11 June 2013

Guest Post: Bible Study in a Morgue?

Summer can be a busy time for all of us (even bloggers), so I have enlisted some guest bloggers whose work will be posted here occasionally throughout the summer months.

Our first guest post is written by Hariton "Harry" Deligiannides. Harry serves as an elder at Bethlehem Bible Church in West Boylston, MA. As an elder at BBC, Harry has filled in and preached Sunday services when pastor Mike Abendroth is unavailable (Harry's sermons can be accessed here) and teaches Sunday school and evening services as needed. He also is in charge of membership for the church, teaches the College & Career study, disciples other men and teaches at the Institute for Biblical Studies.

I'm excited to welcome Harry as the very first guest blogger here at Do Not Be Surprised. I know we'll be blessed and encouraged by his words!

Bible Study in a Morgue?

Scene #1: You are sitting comfortably in someone’s living room enjoying some fellowship before the Bible study begins. After the Bible study, you enjoy some more fellowship around refreshments. It is a cozy home. The hosts are warm and welcoming. Along with all this, the scent of lit candles and potpourri help provide the perfect atmosphere for the study.

Scene #2: The atmosphere is cold and dreary. No potpourri here, or lit candles. You are at the morgue. But nonetheless, it is a Bible study. The text for the study this night is Ephesians 2:1-10. The cadavers are waiting your inspection as part of the study.

Question: Which scene would you want to be a part of?

Your answer to this question will reveal your spiritual condition and/or your spiritual maturity. Most evangelicals would pick the first scenario for their Bible study. After all, who wants to be bothered with a morgue, when you can enjoy the comfort of someone’s home?

Photo credit below
But the second scene would be your best bet. Why? As your Bible study teacher, I would have you go to one of the cadavers, not for the sake of identifying or claiming any one of them as is typical in a morgue, but for the sake of seeing how they respond to any stimuli.

These are your Bible study tools for this particular night:
  • Tool #1: Your finger. With it, you poke and prod the cadaver. But, no response.
  • Tool #2: Your voice. With it, you yell at the corpse. (And if you are a boisterous Greek like myself, that’s a pretty loud noise) And yet, still no response.
  • Tool #3: Your fist. With it, you punch the cadaver, a number of times, each time with more force. Result. No Response.
  • Tool #4: Your open hand. With it, you slap this person in the face. No response.
  • Tool #5: One of the mortician’s tools. With it, you do what you need to, whether stab, cut or slice, just to get some kind of a response. But nothing.
Was it because these were not appropriate Bible study tools? No. It was because the cadaver has no life. It is dead. Therefore, it cannot respond to any stimulus. Just as a corpse is dead with no physical life, the Bible says we are spiritually dead, with no spiritual life, unable to respond to any spiritual stimulus. Total corruption. Total depravity. Human inability.

In writing to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul reminds these believers of who they were, namely that they were dead in their transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1). Let me cut to the chase and do the exegetical work for you. Once you look at the original Greek text, take into account Paul’s authorial intent, and consider the context, the term "dead" means . . . hold on to your seat . . . D E A D! There is no life.

How dead is dead? So dead that it takes divine intervention to remedy the situation. Otherwise, there is no hope. That is why later in the chapter Paul says, “But God...” (v. 4) Now that is Divine intervention for all who are dead in transgression!

How did God intervene? Verse 5 gives us the answer. He “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” Why did God do so? Because of his great love for us (v. 4). Because He is rich in mercy (v. 4) Because of His grace (v. 5).

It definitely was not because we were lovable or able. God did this by His sovereign choice. This must be obvious, because a dead person would never and could never choose God. Spiritually dead people, dead in transgression and sin, are both unwilling and unable to come to Christ on their own, apart from the work of God the Father. That is why even Jesus Himself said,
“All those the Father gives me will come to me” (John 6:37)
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them” (John 6:44)
“This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6:65)
Dead people can be confirmed, but that doesn’t give them life. Dead people can be baptized, but that doesn’t give them life. Dead people can pray the sinner’s prayer to accept Jesus into their heart, but that doesn’t give them life. Only the one who is our life (Col 3:4), the Author of life (Acts 3:15), THE life (John 14:6) and the resurrection and the life (John 11:25) can give them life.

Once you realize you were dead in your transgressions and sins, with no capacity to respond to the Gospel message in and of yourself, but that only God could make you alive with Christ even while your were dead, then your song of praise becomes...
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free, 
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
photo credit: Insight Imaging: John A Ryan Photography via photopin cc 

Further Reading
Witnessing to a Blank Stare
Jesus Christ Is Coming Soon
Salvation Is a Work of God

1 comment:

  1. This post was so helpful. Thank you for sharing it!


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