January 1

Ephesians 1:11-14

“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…” vs. 13

For many believers these words are linked to the Rite of Baptism as practiced by some of our congregations. After the washing with water and the laying on of hands, the officiant proclaims, “__________, child of God, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” Those are important words of promise and a reminder that our salvation is secure, not because we’ve had water poured on our heads, but because we have been marked and sealed in Christ even before we were born. This promise is the essence of grace and isn’t the least bit dependent on what we do–it’s all the work of God. Now certainly faith is involved–the grace becomes real to us in our hearing and believing–but faith is always secondary to what has been done by God in Christ. Today is the first day of the new year, an occasion for myriads of resolutions and promises to change our way of living. Those regular attempts at repentance are a blessing for many–and sometimes even result in permanent change. But one thing that doesn’t change with the calendar is God’s overwhelming undeserved grace. Even when our feeble efforts at self-improvement fail, God’s love in Christ never fails. Our salvation has been sealed by the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thought for the Day: What benefit is grace without faith?

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