Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In Ephesians 1:13 and 14 the seal of the Holy Spirit and the pledge of the Holy Spirit are mentioned together. It is difficult to say which comes first, the sealing or the pledging. According to 2 Corinthians 1:21 and 22, the sealing seems to come first. Second Corinthians 1:22 says that God “hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” However, both the sealing and the pledging actually take place at the same time.
The pledging of our inheritance is another aspect of the fourth item of God’s well-speaking. The sealing of the Spirit is the first aspect of this item of God’s blessing.
We need both the sealing and the pledging because in God’s work on us two kinds of inheritances are involved. Ephesians 1:11 indicates that we were made God’s inheritance, and verse 14, that God is our inheritance. Our inheritance is God Himself. In God’s economy we are an inheritance to God, and God is an inheritance to us. This is a mutual inheritance. For us to be God’s inheritance, we need the sealing. We are God’s possession, and as our owner, God has put a seal upon us. Because God is our inheritance, we also need the pledging of the Holy Spirit as a guarantee. We shall inherit all that God is, that is, His Person, and all that God has, that is, His work. For such an inheritance, the Holy Spirit is the pledge, the guarantee.
The Holy Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance. The Greek word for “pledge” in verse 14 also means foretaste, guarantee, token payment guaranteeing the full payment, a part payment in advance. Since we are God’s inheritance, the Holy Spirit is a seal upon us. Since God is our inheritance, the Holy Spirit is a pledge of this inheritance to us. God gives His Holy Spirit to us, not only as a guarantee of our inheritance, securing our heritage, but also as a foretaste of what we shall inherit of God.
In ancient times, the Greek word for pledge was used in the purchase of land. The seller gave the buyer a sample of the soil from the land being purchased. Hence, a pledge, according to ancient Greek usage, was also a sample. The Holy Spirit is the sample of what we shall inherit of God in full.
The Greek word for “pledge” is somewhat equal to today’s down payment, which indicates good faith and is a guarantee of coming payments. Pledge, earnest, and guarantee— all these words are about the same in meaning, all referring to a payment that guarantees the balance. But the Greek word in addition signifies a sample, a foretaste. Some translators prefer the word “foretaste.” By enjoying the sample we have a foretaste of what is coming. Suppose someone gives me ten peaches from his peach orchard. These peaches are a sample and a foretaste of the produce of the whole orchard. As those who are to inherit God, we have the Holy Spirit as a pledge, guarantee, earnest, and down payment of our inheritance. At the same time the Holy Spirit is also a sample and a foretaste. The foretaste gives us a taste of God; the full taste is yet to come.
In 2 Corinthians 1 we have the anointing, the sealing, and the pledging. Second Corinthians 1:21 says, “Now he who firmly attaches us with you unto the anointed One, and hath anointed us, is God” (Gk.). The anointing brings the element of God into us. The divine ointment can be compared to paint. When you paint furniture, you apply the element of the paint to the furniture. Likewise, the anointing puts the divine ointment upon us, and this brings the divine element into us. The more of the anointing we have within, the more of the element of God we receive. We need to be coated with the divine ointment again and again. Many of the older brothers and sisters have received hundreds of coatings, but the younger ones have received just a few. First John 2 says that the anointing abides in us and teaches us. We are taught by being anointed. The Holy Spirit as the compound ointment within us teaches us, not by words, but by painting us. Whether we obey His teaching or not, He still anoints us, putting coat after coat upon us. In this way the anointing brings the very essence of God into our being.
I praise the Lord that there is a greater dispensation of God Himself today than there was in the first century. If you study the writings of the early church fathers, you will find that their writings cannot compare with what the Lord has shown us in His Word. Which of the church fathers ever said that God is dispensing Himself into our being? Even certain things uttered by the young people today are superior to what was written by the church fathers. Day by day we are being anointed, and the divine essence is added to us.
After the anointing, 2 Corinthians 1 mentions the sealing. The sealing of the Holy Spirit brings in the image, the appearance, and the expression, for the seal bears the sign, the form. God is not only anointing us with His essence; He is also sealing us with His appearance, image, and expression. Along with the anointing and the sealing there is the pledging, which is a matter of enjoyment and taste. Mothers realize that in feeding their children they need to make the food tasteful. When food is delicious, the children are eager to come to the table at mealtime. But if the food does not have a pleasant taste, it will be difficult to get the children to eat. The Holy Spirit is within us today as a foretaste. If the Spirit were only the anointing and the sealing, we might become bored with the experience of the Spirit. But we are not tired or bored of the Spirit because the Spirit is also pledging within us.
