By Ben Davis, DrawingUp Ministries
To Whom Are You Sealed? Such an easy question to propose, but the answer for some may be difficult to articulate. While reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I was struck by this very question and how it relates to our lives here in the 21st century. Ephesians 1:13-14, reads:
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (NASB)These two rather simple looking verses contain matters of grave importance to those who profess a belief in the good news of Christ. Consider the first part of verse 13, “after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” There was a time when, as believers, we had first heard “the message of truth,” but Paul elaborates, stating, ”having also believed.” He is referring to that incredible moment when we truly heard and understood. It is the moment that we become transformed by God through Christ. We are adopted into the family of God, becoming “one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28 NIV). It is only then that we begin to understand the Cross to be so much more than just a formula for assuring our place in heaven, rather we begin to realize that our Creator came to Earth and allowed himself to be scoffed, scorned, tortured, and ultimately chose to sacrifice Himself for us! It is this moment that we become sealed to Jesus Christ.
The importance of being sealed to Christ cannot be emphasized enough, particularly when we consider the state of mankind. Too many try to justify themselves with the lie that God somehow condones their sin. The irony is that most know that God does not and will not condone their sin. This deep realization drives many to suffer needlessly in guilt and frustration. This guilt that to many know causes them to run from God, seeking refuge in alcohol, drugs, and other detrimental behaviors. So many believing they can be justified by their own actions plunge further into darkness and despair. Then there are those who seek to justify themselves by listening to sermons, attending church, or perhaps they explain that they are not as sinful that person next to them. Make no mistake that regardless of your sins, actions, or choice, WE ARE ALL BROKEN AND SINFUL PEOPLE. We are all in desperate need of God’s love. Don’t lose hope, brothers and sisters; we have message for these broken people. It is the message of Jesus Christ.
To begin to better understand some of the sacrifices that God made for us, consider Abraham and Isaac’s situation. In a monumental show of faith, Abraham and Isaac begin their assent to the alter at Mount Moriah. Take a moment and consider the powerful emotion that Abraham must have felt on that hike. Imagine the solemn and strained conversation between a father and son, and the terrible pain in this father’s heart as he bound his son. Most Jewish scholars agree that Isaac was not a small boy at this pivotal event, but was most likely a grown adult. Considering his age it is likely that Isaac could have successfully resisted his father’s effort, but instead he faithfully chose to submit to his father. Now imagine as Christ in Gethsemane, is pleading with The Father to let this cup pass from Him, even asking if there be any other way! Just as Isaac has the ability to successfully resist his father, so did Christ. No one disputes that Christ had the divine ability to pick up and lay down His life at His discretion. It is this power that makes the events leading to and on the Cross that much more powerful! The Father and Son knowing of no other way to save their people allowed the Son to be sacrificed. Our Creator submitted Himself to be killed, and as Hebrews 9:27 states: so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many…”
Will we not submit and surrender ourselves to the One that surrendered Himself? There is no lasting peace and comfort outside of Jesus Christ! Haven’t you been running from God long enough? Lay your sins, mistakes, and pain at the foot of the Cross and take refuge in His blood and in knowledge that He is risen!
The next portion of the verses holds promise for those that have listened and now believe, when it states, “you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” There are several important components to this powerful statement. The first, we are all sealed. Paul does not state that some are sealed, or a few were sealed, rather it is boldly stating that all who listen and believe are sealed! By reading the previous 12 verses contained within this chapter we know this is a promise that God makes; He is facilitating this mighty sealing. We are sealed by the Father, in and through Jesus Christ. What is the importance of this sealing? This sealing is a result of what Paul states in verse 7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” Through His sacrifice and His grace we are redeemed, through this act of believing in His grace we become sealed to Christ.
This statement regarding our “sealing” may seem a bit abstract, but consider the importance of what Paul is attempting to teach. In our current state, we are challenged in understanding the full scope and benefit of this “redemption through His blood…” Paul speaks to our limited understanding and perspective in 1 Corinthians 13:12, stating: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (NASB) Our position and nature in this life limits both our ability to see the bigger picture and for the most part beyond ourselves. This principle is restated in 1 John 3:2, “…now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (NIV) We can not truly grasp this concept of complete redemption, nor do we appreciate the true value of the “inheritance” that we have technically not yet fully received, as such it becomes necessary for us to be sealed in Christ Jesus through the “promised Holy Spirit.” This sealing assures that we belong to God. In the midst of this life’s sin, suffering, pain, and confusion we can be reminded that we are God’s; that we have been bought and paid for at a price, by our God.
