“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins“
– Ephesians 2:1 (ESV)
Last Monday, Memorial Day in the United States, my wife and I visited my parents at their new place in central Minnesota. The church my father now pastors has a parsonage right across the parking lot from the church building, so my parents are able to live a few paces away from the building. Right outside my father’s new office window at the church is the church cemetery.
Now, this might not be odd for some of you. It was quite common for older churches to have a cemetery right next to the building. However, I’d never really walked through a church cemetery before. So, early Monday morning I decided I was going to walk through this one.
I arose early on Memorial Day (about 6 a.m.). Early enough to annoy my wife as she was looking forward to sleeping in that morning! But, by 6:30 we were both up and ready to enjoy the fresh Spring morning. We both wanted to walk through the cemetery across the parking lot and read the tombstones.
With it being Memorial Day, there were a few stones that were marked with small American Flags. There were a few men who served in WWI, a few in WWII, and a few in various other wars. As we went from tombstone to tombstone we read the date of birth and date of death on each (although some didn’t have a DOD because they are still living!). We both tried to see which grave was the oldest. I believe the oldest stone was marked by the date of death in 1904. The oldest date of birth, I think, was in 1837. So, this cemetery had a rich history.
Imagine though, that as my wife and I went from grave to grave we spoke to each saying, “Arise! Come back to life!” What do you think would have happened? What would have happened if I made a strong persuasive argument for them to come back to life? Do you think that they would have returned to the land of the living?
I don’t care how persuasive my arguments would have or could have been. I don’t care how persuasive your arguments might be for these people to return to life. Dead people can’t hear. Dead people, of their own selves, cannot raise themselves from the dead, even if asked by us.
Such is the case of every sinner who has ever lived. Such was the case for me. Such was the case for my wife. Such might be your case right now as I write. This is Paul’s argument in Ephesians chapter 2. “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…” The apostle was emphasizing an important point. Sin made us dead. And what can dead people do about anything?
Dead people can do nothing about their own sin. What a sad state that is! What a helpless state! What a problem to have!
Such was the problem of poor Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress. He was distressed about what he had been reading in his Book. He was convicted of his own sin and made aware of this huge burden on his back. Yet, whatever he did to try and get the burden off his back would not work.
Praise God though, that “even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, He made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:5). In a single verse, Paul provided the answer to the problem that every human (save One of course) has ever had. The answer is that God can make dead people alive.
In Christ Jesus. Did you catch Paul’s wording in Ephesians 2:5? “He [God] made us alive together with Christ.” Because of God’s great love with which He loved us, He breathed life into our lungs so that we would be alive, just as Christ is alive. In one verse, Paul offers the solution to all of our problems and he tells us that because Jesus is alive we can be made alive as well!
What a precious truth! What a glorious promise! How awesome is our God!
Have you tasted the life that God graciously gives in Christ? If not, stop trying to work for it. Nothing of your efforts will ever accomplish the results of Christ’s work. Repent and believe the gospel. Trust in Christ’s atoning work on the cross and God will grant you the same life that Christ is experiencing right now.
Even when you are dead in your trespasses and sins, God can make you alive together with His Son, Jesus Christ.