“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…”—Colossians 2:13 (ESV).
There is a big difference between being sick and being dead.
That sounds awfully obvious but not to a Christian.
To this effect, the difference needs to be drilled into the bone marrow of every Christian with the drill bit of the highest caliber, with the intensity that spells calamity to all our sensibilities.
Whereas a sick person may heed the doctor’s instruction to climb up on the bed to take an injection, swallow some aspirin, or greater still, take the cup of water to slide the aspirin down his throat, dead people, on the other hand, don’t work well with instructions.
For some reason, dead people seem to have their own agendas. They can’t even hear us as we mourn losing them. Dead people just don’t work on projects.
What needs to be drilled into our bones is the fact that our pre-Christian condition is one of deadness, not sickness. Before you came to the faith, you were dead. You were dead to God, dead to His Law, dead to his righteousness. Dead to anything of His.
The false notion of cooperation theology is that we are only sick, with may be a headache, and what the gospel does is offer us some aspirin which we reach out to get, swallow and have a glass of water slide it down our throat. The challenge with this idea of us “helping God out in our salvation project” is that it is not biblical.
We are dead and salvation is God bringing us back to life:
“Sing oh sing of my Redeemer / With His blood He purchased me / He from death to li fe He brought me / Son of God with Him to be.”
Paul himself writes:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9, ESV)
He re-echoes it again:
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:13-15, ESV)
People who think they are only sick, do not see a Saviour as their everything. In fact they will contend that, in salvation, Christ plays His part and they also play theirs. “You have a responsibility”, they always quip.
But to the spiritually dead, to those who can’t lift a finger, there is Good News, and Robert Capon puts it better:
“The only reason the church cannot rise from its moribund condition is that it will not die–that for as long as it tries to hang on to the life it thinks it has, it will never enjoy the gift of resurrection from the dead that God gives it in Jesus. “Jesus came to raise the dead,” he said–not to teach the teachable, reform the reformable, or improve the improvable.”
Salvation is God’s gift to you, His resurrection for you, His life for you and all this comes to you passively. Your sweat, blood and tears never enter the case, all is God from beginning to end.
That is your Lifeline, AMEN.