Alive from the dead
ALIVE FROM THE DEAD (Eph 2:1-10)
Today is a very special day in the life of our church. In fact, for me it is the highlight of my whole ministry.
* We are celebrating with the Afrikaans church – God's grace in bringing this new church into existence and sustaining and nurturing her for almost a year now.
- We are celebrating with 9 Baptismal candidates God's grace in giving them life from the dead.
* That is what Baptism is – it is an outward symbol of a spiritual reality – that as believers we have died together with Christ and been raised together with Christ.
- It testifies to the fact that our sins have been washed away and we have been given new life in Christ.
You will hear a number of testimonies today from each of the baptismal candidates of what God has done for them.
This morning I wanted to spend a few moments looking at God's own testimony to what He has done. Because as you listen to the testimonies, you will hear that each one is unique and yet each one is the same.
They are unique because we are all unique individuals – but they are the same in that what we were, and what we needed and what God has done in the life of every believer is the same.
So lets look at this in Ephesians 2
God's testimony to every believer
1. What you were: dead (2:1-3)
Condition = continually dead
Illlustration – altered consciousness
When medical personal assess the condition of a patient – one of the things they must assess is the person's level of consciousness. To do this they use a scale called a glasgow scale.
This might describe someone as
- Alert = patient is aware of themselves and their environment
- Lethargic = patient can be easily aroused with mild stimulation and can maintain arousal without need of continuous stimulations.
- Somnolent =patient can be aroused by voice or touch; can follow commands, but need constant stimulation to maintain arousal.
- Obtunded = patient can be aroused by verbal and painful stimulation, but the verbal output is unintelligible.
- Stupor = unresponsiveness from which the patient can only be aroused by vigorous repeated painful stimuli; and there is no response to verbal stimuli.
- Coma =unresponsive to any type of stimulus and deep tendon reflexes are absent (DTR are intact in stuporous patients);
- Vegestative state = prolonged period of coma
- Death = completely unresponsive to any internal or externl stimula
I have listed this progression from completely alive to completely dead to put into perspective what God's assement of our condition.
- Continually dead – you being continually dead.
- Spiritually dead – not talking about physical bodies but our spirits
- Like a dead body is completely physically unresponsive to any physical stimulae. You were completely unresponsive to any spiritual stimulae. Completely unresponsive to God.
- Dead in sin – sin is the cause of death. Transgressions and sins = willfully rebelling against God's rule and authority.
We were physically alive but spiritually dead – completely unresponsive to God
Not in a coma or stupor or merely dull of hearing – dead to God.
Only a doctor can pronounce someone dead because a doctor knows what signs to look for, what signs accompany death.
Our spiritually dead state could clearly by the following physical signs
a. ways of the world (2a)
b. ways of the devil (2b)
c. cravings of our own sinful nature (3)
Ways of the world
Your lifestyle, your values, your way of life, your goals and ambitions, and priorities were just like the rest of the world – that world out there that neither recognizes God nor submits to His will not lives for His glory.
People in the world look very different to each other, and their lifestyles are very different. Some spend their weekends playing sport, others spend their lives at work, others are into their homes, others are bent on trying to climb the social ladder. Some are rich and some poor, some educated and some not. They really only have one thing in common – God is nowhere in their life. They might be very religious and even go to church every Sunday – but in their heart of hearts God is nothing to them.
He is not the object of their love, the goal of their efforts, the fulfilment of their desires and joy of their hearts.
Ways of the devil
The devil who is bent on getting all the glory for himself and usurping God's authority.
The one who from the beginning has been tempting humankind to follow him down that same path that leads to destruction.
It emphasises the disobedience that characterzies the spiritually dead. They are continually living contrary to God's will and God's Word.
Cravings of the sinful nature
Consider this statement for a moment
We have a sinful nature, which is bent on sin, on disobeying God.
- Either just ignoring Him,
- or actively rebelling against Him
This sinful nature leads to sinful desires, sinful cravings, sinful pursuits, sinful thoughts.
In Rom 8:7 Paul reminds us that “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
There is not hope for religious reform here, for turning over a new leaf – the sinful nature will not change and cannot change.
The sinful nature is an addict addicted to sin.... It craves sin, it schemes and plots and plans when it can get its next fix. It is never satisfied – the more it gets to sin the more it wants to sin. Just try to starve it off...
