By Spencer D Gear
It is not uncommon to read statements like this one about the Holy Spirit’s sealing redemption to guarantee eternal security.
What do you do with this scripture:
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
If you are seal when you get saved, telling me how in the world are you going to be unsaved?
Can you open the hand of God, who holds us and cause him to let you go?
This was my response. Quoting Ephesians 4:30 as you have done as a guarantee of eternal security is dangerous. Here’s why:
In Romans 4:11 the same word for ‘sealed’ is used as in Eph 4:30. If this means an unbreakable and permanent seal of eternal security, then the same must apply to Rom. 4:11 – an unbreakable and permanent seal of circumcision.
But that cannot be the situation. What does Rom. 4:11 state?
He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well (Rom. 4:11 ESV).
We know from Scripture that the sealing of circumcision could be broken through unbelief (see Rom. 11:20-23 where circumcised Jews could be broken off through unbelief). See also Rom. 2:25-29.
So, sealing of circumcision, as in Rom. 4:11, depends on continued faith. As long as a person continues to believe that person is sealed.
Therefore, because a person is ‘sealed’ does not guarantee continued faithfulness. It does not guarantee an eternal destiny that is guaranteed, signed sealed and delivered and that such a person can never fall away.
We have the same kind of situation in John 10:27-28:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand (ESV).
I had a person say to me at church recently that he became convinced of eternal security by accepting what John 10:28 stated – nobody could pluck believers out of the Father’s hand.
However, what are the conditions for not being plucked/snatched out of the Father’s hand? The words that I have highlighted in vv 27-28 are all in the Greek present tense. So the meaning is continuous action as the Greek tense emphasises the KIND of action more than the time of action.
Therefore the meaning of those 4 words in bold is: ‘My sheep continue to hear my voice, and I continue to know them, and they continue to follow me. 28 I continue to give them eternal life….’
There is no guarantee of eternal security without continuing belief – continuing to hear, continuing to know, and continuing to follow. What is God’s guarantee for this continuing belief? God continues to give them eternal life.
That is the biblical teaching on eternal security. Perseverance of the saints is necessary for sealing to be guaranteed.
 Christian Forums, Baptists, ‘falling away’, SoulBap6#16, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7699897-2/#post61859654 (Accessed 29 November 2012).
 I received this exegetical insight from an article by Ben Henshaw 2012. Some further reflections on the nature of the sealing of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 1:13 and 3:30 (online), 22 March. Society of Evangelical Arminians. Available at: http://evangelicalarminians.org/?q=Henshaw.Some-Further-Reflections-on-the-Nature-of-the-Sealing-of-the-Holy-Spirit-in-Eph-1.13-and-4.30 (Accessed 29 November 2012).
Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.