council (ca. AD 49), Peter confirmed and repeated what he had previously said thirteen years earlier in Caesarea (Acts 15:6–11).

Explanation. The historical narratives in the Gospels and Acts recount the facts of the expectation and the experience of Spirit baptism, but they do not provide any explanation as to its meaning or significance. However, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church (ca. AD 55) and explained the resultant reality of Spirit baptism: “For in [with] one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).

To make further sense of the unique aspects of Spirit baptism, table 5.4 shows the parallel pattern of six essential factors for three baptismal scenarios. To sum it up, Spirit baptism occurs when Jesus Christ, Lord of his church, from Pentecost on, by the Spirit, places Christians into his body, the church, at the moment a person puts faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. By Christ’s doing so, Christians are immersed into and participate in the universal body of Christ by the Savior’s sovereign will.

The book of Acts presents some scenarios that, when compared with this explanation, raise a few questions. Jesus had told his disciples to preach the gospel in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). The apostles obeyed, and the milestones of this expansion are recounted in Acts 2; 8; 10–11; and 19. As they proceeded from Jerusalem to Ephesus, from Jew to Gentile, each progression was marked by special circumstances.

Table 5.4 Comparing Three Baptismal Scenarios

   Baptism of Repentance  Local Church Baptism  Spirit Baptism  
The baptizer  John the Baptist  Pastor  Christ  
The means  Water  Water  Holy Spirit  
The baptized  Repentant person before Pentecost  Believer from Pentecost forward  Believer from Pentecost forward  
The condition  Repentance  Faith in Christ  Faith in Christ  
The mode  Immersion in water  Immersion in water  Immersion in the Holy Spirit  
The results  Recognized as an Old Testament believer  Obedience to Christ’s command in the local church  Entrance into the universal body of Christ  

Acts describes the arrival of the Holy Spirit in his role as the promised Helper (John 14:17) as a startling audiovisual event (Acts 2:1–13), which was partially and selectively repeated (Acts 8:14–19; 10:44–48; 19:1–7). These repetitions were special cases in which believers were reported to have received or been filled with the Holy Spirit. Each of these cases lacked the sound of a rushing mighty wind and the tongues as of fire that were present in the original event (Acts 2:1–13); however, the people spoke in tongues that they did not know but that others recognized. These events should not be taken as the basis for teaching that believers today should expect the same tongues-evidence to accompany the filling of the Holy Spirit. Even in Acts itself, genuine conversions did not necessarily lead to such extraordinary phenomena accompanying the filling by the Holy Spirit. For example, a crowd of three thousand people believed and were baptized on the same day of Pentecost that started so dramatically (Acts 2:41), yet Scripture makes no mention of tongues in their case.

So why in some cases did tongues accompany the confirmation of faith? That this actually occurred likely demonstrated that believers were being drawn from very different groups into the church. Each new group received a special welcome from the Holy Spirit. Thus, Samaritans (Acts 8:14–19), Gentiles (Acts 10:44–48), and believers from the old covenant (Acts 19:1–7) were added to the church, and the unity of the church was established. To demonstrate that unity, it was imperative to have some replication in each instance of what had occurred at Pentecost with the believing Jews, such as the presence of the apostles and the coming of the Spirit, manifestly indicated through speaking in the languages of Pentecost. Table 5.5 summarizes the details of these four special cases.

Over a period of about two decades, the gospel spread from Jerusalem to Ephesus, to Jews and Gentiles. These four significant steps represent the expansion of the church, which was marked by Spirit baptism with speaking in tongues used as a sign to authenticate the genuineness of God’s gospel outreach. Some have concluded that these four historical cameos represented the norm back then, which continues to the present. However, the Epistles as a whole give the very different sense that these were actually extraordinary moments not to be repeated.

Table 5.5 Four Special Cases of Conversion

Location  Jerusalem/Judea  Samaria  Caesarea  Ephesus  
Text  Acts 2:1–21  Acts 8:14–24  Acts 10:1–11:18  Acts 19:1–7  
Time  Day of Pentecost, ca. AD 30  ca. AD 31–32  ca. AD 36  ca. AD 52  
People  Jews  Samaritans  Gentiles  Disciples of John the Baptist  
Holy Spirit  Baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit  Received the Holy Spirit  Received the Holy Spirit  Received the Holy Spirit  
Sign  Spoke in tongues as a sign to the Jews  None recorded  Spoke in tongues as a sign to the Jews  Spoke in tongues and prophesied as a sign to the Jews  
Circumstances  Tarrying together  Laying on hands  Peter preaching  Laying on hands  

Which approach is correct? Two classic, standard rules of biblical interpretation, when objectively and consistently applied to Acts and the Epistles, yield the answer:

       1.    Employ Scripture, not personal experience, to determine doctrinal truth.

       2.    Use teaching (didactic) sections of Scripture, not historical (narrative) portions, to determine what is prescriptive rather than what is merely descriptive—what is exceptional compared to what should be considered normative.

The application of these principles leads one to believe that the experiences outlined in Acts 2; 8; 10–11; and 19 were exceptions to the norm, given in order to historically validate and illustrate the spread of the gospel during the unique period of transition from God-fearing Judaism to new covenant Christianity as chronicled in the book of Acts. They have not been the normative expectation and experiences of gospel ministry through the subsequent centuries up to the present time.

There are four other New Testament texts that speak of baptism in such a vague way that commentators hold significantly divergent opinions. A few brief observations are in order:

       1.    Romans 6:3: “baptized into Christ.” This passage addresses a Christian’s union “with Christ”; therefore, it would not refer to water baptism.

       2.    Galatians 3:27: “baptized into Christ.” This text teaches the same truth as Romans 6:3. The Greek preposition eis, not en, is used, meaning “an inseparable union with and total submission to.”

