- Pastor John Smith
Dead men walking
In 2008 a campaign ran on the platform “change we can believe in” and looking back 8 years later, most of us can agree that “change” did in fact happen. How did that “change” happen? Well votes were cast, poll numbers were counted and a new trajectory was set for America. Now “change” is a part of life. You could say that to be alive is synonymous with change. But what about those who feel like there is no change? They have been in the same rut year after year, struggling perhaps with addictions to drugs or alcohol and do not see any hope for change on the horizon. What about them? Or what about you?
In the last column we discussed the condition of man and from a Biblical worldview, man has a serious heart condition, his heart is totally depraved. But let’s add another element to the seriousness of humanity’s condition. Not only is man’s heart filled with all manner of immorality, but according to the Scriptures, man is dead in their sins (Eph. 2:1). This “deadness” is not physical, rather it is spiritual. A person may have the appearance of life (pulse, breath, movement of extremities etc.) but spiritually they are no more alive than a stone or even a corpse. To all my Christian friends, think about the places you go to in light of the Biblical revelation of deadness of man, and begin to see that the trip to the supermarket resembles an episode of The Walking Dead.
The fact that there are spiritually dead people walking among us makes the Christian worldview such an exciting reality. Because unlike any other worldview that is out there, Christianity starts with death and moves to life. Or in other words, it is not life unto death rather it’s death unto life. In the verse quoted earlier, Ephesians 2:1 it states “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…” but if you were to read later in verse 5, we see that we were then “made alive together with Christ.”
Can we generate this change within ourselves? That all we need to do is look within to find the answer to spiritual life? The answer is no. Non-life doesn’t generate life. Louis Pasteur proved this point by debunking “spontaneous generation.” The only thing that can be produced by death is more death, unless an outside force or person has the ability to give life. That person is God. God alone has the power to create and change a person’s condition of being dead, to being alive. In fact, going back to the passage in Ephesians 2, we see that God is the one who makes the person who is dead in sin, alive in Christ. Why does he perform such a miracle? Because He is rich in mercy and because of his great love for us (Eph. 2:4).
The Christian Gospel says in effect that you cannot change yourself, it is an impossible task. You may be able to change certain behaviors, external personality quirks, and may find rehabilitation from a certain vice. But like make-up and fine clothes may cover a carcass, underneath the façade there is only deadness. To borrow a phrase from the respected Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, about Christ and the message of the Gospel is that “Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, but to make dead people alive.”
True transformation can happen, however it is not to be found within ourselves, but to be found outside of ourselves by looking to God and His resurrection power. Jesus says that “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me…shall he live”(Jn. 11:25). So many of us have spent so many years looking inward for help and for a true change yet find none. That is because man is finite. Regardless of all the philosophy and the talk about the unlimited capacity of humanity, man is indeed limited. How many of us know someone, or have experienced ourselves, a breaking point in our life? Where the mind and body completely shut down? But in contrast, God is infinite and his grace and power is unlimited. In God’s unparalleled omnipotence, he alone has the power to bring about everlasting change in your life. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old has passed away and behold, the new has come!” Do you know of that change? Would you like to?