Week 17 of 50 in the Institutes: The Walking Dead

I need to say at the outset here that I am not a Walking Dead fan.  I’m just borrowing the title for today’s blog.  In fact, I have not even watched a single episode of the series, nor do I intend to (real life is has enough zombies as it is.)  Those who have watched the show tell me that the title phrase refers to those who are not yet zombies, but eventually will be, because it’s just a matter of time before they are overrun by the zombie hordes.

Reading 2.16.2 in this upcoming week’s assignment reminded me of the “walking dead” described by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1-3.  Paul provides a 3-D view of unbelievers, describing them as: 1) dead in trespasses and sins (v. 1); 2) dominated by the world, the flesh, and Satan (v. 2), and 3) doomed, as children of wrath (v. 3).  The sad thing is that unbelievers are not aware of their deadness, the domination they are under, nor the ultimate doom that is their destiny, apart from Christ.

And this is what makes the gospel is so hard for people to grasp in the twenty-first century.  The idea that man is truly culpable (blameworthy) for his sinful state is a tough pill to swallow in our postmodern society in the West.  It is an idea so radical, that it takes a supernatural work of God to convince sinners of their miserable and helpless condition and to bring them to that indispensable crisis of conscience which is integral to repentance and faith (the wicket gate giving entrance to the narrow road which leads to the Celestial City).

Too much of the time, moderns prefer a sponsor for their salvation, rather than the Savior.  A sponsor makes salvation possible.  The Savior makes it certain.  And therein lies all the difference between self-service, man-centered salvation, and biblical, Christ-exalting, God-glorifying salvation.  The Savior came to do what man had no hope or desire of doing for himself.

We see this clearly in the point of transition in Ephesians 2:4.  Chapter 2 of Ephesians begins with a direct object: “you”. The subject doesn’t come until verse 4, “But God”.  To show how each aspect of man’s condition apart from Christ is more than offset in salvation, Paul makes a contrast, in 3-E perspective, if you will. Where there was death, there is enlivening (made alive with Christ, v. 4 ).  In the place of domination, there is elevation (raised with Christ, v. 5a).  Where there was doom, now there is exaltation (seated with Christ in the heavenly places, v. 5b).  And the source of all of this change is God.

And, wonder of wonders, he uses the foolishness of preaching to turn the “walking dead” into children of light, when the word God and Spirit of God together work faith and repentance in the heart.

To God be the glory, for He alone has done great things.

Links to Reformation 21 blogs through the Institutes:

Apr. 27:  2.14.5 – 2.14.8

Apr. 28:  2.15.1 – 2.15.4

Apr. 29:  2.15.5 – 2.16.2

Apr. 30:  2.16.3 – 2.16.6

May 1:  2.16.7 – 2.16.11

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