Sermon #1044 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “CAN THESE BONES LIVE?”
Text: Ezekiel 37:1-4
Scripture Reading: I Cor. 3:6-11; 3:21-4:7
Subject: Lessons from Ezekiel’s Vision of Dry Bones
Date: Sunday Morning – April 4, 1992
The Lord God leaves no doubt about what the meaning of this passage is. It speaks of the resurrection of God’s elect from death and their being gathered together in their own land by the power and grace of God – (vv. 11-14).
1. It is a Word from God to his lost ones, to lost men and women who have been made to know their lost condition – (v. 11).
Find me some lost, helpless sinners, men and women who know that they are lost because of their own sin, who say. “Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off from our parts,” find me some folks like that, and I will not hesitate to declare this word of promise to them. God says, “I will open your graves and cause you to come our of your graves!”
Our Savior heals all who have need of healing. He saves all who need to be saved. There has never been a man on the top side of the earth who knew he deserved to go to hell who went to hell. The only people in this world who die without Christ are folks who foolishly imagine that they do not need him!
2. This vision is the vision of a great resurrection.
It has reference to a fourfold resurrection. It promises God’s elect a resurrection from death to life by his power and grace. Without question, it cannot be fully interpreted unless it is interpreted in a fourfold way.
1st Immediately, it refers to the resurrection of The Jews out of Babylon and their return to the land of Israel in the days of Cyrus.
2nd In the distant view of prophecy, it refers to the resurrection of the dead in the last day, particularly to the resurrection of the bodies of God’s saints unto everlasting life and glory (John 5:28-29; I Thess. 4:13-18).
3rd This vision speaks a word of promise to God’s church in every age – When the church of God, or any part of it is brought low and languishing, God promises to pour out the Spirit of life upon his languishing ones (Hosea 6:1-3).
4th The primary reference of this passage is to the spiritual resurrection of God’s elect in the new birth (John 5:24-25; Rev. 20:6).
This vision is an instructive picture of the resurrection of a dead sinner from spiritual death to spiritual life by the sovereign power and irresistible grace of God the Holy Spirit.
As we look at this vision together I want to direct your attention to five things in it.
1. The Preacher’s Vision (vv. 1-2).
2. The Lord’s Question (v. 3).
3. The Prophet’s Answer (v. 3).
4. The Lord’s Command (vv. 4-6, 9).
5. The Glorious Results (vv. 7, 8, 10, 13, 14).
I. The Preacher’s Vision (vv. 1-2).
The Lord carried his prophet away into a great valley. Apparently, it was once the scene of a great, great bottle. All around him were bones, scattered parts of what once had been a great multitude of men. The bones were very many; and they were very dry. The sun, the sand and the wind had bleached them and scattered them across the valley. They were very many. They were very dead. And they had been that way for a very long time.
Here is a lesson every preacher must learn. No man will ever be used of God until he learns this lesson. He might be a successful preacher, but he will never be God’s preacher until he learns this – He must be taught the state and condition of those to whom he preaches. To be wrong here is to be wrong everywhere. What is the condition of man by nature? Answer that question, and I will tell you what your doctrine will be in all other points and what your method will be in trying to minister to men.
Any man who denies the utter, absolute, total depravity and inability of man by nature will make all his doctrine man centered. Everything he believes will, in some way, extol the will, works and worth of man. And all his methods of ministry will be designed to manipulate the sinner, not to resurrect him.
A. God’s Prophets are men who have learned the true nature and condition of men.
I have been with Ezekiel into the valley of dry bones and I have been made to see that all men by nature are dead in trespasses and sins. There was a battle fought in the Garden of Eden that left all men dead in sin (Rom. 5:12; I Cor. 15:22; Eph. 2:1).
1. It happened a long, long time ago.
2. It left very many, all the human race, slain.
3. These bones of humanity are very, very dry – There is no life in them and no goodness!
· “In the flesh dwelleth no good thing!” (Rom. 7:18).
· “They that are in the flesh cannot please God!” (Rom. 8:8).
· “There is none righteous, none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God, none that doeth good, no, not one!” (Rom. 3:10-12).
God’s prophet’s understand that man was ruined in the Garden. Man is fallen and can’t get up! All men by nature are dead!
· Without God!
· Without Christ!
· Without Help!
· Without Hope!
· Without Life!
B. Our understanding of man’s fallen and ruined condition determines everything about our ministry.
1. All our doctrine is a reflection of this doctrine – If man is dead salvation must be altogether the work of God’s grace.
