Friday, June 09, 2006

The Spiritual State of All Unbelievers

In this study, I would like to paint a picture of the human dilemma and what God alone can do about it. In Ephesians 2:1-10, Paul has just completed his discussion in chapter 1 of the blessings believers have received as well as his prayer for them to realize what they have. He continues his thoughts that began in verse 19 of the resurrection of the believer. He not only prayed that their “understanding” be “enlightened” and that they “may know what is the hope of His calling...the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”, but he also prayed that they would know “what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.” This same power that “raised” Jesus “from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (vv.18-20) is the same power that raises the believer from spiritual death to spiritual life. John 5:21 says, “the Father raises the dead and gives life to them.” That verse is realized throughout the Bible. Whether its God raising the son of the Shunammite woman through Elisha (2 Kings 4:30-36) or Jesus raising the dead during His earthly ministry (Mat.9:25), John 5:21 says, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” When Jesus died on the cross, Matthew 27:50-53 says at that very moment “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” God raised these saints from the dead and He raised Jesus as well. Notice what Peter says in Acts chapter two.

In Acts 2:24 Peter said to the crowd who was gathered at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost that God raised up Jesus “having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Peter states it again in Acts 3:15 by telling the crowd that gathered to see lame man that was healed that they “killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.” In verse 26 he concludes by saying, “To you first, God, having raised up His servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” As they spoke to the people, chapter 4, verses 1-3 says that “the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. When they were brought before them the next day they asked the apostles “By what power or by what name have you done this? (v.7). Peter filled with the Holy Spirit responds: “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: ‘If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.’” Later in chapter 5 the high and all those who were with him, from the Sadducees, “laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, ‘Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (vv.18-20). Verse 21 continues: “And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported, saying, “Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!” Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be. So one came and told them, saying, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them.”

“The Father raises the dead and gives life to them” (John 5:21). The dead do not raise themselves. When we read Ephesians 1:20 that is what we’re seeing. God “raise Him [Christ] from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (vv.20-23). Then chapter two says, “And you....” Chapter breaks many times interrupt a passage as is the case here. Verse 1 is still part of the content of Paul’s prayer. Only now in verse 1 does he turn his attention to the resurrection of the believer. He says that the same power which raised Jesus from the dead raised you from spiritual death. Notice how Paul paints this graphic picture of what we were before our spiritual resurrection in verses 1-3. He says we were dead in sin, living according to the world and Satan and according to the flesh.

Have you thought lately where you were when God showered His mercy and grace on you? You were dead in trespasses and sins; powerless and helpless. That is the spiritual state of all unbelievers. Don’t ever forget it. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, He must do the same for believers or they will never be saved.

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