The Need to Understand Death Before We Can Appreciate Life

As I was driving from Decatur to Dayton, TN the other day, I turned on the radio–hoping to be encouraged.

I was not disappointed.

I was just in time to hear Joni and Friends.  And–Joni’s words were awesome; biblically and theologically right on.  In fact, they were so good I simply had to share them.  Here they are in their entirety along with the link if you would rather listen.

Hi, this is Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to “Joni and Friends.”

Like you, I am so very grateful for my salvation in Jesus Christ. I was looking through a couple of old photo albums the other day and came across some snapshots when I was 13 or 14 years old. Then the other day at Joni and Friends, I was reviewing a video, which included some old home movie footage when I was 15 years old. It had been so long since I had seen such young photos, such long-ago images of myself, that I had to stop and remember, ‘cause life on my feet seems like another lifetime ago. And I must confess, I got myself into a lot of trouble as a 14-year-old. I will never forget when the Gospel finally hit home in my heart, I felt so, well, to put it bluntly, I felt absolutely dirty and I knew that I had absolutely no resources to make myself clean. When it came to my salvation as a 15-year-old, I brought nothing to the table for I was, as Ephesians chapter 2, verse 1 says, “… dead in my transgressions and sins.”

You know, we say that but how many of us really believe that we were completely dead before we knew Christ? I once heard Dr. R.C. Sproul paint a fascinating picture of how “dead in sin” we were before Christ. He described the unbeliever as lying flat-dead-drowned on the bottom of a pool under six feet of water. The man is so dead he can’t possibly hear – he is utterly incapable of hearing—the “good news” that a lifesaver is on the way. That dead man on the bottom of the pool can’t respond. He can’t raise himself up off the floor of the pool and surface in order to meet the one saving his life because, well, he’s dead. Dead men can’t do a thing. This is why God, the Lifesaver, must reach down, pull the unbeliever out of the water, and breathe life into his dead body. Once quickened, the man happily recognizes his Savior, reaches up and embraces Him. Friend, that is the Gospel and that’s why I say I brought nothing to the table of salvation when I first confessed Christ. All I did was recognize Jesus as my Savior because He, first, quickened my heart to recognize and love Him. I love Him because He first loved me.

This is so important if we are to grasp just how amazing God’s grace really is for there are two different interpretations of the Gospel. One makes salvation dependent on the work of God, the other on a work of man. One regards faith as part of God’s gift of salvation, the other sees faith as man’s own contribution to salvation. One gives all the glory of saving to God; the other divides the praise between God who “built the machinery” of salvation, and man who operated it by believing. John chapter 1, verses 12-13 underscore that we are spiritually born “not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Friend, we are made alive out of the deadness of our sin by the will of God, for Jesus said in John chapter 15, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”

As much as it goes against our natural grain, we are not masters of our own fate or captains of our own souls. Throughout this day, rehearse in your heart that:

1) All men are sinners and cannot do anything to save themselves; (2) Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is a perfect Savior for sinners; and, (3) the Father and the Son have promised that all who know themselves to be sinners and place their faith in Christ the Savior shall be received into favor and no one cast away.

It’s why I thank God for quickening my spirit and giving me saving faith so that I might recognize Jesus and His great gift of salvation.


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