September 8, 2011

Irresistible Power

Sometimes I read too fast. Speed reading is okay for novels and other lighter fare because I usually get the gist of the story. However, when I clip along at 500 plus words a minute, I can also miss important details.

For instance, the first chapter of Ephesians is filled with long sentences where piles up phrase upon phrase describing all that is ours in Christ Jesus. His descriptions give a similar sensation to that of walking into a candy store. Delights abound. Who can see all that is in those bins? Instead of letting my eyes sweep the store, if I want to find the best treasures, I must carefully look at each bin.

I might not do a speed reading in a candy store, but I must have whipped through parts of that first chapter of Ephesians. I missed something that Spurgeon zeroes in on in today’s devotional reading.

(That you may know) what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. . . . (Ephesians 1:19–20)
I’ve seen this for myself and know that my salvation depends entirely on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If He did not rise from the dead, my sins are not forgiven and I have no hope. I also know that this was done by the power of God. What strikes me this morning is how this power is connected to my prayers for the salvation of others.

I’ve known others who say things like, “Oh he will never be saved. He has no interest in spiritual matters and is far too stubborn.” They think salvation depends on us making the choice, but for this Spurgeon says salvation is totally about divine power. Those who suppose that it happens because of human free will and a willingness to know God are in error. When we see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners of their own free will turning to Christ.

Sin is such that no one cares about God or is interested in God. Without Christ, we are DEAD in our sin, totally separated from God and spiritual life. We do everything our own way and for ourselves. Conversion does not happen even if the Word is read or heard in a sermon apart from being combined with that life-giving, resurrection power that comes from God through the Holy Spirit.

Not only that, His power is irresistible. Spurgeon says that all the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb. Death itself could not hold Jesus as the “great might” of God worked in Him.

Spurgeon says that it is this same irresistible power God employs to raise sinners to newness of life. No disinterest, sin, total corruption, devils in hell or sinners on earth can stop God’s grace when He intends to convert someone. If God omnipotently says, “Thou shalt,” no one can say, “I will not.”

It was this way for me just as it is for others who believe. The salvation wrought by God through the power which raised Christ from the dead is glorious, honors God and produces dismay in the demonic world. This power is irresistible but also everlasting. 

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. (Romans 6:9)
Those who have genuinely been raised to new life may sin now and then, but they cannot go revert to their old life. “Because he lives we live also.” This is why the Bible says to me . . . 
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:3–4)
When I am praying, my human and me-centered focus tends to a burden for the humanness in others. But rather than focus on their sinful state and their spiritual apathy, God speaks sharply to me — their salvation is not going to happen because they can do something about it. Salvation happens only because of the power of God, the power that raised Jesus from the dead.
Father, I don’t know why these wonderful truths slip by me, or are so easily forgotten. I just know that without You, I can do nothing. My life so easily becomes sidetracked and I do not notice or remember even such important things. This proves again that salvation is of You. Your Word says that when I delight in You, You put the right desires, even the right thoughts in my head. Help me hold these thoughts, particularly when I pray for those that I love. I’m asking You to take initiative and employ Your resurrection power to raise them out of darkness and sin and into the life-giving light of Your Son.

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