“ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES”
The Earnest of Our Inheritance.” Special Thanksgiving 2014 Edition.
Greetings and a happy Thanksgiving to one and all! Although this is a reprint from May 2009, I feel impressed to use it as a vehicle to say “thank you” to all my friends and loved ones, especially those that have been supporters of this ministry since its inception in 1985. Others of you have gone beyond the limits of normal giving to show your love and commitment to the “present truths” that we teach and study. I wish you increased blessings in every aspect of your life: and once again, “Thank you all.”
My sincere exhortation to pastors, bible teachers, group leaders, and altar workers who are now reading these writings online, is that you study with me, line by line, as we walk through this very important lesson. Over the years, very little, if anything at all, has been said about the “earnest of our inheritance” in bible studies, workshops and seminars: and the reason might surprise you, even though it should not, as we shall see shortly. Some years ago, my former Presiding Bishop from Baltimore, Maryland, was invited to be the guest speaker at a convention in Washington DC, hosted by a group of Christian business men.
The bishop began by saying: “You have spoken in tongues and prophesied: you have healed the sick and cast out devils: you have exercised the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom: but for goodness sake, will somebody tell me, Where do we go from here?” The house fell silent, and needless to say that the bishop was never invited to address that group again. What was the problem in this scenario? Let us examine the full extent of the Christian experience across the full spectrum of Christian doctrines.
Among Pentecostal groups, indoor classrooms, and “on the road” training are of vital importance. The full extent of their Christian theology is to work hard in soul winning: be strong and faithful witnesses: feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, die, and go to heaven. Pentecostal groups take it much further than that! Among Pentecostals (into which I was raised and operated as one of their ministers) much more is required. Repentance is followed by water baptism, followed by receiving the gift of the gift of the Holy Ghost. The formulas in this process differ from one group to another, with tarrying around the altar and having hands laid upon you is the most popular among these groups. But the most accepted sign of receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost is speaking in tongues.
From that point on, being faithful in attendance and financial support of the local Church becomes the norm. Countless numbers of people arrive here, and simply work locally, until death ends their Christian life. Others work faithfully, looking forward for the imminent return of Christ that will result in the rapture of the church. Other Pentecostal groups insist on moving further into acquiring the “gifts of the Spirit” and their meetings are filled with speaking in tongues, prophecies on a personal level, or to the Body collectively. These groups believe in possessing the “nine gifts of the Spirit” as found in 1st Corinthians 12.
It is not unusual for individuals to be singled out in these meetings to receive direct words from the Lord through prophecies. Some are singled out for healing of undisclosed illnesses, and others are brought forward for the casting out of devils. This is called “the realm of gifts.” Can we candidly call this the realm of perfection? Absolutely not! Over the years of walking in this realm, I have met many sweet and devoted people who live in the realm of gifts. However, in spite of these gifts and their functioning in every service, many of these loved ones seem to maintain unstable lives.
My first two years in England were spent in the City of Birmingham; where I attended an “Assemblies of God” with a lovely bunch of people. Just about every Sunday morning, there is a string of prophecies; usually uttered by the same individuals in succession. After two years I relocated to London, got married and five years later my wife and I travelled back to Birmingham and attended service at “my old church.” I wanted to see my old friends once more, and to have fellowship like we used to enjoy.
To my surprise, the same individuals were still bringing forth prophecies as they were doing five years before. My observation is without malice or sinister overtones: but I could not help thinking that for five years, these dear people had not grown one inch in God. It was like going around the same mountain, beating the same drums, and singing the same tunes. In every sense of the word, growth brings changes: and where no changes occur, it is likely that no growth has happened. The problem that continues to plague the rank and file of those that embrace the “Pentecostal Persuasion,” is the lack of teaching that salvation and growth thereafter do occur in stages. Because the basic salvation experience is being taught as the whole package, believers live with the idea that they have arrived at the fullness of the knowledge of Christ: and all that is required is to remain faithful to the local Church till death, or the Rapture takes place.
