Embrace the Gospel, Eph. 1:13


The writings of theologians and pastors who have come before us can serve as an invitation to prolonged thinking, with specificity, on God and His glorious works and ways. In this ongoing series, I cull quotations on passages of Scripture from Christian Classics Ethereal Library to help spur your consideration, discernment, mediation, and worship. You can link to the full sources below or start your own search on a biblical text here.


Ephesians 1:3-14

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,
— Ephesians 1:13 ESV

The trust in Christ which saves the soul is no idle sentiment, but a strong, vital, active principle, having a diving and conquering power within it. It is of the operation of the Spirit of God and, therefore, it is a living and incorruptible seed which lives and abides forever.

True trust in Christ is an entire reliance upon Him. This day, if you trust Christ, you rest the whole weight and stress of your soul's affairs upon Him. Looking at your sin and your sinfulness; looking at the past, the present and the future; looking at death and at judgment, you deliberately believe that Christ is equal to every emergency and you cast yourself entirely and without reserve upon Him to save you—and to keep you saved forever! No other trust is worth a pin except this! It must be an absolute severance from all reliance upon your past merit, or upon your present resolutions, or upon your future expectations of what you shall be or shall do. You must have done with all other trust if Christ is your confidence. Your motto must be, "Jesus only." In this lifeboat you must swim to Glory, but all others you must cast away. Another reliance would be as a weight about your loins to sink you in the sea of despair. O my Hearer, have you such a simple, unadulterated trust as this?

A saving trust leads us to accept Christ in all His offices. He is to us not only Priest to put away our sin, but Prophet to remove our ignorance and King to subdue our rebellions. If as Priest He purges the conscience, as Prophet He must direct the intellect and as King He must rule the life. We must yield our will to Christ's will that henceforth every thought may be brought into captivity to His holy sway. There is no whole-hearted trust in Christ unless Christ is taken as a whole! You cannot have half a Christ and be saved, for half Christ is no Christ! You must take Him as He is revealed in Scripture—Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior of men, very God of very God, the faithful and true Witness, your Guide, your Lord, your Husband, your everything! Do you trust Him so? If not, you have not trusted Him at all! This is the trust which brings salvation with it—an entire reliance upon an entire Savior so far as you know Him.

— Charles Spurgeon

There are several purposes for which a seal is used. 1. To authenticate or confirm as genuine and true. 2. To mark as one’s property. 3. To render secure. In all these senses believers are sealed. They are authenticated as the true children of God; they have the witness within themselves, 1 John 5, 10Rom. 8, 165, 5. They are thus assured of their reconciliation and acceptance. They are moreover marked as belonging to God, Rev. 7, 3; that is, they are indicated to others, by the seal impressed upon them, as his chosen ones. And thirdly, they are sealed unto salvation; i. e. they are rendered certain of being saved. The sealing of God secures their safety. Thus believers are said Eph. 4, 30, "to be sealed unto the day of redemption;" and in 2 Cor. 1, 21, the apostle says: "Now he which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who also hath sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." The sealing then of which this passage speaks answers all these ends. It assures of the favour of God; it indicates those who belong to him; and it renders their salvation certain.

— Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians

That is to say, through whom. Observe how he on all occasions speaks of Christ, as the Author of all things, and in no case gives Him the title of a subordinate agent, or a minister. And so again, elsewhere, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, he says, “that God, having of old time spoken unto the Fathers in the prophets, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in His Son,” (Heb. i. 1.) that is “through” His Son.

“The word of truth,” he says, no longer that of the type, nor of the image.

“The Gospel of your salvation.” And well does he call it the Gospel of salvation, intimating in the one word a contrast to the law, in the other, a contrast with punishment to come. For what is the message, but the Gospel of salvation, which forbears to destroy those that are worthy of destruction.

But what is meant by, “with the Spirit of promise?” Doubtless it means that we have received that Spirit according to promise. For there are two promises, the one by the prophets, the other from the Son.

By the Prophets.—Hearken to the words of Joel; “I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions,” (Joel ii. 28.) And hearken again to the words of Christ; “But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts i. 8.) And truly, the Apostle means, He ought, as God, to have been believed; however, he does not ground his affirmation upon this, but examines it like a case where man is concerned, speaking much as he does in the Epistle to the Hebrews; (Heb. vi. 18.) where he says, “That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement.” Thus here also he makes the things already bestowed a sure token of the promise of those which are yet to come.

— John Chrysostom, "Homily II" on Ephesians

The "sealing" by the Holy Spirit is spoken of as past once for all. The witnessing to our hearts that we are the children of God, and heirs (Eph 1:11), is the Spirit's present testimony, the "earnest of the (coming) inheritance" (Ro 8:16-18).

— Jameson, Fausset, and Brown

Two epithets are here applied to the gospel, — the word of truth, and the gospel of your salvation. Both deserve our careful attention. Nothing is more earnestly attempted by Satan than to lead us either to doubt or to despise the gospel. Paul therefore furnishes us with two shields, by which we may repel both temptations. In opposition to every doubt, let us learn to bring forward this testimony, that the gospel is not only certain truth, which cannot deceive, but is, by way of eminence, (κατ ᾿ ἐξοχὴν,) the word of truth, as if, strictly speaking, there were no truth but itself. If the temptation be to contempt or dislike of the gospel, let us remember that its power and efficacy have been manifested in bringing to us salvation. The apostle had formerly declared that “it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth,” (Romans 1:16;) but here he expresses more, for he reminds the Ephesians that, having been made partakers of salvation, they had learned this by their own experience. Unhappy they who weary themselves, as the world generally does, in wandering through many winding paths, neglecting the gospel, and pleasing themselves with wild romances, — “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” (2 Timothy 3:7) or to find life! But happy they who have embraced the gospel, and whose attachment to it is steadfast; for this, beyond all doubt, is truth and life.

— John Calvin


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