One of the things I look for when I read the Bible is how the heavenly Father relates to His children. Whatever He does with His children is what we should do with our children if we want to be an expression of the gospel and of the Father’s heart. The more we reflect the God we know as our Father, the more they will be drawn to Him. That’s exciting! In 2016, by God’s grace, I am going to make knowing our Father the theme of the Chariot articles and demonstrations for dads to use in family devotions. I think you’ll be encouraged and equipped to be an expression of our Father’s heart to your children.
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, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Knowing Our Father
These two verses from Paul’s letter give us insight into the heart of our heavenly Father. First, we know that He loves and honors His Son. That’s why He sealed us in His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the author of our faith and our Redeemer. This helps us know that the heart of our Father is toward His Son, first and foremost. Our Father loves and honors His Son above all others.
We also learn that our Father wants to secure us in our relationship with Him and wants us to know that we are His forever. Only He can seal us in Christ, the evidence of which is the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This sealing isn’t merely positional; it is experiential, which gives His children a pledge of their inheritance. What great love the Father has for His children, that He seals them with the Holy Spirit of promise! Our Father makes us secure.
Why is the Holy Spirit called the Spirit of promise? Because our Father loves to give His children hope, and hope does not disappoint. Here’s how He encouraged the Romans through Paul’s letter: “and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). When we are sealed with the Spirit of the Father and the Son, God’s love pours out within us through Him, and the presence and power of this love assures us that we know Him. The Apostle John said this best when he wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (1 Jn. 4:7, 13). Our Father loves to give hope to His children.
What a blessing it is to have a Father who delights in forgiving His children! The sealing of our hearts is with a view toward our redemption. Redemption apparently always entails the assurance of forgiveness, because when Paul wrote of redemption to both the Colossians and the Ephesians he wrote, “In Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins” (Col.1:14, Eph. 1:7). Our Father is forgiving, and He wants us to know it.
Additionally, we learn that our Father has secured our salvation, not primarily for us, but for His glory—“to the praise of His glory.” Our salvation is first and foremost about God and His glory. Paul called the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory (Eph.1:17). To know God, the Father, is to know His glory. His glory is always associated with His works, which is the theme of Ephesians Chapters 1-2. Our Father is worthy of all the glory.
1. Our Father loves and honors His Son, so we should love and honor Christ.
2. Our Father makes us secure, so we should make our children secure in our love.
3. Our Father loves to give hope, so we should give our children hope.
4. Our Father is forgiving, so we should be forgiving.
5. Our Father is worthy of all the glory, so we should give Him glory by relying totally
on His work in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
He Seals Us; We Seal Our Children
All of the things above are associated with our heavenly Father sealing us in Christ by giving us His Spirit. By sealing us in Christ with the Holy Spirit, our Father gave us His presence and help. Our assurance of our salvation isn’t merely based on faith in words, “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” It is rooted in experiencing relationship with Him.This helps us to understand our roles as fathers. If as God’s children we need to know this, then our children need to know our presence and help as well. Our children don’t need to hear only our words, they also need to know our presence and help.
What does sealingdo to us? Sealing protects us from destruction and keeps secure what God put in us. The presence of the Holy Spirit helps us when we are under attack by Satan, the flesh, and the world and fills us so that we find our joy in Christ. In the same way, our consistent presence in our children’s lives helps them when they are under attack and provides a satisfying relationship between us. Let’s now demonstrate the power and importance of God’s sealing His children and our sealing our children to ourselves.
• 2 Mason jars and one lid
• A large casserole dish with at least 1.5” sides
• 1 tablespoon of unused coffee grounds
Fill both jars 3/4 full with water and seal one of the jars with its lid. Then put both jars in the dish. Show your family that one of the jars is sealed and one isn’t. Now ask one of your children to turn over the jar that is sealed. Ask your family to notice what happened to the contents of the jar. Nothing was lost. This reveals one of the benefits of sealing. It secures what is inside the jar or container.
You put important truths and experiences into your children’s lives as you teach, train, and play with them. Those things need to be secured in their souls so they provide a sense of your presence, a sense of identity when they go out into the world. This occurs when you spend time with them, play with them, and share your spirit with them. The more you are with them and help them, the more secure they are in who they are. When you do this, you are sealing them to yourself like the lid seals the jar and secures its contents.
