In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. – Eph. 1:13-14
Under the Old Testament, we clearly see that the covenant community of God, the Jewish people, were the means through which God intended to rescue a fallen and sick world. God intended to use Israel as the vehicle through which sin was dealt with, and nations were blessed with God’s justice, peace and truth. Under this covenant, Israel kept Torah and thus they were set apart from all other peoples of the Earth, to be a special people unto the Lord, destined to fulfil His purposes of revewing the fallen cosmos.
Into this story then Jesus the messiah comes along, as a true Israelite, as a perfect Jew, and He kept Torah – He fulfilled the covenant – something which the Jewish people had failed to do, for in trying to keep Torah they were embracing something that was death to them, not life.
Under the New Covenant the covenant people of God now includes Gentile believers worshipping side-by-side with Jewish believers – Believers in Jesus the Messiah. Jesus therefore kept Torah, and He kept Torah in such a way that now, the distinguishing mark of God’s covenant community is not the keeping of Torah (That would be death for us) but the three-point mark show above:
1. Hearing. Hearing the Gospel (Evangel – the word used to denote that Caesar was lord of all the Earth). Having an open heart to the message that Jesus (over and above any “Caesars, lords, masters or baals) is now Lord of all the Cosmos – He is King.
2. Believing. Believing in Him sets us “In Christ” the one who kept Torah perfectly – thus we enter into His perfection. We do not need to keep Torah – we now live in the ONE who is the Living Torah.
3. Receiving the mark. We are branded, marked, set as a seal of approval, when we receive God’s Holy Spirit. That Spirit is a seal denoting that the recipient is not a counterfeit, He/she is the real thing, the genuine article. This Holy Spirit serves as a pledge, a deposit, that guarantees that when God accomplishes His purposes to rid the world of evil and renew the creation, we will be found to belong to Him – a part of His Covenant Community. This pledge allows us to anticipate today that which will be fulfilled at the end of the age.
As a part of this called-out and marked covenant community, what remains now is a fabulous mission, to be the difference this world is aching to taste and see.
Theologicus Preachicus over.