I recall getting into quite a bind once when I was a youngster. I had lied about damaging a neighbor’s property. My father told me I would have to go over to the neighbor’s house to face them. I said, “But dad, what am I going to tell them?” He looked stunned: “You will have to tell them the truth, of course.”
My father was known by friend and family alike as a man of impeccable honesty. He would not tell a lie, no matter what the circumstance.
My father was a great example to me.
My father worked for an insurance company. Once, when I was a young adult, he was asked to drop a particular small business from the company’s accounts because it had become too much of a financial risk. This business had been with the company for a long time, and the owners had become close friends of my father over the years.
Dad shook his head. He was troubled about having to drop their insurance coverage. His boss told him, “I understand. I’ll take care of it myself; I’ll just tell them that new government regulations and such have changed things.” My father shook his head again.“Thank you, but no, I’ll write the letter. I’ll tell them the plain truth.”
My father’s straightforward honesty had an enormous effect upon me. It was powerful to know that he was the same man in his workplace that he was at home.
A promise is only as good as the one who makes the promise.
The Bible assures us that God is always faithful. The word that is frequently translated “lovingkindness” is a term that has as its base not only the notion of God’s kindness towards us, but also His covenant faithfulness. The same is true of the word “mercy.” It is difficult to translate into English because the word not only means kindness and goodness to someone in need, but it also means kindness and goodness to someone in need because of God’s covenant promises. When Paul speaks of the mercies of God at the end of Romans 11 he is speaking of the kindness and love which come as a result of God’s covenant promises.
This is a recurring theme throughout Scripture. We think of God as being able to do anything, but there is one thing that God cannot do: He cannot lie. He is a faithful God who keeps His word. (See, for example, Titus 1:1-2 and 2 Timothy 2:11.) For God to tell a lie would mean that He is not faithful. If God were not faithful, He would not be God.
The promise of God is tied to the gift of the Spirit and resurrection life:
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. (Ephesians 1:13)
Notice that the Holy Spirit is specifically referred to here as the Holy Spirit of promise. The Spirit functions in this passage as the promise of God — that is, not my promise to God, but God’s promise to me.
Here’s what you need to know about the Holy Spirit.
Paul goes on to explain that the Holy Spirit “is given as a pledge of our inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:14) The word “inheritance” here refers to the new creation. The Holy Spirit is God’s promise; it is God’s pledge to me of my resurrection inheritance in the future.
The word “pledge” in this passage is an interesting financial term both in English and in ancient Greek. It can refer to collateral, a deposit, or a down payment. When we buy a piece of property, for example, we put up earnest money, a pledge to show that we are doing business in good faith. We give our word, and we are so confident that our word will come to pass that we are willing to put good faith money down. I put earnest money down to guarantee that I will show up at closing.
If you have heard and received the Gospel, you have the Holy Spirit of promise who is God’s pledge, God’s earnest money. God has put a down payment on our heavenly inheritance and has promised that He will show up at the closing.
Here’s what the gift of the Spirit means for you.
The gift of the Spirit, if you have heard and believed the gospel, is the absolute irrevocable certain promise of God. The God who cannot lie and who will remain faithful even if we are faithless has promised that we will be raised from the dead.
The Holy Spirit is not only God’s promise to us, but it is also, we are told, a mysterious present cause of our resurrection future.
This can be confusing because we tend to have trouble appreciating the connection between the present and the future resurrection. I’ll explain more in my next post about how the Holy Spirit serves as a link between our present lives and the age to come.
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Sloan delivered at Tallowood Baptist Church on June 17, 1990.