There’s a Christian song that begins with the following lines—
“What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer;
There is no more for heaven now to give.”
I appreciate the sentiment expressed here. The Bible reminds us that Christ is indeed all (Col 3.11) and that his sacrifice and grace are infinite. This is the theme of entire books of the Bible—Colossians, Ephesians, and Hebrews come immediately to mind, but others could be named as well—and multiple songs of multiple styles have been written on the theme.
But for some time I’ve been impressed with a surprising statement in the classic list of the elements of salvation in Ephesians 1. The passage lays out a partial list of what God has done for us—from what Paul calls “all spiritual blessings” (Ep 1.3)—and organizes those elements under the rubric of the Trinity. He begins with the work of the Father (Ep 1.4-6) in choosing and predestinating us to adoption; he then moves to the Son’s work (Ep 1.7-13a) in redeeming us, earning our forgiveness and accomplishing our unification in him. But in this latter section he also speaks of more to come—an “inheritance” (Ep 1.11).
And here is where he says something I find surprising, perhaps even shocking. Moving to the role of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, who “seals” us (Ep 1.13), confirming our genuineness and accomplishing our security, Paul describes the Spirit as “the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Ep 1.14).
The KJV, which I’ve quoted here, has the word “earnest,” which we don’t use much in this sense these days except in real estate transactions, when we speak of “earnest money” paid by a buyer as a demonstration that he’s serious about buying and will show up for the closing. Other English versions use a variety of terms here—“guarantee” (NKJV ESV), “pledge” (NASB), “down payment” (CSB), “deposit” (NIV). You get the idea.
I’ve heard lots of teaching on this concept, but one day, well into adulthood, it struck me what a surprising metaphor this is. If I were evaluating a student’s sermon, and he used this metaphor, and it weren’t in the Bible, I’d take him aside afterwards and say to him, very paternally and condescendingly, “Now, young man, the Holy Spirit is a personal member of the Godhead, equal in every way to the Father and the Son, and it’s really not appropriate to speak of him as a ‘partial’ payment for anything. That’s irreverent.”
And I would be wrong, because the Bible does indeed use this metaphor, demonstrating that it is appropriate. And further, the person of the Godhead who uses this metaphor is the Spirit himself, who inspired Paul to write it (2P 1.20-21).
The Trinity, the Godhead, gives us the Spirit himself, who indwells us, teaching and convicting and directing us through this life, and he himself says that he’s just a portion of what God has in store for us—there’s more to come.
This is astonishing.
There is, indeed, more for heaven to give.
Now, I’m not criticizing the song. The lyricists, Australian Anglicans Richard Thompson and Jonny Robinson, have very precisely, and I think correctly, written, “There is no more for heaven now to give.” Good for them.
But it does us good to remind ourselves of the limitation of that key word now. There is, indeed, more—much more, infinitely more, in store for God’s people from the abundant storehouses of heaven.
- Though we have eternal and abundant life now (Jn 10.10; 1J 5.13), there is a level of life awaiting us that we cannot imagine (2Co 12.4).
- Though we know Christ now, we shall see and know him in unprecedented ways then (Mt 25.34; Rv 22.17).
- Though we fellowship with the indwelling Spirit now, we shall know him much more intimately then (Re 22.17).
God has given us a down payment of his very person in the Holy Spirit. He’s really serious about his relationship with us. Let us embrace him and anticipate all that is to come.