Growing up I always had this feelng that my prayers to God never had the special ingredient to make it spiritual enough for God to count it as a prayer. There was no connection whatsoever so as time went on praying really seemed pointless. This feeling that I had of “no spiritual connection” made me really question whether there was a God because if there is this spiritual world out there, why can I not tap into it. I grew up in church, I of all people should be able to pray. My heart felt hollow, this concept of death and life did not even grab hold of me. I did not have a connection to the spiritual therefore the thought of death, even an eternal one, did not phase me at all. Later in life I would realize though that the reason I felt this way was because in fact I was dead. I was dead inside and out. Death did not phase me because there was no life in me for death to take away. Why would I be scared of something that I already am? I’m dying. I am dead.
When you think of a new life maybe you think of what those first moments of seeing were like. No one that I know of can remember that far back but maybe you visiualize it like how it would be presented in a movie. There is a haze in the lense as darkness finally is washed away by the light. There is other life in the room and you look around in curiosity. The haze around your sight is still there slowly going away as you see the lamp in the corner of the room. You see your hands for the first time, your left foot pops into the air as your little foot kicks for the first time. Not only are you seeing everything else for the first time but you are seeing who you are. You have an identity now. A face to go with the name. This is life.
Death never seems so real until you face it for the first time. Maybe that was the time you ran out in front of a fast moving car. Or the time you went rock climbing and slipped. But what if the first time you experienced real death was the first time you realized you were dead? That sounds weird yet the Bible actually talks about life and death in this very way.
In that first post: “I am Broken” we highlighted the fact that we cannot see properly, something is off. Our hearing is dull, our vision is blurred but the reason we are broken is because there is no life in us. We are dead in our sins. The reason we cannot see or hear or smell is because their is no heartbeat to produce the life in us needed to cause external actions.
The reason we cannot choice good over evil is because we are dead. There is no life in our lungs. We can only do one thing and that is “be dead.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)
God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
We were dead in our sins yet for God’s children God did something unique. Something only God can do. He adopted us into his family but not just to give us a home, security, and love but to give us(his children) a new life. God took us in as his own and gave us new air to walk through. Light that shines wherever we go. A new home.
In baptism we see this depiction of a person being dunked into the water and raised back up. This is not by accident it is because we have spiritually been united to Christ and baptism is the representation or depiction of that union. Christ was the sacrificial lamb who paid the price for our sins. His life was a substitute for the life we could not live because of how broken we are. Yet Christ died the death we should have died and was raised back up to a new life. He had a resurrected body. Our baptism shows others that we have died with Christ. Our sins have been paid for and we come back up showing we have a new life now. We are as Paul says a new creation. The old has gone and new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
This concept of God actively adopting his children though is way more complex than the adoption we see today in families. God adopts sinful, broken, depraved people and makes them new. It’s not that he changes them into something they were not, but he brings back his people to the original purpose that they were created for.(Ephesians 2:10) We were created to display God’s glory and goodness yet when sin entered the world we were no longer able to do that. We did not want to do that. God though, our creator. The very person who formed us in the womb, who wanted us before our parents even considered us. That God, the only God, created you for a unique purpose and has restored you back to that. The issue is though how does God fix what was broken? How does God awaken this dead slumber body?
Christ awakens us by given us life. He has given you his Spirit to live inside of you, to guide you, to strengthen you. The deal is, you are not your own anymore. Life is not about you. The Spirit enters the hearts of broken people and produces life in them. As Ezekiel says: “I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” What is displayed in this passage is probably the best picture of what the Spirit does for us. See, the issue is not whether someone will choice to go to heaven or hell. Whether they will choose evil or good. What God has established as his plan for his people is that they would glorify him. If his people are dead though then something has to change. If you have noticed, dead people are not good workers. They are not good children. No one begs for God to bless them with a dead child, that is a tragedy. Having stillborn is not part of God’s original design for how life is to come, yet for God’s children we are born into sin. We are under Adam’s curse and so we are born dead in our sin. God is a God miracles though and so this lifeless heart of stone.
Think about this heart of stone like a statue. A stone statue is not a good listener, they cannot have a good conversation with you because the statue is not alive. It has no thoughts, it just does what statues do. Yet God takes a heart of stone and changes it. Much like how God spoke and life just came to be in Genesis. God would speak and light became a thing. God would speak and lions, tigers, bears, crocodiles all just suddenly came into existence. Christ calls us by his Spirit. His Spirit produces this life in us that Ezekiel describes as a heart of stone being changed into a living, breathing, blood pumping heart. The Spirit does this radical work that only God can do. So what happens is once the Spirit gives us this heart of flesh we are now able to do good works. We are able to be as Paul says in Romans: “A Living sacrifice.” Our lives form this point forward are no longer stained by death and decay but by growth and breath. We no longer are subject to death but we are subject to the giver of Life. We live because Christ lives in us. We are now alive in Christ Jesus because the Spirit makes us alive. We are not only broken people chosen by God, secured in his sacrifice for us, we are now united with God in his death, burial and resurrection and are now alive forever more.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17
The Five I Am Statements of the Gospel
This is the fourth post of a series of five posts. All of these will be connected to one another breaking down the Gospel to it’s deepest levels. Hope you enjoy and that you stick along for the journey as we have one more week to go.
By: Austin Neil Gregory