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Sermon #24 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: Life from the Dead
Text: The New Birth — A Resurrection
Date: Sunday Evening — November 15, 2015
Readings: Allen Kibby and Rex Bartley
I want to preach to you this evening on the subject — LIFE FROM THE DEAD. You will find my text in the second chapter of Ephesians, verse one. — “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” The Apostle Paul is here speaking of the church at Ephesus and, indeed, of all of those who were chosen in Christ Jesus, accepted in him, and redeemed by his blood. And he says of all who are born-again, — “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”
The new birth is a mysterious work of God’s grace. Only those who have experienced it can understand it. In the things of God, knowledge can only be gained by personal experience. — “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
· If you would understand regeneration, you must be born-again.
· If you would understand faith, simple as it is, you must believe.
· If you would understand forgiveness, you must be forgiven.
I repeat, the new birth is a mysterious thing, a work of God’s omnipotent mercy for us and in us.
Not all the outward forms on earth,
Nor rites that God has given,
Nor will of man, nor blood, nor birth,
Can raise a soul to heaven.
The sovereign will of God alone
Creates us heirs of grace:
Born in the image of His Son,
A new, peculiar race.
The Spirit, like some heavenly wind,
Blows on the sons of flesh;
Creates anew, by grace divine,
And forms the man afresh.
Our quickened souls awake and rise
From the long sleep of death;
On heavenly things we fix our eyes,
And praise employs our breath.
Dead brought to Life
God has quickened us who were dead in trespasses and sins, — spiritually dead. We were full of vigor towards everything that is contrary to the law and holiness of God. We walked according to the course of this world. But, as to everything spiritual, we were not only somewhat incapable, somewhat weakened, we were actually and absolutely dead. We had no sense with which to comprehend spiritual things. We had neither the eye that could see, nor the ear that could hear, nor the heart that could understand.
Dead but Different
We were dead, all of us. Yet, we were not all exactly like one another. Death may be universal over a certain number of bodies. Yet, those bodies may look very different from each other. The dead that lie on the battlefield, torn, mutilated, and corrupting in the sun, are a hideous sight. But, your deceased loved one, lying in his coffin is somewhat more acceptable to the eye. The corpse still looks like life. Yet, your loved one is just as dead as the bodies lying in pieces on the battlefield. Corruption has not yet done its work. Tender care has guarded the body from what must surely come upon it. Yet, there is death, sure, complete, total death in the one case as well as the other.
So we have many who are lovely, moral, and very admirable, like the rich young ruler the Savior looked upon and loved. Yet, they are still dead. We have others who are drunken, profane, and unchaste. They are dead, but not more dead than others. But, their deadness has left its terrible traces more plainly visible. Sin brings forth death; and death brings corruption. Whether we were as corrupt as others is not so very important. The point is we were all dead. Though some were trained by godly parents, well instructed in the gospel, and brought up under the sound of faithful and fervent gospel preaching, you were still dead, just as dead as the most profane blasphemer, just as dead as the harlot in the street, just as dead as the murderer on death row. We were all dead.
Ephesians 2:1 tells us that, though we were dead, Christ has come, by his Spirit, and raised us out of the grave. This text brings us Easter tidings. It sings of resurrection. It sounds in our ears as the trumpet of new life. It introduces us into a new world of joy and gladness. We were dead, but we are made alive by Christ Jesus the Lord.
How I pray that God the Holy Spirit may make the dead to hear his voice, even while I preach, and bring you into this glorious resurrection, giving — LIFE FROM THE DEAD.
Proposition: Understand this, the doctrine of Holy Scripture is that man, by nature, since the fall, is dead. He is a corrupt, ruined thing. In a spiritual sense, utterly and entirely dead. And if any shall come to spiritual life, it must be the quickening of God the Holy Ghost that brings “life from the dead,” given to us sovereignly through the good will and pleasure of God, not for any merits of our own, but entirely of his own abounding and infinite grace. — In a word, every person born into this world is spiritually dead, and spiritual life can come only by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit.
