Remember you were once dead.

I spend a lot of time thinking and speaking about this verse: When we were dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:5)

Dead people can do absolutely nothing to save themselves.

I have done all I know to do as a teacher to communicate to people that we were dead in our sin and Jesus had to do all the work to come get us. I have lain on a stage “dead” until a person came to lift me up.

Lately I have pondered a famous quote by RC Sproul that provides a visual for what this verse means. The quote starts with these words: God just doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person.

How many times have we heard that?

We are drowning. Death is imminent. There is no hope! There is nothing to save us from our sin! Then God threw us a life preserver named Jesus and we were desperate enough to grab hold. Hallelujah!

Here’s the problem.

Being in a sea trying not to drown implies I am struggling, yes, but I am alive. I am kicking and gasping for air, but I still have a will to live. This analogy implies I have some energy to save myself from my sin.

Now let’s listen to the entire quote:

God just doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up on the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive.  

Go ahead and personalize it for yourself. 

[Read it aloud if you wish.] God didn’t just doesn’t throw a life preserver to me, a drowning person. He went to the bottom of the sea, pulled my corpse from the bottom of the sea, took me up on a bank, breathed into me the breath of life and made me alive.     

Ephesians 2 tells us how dead we were.

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—….8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2:1-5, 8-9 and Colossians 2:12-14)

When someone needs our forgiveness and we forget we were DEAD (not kicking and screaming and gasping for air), we become capable of withholding something we did NOTHING to receive in the first place. We did nothing to receive God’s forgiveness through Jesus, yet we withhold forgiveness from others.

And we dare to wake up on some days thinking we are lacking something.

We stand forgiven and have new life in Christ because God came looking for us and made us alive with Him through Christ. There would have been no solution for our sin if God had not done all the work.

We are living in a miracle. Enjoy that reality today and every day.


Picture Explanation: I attended a conference yesterday and got to watch my friend, Fhonda, be a fabulous emcee, as well as sit beside my good friend Dawn. So fun.

© 2021 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.

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Planting and Watering

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6

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