The second important thing I'm learning is the utter and complete powerlessness of the dead. I guess I've always known the dead are weak, but the blinders have really been thrown off lately and I can almost sense with my being how impossible it is for the dead to do anything. My understanding of this has been evolving and growing, and honestly, if I have to go much further into this, my brain may collapse from awe. The good thing is, when I read the Scripture now and see the word "dead", the meaning of the passage is practically exploding in my face. I can't miss it. When God says someone is dead, He doesn't mean that he is weak, or only capable of a little work. Dead means dead. Not alive. Not even a little bit.
By now, you are probably wondering where I'm going with this. Well, on Sunday, while the pastor was butchering Ephesians 4, I decided to read Ephesians from the beginning to try to understand the overall point of the book. Naturally, I started in Chapter 1. Paul starts out by telling us that God planned and predestined those who would be in Christ. God also caused them to believe and gave them the Holy Spirit as an earnest of their inheritance in Him. All of this happened by a work of God and God alone. Those whom He chose didn't have to do a thing. which is good, because until He gave them life, they were dead and incapable of believing or doing any other thing. If they had to DO something in order for God to save them, they would never be saved because of their deadness and inability to act.
After God does all that, He opens the eyes of their understanding so that they can know what He did. (verses 17 and 18) And even that is done for His glory. But then we see in verse 19 a new revelation about how God accomplished this feat. This was the stunning moment for me. God used the same power to save us that He used to raise Christ from the dead! Look at this:
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead... (vs. 19 and 20a)
When I think of the power required to raise someone from the dead, I think it must be large in both quantity and quality. It was one of God's greatest works, right? To raise Christ from the dead? And yet, it took this EXACT SAME power that God had to exercise to save me. Paul calls it "his mighty power." In the past, I have thought it a small thing for God to save me. But now I see that it was a huge thing. And not just me, but the entire Church, which Paul says "is his body."
And all of this brings me back to Arminians. How could anyone think that he possesses ANY of the mighty power necessary to make himself believe? It is impossible for someone who is dead in his trespasses and sin to exercise faith. He doesn't even HAVE faith until God has already done a saving work in his life and given that man the gift of faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9) After God opens your eyes to your sinfulness and his forgiveness, don't make the mistake of thinking that YOU realized it and chose to repent and believe. That is the very opposite of how God describes it in Ephesians 1. God chose you. God saved you. God quickened you and opened the eyes of your understanding.