Divisions: Our text tells us three things. I ask your undivided attention as I try to set forth plainly and simply these three truths. May God seal them to your hearts forever, and cause us that have experienced “life from the dead” to walk in the newness of life with joy and thanksgiving.
1st — YOU WERE DEAD! — What a solemn sight is presented to us by a dead body! Yesterday evening I tried to realize what this thought implies. My heart was overcome by it. The thought is overwhelming!
Perhaps you can hardly realize the thought. Perhaps it is too hideous for you. But try, as well as you can, to get the idea of a dead corpse. And when you have done this, please understand the meaning of our text — “You were dead.” Just as the body that has been laid in the grave, you were dead.
We all died in our father Adam (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
(Romans 5:12) (12) Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
(1 Corinthians 15:21-22) (21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
We are all dead under the sentence of the law (Romans 5:18-21).
(Romans 5:18-21) (18) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (19) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (20) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through the fall of our father Adam we became guilty of sin.
Because of sin, we are all born under the curse and condemnation of God’s holy law.
Though we are all dead by nature, the manifestations of death are not the same in us all.
You will remember that our Lord, during his earthly ministry, raised three people from the dead. I do not find that during his lifetime he raised more than three. Each of these resurrections were performed for the purpose of our instruction. Each of them teaches us some singular truth about spiritual resurrection. These resurrections were first the young maiden, Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8), second was the widow’s son (Luke 7), who was in his coffin at the city gate, and, perhaps the most significant of all, was Lazarus (John 11). Let me show you a singular thing about each.
Notice first Jairus’ daughter. — She had just died. She was in her bed. She was dressed like the living. She still had some signs of life in her. Her cheeks were still red. She was not yet cold with death. Her body was not yet in the coffin. So it is with many, especially our children. But, remember, she was dead.
Second, there is the case of the widow’s son. — His case is far different. He was in his coffin. No one now came very near him. His cheeks were hollow. His eyes were glazed. His body was cold, and, like the young maid, he was dead. But death was much more manifest in this young man. So it is with many, many I fear of our own households.
Third, there is the case of Lazarus. — His was the worst case. He was already corrupt. He was sealed off from all society. Death had thoroughly done its work. So, I must say, it is with many around us!
We are all dead, but what does it mean to be dead? — When a man is dead, he has lost all sense.
2nd — My brothers and sisters in Christ, such was our case. We were dead. But, if we have been born again, WE HAVE BEEN MADE ALIVE!
The new birth is nothing less than “life from the dead.” It is a spiritual resurrection (John 5:21, 24-25).
(John 5:21) (21) For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
(John 5:24-25) (24) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (25) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
(Revelation 20:6) (6) Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
There is a blessed and mystical union between Christ and his people.
This spiritual resurrection is accomplished only by the power of Christ.
It was the voice of Christ that gave life to each of the three we have seen.
How do we know when this life comes? For this I can only speak what I have experienced.
Illustration: The first thing a man feels when he recovers from drowning is pain. Pain is a sign of life.
2. Second, when a man is brought from death to life, he sees all things new.
3rd — Our text tells us that YOU ARE ALIVE. — We were dead; but now we are alive!
1. If we are alive, then let us live!
2. We are alive, then we are one with Christ!
3. We are alive, then let us love him who gave us life!
4. We are alive, then let us rejoice!
5. We are alive, then let us anticipate the future!
6. We are alive, then let us now learn! Learn of Christ!
More about Jesus I would know,
More of His grace, others to show,
More of His saving fulness see,
More of His love who died for me.
More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.
More about Jesus in his Word,
Holding communion with my Lord,
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.
More about Jesus on his throne,
Riches in glory all his own.
More of His kingdom’s sure increase,
More of His coming – Prince of Peace.
· Walk in love.
· Seek him.
· Trust him.
· Make him known.