Ask a child to take some coffee grounds and sprinkle them on the jar with the lid on it. What happens to the water in the jar? Nothing. It remains pure and undefiled by the coffee grounds. The jar represents their souls, the water represents the truths and experiences they have learned from you, and the coffee grounds represent the lies of Satan and the world that could destroy or undermine those truths and experiences. Show your children how having a lid on the jar protects the water from being darkened and defiled by the coffee grounds. In the same way, your relationship protects them from the potential defilement of the world.
On a personal, spiritual plane, a person’s relationship with God through Jesus Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit, is like the lid on the jar. It secures what He put inside them and protects them from defilement and destruction. You can use this to illustrate why their having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is so important and necessary for their security and protection. Accordingly, your relationship with your children is like the lid on the jar. Your relationship can provide the same benefits, but it ultimately cannot save them or protect them completely. It can, however, prepare them for salvation by revealing to them the heart of the Father for His children. You can assure your children that by God’s grace you want to reflect His heart and to prepare them for His work in their hearts. When you teach, train, and play with them, you are sealing them to yourself. Doing all of this in the love of Christ is what makes the sealing powerful. If your spirit isn’t loving, then it is like putting on the lid in a cross-threaded fashion. It is ineffective.
Now ask one of your children to sprinkle some coffee grounds in the jar that has no lid. What happens to the water? It turns dark and loses its purity. Tell them that’s what happens when they go out into the world and have not treated their relationship with you as important, or when parents don’t seal their children. There’s nothing to protect what has been put into the children by the parents. Words without loving action by the parents fail to protect their children from the defilement of the lies and effects of the world.
To continue the demonstration, now have one of the children turn over the jar without a top. Everyone will notice that the water will flow out of the jar and into the dish. When a child isn’t sealed to his or her parents, what has been put into the child through teaching may be lost in one tragic experience. A teen can lose the benefits of 16 years of teaching in one evening of unbridled passion or desire and bring great destruction to his or her relationship with parents. This often happens when a child’s relationship with his or her father hasn’t been sealed. The damage in such a child’s life is often deep and heartbreaking, and recovery is difficult and usually very long-lasting.
This aspect of the demonstration also illustrates those in the church who are not born again or sealed by the Holy Spirit. We often see people who once professed to be believers, but then have walked away from the church and lived once again according to the flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind. The absence of the presence and help of the Holy Spirit is evident, which means at the least that their relationship with Christ is unsettled. They are living as if they have no father and do not know who they are or to whom they belong.
The purpose of our being sealed by the Holy Spirit is to assure us that we are forgiven and redeemed. Those who are sealed are not totally perfect saints yet, but they are totally forgiven saints. The gospel gives us the promise of forgiveness and reconciliation with God. He gives us the hope of the gospel, which is eternal joy in heaven with Him, through sealing us with the Holy Spirit.
Hopefully this demonstration will give rise to some important and enlightening discussion. As parents, what have you learned from this demonstration about knowing our Father? What have you learned about yourselves? You might share these insights with your children. If you can see that you have failed to seal your children, then I recommend that you humble yourself and ask for their forgiveness. Then pray, asking the Father to give you grace to be an expression of His love to your children. (Your children need to see this kind of humility. It is a powerful example of the presence of the Holy Spirit and His help, which come from your having been sealed).
You might ask your children to share what lessons stood out to them as they watched the demonstration. What if children don’t want their parents’ teaching and instruction? What could happen if they reject and ignore their parents? How might you demonstrate a child’s rejection of the parents’ teaching, training, and love with the jars, water, and coffee grounds?
Discuss what Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches about how one might know if he or she belongs to God and is truly a child of God. You should be prepared to teach them what reveals the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Giving your children the names of some people whom you know have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and show evidence of His presence and power may be a source of encouragement to them.
This month, ask the Holy Spirit to give you practical ways that you can seal your relationship with your child. What can you do on a daily basis that communicates to them that they belong to you and that you want to be with them? Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His love so that as you teach, train, and play with your children, they are powerfully drawn to you and to Him. I hope you’ll thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His heart for you and how He has loved you by sealing you with His Spirit of promise. The Holy Spirit was given to you so you might know Him.