Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Monday – Sealing With the Spirit: Some Further Thoughts

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Monday – Sealing With the Spirit: Some Further Thoughts May 7, 2006
In this week’s MLJ Monday post, Dr. Lloyd-Jones addresses some final questions regarding the sealing. Next week, in our concluding post on this subject, I will share from the pages of Iain Murray’s biography, one of the Doctor’s own experiences – an experience of which he never spoke publically, and only seldom in private, but which I feel will be a great encouragement to you as a reader of this blog.
Today, the Doctor begins his final exposition of Ephesians 1:13 in this way:
“All who have ever written about the experience of the sealing of the Spirit are agreed in saying that it is very difficult to describe it in words. There is something about it which baffles description . . . There is almost a secret about it. But any man who has ever known it, even to the slightest and the faintest extent, will agree that there is nothing which he has ever known that is in any way comparable to it . . . In love, even human love, there is always an element which cannot be put into words. It is much more so with this, because it is an experience of God’s love, and in turn of our love going out to Him! We love Him because He first loved us, and there is something almost inexpressible about the experience. Yet it is the most real thing that can ever happen to us.”
The Doctor now attempts to answer the following questions which may still remain in the minds of his readers:
1. Did all the first Christians have this experience?
2. Is this experience meant for every Christian?
3. Are we to seek this sealing?
Because more than half of this chapter focuses on the third question, I will devote a greater part of this last post to that question. Nevertheless, to summarize Lloyd-Jones answer to the first question, he states that “. . . it is conceivable, indeed it is even likely, that most of these first Christians were given this experience.” He then asks, “How therefore can it be said that one may be a Christian without knowing this sealing of the Spirit?” It is argued from statements such as Romans 5:5 and 1 Peter 1:8 that this is a universal statement applying to all Christian people. “How,” the Doctor asks, “do we reconcile such statements with our contention that the sealing does not apply to all Christians?” His argument is that Paul could not possibly know every Christian in the church at Ephesus, and Peter did not even know those to whom he was writing; therefore MLJ believes that we can conclude that with these universal statements the writers are dealing with “what is the norm and the standard for every true Christian.” In regards to the events in Acts 2, the Doctor says, “Clearly that was unique not only in being a first occasion, it was also exceptional in its extent and in its intensity. I do not mean that it happened once and for ever, and that it was never to be repeated. To say that is a great error. I am suggesting only that at the beginning it was more intense than it has been subsequently . . . To explain, therefore why Paul here writes in this manner to the Ephesians, we are entitled to give one or the other of these two explanations -either that all Christians had actually received this blessing because they belonged to the early Church at the beginning, or that the Apostle was speaking generally concerning the norm and the standard rather than in terms of every individual member of the Church.”
Parenthetically, Lloyd-Jones adds, “In many ways this is the most important question of all with respect to this teaching. I would add that it is also an extremely difficult question: and I can but suggest what for myself, at any rate, is an adequate and sufficient answer.”
To the second question, “Is this experience meant for every Christian?”, Lloyd-Jones gives a resounding Yes!
‘Many have deduced from this [the experiences of men such as Whitefield, Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, etc.] that the experience is only meant for outstanding people and not for ‘ordinary’ Christians. But that is an entirely false conclusion . . . God is the Father of every Christian in exactly the same way. He is the Father of the humblest Christian in precisely the same manner as He is of the most exalted servant in the Church . . . I repeat, this is meant for all of us; and let us always bear in mind that it is not always present in the same intensity . . . While it need not happen in such great intensity . . . it is the birthright of every Christian to be absolutely certain and sure of his salvation”because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father’ (Galatians 4:6) . . . It is sonship that matters; therefore every Christian should know this sealing with the Spirit.’
The Doctor goes on to answer the third question, and also outlines, in both negative and positive terms, ways in which to seek this sealing with the Spirit.
‘The remaining question which many ask is: Are we to seek this sealing? My answer, without any hesitation, is that we should most certainly do so.’
However, the Doctor cautions that we must proceed carefully at this point, and in so doing he introduces a negative:
‘There is nothing in contemporary Christianity which is so dangerous and so unscriptural as the teaching that, with regard to each and every blessing in the Christian life, all that we have to do is ‘to take it by faith’, and not worry about feelings.’
