Grace and the Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Sorry, this isn’t going to be a deep philosophical discussion of the spiritual truths that we can discern from America’s obsession with all things zombie-related.  (For that, you can check here.)

But if we really understood what the Bible says about the depravity and utter inability of man in sin, we would find it no less frightening than a zombie show (even if less outwardly grotesque).  The Apostle Paul tells us that outside of Christ we are all dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).  Not just sick; not just limited in our abilities; not just neutral in regard to good or evil; but spiritually dead in our sins.

The Heidelberg Catechism describes our depravity outside of Christ (including our total inability to do any true spiritual good or believe in Jesus, and our inclination toward sin) this way:

Q.8. But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil? A. Yes, unless we are born  again, by the Spirit of God.

The Westminster Larger Catechism tells us that the corruption of our nature by sin in Adam is so complete that we are “utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined toward all evil, and that continually” (Q.25).

What does that mean in terms of our ability to hear the gospel and respond to it with saving faith?  It means that even if all of our outward circumstances tended toward leading us to believe in Christ for salvation, we would never turn to Him by faith.  Even if we were rightly & clearly taught the Word of God and the gospel of Christ from our youth, that seed would never take root in our dead hearts of stone.

The walking dead cannot and will not believe, not on their own.

And this has been borne out in the pages of history and Scripture.  A sobering example is that of the Pharisees and Scribes.  John Foxe writes,

At the first preaching of Christ, and coming of the Gospel, who should rather have known and received Him than the Pharisees and Scribes of that people which had His law? And yet who persecuted and rejected Him more than they themselves? What followed? They, in refusing Christ to be their King, and choosing rather to be subject unto Caesar, were by the said Caesar at length destroyed. (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, p.2)

Think about that for a moment.  He couldn’t be more right!  We are so accustomed to reading the gospels and seeing the Pharisees and Scribes cast as the bad guys (so to speak), that it is all too easy to forget that they were supposed to be the good guys!

If anyone should have readily believed in Jesus as the Messiah, it was them!  If anyone should have known to expect His coming and believe, it was them!  And yet we find that time & time again, they are the very ones rejecting Him, opposing Him at every turn, testing Him, and seeking to kill Him!

Think about what that says about the nature of sin, depravity, and unbelief.  That is what depravity does to the heart and mind – not just deadening people to the truth of God’s Word, but convincing them that they are the experts, the guardians of it, while they are, in fact, radically opposed to it!

And if that could (and did!) happen with them, what hope does anyone have on their own to believe in Christ for salvation?  None.  On our own we are all hopeless; we are unable to believe; we are the walking dead.

That is why salvation is, and can only be, the work of God’s free grace; it is all of His mercy.  In Ephesians 2:4-10, Paul 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God, because of His great mercy, love, and grace toward people who are dead in their sins, makes us alive in Christ.  The above text could not be more clear or more thorough in pointing out over & over again that our salvation is all the work of God.  It is by His grace, not by anything that we do.  Even our faith is the gift of God.

Only God can take the walking dead and make them spiritually alive in Christ.  Only He can take cold, dead hearts of stone (that were totally unable to repent & believe, that were totally inclined toward sin) and turn them to flesh, so that we believe in Christ and walk in newness of life!   Praise the Lord for His grace, mercy, and love toward sinners!

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