Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Sovereignty Series - How Dead is Dead?
"...for in the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die." Genesis 2:17
These were God's words to Adam, instructing him not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We all know the end of the story. Adam did eat from that tree, and he didn't drop dead. So, was God bluffing? No, two deaths were placed on Adam's account that day - immediate spiritual death and impending physical death. Both were not in Adam's pre-sin reality, and from that point on, both are every man's present reality.
But just how dead are we really? Spiritually, I mean. Perhaps we're not really dead, but instead we're dying. A dying man still has choices - do I reach out for help? Do I do another treatment? Do I get a second opinion? Or do I let nature takes it course? But a dead man has no choice. He can't decide what to wear at his funeral. He can't ask for a glass of water. And he certainly can't give any last words of advice to his children. Why not? Because dead men are just that. Dead.
So again, if we truly are "dead in our trespasses and sin" (Ephesians 2:1), just how dead is that? Well, what does the Bible say? To answer this question, we're going to look at some of Paul's writings. Now, I will let you know that most people who don't like this "dead" concept, say that this was just one of Paul's favorite illustrations, but it doesn't mean that we were truly dead, but...if...it's...in...the...Bible...
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins..." Eph. 2:1
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all have sinned..." Romans 5:12
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ..." Eph. 2:4,5
"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Col. 2:13,14
"For the gospel has for this reason been preached even to those who are dead, that through they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God." I Peter 4:6
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes HIm who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." John 5:24
So, there's a taste of what the Word says. Here's how I see it: God said that if Adam sinned, then death would come to all men. Adam sinned. Death came. That's why man is considered "dead" in his trespasses and sin. So if we were truly dead, then we were hopeless and helpless. It was over. Our punishment was final. And just like a corpse in a morgue, our ability to help ourselves was gone.
Now, I have to put a note from the editor here. I am heading in a direction with a purpose, so I need to ask you to continue to be patient. I understand that the scripture teaches that a response to the gospel is necessary for salvation and we'll get to that. If I were witnessing to an unbeliever, this is not where I would begin (speaking of election in salvation). But as believers who are seeking to know God in a deeper way, to understand His part vs. man's part in salvation is a valuable study. Let me put it this way, when I was born, I didn't have to understand the specifics of how I got where I got and how I got out and who was there to help. All I knew was that it was time to stop swimming and start breathing! But as I grew older, the details meant a lot more to me. Make sense? So, again, hang in there as we walk through this study.
So, in conclusion, I think we can agree that when God said we would die if we sinned, He was being honest with us. Man without Jesus is spiritually dead. It's how we all enter this world and without intervention, its how we'll all leave. That being said, let me leave you with this picture:
A body is floating face down in Lake Michigan. As you pull closer, you confirm that the body is dead, but just in case there is a bit of life left, you toss a life preserver near it. If the body is dead, does it reach up and grab the preserver to be pulled to the boat? What can that body do to save itself?
That's right. Nothing.
Now, let's say you paddle closer, pull the body into the boat and Jesus just happens to be there and brings the body back to life. Who made the choice to save that body?
That's right again. Jesus.
So, is man dead? Or is he dying?
What do you think?