Thought for Thursday

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. Ephesians 1:13

The engine from a 1952 Chevrolet was mounted on a pedestal in the Industrial Arts shop of our high school. We were able to look at it, touch it, and examine what we could of it. The engine was set to operate, and one day, the instructor started it, startling us with the noise, because it had no muffler. Afterward, he brought out several charts showing us the internals of that engine, and described very carefully how the thing worked. I am still no mechanic, but, like the other boys in the class, I was intrigued by the process. I can still recall that description of the four strokes of the valves – intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust. Each of those strokes was directly dependent on the previous stroke and was directly responsible for the succeeding stroke. Our text today also speaks of the cycle of salvation, in which one step directly results from a previous one and leads to the succeeding one.

Hearing the word of truth is the first stroke. Of course, many people hear the Gospel, or come into contact with it, without ever being convicted of their sin or ever being saved. The difference lies in how the Word was heard. Nobody ever gets saved unless they actually listen to the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to apply the Word to themselves. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The work of God that leads to salvation must always begin with the hearing of the Word of God.

The next stroke in salvation’s cycle is trust. Trust is the acceptance of the Word that has been heard. Trust is the acceptance of the Word’s condemnation of our sin, and the acceptance of God’s satisfaction with His Son. Each of us looks back to that day in our experience when we passed from death to life, and praise God that we ever trusted in Christ.

The next stroke in salvation’s cycle is the sealing of the Holy Spirit. Unlike an engine, in which a time – however brief – may be measured between one stroke and the next, no time elapses between the stroke of trust and the stroke of the sealing of the Spirit. Charismatics who plead with God for the gift of the Holy Spirit are praying in vain; if they’re saved, the Holy Spirit is within, if they’re not saved, the Holy Spirit can’t reside. God’s gift of salvation includes the sealing of the Spirit. The following verse reminds us that this sealing is the down payment for all that our salvation provides us for eternity. The final stroke of God’s cycle of salvation is actually an eternal stroke that abides forever.

The wonders of God’s great plan of salvation are ours to explore and delight in now, and evermore, in the security of the Holy Spirit’s presence. -Jim MacIntosh

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