       3.    Ephesians 4:5: “one baptism.” Very possibly this text refers to water baptism “in Christ.” It seems that this applies without exception to every Christian.

       4.    Colossians 2:12: “buried with him in baptism.” This language is quite similar to Romans 6:3–4, and Paul therefore most likely means a Christian’s union “with Christ.”

In the highest likelihood, all four of these Pauline statements refer to a Christian’s union “with Christ.”

SUMMATION BY CONTRASTS

In order to be clear about what Spirit baptism is and is not, the following list provides a series of contrasting positive and negative statements:

       1.    Spirit baptism is a gracious gift from God; it is not something to be sought after, agonized over, or prayed for.

       2.    Spirit baptism is exclusively associated with regeneration/salvation; it is not normative for it to be associated with the temporary sign gift of tongues or with other miraculous gifts limited to the apostolic era.

       3.    Spirit baptism is a permanent, one-time event; it is not a reversible or recurring event.

       4.    Spirit baptism is evidence of one’s salvation; it is not by itself the measure of one’s spiritual maturity.

       5.    Spirit baptism is an initial blessing and an enduring result of salvation; it is not a second work of grace or second blessing.

       6.    Spirit baptism is inseparably linked to salvation; it is not detached from or subsequent to salvation.

       7.    Spirit baptism is sovereignly initiated by Christ; it is not obtained by any act of a believer.

       8.    Spirit baptism is assumed by the New Testament to be the Christ-provided experience of every believer; it is never commanded of believers to acquire or retain it.

       9.    Spirit baptism is experienced by every Christian from Pentecost to the present time; it was not an experience of either Old Testament or Gospel-era believers.

     10.    Spirit baptism includes every believer; it is not limited to the spiritually mature.

     11.    Spirit baptism freely grants entrance into the universal body of Christ; it is not based on subsequent individual spiritual achievement.

     12.    Spirit baptism is distinct from, though associated with, indwelling and filling; it is not to be equated with either one.

Holy Spirit baptism is a positional act, taking place in the life of every Christian concurrently with regeneration. The texts in Acts that refer to a postconversion baptism of the Spirit are associated with the transitional nature of the period described in Acts. First Corinthians 12:13 records the normative doctrine of Spirit baptism, stating that it results in a new position in the body of Christ for all Christians at the moment of faith in Christ. It can be inferred from the fleshly nature of the Corinthian Christians, to whom Paul wrote this passage, that it does not necessarily have any influence on subsequent holiness. The church, the spiritual body of Christ, is formed as believers are immersed by Christ in the Spirit and united with all other Christians beginning with Pentecost. Holy Spirit baptism is not an experience to seek but rather a salvation reality for which to thank God.

Sealing

God’s own Spirit comes to regenerate, indwell, and secure a believer’s salvation at the moment one repents of sin and believes by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of promise (Eph. 1:13) is given by God as his guarantee of a believer’s future inheritance in glory.

Paul developed this theme of sealing using two Greek words: sphragizō, “to seal,” and arrabōn, “a pledge” (2 Cor. 1:21–22; 5:5 [AD 55–56]; Eph. 1:13–14; 4:30 [AD 60–62]). Both of these terms originated with a secular sense, but Paul later appropriated them as spiritual word pictures to describe a significant salvation ministry involving the Holy Spirit. Sphragizō, or “sealing,” pictured an ancient practice of placing soft wax on one’s correspondence or property, which was then stamped with a unique mark that unmistakably identified the owner or originator. It symbolized security, protection, ownership, authority, and authenticity. Arrabōn, or “guarantee,” was a financial down payment or deposit given in good faith that the remaining payment(s) would be forthcoming to complete a business transaction. It communicated the idea of a pledge to promote certainty and assurance.

In the context of salvation, the seal points to God’s ownership of the believer, who has been bought with a price—the blood of God’s Son Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:19–20). God seals the believer (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5) with the Holy Spirit much as he earlier sealed Christ (John 6:27). Thus, the Holy Spirit is the actual seal (2 Cor. 1:22) that authenticates a Christian as a child of God.

All true believers receive the seal of the Holy Spirit because of their salvation (Rom. 8:9). Just as one is saved by grace through faith in Christ, one is also sealed by God with the Holy Spirit because of his grace. Believers are never instructed to seek sealing or to work for it. It is always assumed that they are sealed because of their salvation. Instead, Christians are warned not to grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom they have been sealed by God (Eph. 4:30).

The immediate purpose of the seal is to identify those who will one day receive the full and final benefit of salvation, namely, resurrection (Rom. 8:20–23). That is why Romans 8:23 speaks of a believer’s present life as having “the firstfruits of the Spirit,” since there is much more to come on the future day’s resurrection and redemption of the believer’s body (2 Cor. 5:4–5; Eph. 1:14; 4:30). The immediate sealing is current but temporary because it foretells of the ultimate outcome, which is yet future and permanent. As a believer sealed by God with the Holy Spirit, one’s salvation is granted by the authority of God and authenticated by the possession of God’s own Spirit. Because they are owned by God, Christians are spiritually secure and protected by his omnipotent and invincible spiritual resources.

The Spirit is not only God’s seal on believers but also God’s guarantee (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14) that he will ultimately fulfill his promise of eternal life with a resurrected and glorified body. The Spirit is God’s pledge, down payment, and deposit that certifies with impeccable assurance the certainty that what God began he will also complete (Phil. 1:6). This is why Paul referred to the Spirit as “the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13–14). The Spirit is the immediate guarantee of receiving the ultimate promise of God (see John 10:28–29; Rom. 8:31–39)—eternal life.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J., & Mayhue, R., eds. (2017). Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (pp. 349–359). Crossway.