In the past I was taught that the pledge of the Holy Spirit was a once-for-all, objective matter. But later I learned that the Spirit is not only the pledge, but also the pledging. This pledging is a continual matter. I learned this, not from studying, but from experience. In my experience I came to realize that a pledging was continually taking place within me.
The pledging of the Spirit is given for our enjoyment. Whenever I am disappointed or depressed, the pledging comes in to uplift me. I experience this pledging daily, even hourly. Pledging also means that something is given to us as a guarantee. Through the Spirit’s pledging, we are encouraged and stirred up. Whenever we feel that the situation is hopeless, the pledging fills us with hope.
On the day we were saved, God began to pledge Himself to us, and this pledging continues day by day. It is very difficult for a Christian in the spirit to not believe that God is with him. We easily and spontaneously believe this because we daily receive the pledging of the Spirit. God is pledging all the time. When I am weak, He pledges Himself to me and becomes my encouragement. When my expectations are low, He pledges Himself, and I have hope once again. When it seems that my faith has ebbed away, He pledges Himself to me, and immediately my faith revives. When it seems that I have no more love for the brothers and sisters, the Spirit pledges Himself, and more love for the saints flows in. I believe that we have all had experiences like this, although we may not have recognized or understood these experiences.
During the special ten-day trainings, I speak three times a day. Some may wonder how I have the energy to speak so much at my age. Many times I have been exhausted and tired by speaking. But whenever I have this sense of tiredness, God immediately comes in to pledge Himself to me. Because of the Spirit’s pledging, I am ready to speak again at the next meeting. When I stand up and begin to speak, I am full of energy because of the pledging of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the more I speak, the more enjoyment I have. When I return home after giving a message, I am exceedingly happy, much happier than before the meeting. The reason for this is that during my speaking I receive a great deal of the Spirit’s pledging.
The pledging gives us more of God. The more of God we receive, the more assurance we have and the more appetite we have for God. When some hear about receiving more of God, they may wonder what we mean by more of God and may even regard such a saying as heretical. Doctrinally speaking, God is God, and there cannot be more of God. But experientially speaking, we can receive more of God. By the pledging of the Holy Spirit, we all are receiving more of God. We know that God is ours by the pledging within us. A small sample, like the box of soil given in the purchase of land in ancient times, is within us as a pledge. This portion within us is increasing.
Many of the older brothers and sisters can testify that throughout the years their appetite for God has been increasing. When I began the ministry in this country in 1962, I was hungry for God. But now, sixteen years later, my hunger for Him has been intensified. I am so hungry for God that I want to swallow Him up. I can say to Him, “O Lord Jesus, I would like to swallow You up.” Some may say that it is not only heretical but also crude to talk about swallowing up the Lord Jesus. Nevertheless, I do intend to swallow Him up. The more we receive of Him, the more there is to receive and the bigger He seems to become. This enlargement of appetite comes from God’s pledging. The more we taste of Him, the bigger is our appetite for Him; and the more appetite we have, the more we taste Him. This is a glorious cycle. Do not think that the older saints are tired of eating God. No, we have a bigger appetite and eat more of Him. Hallelujah for the Spirit’s pledging! God is pledging Himself to us. The more He pledges, the more enjoyment we have. This enjoyment enlarges our appetite. Many have a rather small appetite for Christ when they first come into the church life. But after they stay in the church for a period of time, their appetite increases. The more we enjoy the Lord, the bigger is our appetite for Him.
The Spirit today is not only anointing us and sealing us, but also pledging in us. This means that He adds more of God into us little by little. This takes place not once for all, but daily and hourly. The pledging never stops; it goes on twenty-four hours a day. We eat, and the Spirit pledges. The more we eat, the bigger our appetite becomes. The bigger our appetite becomes, the more we eat. By means of this cycle we daily participate in God. This cycle will continue until we get into eternity. At that time, God will become our full enjoyment, and we shall have the full taste of Him.