Having dissected and gained a better understanding of the passages from Ephesians, I want to direct my next set of comments to the LDS readers of my blog. The question, “To Whom Are You Sealed?” is an appropriate question no matter your religious affiliation, but if you are LDS/Mormon it takes on a different and greater significance. In, Spencer Kimball’s book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, he states:
In order to reach the goal of eternal life and exaltation and godhood, one must be initiated into the kingdom …one must be endowed and sealed in the house of God by the prophet who holds the keys or by one of those to whom the keys have been delegated; and one must live a life of righteousness, cleanliness, purity and service… (p.6).The irony of this statement is that no where does Kimball discuss or stress the importance of Jesus Christ in assuring one’s salvation but rather directs the reader to a set of works and ordinances that must be obediently completed in order to earn their place in God’s presence. Some of you might be quick to point out that there is mention of a sealing in this statement but do not be mislead. The sealing referred to by LDS/Mormon leaders is not the same that the Apostle Paul had written of in the book of Ephesians. LDS/Mormon president, Howard Hunter, goes deeper into their concept of sealing, in the following way:
“…celestial marriage, where wife is sealed to husband and husband sealed to wife for eternity. We know, of course, that civil marriages end at death; but eternal marriages performed in the temple may exist forever. Children born to a husband and wife after an eternal marriage are automatically sealed to their parents for eternity. If children are born before the wife is sealed to her husband, there is a temple sealing ordinance that can seal these children to their parents for eternity, and so it is that children can be sealed vicariously to parents who have passed away (Ensign, Feb. 1995).”Latter-Day Saints cling to the concept of sealing, not as a way of being assured of God’s love, but rather their ability to remain with their family members after death. They practice and champion this doctrine as crucial to achieving their “glory” and “eternal life.” Ultimately, it is an essential step in assuring their progression toward Godhood. It also must be understood that through these sealings, faithful Mormon women are to be called out of their grave in order to be resurrected. Without a sealed husband there can be no vehicle for a women to achieve her “glory” and “eternal life” according to Mormon doctrine. Shockingly, for an organization that professes a belief in the risen Savior and even includes His name in their name, there is a fundamental disregard and lack of necessity for Christ, the Cross, and His blood! There is more talk of ordinances, principles, and family than there is about our reconciliation and justification by and through Christ.
As a Mormon, it was my experience and observation that due to the prevailing theological, cultural, and societal conditions most members of the LDS Church are far more concerned about their family’s scorn and disapproval, than God’s. Upon my leaving the church, and resigning my membership, I was frequently presented with the statement/question, “How can you turn your back on your family and your ancestors!?” The more appropriate question should have been, “How can you turn your back on God or Christ!?”
It is truly frightening that my friends and family were more concerned about how my choice reflected and affected the family, than how it might have affected my eternal salvation! This type of thinking is institutionalized and is systemic among the Latter-Day Saints due to their devotion to the concept of eternal marriage, sealed children, and endless genealogies. I was taught growing up that my ancestors and deceased family were counting on me to earn my place in the Celestial Kingdom and would be actively viewing my life and choices here on Earth. I was admonished to keep my behavior appropriate, as my great-grandparents would be “watching.”
The Bible provides clear rejection of these doctrines and attitudes. In Matthew, Christ boldly answers and directs the Pharisees to a truth that is in opposition to the theology of the LDS/Mormon Church:
Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God…” (Matthew 22:28-30 NIV)Again, I propose the question, to whom are you sealed? Are you sealed to the One that provides everlasting peace, freedom, and refuge or do you seek the fleeting comfort and justification that the world provides us? I would call on you and pray humbly that you seek Him this day! Kneel down wherever you are and in your exhaustion stop running from God. Embrace His love and comfort, he longs for your relationship and it is only He who can heal you. Take all those burdens, mistakes, pain, suffering, sin, conflict and lay them at the foot of the Cross. Paul reminds us in Colossians 2:13, “God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” Our God has made us alive in Christ!
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