Summary: Lent 4: Apart from God we are spiritually dead. In this condition there is no ability to do anything to help ourselves. But God reanimates us through the Gospel - the voice of Jesus - and saves us and makes us his workmanship.

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As a little boy, I spent a lot of time with my dad. My father owned a taxis business and I was his constant companion. One of places we often went to was Reynosa, Mexico. This is a large border city not too far away from where we lived. Dad would go there to buy stuff or to go have lunch or supper.

One of those trips to Reynosa was absolutely memorable. I must’ve been three or four years old. Now listen, I don’t remember many things from when I was that age – but this event I can recall in great detail. I remember standing in the front seat with dad. Back then we knew nothing of child safety seats. He angle parked in front of a pharmacy. He told me to wait in the car – and that he would be right back. For some reason, minutes seemed like hours. So – at the advanced age of three or four years of age – I made a command decision. I got out of the car to go look for my dad in a large, busy city, in a foreign country. And I got thoroughly lost. I looked and looked – I called out for dad – and he was nowhere to be found. The sidewalk was full of people – but none of them was my father.

Before I knew it, I was crying my eyes out. People were asking me why I was crying and I told them that it was because I couldn’t find my papi. Finally a policeman came by. Apparently he decided to load me up in his police vehicle – it was sort of like a jeep or a scout – higher up off the ground than a regular car. I wasn’t about to let this guy take me anywhere. And even at three or four years of age I was already a pretty hefty kid. I was bawling and screaming bloody murder. So this poor policeman was trying to put me into his vehicle and I was fighting him more fiercely than any WWF wrestler ever could. I remember the poor guy tried to put me in his jeep two or three times and crying and kicking and screaming I kept clawing my way down. The scene was so outrageous that a crowd began to gather. And it was finally because of that commotion and that mess of people that my dad came over to see what was going on and found me in the middle of the whole thing.

Friends – I was so lost that had it not been for the grace of God, I might still be tangling with that poor police officer. There was no way for me to find dad on my own. I didn’t have either the sense or the ability to find my daddy. In fact, it was my father who found me that day. I was so lost – but dad found me and rescued me.

That situation in which I found myself as a young kid was tough. I couldn’t help myself - it took a rescue. Saint Paul tells us of another rescue – a rescue that all believers have gone through and which all of us needed. Let’s read about it:

[1] As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, [2] in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. [3] All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (NIV)

People living apart from God are described as being dead in transgressions. I think that we can agree that this at least sounds serious! Dead means a lot of stuff: not recognizing our condition; no capacity to grasp the gravity of the situation; what God says make no sense; No capacity to help ourselves; no life; no growth; no hope. Paul writes to the church at Corinth: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing… The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 1.18a & 2.14)

In that condition, for a rescue to happen, the initiative has to come from elsewhere. There is no ability for one who is dead to help himself. Help has to come from outside. And the incredibly beautiful thing is that God is amazingly ready to come to us and offer all that He is and all that Jesus has done to rescue us. Let’s read the next few verses from our text:

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