Do you remember that delightful thing called winter? I imagine many of you are already lamenting the cool breeze of autumn, and are hissing at the very thought of winter knocking on our doors. But I have to admit (the chagrin of many) that I love winter. And I especially love blizzards. I always enjoy staring out of my office window, and watching the snow move about. The wind causes the trees to sway and dance at every nip and gust.
Have you ever considered that the work of the Holy Spirit is a lot like a blizzard? With a blizzard, there is transformation from dry land, to a snowy paradise. The landscape is undoubtedly changed! There are those, who by the work of the Holy Spirit are transformed from God-haters into sons and daughters of the Most High God. Have you ever wondered how He does that? Certainly, it is a mystery, but it is a mysterious work of God. Such an event can only be described as a radical transformation, in which God takes a barren stony heart, and transforms it into His heavenly abode.
The Lord Jesus in John 3 uses weather imagery, though it is not a blizzard that He speaks of. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, that ruler of the synagogue, He said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 ESV) Men have tried throughout history to fabricate the Spirit’s glorious work. But the Holy Spirit is never mastered by us, we are mastered by Him. We are mastered by His mysterious work in raising dead men to life, doing what they never would or could do for themselves. This glorious summons of God from death to life is often spoken of as Irresistible Grace, or Effectual Grace (meaning that this gracious act always brings about this heavenly end).
The Bible teaches us in Ephesians 2:1-3 that humans are by nature several things: 1) Spiritually dead; 2) Slaves to Satan by sin; 3) In bondage to their particular lusts; 4) Sinful with their bodies; 5) Sinful with their minds; 6) Worthy of God’s wrath by nature. We know Paul has a universal scope by way of verse 4 where he writes, “[We were all these things] like the rest of mankind…” (Eph. 2:4 ESV) So the estate of every human heart before God’s mysterious work of regeneration (or the new birth as it is called) is one of spiritual death in its entirety. If that’s true, then should God leave us to our powers and abilities, allow us to make the final decision by honoring our wills, all that would remain for us is His eternal wrath, because we would never choose God; we were slaves to sin.
So how does God change totally depraved (or spiritually dead) people into His saints? Paul gives us that brief answer in Eph. 2:4-5, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…” (Eph. 2:4-5 ESV) God raised us up. God resurrected us. God did this Himself without our help or cooperation. God overcomes our spiritual inability by first imparting life unto His elect or predestined people by His Word and Spirit.
The knowledge that God must first raise us ought not to surprise us, for the model of our spiritual resurrection is that of Lazarus’ own physical resurrection. Christ outside of the tomb declared, “Lazarus, come out.” (John 11:43b ESV) Lazarus was raised by the power of God, not by his cooperation, for how can the dead cooperate with anything. So, it is with our salvation. God brings forth the external call of the gospel by a preacher or the Word, and accompanies it with His Spirit through the internal call which draws a dead sinner to life. Just as creation came from darkness by the Word of God, so the new creation in the hearts of men, women, boys and girls, comes from the Word of God. We become a new creation in Christ Jesus. We have a new heart, and a new Spirit within us, we have new passions, with new eyes to see God rightly not as a vicious judge, but as our loving father fully adorned in His beauty and majesty. Let us thank God for calling us from the grave to life, by our holy living. Walk in a manner worthy of your calling.
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