You are sealed

This is the 12th in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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When believing sinners entrust their lives to Christ, the Father seals them with the Holy Spirit, placing His divine mark of ownership on them, thus ensuring His everlasting presence and their eternal security.

As the Father’s imprint on the surrendered heart, the Spirit reminds followers of Jesus they are secure as coheirs with Christ; authentic citizens of the kingdom of God; in the permanent grasp of the Father; and recipients of God’s divine pledge to finish the work He began in them.

In three New Testament passages, the apostle Paul describes the role of the Holy Spirit in sealing Christians:

2 Cor. 1:22 – “He [God] has also put his seal on us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.”

Eph. 1:13-14 – “In him [Christ] you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.”

Eph. 4:30 – “And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption.”
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The inconvenient truth of hell

The doctrine of hell is disturbing. The very idea of suffering and separation beyond the grave elicits a wide range of responses, from anguish to anger, and from despair to denial.

The possibility of departed loved ones languishing in outer darkness only adds to the grief of those laying flowers on their graves.

Some atheists cite hell as a reason to deny the existence of a loving God.

What’s more, Anglican cleric John Stott, who wrote the influential book Basic Christianity, found the idea of eternal suffering in hell so repugnant that he rejected it in favor of annihilationism.

According to a 2014 survey by LifeWay Research, fewer Mainline Protestants believe in hell than do Americans in general (55 percent vs. 61 percent, respectively).

And for many evangelicals, hell remains an inconvenient truth.
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You are adopted

This is the 11th in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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Adoption is an act of God making born-again believers members of His family. The Greek word for adoption stems from two words: huios, meaning “son,” and thesis, meaning “a placing.” Thus, the word huiothesia conveys the idea of “placement into sonship.” This biblical term is meant to include both males and females.

From a first-century legal perspective, adoption meant taking a person from another family and making him or her legally a child in a new family. The son’s or daughter’s former relationships were severed, and the adoptee became a member of the new family under the father’s authority.

The New Testament concept of adoption is more sublime since it brings God and redeemed people into an everlasting relationship. Believers in Jesus are both born again and thus reckoned as children, and adopted into God’s family with the full benefits and responsibilities of adults.

Here’s how it works: In regeneration, the Holy Spirit makes us spiritually alive. That is, we are born again, or born from above (John 3:3-8). God considers us as newborn babes and addresses us as children. In adoption, the Spirit brings us into such a relationship with God that we are not only His sons and daughters, but joint heirs with Jesus, having the full privileges of adults.
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What about those who haven’t heard of Jesus?

The story is told of a Christian missionary who traveled deep into the heart of a distant land where the gospel message had never been shared. The missionary labored for years learning the language and adapting to the culture.

At long last, he was able to clearly communicate the story of Jesus. Many of the once animistic people eagerly became Christians.

But not their chief. He listened intently and weighed the missionary’s every word. Finally, he asked, “Would I go to this place called hell if I never heard about Jesus?”

“Well, no,” the missionary replied.

“Then why,” said the chief, “did you come?”

The story illustrates an issue that has perplexed us for centuries. If faith comes by hearing, as the apostle Paul makes clear (Rom. 10:17), then what about those who have never heard of Jesus?
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You are sanctified

This is the 10th in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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Sanctification is the work of God making Christians more like Jesus.

As Millard Erickson puts it, “Sanctification is a process by which one’s moral condition is brought into conformity with one’s legal status before God. It is a continuation of what was begun in regeneration, when a newness of life was conferred upon and instilled within the believer. In particular, sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s applying to the life of the believer the work done by Jesus Christ.”

Sanctification may be understood in two ways. First, there is positional sanctification, the state of being separate, set apart from the common, and dedicated to a higher purpose.

The Hebrew word qados literally means “separate” and is used to designate particular places (like the Holy of Holies), objects (such as Aaron’s garments and the Sabbath Day), and persons (especially priests and Levites).

Positional sanctification finds its place in the New Testament as a work of God occurring at the beginning of conversion. John Frame, who prefers the term definitive sanctification, calls this “a once-for-all event … that transfers us from the sphere of sin to the sphere of God’s holiness, from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God. It is at this point that each of us joins the people of God.”
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