Paul is concerned to show the Ephesian Christians and, to all who are Christians,
the greatness and the glory of the salvation we have in Christ.
These Ephesians knew Christ to be their Saviour and Lord.
Paul had already thanked God for their faith in the Lord Jesus and for their love to all the saints.
They had been sealed with the Holy Spirit and they had the earnest of the inheritance within them.
Yet, Paul prays that the eyes of their understanding may be enlightened.
They are merely at the beginning of their walk with God.
They are as babies.
He wants them to grasp something of the largeness and the greatness and the majesty
of their wonderful salvation.
Since they are still subjected to temptation, and living in a secular, self-centered, and pagan world,
Paul is anxious that they be clear about the greatness of the power of God.
That is also what we need to know today as we live in that same kind of world.
We must be certain of the power of God in our lives.
Nothing is more vital than this.
We Were Dead
We walked according to "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."
The children of disobedience are those whose nature and essential character is disobedience.
The word "disobedience" in the Bible is always used of disobedience toward God.
Among whom we used to walk in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.
Paul spells it out clearly.
All men, prior to the work of redeeming grace in their hearts live "in the lusts of...(their) flesh." (v.3)
This statement is simply a way of saying that they are at the mercy of their passions.
The word for "lusts" in this passage speaks of a desire for what is forbidden.
"Flesh" in Paulís writings means human nature.
This is all that we received from our parents when we were born into this world.
The "flesh" in me is my human nature and it is motivated and inspired to action by
the desires that I have.
They are the desires of the flesh and of the mind.
In writing of this in 1 John 2:16, John says: " The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life."
My actions, as a human being, are moved by my appetites, my imagination, and my personal interest.
This is the very place where the believer has to meet the issue of living.
So much of my heart's desire as a Christian is to want to be well pleasing to God.
This desire to be pleasing in the sight of God is from the Holy Spirit of God who lives in us.
All of this flesh is very natural.
We do not have to learn it.
As human beings we do not learn to get angry when we are provoked.
This comes naturally.
Nor will we as Christians need to learn to turn to God.
The Spirit that is within the believer will turn the believer's heart to God the way a flower turns
its face to the sunlight.
It will happen just as naturally.
So we were dead.
You were dead.
We were the children of wrath.
We were corpses in the cesspool of corruption when the Lord Jesus saved us.
He has given us His life and now our desires are toward Him.
We were dead!
In verses 1-3, we saw our own past without God.
Could God help us?
That sounds the most preposterous of all.
Then it happens!
While the thunderings and the lightnings of Sinai are crashing all about us;
while we are waiting to be destroyed at any moment;
while we are trembling and unwilling to look up; the thunder stops
-- the sun breaks through and we see a lonely cross with a solitary figure on it saying: "Forgive them, Father!"
He sends forth His love!
"But God" - the unexpected happens.
Here is hope.
"Who is rich in mercy."
This is wonderful!
Our hopes are more than confirmed.
God is merciful.
"For His great love."
Perhaps He can even spare us.
Maybe His mercy is rich enough to pardon. But love?
Be quite troubled soul!
Be still and listen!
"...Even when we were dead in sins." Romans 5:6-8
"But God" - verse 4a.
These two words mark the turning point of human destiny.
Man could not help himself.
Left to our own resources we must perish.
God intervened and turned our death into life.
He turned our despair into hope and that hope is realized.
"But God hath quickened us together with Christ."
Our experience as believers is pictured in terms of the resurrection and exaltation of Christ.
He was actually dead.
No doubt of that.
He was crucified.
He died and was buried.
He was in the grave for three days.
"Quickened together with Christ."
"Quickened" means to make alive - to impart life.
In the New Testament it almost always is used of the communication of the life of which Christ is the author.
"He quickened us together with Christ."
He united us with Christ.
He raised us up with Christ.
He has made us to sit with Christ.
If the fact that God could love unlovely sinners was wonderful,
the fact that Christ would die for them, rise, and live with them, is equally wonderful.
It is incredible!
The same almighty hand that was laid upon the body of the dead Christ and lifted Him
from Joseph's grave to the throne in heaven, is now laid upon your soul.
