What is Paul Talking About?

 I got stuck at the beginning of Paul's Letter to the Ephesians (1:13-14) as I opened my bible for morning prayer.

Paul tells the Ephesians that they have heard the gospel, have believed in Jesus and "were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God's possession, to the praise of his glory."

A mouthful for sure.

Well, being sealed by God is a reference to baptism, but what about the idea of "first installment?"  If baptism is a first installment, doesn't that mean there's more to come?

Now that seems confusing to me since in baptism, we receive the full Trinity--God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. There is no parceling out.

As I pondered this, I read in my bible's footnote that "first installment" refers to "down payment by God on full salvation."

Down payment?

It seems to me that full salvation is achieved upon our death so perhaps the contingency to full salvation is related to the life we lead.  We contribute to our full salvation by living a life given over to Jesus.  

If we are living a life that is not aligned with God, we need to look closely at how we are living and make some changes.  No doubt this will come at the cost of some personal sacrifice, but look what we get as a result!

What I am saying is that if salvation isn't a one and done deal, and the way we live our life has an impact on where we end up after our death, maybe we need to be paying closer attention to the here and now.

Paul is quite consistent in this message.  He tells the people of Philippi (2:12+), " . . . work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work."

As we continue to work out our salvation, we are so grateful for the outpouring of grace Jesus brought through his crucifixion and resurrection, but we must remember that our access to salvation comes through him, and this includes the rest of the sacraments as well, which are food for the journey.

Are you ready to make some changes in your life so as to contribute to your eternal salvation?

Janet Cassidy


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