Pauline Metaphors – Part 2: Guarantee

Introduction

The concept of a guarantee, whether used literally or metaphorically, is not confined to the first-century period of the New Testament, although the Apostle Paul used the concept of a guarantee in his Epistles to the church at Corinth and at Ephesus. Both concepts are found throughout the Old Testament; for example, when the wicked Jezebel sent out letters in the name of Ahab and, in order to secure her evil intention, she sealed it with the king’s ring to guarantee its legitimacy to put Naboth to death and take his inheritance. By her false accusations, Naboth was put to death, thus securing the inheritance of Naboth for Ahab, 1 Kgs. 21. 8. Another example is the pledge Judah gave to Tamar as a guarantee that he would fulfil the promise made to her, Gen. 38. 17. A further instance is found, when Jacob’s sons were returning to Egypt to buy corn, taking Benjamin with them. Judah said to his father regarding Benjamin, ‘I will be surety for him’, 43. 9. The word is found in the book of Proverbs where it is used of putting up security or guarantee for someone, whether in a tangible or monetary sense.1 The idea of down payments or instalments is also suggested when one puts oneself up as the guarantee of full payment, 2 Cor. 5. 5. Our glorious future is secure for we possess the promise of it in the earnest of the Spirit, Eph. 1. 14.

The guarantee of divine acceptance

In the Old Testament, for the Israelite bringing a burnt offering without blemish unto the Lord as a sweet savour offering, God had said to Moses concerning it that the Israelite’s offering would be accepted on his behalf, Lev. 1. 4. God also guaranteed that the farmer in Israel would be accepted by Him. The farmer who brought the sheaf of first-fruits of the harvest to the priest at the door of the tabernacle, when it was waved it was accepted by Jehovah, 23. 11. Similarly, the gold plate worn by the high priest was for Israel’s acceptance; it guaranteed their acceptance before God, Exod. 28. 38b.

In the New Testament, the believer’s acceptance has been secured by the death, and resurrection of Christ, and made good to us in Jesus, our Great High Priest, who appears in the presence of God for us, Heb. 9. 24. In Ephesians chapter 1, Paul assures us that ‘in Christ’ every spiritual blessing is guaranteed, including our acceptance, for in the Beloved we have been accepted, v. 6.

Paul, in his Epistles, uses different Greek prepositions, such as en, meaning in Christ. This is invariably used by Paul, but sometimes he uses the preposition eis, meaning into Christ, 2 Cor. 1. 21; Gal. 3. 17. The preposition in/into Christ is the guarantee that we have been entered into an account, that is, that we have been credited to Christ. All according to the ‘exceeding riches of His grace toward us through Jesus Christ’, Eph. 2. 7.

The guarantee of eternal security - 2 Cor. 1. 21, 22

The commercial and legal practice of goods on consignment being sealed by a mark of ownership was a guarantee that they had not been interfered with in transit. Likewise, shepherds would mark their flocks by a stamp put on the back of their sheep which guaranteed ownership, leaving no room for argument as to whom the sheep belonged. In the days of the Persian Empire, the law of the Medes and Persians could not be altered, as seen in the case of Daniel. Once a decree was signed it became a legal document and not even Darius the king could change the law. It was irreversible, so that the sealing of the stone of the lions’ den with the king’s own seal meant that no one could remove the stone that secured Daniel in the den of lions. It is this practice of ancient empires that Paul uses to illustrate the believer’s eternal security. By making use of such practices, the apostle establishes the truth of our eternal security. He clearly makes the point that ‘upon believing’ believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which seal can never be broken. Consequent upon the work of Christ in salvation which He accomplished on the cross, the Holy Spirit indwelling each believer is the divine seal, and the God-given earnest, by which means the believer’s security is guaranteed, for it is rooted in the eternal purpose of God, which purpose cannot be thwarted neither by man nor devil. The Apostle Paul, writing to Christians in Rome, declared, ‘if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his’, Rom. 8. 9. The scriptures confirm that the indwelling Holy Spirit is the divine guarantee that the believer is eternally secure. The Spirit in us is the immutable guarantee of final redemption.

The guarantee of a future inheritance - Eph. 1. 12, 14

Writing to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul reminded them that the indwelling Holy Spirit is ‘the earnest of our inheritance’. In the preceding verses, the apostle reminds his readers that God has abounded ‘toward us in all wisdom and intelligence’, v. 8 JND, that we might comprehend divine purpose for the Lord Jesus Christ. In the administration of the fullness of the ages, He will enter upon His inheritance, when all things in heaven and all things on earth will be headed up in one, even in Him. It is in Him also that we have obtained an inheritance. At His return to earth, Christ will redeem the purchased possession, establishing the kingdom of God on earth and we shall obtain an assigned portion, for we shall reign with Him in the kingdom. The earnest, or the down payment of sharing with Christ in the everlasting kingdom, is the indwelling Holy Spirit - the pledge of God’s immutable guarantee of our future inheritance.

The guarantee of new covenant blessings - Heb. 7. 22; 8. 6

The Old Testament references noted earlier indicate how this concept was understood in early biblical times. In the letter to the Hebrews, Jesus the Son of God is seated on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in heaven, a priest forever by divine oath and the surety of the blessings of a better covenant. Centuries before the incarnation of Christ, God announced through the prophet Jeremiah a new covenant with Israel without conditions, a covenant radically different from the Sinaitic covenant given to the nation by the disposition of angels, Jer. 31. There is not one thing that God requires Israel to do, not one condition they are called upon to fulfil. God does it all. There are three clauses in the new covenant that make it a better covenant and the writer to the Hebrew Christians draws attention to it in chapter 8 verses 10 to 13. The Holy Spirit bears witness to believers in the present church age, in chapter 10 verses 15 to 17. The first clause provides for God’s undertaking to put His law into our minds and write them on our hearts. This required nothing less than the implanting of a new nature within us, that is, a divine nature, the nature of God, 2 Pet. 1. 3, 4. God creates within us a new life that by its very nature does the law of God. The second clause in the covenant provides for the believer to enjoy the knowledge of God in personal experience. The statement ‘I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people’, Heb. 8. 10, is a divine guarantee of a personal intimate relationship with God. The final clause of the better covenant guarantees that God will ‘remember no more’ our sins and iniquities, 10. 17. This magnificent truth is written into the better covenant of which Jesus is the mediator. Of the terms of the new covenant affecting believers today, the Holy Spirit is witness. The precious truth is ours to live in the enjoyment of, rejoicing in the plenary and perpetual character of the forgiveness of sins. Believers should rejoice in all that God in divine grace has guaranteed in this ‘so great salvation’: our acceptance with God; our eternal security; the new covenant blessings; and our future inheritance. It is to the praise of His glory according to the riches of His grace.

Endnote

1

Prov. 11. 15; 17. 18; 20. 16; 22. 26; 27. 13.

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