It has raised you from the grave and death of sin to share by faith His celestial, heavenly life.
When a person is dead, it is hopeless for us to attempt to quicken him.
But what we cannot do, Christ does!
"He hath quickened us together with Him."
This has happened to everyone who is a Christian.
It is Godís action.
"Quickening" is regeneration.
It means that He has regenerated you.
He has given you new life.
You have been born again.
You have been created anew. You have become partakers of His divine nature.
Regeneration is an act of God by which a principle of new life is implanted in man.
Then the governing disposition of the soul is made holy.
That is regeneration.
It means that God by His mighty action puts a new disposition into my soul.
Notice, I said, "disposition," not faculties.
What man in sin needs is not new faculties.
What he needs is a new disposition.
The disposition is that which determines the bent and use of the faculties.
The disposition is that which governs and organizes the use of the faculties,
which makes one man a musician, and another a poet, and another something else.
So the difference between the sinner and the Christian; the difference between
the unbeliever and the believer, is not that the believer has certain faculties
which the unbeliever lacks.
No, what happens is that this new disposition of the Christian directs his faculties in
an entirely difference way.
The believer is not given a new brain.
He is not given a new intelligence or anything else.
He has always had these.
They are his servants.
They are his instruments.
They are his "members" as Paul calls them in the sixth chapter of Romans.
It is a new bent.
It is a new disposition.
He has been changed in a different direction.
There is a new power working in the Christian and is now guiding his faculties.
This new disposition affects the whole person.
It affects his mind.
It affects his heart.
It affects his will.
It is something that happens to a person when Christ comes in to live.
Remember, birth is sudden.
It is instantaneous.
It is not a gradual process.
We were at one moment, dead.
The next moment, we were alive.
The life of Christ came into us.
So, it is a creative act of God.
That is why Paul and others refer to it as a new creation.
" If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (a new creation); old things are passed away;
behold, all things are made new." (2 Cor. 5:17)
He has the same eyes.
He looks at the same things that he looked at before, but he does not see them as he used to see them.
He is a new person.
He has a new governing principle.
He has a new disposition.
It would have been wonderful to have witnessed seeing the dead come back to life.
Imagine seeing Jesus bring Jairuus' daughter back to life, and the widow's son.
Imagine seeing Lazarus come back from the dead.
Still more marvelous it would have been to have seen the Lord of life at the dawn of the third day
step forth from the tomb.
But even today, we see such miracles.
We see such a miracle each time we see a human soul awake from his trespasses and sins;
each time when the love of God is poured into a heart that was cold and dead and empty;
when the Spirit of God breathes into a spirit lying powerless and buried in the flesh;
there is as true a rising from the dead as when Jesus our Lord came out of His tomb.
It was of that spiritual resurrection that He said: "The hour cometh, and now is,
when the dead shall hear the voice."
Observe that corpse - dead.
It is not partly dead.
There is not a spark of spiritual life.
It is an absolute spiritual corpse without Christ.
Slap it! Bruise it!
It will not cry out.
You can pile burdens upon it, but it will not notice.
It is dead.
Observe a miracle!
A dead man lives! ME!
" Amazing Grace"
I cannot explain it, but I know it has happened.
"Once I was blind, but now I see."
I was dead. I am now alive.
It is mysterious. It is miraculous. It is marvelous.
It is incomprehensible.
But I know its effects.
I am thankful for the results.
I am aware of the fact that it has taken place.
Are You Alive?
Has God put His new life into you?
Do you know that this has happened to you?
Are You Aware Of Him?
Do you know that He is in you and you in Him?
Can You say " I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me?"
Do you have life?
Have you been quickened?
This is Christianity!
There is no Christianity apart from this.
Striving! Service! Studying! Praying!
All these things follow.
If the life of Christ is in you, then it is working in you.
It is influencing you.
It is moulding you.
It is guiding you.
It is convicting you.
It is leading you on.
God has begun a good work in me, and I know it.
God has put His life in me.
May God by His Spirit enlighten the eyes of our understanding
so that we may begin to comprehend this mighty working of Godís power in us.
"Because He Lives - I Live!"
Sermon By Dr. Harold L.White