Consequences – under wrath
Objects of wrath = objectives destined to suffer God's wrath.
That's what hell essentially is – the experience of being the object of God's wrath against sin for all eternity.
!!!! Outraged as sin
If we get outraged when we hear some politician has been helping himself to millions of the tax payers hard earned money, or when we hear some 6 year old girl has been raped or when puts a gun to our head and takes our car. If we get outraged at law breakers who have no respect for the laws of the road – how much more a holy God against those who break His holy law!
No hope of life
Now, just like a very sick person cannot help themselves. I mean imagine you have a severely blocked artery which causes you to go into cardiac arrest. As you drop to the ground you don't simply say – I know the problem, I have not been watching my colestrol, so I need to give myself this anasthetic and quickly do some open heart surgery to fix myself up and I'll be back to normal in no time.
A very sick person is unable to heal themselves. How much more so a dead person....
That is what you were – note it says all of us at one time lived that way. Vs 3 – All of us also lived among them.
Every single person since Adam has been born physically alive but spiritually dead. This is God's description of the condition and the characteristics and the consequences which await every person.
You were spiritually dead. So what yo needed was life
2. What you needed: life (2:4-7)
I love this text! In the Greek language you can change the order of the words around for emphasis.
Vs 4 says literally – But God.
You were dead and you would have remained dead – But God... made you alive...
God's mercy = had compassion on us and didn't treat us as our sins deserved. Describes His rich, abundant, overflowing mercy toward us. As great as our sin and rebellion against Him – His mercy rose up even higher
* Because of the great love. Love which seeks the best for the one loved. Love which is not dependant upon the performance of the one loved. It is unconditional.
- Because God had that kind of love – which sought our best and was not dependnt upon our performance – He showed us mercy and gave us life.
Main very in this section – is in verse 5 – God made us alive.
Uses such an unusual word here, which we don't find anywhere else in the Greek language. So many people believe Paul made this workd up.
One word which doesn't just say – He mad us alive – but literally “together with He made us alive”
Paul doesn't want to speak of us being made alive – without mentioning in whom and through whom we have been made alive.
God the one who creates life and gives life and sustains life – God is the one who gave us new life in Christ.
This is salvation. It is not just going to some nice place called heaven one day. Salvation is the act by which God unites us with Christ spiritually – so that we receive His life and live spiritually united with Him.
There are no exact parallels to what happens here.
Merge of business
Imagine you had a business which was essentially bankrupt and about to go insolvent.
Then this company comes and buys you out. They merge with you, out of their great financial reserves they pay off all your debt, they give you additional personal and clientel and make you an equal partner in this multi-million rand organization.
Your company does not have an independent existence anymore – you have been united with this other company. But because of this union you have gone from owing more than you could pay – to posession more than you could spend.
That doesn't happen in the real world. Companies only do that if you bring something to the table, if you have something to offer. They want something out of the deal.
But not so with God – that is why vs 6 by grace you have been saved
Unmerited favour, unearned, undeserved. A free gift.
We have been saved, rescued, delivered – we didn't save ourselves or rescue ourselves or improve our selves – or clean ourselves up.
We were saved – God did for us what we could not do for ourselves.
By Grace. The basis of our salvation is not our preformance, not what we could do or deserved – but God's grace. His unmerited, undersrved favour – His free gift.
He raised us up with Him spiritually – gave us new life even as He raised Christ up
Seated us with Him spiritually in the heavenly realms. That signifies the significant position we now occupy in the spiritual realm.
Can we see this fact – no, is it signficant – yes. It is because we have been seated with Christ in the heavenly realms that we have access to all the resources and privileges of heaven.
Appointed to president
When the electoral commission announced that Barak Obama had won the presedential election and He officially became the new president of the United States – His whole world suddenly changed didn't it.
All the privileges and power and resources and responsibilities that accompany that office – all became His. That's something that you can't see either, but we will see its effect being worked out in the months and years that lie ahead.
God's gracious character
Why – to display His grace. To display what matchless, inexplicable kindness He has shown.
To show the incomparrable, the surpassing, the extraordinary, the exceeding abundance of His grace.”
The act of saving us puts His character on display. It demonstrates for everyone and for all time, what kind of God He is.