Many Christians do not even know that the anointing is in them. Some who know something about the anointing do not know about the sealing. Although some know the sealing, hardly any have the knowledge of the Spirit’s pledging. Probably in your whole Christian life you have never heard a message on the pledging of the Spirit. According to my experience, the Holy Spirit is constantly pledging within me, giving me more of God and more of Christ. The more I receive of Christ, the more my appetite for Him increases. Some may admit that they do not have a very large appetite for Christ. The reason for this is that they do not care for the pledging of the Spirit. We need to care not only for the anointing and the sealing, but also for the pledging. We need to say, “O Lord Jesus, You are so sweet. Amen, Lord.” If we do this, the sense of the Spirit’s pledging will increase within us. What a real experience this is!
Because many Christians care for doctrine but neglect the anointing, the sealing, and the pledging, they miss the experience of the Triune God. They have the Triune God in doctrine, but not in experience. However, the Bible reveals that the Triune God is not for us to learn about as a mere doctrine, but for us to experience. In the Lord’s recovery we are not occupied with concepts and doctrinal points. We care mainly for the real experience of the Triune God. Of course, if our experience is sound and healthy, it will correspond with the revelation in the Bible. Many times I receive light firstly from my experience rather than from the Bible. But when I check my experience with the Bible, I find that what I have experienced not only agrees with what is in the Bible but is strengthened and reinforced by the Word. Everything must be experiential, not merely doctrinal. Many of us can testify that daily we experience the anointing, the sealing, and the pledging. As we experience the Spirit in this way, we receive more of the divine essence into our being, we have more of the expression of God, and we enjoy more of God. Oh, God is so tasty and delicious! Once we have tasted Him, we cannot forget Him. Rather, we desire to taste Him more.
Ephesians 1:14 says that the Holy Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance “unto the redemption of the acquired possession.” Redemption here refers to the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23), that is, the transfiguration of our body of humiliation into a glorious one (Phil. 3:21). The Holy Spirit today is a guarantee, a foretaste, and a sample of our divine inheritance until our body is transfigured in glory, at which time we shall inherit God in full. The span of God’s blessings bestowed upon us covers all the crucial points from God’s selection in eternity past (v. 4) to the redemption of our body for eternity future.
We, God’s redeemed ones, the church, are God’s possession acquired by His purchase with the precious blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). In God’s economy, God becomes our inheritance, and we become God’s possession. How marvelous! We give nothing, and we get everything! God acquired us at the greatest cost, but we inherit God at no cost. This is to the praise of God’s glory.
Because verse 14 ends with the words, “to the praise of His glory,” we need to consider this matter once again. This is the third time this phrase is repeated, this time as an ending to this section (vv. 3-14) concerning God’s blessings to us. Verses 3 through 6 disclose what God the Father purposed for us; that is, He chose us and predestinated us unto sonship to the praise of the glory of His grace. Verses 7 through 12 reveal how God the Son accomplished what God the Father purposed; that is, He redeemed us and made us an inheritance of God to the praise of His glory. Verses 13 and 14 tell us how God the Spirit applies to us what God the Son has accomplished; that is, He seals us and is the guarantee and foretaste of our eternal, divine inheritance to the praise of God’s glory. The glory of the Triune God deserves the threefold praise in the blessings He bestows upon us.
The phrase “to the praise of His glory” is repeated three times because the Trinity is involved in God’s blessing. There is a threefold well-speaking concerning us and a threefold praise to the Triune God. The Triune God, the divine Trinity, deserves our threefold praise. He deserves not only our praise, but also the praise of the angels and of all creation. Eventually, the whole universe will praise God for His purpose, for His accomplishment, and for His application. How wonderful that we are under God’s well-speaking!
As we have pointed out, verses 3 through 14 are a record of God’s well-speaking concerning us. The result of this well-speaking is that all the positive things in the universe will praise God for His blessings bestowed upon us, because we, the sons of God, will be God’s inheritance. Although we fell so low, we have been made sons of God, even God’s inheritance and enjoyment. God has become our inheritance, and we are inheriting God as our enjoyment. Ultimately, He is in us, and we are in Him. We are in Him to be His inheritance and enjoyment, and He is in us to be our inheritance and enjoyment. Hallelujah for the well-speaking of the Triune God concerning us! Because we have the anointing, the sealing, and the pledging, we are fully satisfied. All we desire now is more of God.
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