We might be tempted to read this simply as flowery, but dogmatic language. I believe nothing could be further from the truth. Paul is talking about an act of God by which HE puts His stamp on US in a real, personal way, and even more than that….
Christians often talk about the promises of God that are in the Bible, but Paul talks about the “Holy Spirit of promise”.
The word is “epaggeli” in the Greek, a feminine noun (interestingly), that is nearly always used in the New Testament to mean “of God’s promise” (guaranteed by His own eternal being), and generally meaning an officially sanctioned promise. It is a promise that could not rest on more sold authority. Other places epaggeli is used include the following:
“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high….” (Luke 24:49 NASB)
“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from me.’” (Acts 1:4 NASB)
Both of these passages refer to the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father (epaggeli). The Holy Spirit is the promise of the Father Jesus spoke about! That promise of the Father was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1)
Here is the “more”! The Holy Spirit, of course, is a Person, a “personality” of the three person God. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come to help the apostles and all who believe in Him:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:15-21 ESV)
“Another Helper” means, literally, “another of the same kind”; and “helper” is the Greek word used for lawyer, a legal advocate, one who stands alongside and advocates and helps us. The Holy Spirit is “of the same kind” as Jesus – God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He, God Himself, in the form of the Holy Spirit, is our helper!
The Holy Spirit is the mark of a true believer. The Holy Spirit is God’s promise. The Holy Spirit is God’s seal (stamp) on us. He is the pledge of our inheritance. (Eph. 1:14)
This is not just a doctrine; the Holy Spirit is in us – “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you“!
We are meant to experience God! “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8 ESV) The Holy Spirit is God’s direct presence in our lives. Jesus was limited by flesh and blood in His reach; but the Holy Spirit has limitless reach.
I have been struck recently by a couple of video testimonies by Muslims who became Christians. In both cases, the Muslims were devote followers of Allah. When they came to a point of crisis in their faith, they cried out and were met with silence. In both cases, they turned to “the God of Abraham” in desperation and cried out to Jesus… and God responded! They were converted because they experienced God!
We serve a living God! God, Himself, seals us to Himself with the Holy Spirit who has been promised to all who believe.
The Holy Spirit is God with us, communicating to us, living in us, coming along side and helping us. The Holy Spirit communicates with our spirit. (Romans 8:16) This is not just a platitude, but a reality for the believer!
We are not left with the words on a page, we have the Living Word. As good as a promise is that is written in stone, a Living Promise is even better! A Promise who lives with us, communicates with us and confirms to us on a daily basis that we are God’s children is what we have.
We tend to overlook the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, but that is because of who He is. The Holy Spirit draws no attention to himself. As Jesus exalted the Father, the Holy Spirit exalts The Father and the Son, living in us and enabling us to be conformed to them. Jesus lived, and walked and breathed among us; the Holy Spirit is like the wind; we do not see Him, but His presence is felt by every believer.
We do not always “feel” the Holy Spirit, but every believer can point to times in which the Spirit of God was felt in a real way. If that is not your experience, then I urge you to seek God out. Maybe you have not yet had a real encounter with God; maybe you have not yet submitted yourself to God; maybe you have not yet been sealed/stamped by God’s promise.
Be assured of this: he who seeks shall find; he who asks shall receive; he who knocks, the door shall be opened to you… and God will come in to you. That is being born again, born of the Spirit.
“[R]eceiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is a real, life-changing experience. Christianity is not merely an array of glorious ideas. It is not merely the performance of rituals and sacraments. It is the life-changing experience of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ the Lord of the universe.” (John Piper as quoted in Patheos by Adrian Warnock)
“Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” (Romans 8:9) If you do not have the Spirit, if you have not had encounter with God, you do not have the assurance, the seal, of God.