He is the kind of God who would willingly and freely go to the cross and suffer inumerable attocities at the very hands of those He came to save.*
- He is the kind of God, who in the face of our hostility and rejection and continual rebellion and indifference – would continue to hold out the offer of salvation and plead with us to lay hold of what He has made available through the death of His own Son.
Jim Eliot and Nate Saint were among... missionaries....
Son baptised by the man who had killed his father
That is just a small glimpse of the magnifiscence of God's grace in Christ.
What you were - dead
What you needed - life
3. What you are: a new creation (2:8-10)
In Christ – God offered to cancel the debt of your sin and to make you a partner in the perfect rightoueness and eternal blessedness of Christ.
You head the offer, you believed in the sincereity of the offer and you received the offer by faith.
Objectively our salvation is made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ. He paid the penalty for our sin. He paid a very real debt with a very costly sacrifice.
Salvation might have been offered free to us – but it did not come free – it came at a great price to Christ.
Subjectively – we gain the benefit of what Christ has done – by faith. By receiving God's offer of salvation by faith.
Faith in the Scripture is not merely intellectually understanding that I have sinned and that Christ died for my sin.
Faith in the Scripture is wholeheartedly embrasing Christ – as the sacrificial saviour who died for me – as the reigning Lord who rules over me.
It involes an commitment of my intellect, my emotions and my will.
The best example of saving faith I can give is marriage.
Marriage is more than just liking another person.
It is more than being intellectually convinced that they are a nice person and that they would make a good spouse.
It is more than being emotionally attracted to them.
It is more than spending time with them and getting to know them.
It is more than just desiring to be married.
Marriage is a decision you make to wholeheartedly and completely commit yourself to this other person. To be united to them for life. To be one in purpose, one in flesh, one in desires. To forever have you life be bound up together with theirs.
It's a very solemn and serious decision which will impact every aspect of your life.
That is a good description of saving faith. Saying I do to Jesus Christ.
Faith not works
Faith is not a work, its the opposite of works – rather than trusting in your own abilitities and your own good works – you renounce that and trust in Christ's goodness and Christ's righteousness.
That is the only way anyone get's saved. By looking away from what I can do and looking to Christ to what only God can do.
That is the way God intended it, so that nobody will ever be able to boast to Him what we have done.
In fact – even what we have done becomes a testimony to God's grace rather than our own goodness.
That is the connection with vs 10 – for since, because.
We cannot boast for salvation and and everything that flows from it is not our good works but God's workmanship.
* His placed early in sentence – His worshipmanship
- Used of the work of a craftsman e.g. making a crown
his work of art.
- We are God's handiwork, God's masterpiece, the product of God's craftsmanship
Created or in this case re-createdin Christ. Again we cannot speak of what God has done for us and in us apart from the work of Christ.
This text says literally that in Christ God has recreated us for the purpose of doing His good works.
Note here – they are His works, that He prepared in advance. Before we were even re-created, God planned good works for us and then He saved us and recreated us so that we could walk in them.
The same word is used in
4:24 which exhorts us to “put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
God saved us by grace and recreated us in order that we might be like Him and do His works with Him.
Quite literally, we can't boast about any good things we do as Christians because they are not our good works which we do for God – they are God's good works which He does in and through us.
So while good works can never gain us salvation or contribute toward our salvation in any way – they must flow out from salvation.
They are the evidence, the vital signs that we are no longer spiritually dead but have been given new life in Christ.
They are intricately connected to our salvation – God saved us by grace for good works. As sure as God has accompished our salvation – so sure will He accomplish the purpose of our salvation – the good works that He had planned for us in eternity past.
What is your spiritual condition today?
- Are you spiritually dead – walking along the road that is without God, that is characterized by sin and leads to eternal wrath.
- Are you spiritually alive in Christ –walking along the road with Christ, that is characterized by His righteousness, that reflects His goodness and leads to eternal glory?
Christ holds out the invitation to come to Him if you are weary and heavy laden and He will give you rest and life for your souls. But will you say “I do” to Christ?
Those who get married normally invite guests to be a witness to their marriage.
That is essentially what baptism is. It's a public testimony that all those who are being baptized make – that they have said I do to Jesus Christ and have been united to Him for life.
Some have made that decision number of years ago, some only recently – but by being baptized they are making that decision public and inviting you and I to celebrate with them what Christ has done.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY! (Sing)