Sealing with the Spirit
A Sermon on Romans 8:16
16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
What does it mean to say that the Spirit bears witness? Listen to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in this sermon on Romans 8:16 titled “Sealing with the Spirit.” Paul began assuring the Christian in their salvation by saying in Romans 8:16 that they are led by the Spirit of God, which makes them children of God. Secondly, he adds that Christians would know something of the spirit of bondage and fear. Paul is now explaining that the Holy Spirit testifies with the Christian’s spirit. There are multitudes of commentaries that discuss varying views on the definition of this verse and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones spends much of this sermon discussing the views and applications of this verse. He does want to make one thing clear: all Christians are sons of God and all Christians are children of God. Those that say there are distinctions or groupings among Christians have not properly translated what Paul is saying here. When Paul refers to Christians as “sons,” he means this in a legal sense. When Paul refers to Christians as “children of God,” he means this in a familial sense and our present reality. Dr. Lloyd-Jones then explains why this is another point to prove the assurance of one’s salvation. Any scholar or commentary that does not teach on the assurance of salvation does not fall into the proper Protestant Reformation teaching.
The verse under consideration is Romans 8:16 - "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." This verse comes in the context of assurance of salvation, which is the theme of the entire chapter.
The first ground for assurance of salvation is being led by the Spirit (v. 14). There are signs that can indicate if someone is being led by the Spirit.
The second ground is knowing the "spirit of bondage" and "spirit of fear" (v. 15a). Only Christians experience this.
The third ground is receiving the "spirit of adoption" where we cry "Abba, Father!" (v. 15b). This is not essential for salvation but should be sought after.
In v. 16, "Spirit" is capitalized because the Holy Spirit is a person, though the Greek word is neuter. "Beareth witness with" means a joint testimony. "Children" refers to our experience while "sons" refers to our legal standing. The terms are used interchangeably.
Some teach that only some Christians become "sons" through faith and works, but Scripture says all Christians are children and sons of God.
The Spirit's witness is not just enabling us to cry "Abba, Father" (v. 15) or leading us (v. 14). It is an additional witness.
The Spirit does not just enlighten us or assure us because of His work in us. His witness is subsequent to faith and regeneration.
The Spirit's witness is direct, immediate, and felt, though it varies. It is a sealing of the Spirit.
This verse is key to assurance of salvation and distinguishes Protestantism from Roman Catholicism. It has been key in revivals.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.