‘Let us be clear in our minds, then, that we do not receive this blessing in that way and apart from feelings; when we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of God we shall know it. It is not to be accepted by faith, apart from feelings. You must go on asking for it until you have it, until you know that you have it. The teaching of ‘Take it by faith’ is responsible, I believe, for much of the present undesirable state of the Christian Church. Many seem to go through the entire course of the Christian life in that way, saying ‘We do not worry about our feelings, we take it by faith’, with the result that they never seem to have any experience at all. They live on what they suggest to themselves, it is a kind of auto-suggestion or Cou’ism. But when God blesses the soul, the soul knows it . . . When God seals you with the Spirit you will know it. You will not have to ‘take it by faith’ irrespective of your feelings and your condition . . .You will not have to persuade yourself; the persuasion will be done by the Holy Ghost and you will know something of this rejoicing ‘with a joy unspeakable and full of glory’.
‘I am not suggesting, however, that we should indulge in what have been sometimes called ‘tarrying meetings’. There was a sense in which those who started such meetings were right; at any rate they realized that such a policy was something experimental. But they were wrong when they went on to say, ‘Let us meet together and let us wait until we have had the blessing we seek’ . . . If people wait in that manner without food and drink, and in a tense atmosphere, there is always an enemy on hand who is ready to produce a counterfeit. And there is always our own psychology, the power of persuasion, and the danger that people may work themselves into a false ecstasy. This danger became especially real when they said, ‘I will not go out of the building until I have the blessing’.
‘Furthermore, there is the very real danger of forgetting the Lordship of the Spirit, and the sovereignty of God. It is He who decides when to give this blessing. It is He who decides to whom to give it. We cannot command it, and we must never adopt the attitude of saying, ‘I am going to fulfil the conditions and wait until it has happened’. That is unscriptural; it is not God’s method.’
Well, then What Should We Do?? The Doctor outlines his answer in the following way:
Search the Scriptures for the promises, those ‘exceeding great and precious promises’ of which the Apostle Peter speaks (2 Peter 1:4). ‘Realize what God means you to have, and what He offers you.’
Make sure that you seek the
right thing. ‘We are not to seek experiences and phenomena as such. We are to seek the Lord, to seek to know Him and His love. It is almost insulting to Him to seek His blessings and not to seek Him, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Seek Him; seek the knowledge of Him, seek His righteousness, seek His holiness. Seek all these and you will never go astray. But if you seek ecstasies and visions and feelings, you will probably have them; but they will be counterfeit. Seek Him, and you cannot go wrong.’
Do all that you can to prepare the way. ‘We must be cleansed, and must cleanse ourselves, if this loving Guest is to enter in. ‘Mortify, therefore, your members.’ Get rid of sin, purify your hearts; get rid, says Paul, of ‘all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit’. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
‘Then, positively . . . put into practice the virtues which the Apostle Peter mentions in detail: ‘Add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity (love)’. Peter exhorts us to do these things. He does not merely say, ‘Go to a meeting and wait for it, or receive it by faith’. We have to ‘furnish out our faith’, to fill it out with these other things. We are to labour at it”Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’. (Philippians 2:12)
‘If you read the lives of the great men of God whose experiences I have quoted, you will find that they all followed these injunctions. They were all men who laboured in reading the Scriptures and trying to understand them; they purified their lives by self-examination and mortification of the flesh . . . All this, of course, leads invariably to prayer. You must pray for this blessing. I like Thomas Goodwin’s word here: ‘Sue Him for it,’ he says, ‘Sue Him for it’, ‘Give Him no rest, as Isaiah says (Isaiah 62:7).’
In the concluding paragraphs of his exposition concerning the sealing of the Spirit, Lloyd-Jones becomes passionate:
‘Has He whispered to you, has He spoken to you? Pray for His blessing, seek it, be desperate for it, hunger and thirst for it. Keep on praying until your prayer is answered. Take time, in other words. Take time! Not only ‘take time to be holy’ but take time to seek this sealing with the Spirit. Keep on, never cease . . . . Be satisfied with nothing less. Has God ever told you that you are His child? Has He spoken to you, not with an audible voice, but, in a sense, in a more real way? Have you known this illumination, this melting quality? Have you known what it is to be lifted up above and beyond yourself? If not, Seek it; cry out to Him, saying, ‘Speak, I pray Thee, gentle Jesus’, and ‘Sue Him for it’, and keep on until He speaks to you.”
All emphasis mine.
Excerpts for this post were taken from:
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, An Exposition of Ephesians 1, God’s Ultimate Purpose, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1978, chapter 25, pp. 289-300.

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