Summary: The difference between volcanic rock and coal is a parable of the unbeliever and the saved by grace.


I’ve got two contrasting objects to show you (show). Here’s a piece of volcanic rock and here’s a piece of coal. They’re both minerals but so different! One is burnt out but the other is alive! When I went to Italy on holiday, one of the tours was to visit Mount Vesuvius. I climbed to the summit and there was a huge crater with smoke coming out of it because, although the volcano is dormant just now, deep down in the earth there’s molten rock. When the pressure increases the volcano erupts and spews out molten rock in an amazing fiery spectacle, and it pours down the mountainside in great streams destroying everything in its path. Very quickly the molten rock cools into a solid substance called lava, like this (show). But the life has gone out of it – it’s dead! But contrast the coal! (show). It may look dead but it’s got life within – it’s capable of giving off heat and power.

This contrast between volcanic rock and living coal reminded me of some verses in the Bible found in the Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2. The apostle Paul was contrasting the life of people who hadn’t come into a relationship with God in Jesus, as the Saviour of the world. He said that before they trusted in Jesus: ‘You were dead in your trespasses and sins’ (1). Then something wonderful happened: ‘But … God … made us alive with Christ’ (4,5).

How this come about? How can someone who has lost contact with God – pictured here as ‘dead’ – be made ‘alive’? There’s only one way it can happen. The apostle writes: ‘It is by grace you have been saved’ (5). What is ‘grace’? It’s the name for the unmerited favour of God, His love for sinners, so much so that Jesus paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins by dying on the Cross. That was the only way by which we could be restored to a living relationship with God. That’s what made all the difference!

Without Jesus we’re just like this volcanic rock – quite dead! But with Jesus in our lives we’re like this coal – capable of life! Do make sure that you have the life of God within you by asking Jesus to be your Saviour.

Dead in

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