THERE CAN be no adequate understanding of the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the world as long as one rejects the doctrine of eternal security [“perseverance of the saints”].
TO BE WITH YOU FOREVER
Just before Jesus left this earth, He promised those that were His:
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16,17).
Therefore, in this age the Holy Spirit dwells in the individual believer and is there to abide forever.
It is true that David prayed, “Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11), but that was before Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would abide forever. That makes a vast difference. That Holy Spirit can be grieved (Eph. 4:30) and may be quenched (1 Thess. 5:19) so that His voice is not heard; but this doesn’t imply that He is taken away.
The Holy Spirit never dwells in a lost person. Such a person is spiritually dead, which means that he is separated from the Spirit [Eph. 2:1]. It is a contradiction, then, of the promise which Jesus gave to His disciples, to say that one in whom the Holy Spirit has come to abide forever, can be lost.
SEALED, AS TO POSITION
Believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit to the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). What is the purpose of that sealing?
In Revelation 7:2-8 there is a company of servants of God who are sealed in their foreheads. The purpose of this seal was to keep them secure (Rev. 9:4).
After Daniel had been cast into the lion’s den, “A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed” (Dan. 6:17).
In his vision, John (the writer of Revelation) saw Satan bound for a thousand years, cast into the bottomless pit, and shut up; and a seal was set upon him so that he could no longer deceive the nations, until the thousand years were ended (Rev. 20:2,3).
In the first case, the servants were sealed so as to be secure against the torments of the locusts. In the second case, the seal was applied so that there could be no change in the king’s command. In the third instance, the seal assures that Satan will be in a place of safe keeping from which he cannot escape.
In all three instances, the seal denotes an unalterable position of those who are sealed. That is exactly what the Holy Spirit as a seal means to the saved person. God has sealed him by His own Spirit so that he, as a believer, cannot be changed until the day of redemption.
SEALED AS TO OWNERSHIP
The seal also signifies ownership. Everyone who believes is sealed with the Holy Spirit “until the redemption of those who are God’s possession … “(Eph. 1:14 NIV). This sealing, then, is effective and cannot be broken as long as a believer is in this mortal body. It is not needed after that. Those whom Christ has purchased with His own blood shall always be His very own. As the seal cannot be broken, they are secure.
DEPOSIT ON OUR INHERITANCE
In addition to all of the above, the Holy Spirit is given as a deposit guaranteeing the believer’s inheritance [“who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory”] (Eph. 1:14). A deposit is a payment made by a purchaser to guarantee the completion of the transaction by him. In Christ, the believer has obtained an inheritance which was “… predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).
The believer has not as yet entered into possession of this inheritance, but the Holy Spirit has been given as a deposit that it shall be given when the transaction has been fully completed. To say that one who has been saved can be lost is to say that possession of the inheritance shall not be given to one to whom God has already paid a deposit. “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19).
Thus the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer is required by the fact that the Holy Spirit has come into the saved one to stay forever; He is sealed by the Holy Spirit, both for the purpose of security and as a sign of ownership due to purchase; and God has given him as a pledge to the believer that he shall receive an inheritance in heaven…
The disciple of Christ needs to be assured of his/her salvation (1 John 5:13). This confidence enables the believer to fully surrender to God, depending on Him totally for supernatural living (Rom. 12:1,2; John 15:1-5).
In addition to assurance, we need SECURITY that we will not loose our salvation next month or next year. Christ gives His people this security: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37 Cf. 10:29).
Some may question whether such assurance and security could become a license to sin. Paul answered this unequivocally in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” In other words, salvation by grace also includes the New Birth and freedom from sin’s authority. True conversion will demonstrate itself by continued belief in Christ and good works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Eph. 2:10; Cf. Col 1:23; James 2:14-24).
For further study, consider the editor’s book, Blessed Reassurance.
“The Office of the Holy Spirit” is chapter 14 of the book, Shall Never Perish, by J. F. Strombeck. Language style revised by Ian Green (1992). Originally published in Philadelphia: American Bible Conference Association, c. 1936. Edited by J. B. W. with NKJV quotations; [ ] content added.
For further teaching on assurance see Grace Notes How to Have True Assurance.
While many true believers lack assurance and need the encouragement of this article, others need to examine themselves to make sure that their faith is genuine: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? –unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13:5). For the counterbalancing principles, see Grace Notes, Motivations for Choosing God’s Best.