Upon entering the church and being greeted by the usher, my wife and I were asked if we wished to see the deceased. The casket was open in a side room; all who wished to view it were allowed. So, in we went. If you’ve ever seen a corpse, you will understand what I mean – the body lay motionless. Unresponsive. Lifeless. This was no sick woman. She was dead. Her body did not rise and fall with breath. Any amount of noise would not wake her. She would not hear the cries of those who loved her as they said their good-byes, no matter how loud. Nor could she sit up if told. Surely, she could not do anything, including choose to change her predicament and resurrect herself, if only to give loved ones one final embrace. She could not choose life. Indeed, she could not choose. Period.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian saints “… you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…” (Ephesians 2:1), this was the picture. Before faith in Christ, they were “dead” in sins. They were spiritually dead, unresponsive, unable, incapable of walking in anything but sin. As a corpse in a casket, they were unable, in and of themselves, to change their lot. Why would they? They were dead. And last time I checked, the dead do not look for life. Death is a powerful foe. Death, even spiritual death, dominates and masters those in its grip. Hence, grace, saving grace, if it is to rescue us from sin and sin’s dominion and mastery and prison, must be a grace that calls the dead to life. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:22). Spiritual death requires a sovereign, effective grace. It is a grace which resurrects the dead (not the sick who are still able to do any number of things, being alive). It is a grace which comes by means of “the voice of the Son of God,” even His Word by His Spirit.
“Father, grant that many be brought to life by the power of your Word, even to the praise of your glorious grace. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”