And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. – 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (ESV)
When a young couple gets married, they immediately dream of getting their own house. They work hard, and set about saving their money for a down payment on their dream house. Finally the day arrives when they draw up the papers to buy the house. They meet with the bank officials, sign the documents, and hand them a check for the down payment. The down payment does not represent the full price of the house only a portion, but it is the promise of more payments to come. Often thirty years of payments until the full price is paid.
With that picture in mind, we would do well to remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit has been given to those who trust in Christ as God’s down payment regarding the promise of eternal life. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells them that God upon believing in Christ has “given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor. 1:22). The word guarantee carries the idea of a pledge or deposit, guaranteeing that the full amount will be paid. Therefore in the gift of the Holy Spirit at salvation God is in effect guaranteeing the Christian’s complete redemption (Phil. 1:6). God is promising our full and final inheritance of eternal life at the coming of Christ (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). The further payments promised in this pledge represent nothing less than the realities and glories of heaven for every child of God.
On the one hand the down payment of the Holy Spirit breeds assurance. Here is a promise of the full redemption of body, soul, and spirit (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). The Holy Spirit indwelling and sealing the believer is God’s “earnest money” pledged against our full redemption and glorification in Christ. That is remarkable and reassuring! God our Father has made himself the guarantee of our salvation and God is not about to default on His promises. The fact and implication is that if the pledge is not kept by God He would cease to be God, but God cannot deny himself (2 Tim. 2:13). He is faithful and will do it (1 Thess. 5:23-24). The security of the believer is as sure as God is true.
On the other hand the down payment of the Holy Spirit breeds anticipation. Remember the guarantee is the promise of something more. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the first installment of all that God is going to do for us (1 Cor. 2:9-10). In Christ we go from glory to glory (Prov. 4:18; 2 Cor. 3:18). Salvation is a progressive thing, and God’s love for us grows wider and deeper each and every day. None of us are what we shall be in God’s presence someday (1 John 3:1-3). The gift of the Holy Spirit is a reminder that the Christian has everything to live and die for. The best is yet to come. The gift of the Spirit is like being allowed into the kitchen to have a little taste of the feast to come.