Salvation of the spirit, soul, and body in that exact sequence is unknown to many: and where it is introduced, it faces strong resistance, and even total rejection by some members of the clergy. This holds true more so among those exercising the gifts of the Spirit than anywhere else: because they believe that they have received it all. In this study, we will follow closely, word by word, what the bible teaches.
What can be called a tragedy is that people arrive in the realm of “gifts,” and they believe that they have received all that God has destined for them: and in reality, these are the hardest folks to try and convince that we have not yet scratched the surface of what God has in store for us. Even in a religious setting where all nine gifts of the Spirit are functioning in a full-fledged Pentecostal experience, the thought of obtaining more to adorn and enhance the born again experience, spells trouble and the very thought should not be entertained.
So we prophesy, and speak in tongues, cast out a devil or two, and we go home thinking in terms of full growth and maturity. If someone were to pose the question: “Hello brother! Do you want more from God?” the reply no doubt would be—“more of what?” Can’t you see that I am saved, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost; and I am now waiting for my ride up through the clouds, which will happen very soon?” Sadly enough, that is the mindset of millions of so-called born again believers.
Now, to be completely honest, we cannot lay blame upon the millions of dedicated children of God, who never heard that there is more (much more) in Christ; and that their present experience is only a down payment and a promise. How can they hear without preacher? And if the preachers aren’t preaching and teaching the deeper things of the Spirit of Christ, the people have no way of learning what it is all about.
Some of our leaders were like veterans of past wars who fought with vigor and resilience: but they could only share out of what they themselves had acquired over the years of their personal Christian experience. Peter said: “Such as I have, give I thee.” Acts 3: 6. Even a family doctor or a lawyer, and even a school teacher, can only act upon the knowledge they possess. Let us pull the curtains back for a moment, and see what the impartation of the Holy Spirit in our first born again experience is all about. Many believe, and insist that the Holy Ghost is given to empower us for service, and they quote Acts 1: 8. “And ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me, etc.”
Their assumptions are correct, but only allude to the outer fringes of the entire package. Let us hear from the Phillips translation on the subject of this study. “And after you gave your confidence to him you were, so to speak, stamped with the promised Holy Spirit as a guarantee of purchase, until the day when God completes the redemption of what he paid for as his own; and that will again be to the praise of his glory.” The NEB translation said: And you too, when you had heard the message of truth, the good news of your salvation, and had believed it, became incorporate in Christ and received the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; and that Spirit is the pledge that we shall enter upon our heritage, when God has redeemed what is his own, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1: 13, 14. Thus, we are gleaning from several witnesses to bear witness of the truth of which we are endeavoring to learn more.
There are a few commanding components in our scripture text that are of paramount importance to us, if we are to fully understand what God has done in us, and for us, and to what extent has he committed himself to us to finish the process. Do you think that God would have tied himself in knots to us, in a contract that he cannot renege on, if there was a shadow of doubt that he would be able to fulfill his agreement to us? Think of this marvelous act on God’s part! He formulated a law and made it binding (unchangeable) then placed himself completely under its demands.
Look at some important words that we will highlight to emphasize their importance to us. Paul indicated to the Ephesians that after they believed, they were sealed (stamped) with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession. Three words stand out in this account! They are earnest, promise, and until. The word promise works like a promissory note. Anything “promised” automatically points to the future. The same goes for the word “until”. Stay here, “until” I return also points to the future.
The word earnest carries an immense amount of weight, and is being used today in many large and important financial deals as we shall see later on. But looking at the correlation between promise, until, and lastly, earnest, means the same thing. In that light and with that understanding, we must conclude without any argument, that since the Holy Spirit was given as a seal (a mark, a stamp) and as the earnest, until the redemption of the purchased possession, we as a redeemed people should be on tiptoe, anxiously looking for full—complete redemption.
Many sincere believers in Christ simply do not understand that salvation comes in two separate phases: one is the “buying back” and the other is the “bringing back.”
