Have you ever shared the gospel with someone who seemed completely unmoved by the good news? Have you ever shared the gospel with someone who found your message offensive, unconvincing, or just plain boring? Did you feel like you failed when they didn’t believe?
Ephesians 2:1-2 says, “you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked.” A person who does not have faith in Christ has no life. They might walk, talk, and breath like everyone else, but spiritually they have no pulse; spiritually they have flat-lined.
God calls each of us to preach the gospel, but we can’t be discouraged when the message is not received. We have to remember we are talking to spiritual zombies. We can’t bring a person back to life, but God’s power is sufficient to save even the walking dead. ”But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us…made us alive together with Christ” (vv. 4-5). People are saved by the gospel we preach, but it is God who saves, not us.
John MacArthur helped me put this into perspective when he wrote:
One afternoon early in my ministry at Grace Church I heard a frantic pounding on my office door. I opened the door and there was a little boy, breathless and crying. In a panicked voice he asked, “Are you the Reverend?” When I told him I was, he said, “Hurry! Please come with me.” It was obvious something was terribly wrong, so I ran with him to his house, about half a block away and across the street from our church.
Inside the boy’s mother was weeping uncontrollably. She said, “My baby is dead!” She quickly took me to a back room. On the bed was the limp body of a tiny infant. He had evidently died in his sleep. The body was blue and already cold to the touch. The mother had been trying desperately to revive him, but nothing could be done. The child was gone. There was absolutely no sign of life. The mother tenderly held the tiny body, kissed it, gently touched its face, spoke to it, and wept over it. But the child made no response. A crew of paramedics arrived and tried to get the child breathing again, but it was too late. Nothing had any effect. There was no response because there was no life. Even the powerful love of a heartbroken mother could not evoke a response.
Spiritual death is exactly like that. Unregenerate sinners have no life by which they can respond to spiritual stimuli. No amount of live, beseeching, or spiritual truth can summon a response. People apart from God are the ungrateful dead, spiritual zombies, death-walkers, unable even to understand the gravity of their situation. They are lifeless. They may go through the motions of life, but they do not possess it. They are dead even while they live(cf. 1 Tim. 5:6)
- MacArthur, John. The Gospel Accordng to the Apostles. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Corporation, 2000. pp. 46-47.