Dead Men Walking by Pastor John Samson
Just how dead is dead? Exactly what can a dead person do?
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins... - Ephesians 2:1. The Greek word here for "dead" is the word nekros which means "dead like a corpse." As far as his relationship to God is concerned, man is a lifeless corpse, unable to respond or even make a single move toward God, unless God first brings this spiritually dead corpse to life. He is dead in trespasses and sins. It is a very strange kind of death because while dead, he is nevertheless up and about actively practicing sin. He is what horror stories call a zombie - dead but walking around. This is a fair description of what Paul says about human nature in its lost condition. He is biologically alive but spiritually dead.
The sinner actively practices evil. His will is enslaved (John 8:34) and he is also by nature an object of God's wrath (Eph. 2:3). He has a will, most definitely, but he has no desire to seek after God (Rom 3:11) or submit to Him, in fact he cannot do so (Rom 8:7, 8), without the direct and gracious intervention of God.
This is why without Sovereign election, evangelism would be the most futile activity imaginable. It would be much like a salesman trying to sell his products in a graveyard. The dead need to be raised to life before a salesman can make a sale! The dead have no interest in skin cream products, double glazed windows, hair loss prevention treatments, air purifiers or the latest and greatest vacuum cleaner. They are not moved by even the greatest of sales pitches! Why? Well that's pretty obvious, isn't it? Its because the dead are, in a word.... dead!
The same is true regarding a person coming to Christ. We need to be born again, or born from above, before we can even see or enter the kingdom of God (John 3). We need to be brought to life before we can actually do anything spiritually. There's a logical order involved. Theologians refer to this as the ordo salutis, which is Latin for "the order of salvation." Though being born again and exercising faith may be instantaneous in terms of our awareness in time, logically, one thing has to come before the other. It is a logical rather than a temporal distinction. When someone is dead, resurrection needs to take place before a person can even think about moving a muscle, or walking in a certain direction. It is not the walking that takes place before the resurrection. No, it is the other way around. Dead people don't walk, living people do. In the same way, spiritually speaking, regeneration (being made alive, or born again) must precede faith. A person needs to be raised from the dead before they can take any steps towards Him.
Remember Lazarus, as a lifeless corpse in the tomb? He did not cooperate with Christ with regard to his own resurrection. He did not because he could not. Jesus simply called out "Lazarus come forth!" and this call was an effectual call because it was sufficient in and of itself to bring dead Lazarus back to life. No other help was necessary. The call was powerful enough to do the job all by itself!
Christ did not interview the dead man Lazarus and ask if he would like to be resurrected - then once having got the "all clear" from Lazarus went ahead with His plan. Christ did not need any kind of assistance from Lazarus to raise him from death. Certainly, Lazarus' will was not a factor in the miracle.
Nor did Lazarus, once brought back to life, immediately escort Jesus to the local court in an attempt to sue Him for violating his free will - his libertarian rights as a dead man to stay dead! No, for the rest of his earthly life, Lazarus was deeply grateful for the unspeakable mercy he had received from the Master.
Lazarus' resurrection from physical death provides a beautiful picture of what God does in our regeneration from spiritual death. Once receiving this grace of resurrection, Lazarus was able to walk out of the tomb. Once the elect receive the grace of regeneration, once given a new heart, they repent, they believe and they come to Christ.
Ephesians 2:1-10 states this in the following way:
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Colossians 2:13 also states, "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him..."
In Ephesians 2:5, and in Colossians 2:13, the scripture says that it was when we were dead that God made us alive. Notice that not one mention is made of our role in all this. It does not say, "when you were dead, you decided to cooperate with God's grace, and He then raised you..." I actually don't know how the Apostle Paul could have taught Divine monergism more clearly. It was when we were dead like a corpse (nekros) that God made us alive.
Concerning this passage in Ephesians 2, Dr. R. C. Sproul writes "Paul provides a graphic description of our spiritual impotence prior to regeneration. He is addressing the Ephesian believers and describing a prior condition in which they all once shared. He adds the phrase â€œjust as the othersâ€ (2:3), presumably referring to the whole of mankind. He declares that this prior condition was a state of death: â€œYou were dead in trespasses and sins.â€ Again, this death is obviously not a biological death, as he enumerates activities that these dead, persons were involved in. The characteristic behavioral mode of people dead in trespasses and sins is described in terms of walking a particular course. He calls it the â€œcourse of this worldâ€ (2:1-2). Here the course of this world obviously refers to a course or pattern that is opposed to the course of heaven. The words "this world" refer not so much to a location as to a style or a point of reference. It involves a this-worldly orientation. Christians and non-Christians alike share the same sphere of operations. We all live out our lives in this world. The regenerate personâ€™s course, however, is guided from above. He has his eye on heaven and his ear attuned to the King of heaven. The unregenerate person is earthbound. His ear is deaf to any word from heaven; his eye is blinded to the glory from on high. He lives as a walking cadaver in a spiritual graveyard."
The spiritually dead person may or may not have an interest in some kind of religion, but one thing is certain; he has absolutely no interest in a relationship with the real God of the Bible. He walks according to the course mapped out for him in this world. He does what he does, because he wants to do it. He makes choices everyday about what he will eat, what he will wear, where he will spend his vacation... but one choice he will never make while still in the flesh is to respond to the Gospel of Christ. Why? Because he really doesn't want Christ. He might want some of the benefits of a walk with Christ (like peace, joy, and having purpose to life) but he doesn't want the Christ of Scripture. It is only the direct intervention of God while in this state of death, that changes the disposition of a man's heart to desire God and to be right with Him. Hearts are changed from God haters into God lovers by His all conquering grace alone.
In John 5:21, Jesus declared, "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes." Sovereign Grace removes all ground for boasting, demolishes all human pride and exalts His grace as the sole efficient cause of a sinner's salvation. As Jonah 2:9 says, "Salvation is of the Lord." Therefore the glory for it goes to God, and to God alone.
Jesus said that "no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." (John 6:65) There is one thing, and one thing only that differentiates the redeemed in heaven and those who will suffer the eternal punishment of hell. It is not intelligence, nor spiritual aptitude, nor the efforts or will of man. It is not something found within the creature at all, but within the Sovereign heart and purpose of God himself. What causes us to differ is simply a five letter word called GRACE.