Here is what the biblical narrative said! “Which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1: 14. Let us look at the word “earnest” for a moment; because it tells us a great story. In fact, not only a story: it actually unveils to us a grandiose principle that God allows himself to be governed by. It shows us that God entered into a binding contract with us, referred to as “the purchased possession” and this transaction guarantees that God will return to redeem—or fully redeem, the purchased possession.
Unger’s Bible Dictionary has this to say: “The noun earnest occurs three times in the New Testament, and the meaning of the passages appears to be that the Holy Spirit is in the heart as an earnest money, given for a guarantee of a future possession, the pledge of complete salvation. The Holy Spirit is both a foretaste and a pledge of future blessedness.” Paul was well familiar with this concept, for he wrote in 2nd Corinthians 1: 21,22: “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed (stamped) us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”
Again in chapter 5, verse 5 we read: “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given us the earnest of the Spirit.” Both in secular and spiritual life, the earnest is deemed to be a pledge, a token payment, a down payment, or even a “seed” payment. All of these references or usage of different terms mean the same thing. The earnest is not the full package, and it is not the final settlement in any legal transaction between two or more parties. Indeed, it is a pledge (a good faith token) and it becomes a binding agreement between the parties concerned, that a future action is guaranteed to take place, at which time the full transaction will be completed.
Dear children of God! You need to wrap your arms around this concept, that will give you hope and will help to focus your hearts upon the promise of full and complete redemption. To underscore the truth of us being purchased, Paul wrote: “Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: (This is the buying back of which we spoke) therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1st Corinthians 6: 19. Our past teachings of the “Pentecostal Experience” has been so final and clear cut, that no room has been left for even the faintest possibility that there is more for us to acquire and live in real time.
The idea that our first conversion experience complete with the baptism of the Holy Spirit; accompanied by the gifts of the Spirit was only a partial transaction, in which God obligated himself to return at a later date to complete the deal was never heard of in Christendom. To tell an active Full Gospel—Pentecostal preacher or believer that all he or she has is only a partial redemption, would be an insult and possible branded as heresies, and the messenger would no doubt be seen as a false prophet.
But let us put the writings in scripture under the microscope, and careful scrutiny watching every word in its proper context. Ephesians 1: 13 said that when we first believed, we were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. As we said before, a promise always points to the future; and in that context, the Holy Spirit was given only as a token, a down payment, a binding agreement between God and us. The next verse (14) plainly states that the Holy Spirit given to us when we first believed is only the earnest of our inheritance.
Ladies and gentlemen! Friends and members of His Body at large! The Word of God clearly states that the Holy Spirit given to us, first of all is the Holy Spirit of promise. Not that he is the Spirit that was promised by Jesus when he said the disciples should not leave Jerusalem until they had received the promise of the Holy Ghost. The promise mentioned by Paul in Ephesians alludes to a bigger picture, and a more dynamic truth. It is the guarantee that God has started the redemption in us. But it goes beyond the simplicity of that thought. It points to a bigger a more grandiose purpose in Christ. It heralds the truth that God has entered into a binding contract with us, out of which he cannot excuse himself. HE MUST COMPLETE THE TRANSACTION!
We are not the ones “calling the shots” or pushing God into a corner with no way out. We did not concoct this elaborate scheme that locked God in a box! It was God, speaking through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had Paul to reveal this magnificent process that was birthed in the very heart of God. Nothing contained in this deal seems to be unreasonable to God: because it was he who drew up the documents and outlined the terms; under which he placed himself on our behalf. Indeed! What a mighty God we serve! Angels bow before him: heaven and earth adore him: what a might God we serve. A lovely song we used to sing in our worship services.