2. Our method of evangelism reflects this doctrine – We wait on God!
II. The Lord’s Question (v. 3).
“Son of man, can these bones live?”
Here is the second lesson that must be learned, by preachers and churches. Few people really believe it, but it is of vital importance – The new birth is a supernatural miracle of grace!
When God shows his preacher the true condition of men, dead in trespasses and sins, he causes him to consider some great questions – “Can these bones live?”
· Can dead sinners live unto God?
· Can unjust men be made just with God?
· Can those who love darkness be made to love light?
· Can men who hate God be made to love him?
· Can men who love wickedness be made to hunger for holiness?
Job asked, “How can a man be just with God?” (25:4).
Jeremiah asked, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin?” (13:23).
The Disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” (Matt. 19:25).
I am talking about life, real, spiritual life in the soul! I am not talking about the mechanical motions of religion in which dead bones are wired together by manipulation! The question is “Can these bones live?”
III. The Prophet’s Answer (v. 3).
When God asked, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel writes, “I answered, O LORD God, thou knowest!”
When God’s preacher realizes the true condition of man, by nature, birth and practice, when he ponders the great miracle of the new birth, he is brought to depend totally on the sovereign power and irresistible grace of God to give dead sinners life.
Here is the third lesson God always teaches his prophet – “Salvation is of the LORD!”
A. When God asked, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel considered the condition of those dead, dry bones, and concluded that they cannot give themselves life.
B. He considered his own abilities and knew that he could not give them life.
C. Then he thought upon God’s power and said, “O LORD God, thou knowest!”
“All things are possible with God!” “Salvation is of the LORD!” It is God’s work alone and God’s work altogether! (Rom. 9:16; Eph. 2:1; John 1:12). Salvation must be God’s work because…
1. It is a New Creation (II Cor. 5:17).
2. It is a New Birth (John 3:3).
3. It is a Resurrection (John 5:15).
4. It is a Revelation (I Cor. 2:8-10).
IV. The Lord’s Command (vv. 4-6, 9).
The fourth lesson God taught his prophet is the necessity of preaching the gospel to dead sinners and the necessity of that preaching being made effectual by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.
A. The Lord commanded Ezekiel to Preach – “O ye dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord!”
I am sure Ezekiel thought God’s command strange. And many today think this is a strange, outdated, unsophisticated method of grace. But God’s commandment is clear. He commands us to preach the gospel to sinners (Mark 16:15-16).
This is God’s method of grace (Rom. 1:16; I Cor. 1:21; I Pet. 1:23; James 1:18; Rom. 10:17).
Notice what Ezekiel says in verse 7 – “So I prophesied as I was commanded!” “He that hath my Word, let him speak my word faithfully!” (Jer. 23:28). God requires no more and will accept no less from his preachers!
Notice this too – The message God gave Ezekiel was not a commandment, telling the bones something they must do. It was a declaration and promise of grace declaring what God would do (vv. 5-6).
God’s preachers declare God’s Works (Isa. 52:7-10).
· “We preach Christ crucified!”
· We preach what Christ has done!
· We preach what Christ is doing!
· We preach what Christ will do!
B. Then the Lord commanded his prophet to pray – (v. 9).
God’s grace might have saved his elect without our preaching, but our preaching can never save a flea without his grace!
· “Come, O Breath!”
· “Breathe upon these Slain!”
· “That they may live!” John 3:8
V. The Glorious Results (vv. 7, 8, 10, 13, 14).
Here is the fifth lesson God taught his prophet –
1st The Condition of Man
2nd The Miracle of the New Birth.
3rd “Salvation is of the Lord!”
4th The Necessity of Preaching.
5th “Your labor is not in vain in the Lord!” (See Isa. 55:11; II Cor. 2:15-16).
Quickly notice three things that happened –
A. There was A Commotion Among the Bones (vv. 7-8).
There was something happening. It looked like life. Yet, the breath of life had not been given – Is not this comparable to Holy Spirit conviction?
Illustration: Saul of Tarsus – “Trembling and Astonished.” “Who art thou, Lord?”
B. When the Spirit of God came, there was life! (v. 10).
Illustration: Lazarus (John 11).
The Infant (Ez. 16).
C. The Lord God was known and glorified (vv. 13-14).
· The power of God gave these bones life!
· The spirit of God gave them breath – faith!
· They give God the glory!
Application: Ephesians 2:1-5; Psalm 127:1-3
1. We must do what God commands us to do…
· Preach the Gospel!
· Pray for His Blessing Upon It!
2. We must wait for God to build his house and be content with the way he does it.