I’ve been thinking about down payments a lot lately. With the car market practically begging us to buy a new car and my car getting near time for replacing anyway, I’ve been considering getting a new car. Of course, as we all know, to do that you need to have an adequate down payment in hand. So, I’ve been checking and re-checking my finances to see if I have that kind of money available.
However, as I’ve done so, it got me to thinking about why I need a down payment anyway. Apparently, most car dealers aren’t willing to just take my word for it that I’ll eventually pay them back. Neither are most banks. For some reason, they want one large sum paid down in advance, and then they’ll let me pay it off bit by bit.
Why? Simple. They want some guarantee that I’ll actually pay them the full amount, some guarantee that I won’t just walk out on them, some assurance that I’ll actually keep my promise. Consequently, they want my down payment, my guarantee that I’ll make good on my promise.
All of that got me to thinking about a phrase Paul uses on occasion in his letters. We see it, for instance, in 2 Corinthians 1:22:
God has anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
And there it is, Paul’s word “deposit.” The Holy Spirit is God’s deposit, God’s down payment, guaranteeing what is to come.
Why does God need to give us a down payment, quite literally a “pledge,” guaranteeing anything? What’s there to guarantee? He is God, after all. Surely He’s good for it whatever it is. If God promised it, surely God will do it.
Then I got to thinking about the other side of it, the questions we often ask: How do we know God will do all He said He will do? How do we know God will keep all His promises?
After all, God has made some pretty incredible promises, hasn’t He? Things like forgiveness of sin, eternal life, salvation, heaven, the Kingdom of God, peace on earth – and whatever else you’d like to add to the list. God has promised so much.
So how do we know He’ll do it? What proof do we have that God will keep His promises? Sure, you could say that it’s a matter of “faith.” And you’d be right in some way. But, according to Paul, God has given us more than some wispy promise. God has given us a guarantee, the Holy Spirit.
How is the Holy Spirit our guarantee? How is the Holy Spirit our down payment? Well, as I think about it, perhaps Paul means this: Do we have to wait until heaven to experience some sense of God’s eternal life? No, the Bible says that God has given us some bit of that now. God has placed in our hearts His grace and love, peace and joy, mercy and compassion, and so much more. All of that is within us bubbling up all the time.
Well, that’s our proof. That’s our down payment. That joy and peace is our guarantee. That love and grace is the thing we can point to and say, ‘See, God has given us this much. And if He’s given us this much, surely He’ll do the rest.’
That’s the Holy Spirit in our hearts, the guarantee that God will finish what He started and that all of God’s promises are utterly true and bankable. After all, look at what He’s done so far in you and me.