In this poignant moment in the history of the church, and in our development in the image of Christ, along with a groaning creation, as if peeking over the crest of a mountain, we are on tiptoe and with great anticipation, we are already feeling the morning breeze of a brand new day—it is called “The Day of The Lord.” Let us not sleep as do others who are children of the night. I learned this song in Rising Sun, Maryland back in 1974 that says: “Come on up son, and bring the morning: Come on up son, and bring the day. Come on up son, dispel all darkness: come on up son, bring God’s new day. Rise in me son, and bring the morning: Rise in me son, and bring the day: Rise in me son, dispel all darkness, Rise in me son, and have your way.”
Here is how “the earnest works” in real life: and the same principles apply to God. If I meet with a realtor to inquire about a house that is up for sale, and all the aspects of the building and pending terms are acceptable to me, I will proceed as follows. As a tentative move on my part, I will write a check, say, for $500 and hand it over to the realtor: who , in turn, will draw up a tentative contract and attach my check for $500 to it. The process of title search and other incidentals will then begin, and my check will figure into the closing cost at the closing and final act of the purchase.
My check for $500 is called “the earnest” or “the earnest money” or the token down payment. But beyond that, I become legally bound to the agreement to purchase the property. In a couple weeks I cannot call up the realtor and say that I have a change of heart, so please send my check back to me. Perhaps I could get away with it, if the seller has had a number of bids on the property. But I am legally bound to complete the purchase, by simply placing a $500 check and having signed a tentative contract, promising the seller that I will make the purchase.
This is the concept into which God has placed himself regarding our full salvation: and giving to us the Holy Spirit is his signature and his promise to complete the transaction. What sort of assurances do we have that this concept will hold true no matter what? Paul wrote: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil.1: 6. So there is no turning back for the die has already been cast: the pledge has already been made; and the execution of God’s master plan is already been set in motion and is on schedule.
We are told in Romans 8: 23 that we who have the firstfruits (earnest) of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption (the placing as full grown sons)
to wit (to experience—to appropriate unto ourselves) the redemption of our body. Do you remember the term “redemption of the purchased possession?” this is it! The redemption of our body! We can review two times the word redemption is used. In Hebrews 9: 15, the Greek word used for redemption is loo-tro-sis and it means ransom as Christ paying the price of sin in our place—he gave himself a ransom for all…that is loo-tro-sis.
But the Greek word used for redemption in Romans 8: 23 is ap-ol-oo-tro-sis which means riddance, ransom in full, and the loosing away of our bodily restrictions. At this point in time, no matter how anointed in the Holy Spirit we become and are moved to do exploits in Christ, we still are restricted by our physical body. Even if at times we are taken out of our body and transported to faraway places to minister to critical circumstances, we will be brought back to this realm of mortal life. We have not yet seen or experienced the redemption of our body.
But in Romans 8: 23, we are given a blueprint of how it will be, when the first fruits or the earnest of the Spirit has played its role to conform with God’s time clock, then we will experience the redemption of our body—the ap-ol-oo-tro-sis. To this end, the writer of Hebrews offers a stark revelation of what surely shall be. Here is the account! “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9: 28.
I love the offering made by J. B. Phillips translation! “It is certain that Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many and after that, to those who look for him, he will appear a second time, not this time to deal with sin (because he already settled the sin question) but to bring to full salvation (complete salvation including the redemption of our body) those who eagerly await him.”
This does not refer to a coming in midair to catch away his waiting bride. This is not a coming when “every eye shall behold him.” This coming is only to those who eagerly await him: and I would add, to those who are waiting for their body to be changed as the redemption of the purchased possession, which was foretold by the apostle while the original church of Jesus Christ was still standing.
Christ came to earth the first time and brought salvation with him. In the home of one man he said: “This day is salvation come this house.” We are a part of that first half of salvation. But now we are also a part of those who comprise the second part of the purchased possession, with a guarantee that he is coming another time to complete the transaction (to redeem the purchased possession) which will be to the praise of his glory. Are you one of those who are eagerly awaiting his appearance?
Royce O. Kennedy
Please be reminded to make your gifts payable to Royce Kennedy and not to the ministry. Thank you!