God’s “Earnest Money”

By Mark D. Roberts

March 5, 2018

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:11-14


Some years ago, I heard a phrase that I had never heard before: “earnest money.” When Linda and I put down an offer on a house in Texas, our realtor advised us to include some earnest money with our offer. I learned that this was rather like what we would have called a deposit in California. Our earnest money reassured the sellers of the home that we were serious about our offer. If we backed out of the deal, then we would forfeit our earnest money.

Reflects of a pathway surrounded in light.In Ephesians 1:13-14, we learn that the Holy Spirit is God’s earnest money, given to us to reassure us that we will one day receive the fullness of blessing that comes to the people of God. The NIV identifies the Spirit as “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.” The Greek text of verse 14 uses the word arrabon, which is defined in classical Greek as “earnest-money, caution-money, deposited by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase is not completed” (Liddell-Scott Intermediate Lexicon). It is used two other times in the New Testament, in both cases in reference to the Spirit as proof that our future in God is secure (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5).

The Christian Gospel offers a stirring hope: Someday, God will reign fully over every square inch of heaven and earth, uniting all things in Christ, making all things right, so that we might flourish in the peace God intends for us and so that creation might be all that God intended it to be. We will be fully united with God and with his people, and he will wipe away every tear, replacing our sorrow with joy.

That sounds great, doesn’t it? But, in the meanwhile, our lives are at best a mixed bag. At times, we rejoice in the blessings of this world. At other times, we experience brokenness, injustice, and sorrow. We might wonder if God’s future for us is real. Or is it just some religious pipe dream? Will God’s promises come true? God’s answer has come in the form of the Holy Spirit, once promised and now given to all who put their trust in Christ. Through the Spirit, we begin to experience the life of the future today. Thus, we can have confidence that what God has begun in us and in the world will one day be completed.

Something to Think About:

How have you experienced the presence and power of God through the Holy Spirit?

Do you sometimes worry that our hope for the future is just wishful thinking? If so, what helps you to be reassured?

Today, where do you need the reassurance that the Spirit gives?

Something to Do:

As you begin your work today, reflect on the fact that the Spirit of God has been given to you. The Holy Spirit lives within you. Let this be an encouragement to you as you do your work today.


Gracious God, thank you for the gift of the Spirit, your “earnest money” that gives us confidence in the future. Thank you for allowing us, through the Spirit, to begin to experience life as it will be when you reign fully over heaven and earth.

Help me, O Lord, to be open to the presence and power of your Spirit in me. Do in and through me all that you have intended, for your glory. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Transparency (2 Corinthians 1:12–23)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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