Keeper of the Great Seal of Heaven: Sealing of the Spirit in the thought of John Flavel
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This thesis examines John Flavel's understanding of the sealing of the Spirit. Chapter 1 presents John Flavel's view of a subsequent sealing of the Spirit, its significance in his theology and later in the American Great Awakenings, and an outline on how thesis will be argued. Chapter 2 begins with an overview of John Flavel's life and ministry, giving particular interest to how heavenly mindedness and the work of the Spirit were in his own life and in his pastoral ministry. Specifically, this chapter is arguing that the heavenly work of the Spirit was a significant aspect of John Flavel's life and ministry. Chapter 3 examines what John Flavel believed about the person and work of the Spirit by examining all of his printed works chronologically. Attention is paid to how he develops his pneumatology within the framework of covenant theology. Chapter 4 explains what Flavel believed about the sealing of the Holy Spirit and why it is significant in his theology and ministry. Explanation will be given on the biblical evidence, experience, and purpose of sealing. Chapter 5 concludes the thesis by summarizing the argument and showing how John Flavel's understanding of the Spirit became significant later during the American Great Awakenings. Suggestion for further study will be given. This thesis contends that for John Flavel the seal of the Spirit represented a significant high point in his theology that he often explained in his writings and encouraged believers to seek in their life. His view developed from 1667, where he did not accept an immediate witness of the Spirit, to its acceptance by 1685. Yet in 1690, during the Antinomian controversy of which his writings were involved, he retracted his position, reasserting that immediate sealing is rare and not the ordinary way believers obtain assurance of salvation.