Friday, October 12, 2007

Spiritually dead?

During bible study today, there was a mention of the "spiritually dead"? I am not too sure about this. I would accept it if I use it on myself but I am just not comfortable tagging anyone else "spiritually dead". Who are we to judge and who are we say that so and so is spiritually dead?

If we take a look at Ephesians 2:1, "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins", it gives an indication of us being dead in sin, and some refer this as being spiritually dead. I am quite sure that "spiritually dead" is not used in the bible. And the context of the verse is quite interesting. The Greek word for "you", υμας, is an accusative but there is no verb to control it. It is possible that και υμας (and you) is related to the few verses before: Paul implies that what God did for Jesus, He did also for the Christian readers of the epistle. This does not give us the space to call others spiritually dead, only our ownselves as we come before God in repentance.

In that sense, I see evangelism as living a life as a community, sharing our lives with others regardless of what they are - dead or not dead. It is a giving of ourselves to one another, and that by living out Christ in us, our lives can rub off on others that they too will come to see and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then our duty is to live a life of Christ - in our thoughts, speech and deeds.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think that evangelism is making friends so that we can share the Gospel with them, as it is with certain teachings, training sessions, books and guides. It is making friends because we have the love of God; they are not the object, but the subject. There is no framework, formula or step-by-step-guide to do that. It is a real living out of our lives with the people around us. It is imitating Christ in all aspects of our lives, being his follower so that others may see and follow him too. Yes, we can talk about Christ but what we do speak louder than what we say.



  1. The women's study group I attended on Thursday got into a discussion attempting to define what "spiritually dead" means after looking at John 15. I grew uncomfortable with this. I think you have brought this back to where I need to be with it. From so far away, you minister to me!

  2. How did your group conclude?

    We touched on John 15 too in the same way I think you group did but I am thinking that the context of this passage is not whether one is attached to the vine, that is, I don't think this passage is about being dead. Again I may be wrong but if you look at verse 8: "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples," I kinda think that this passage talks about how to decide if we are connected to God, by way of the fruits we bear - i.e. a check on ourselves so we won't be cast away (v.6). I think so - I need to study this more :) What are your thoughts?

  3. Pearlie- I agree wholeheartedly with the direction of your post, my dear friend.

  4. Pearlie,

    I think you got it right - so right!

    I am a bit uncomfortable with the Matther & Friends project that the Celebration of Hope is pushing the churches to do at the moment. It's exactly what you say - people become the object, not the subject or our friendship, evangelism, etc. That makes us no different from sales person - all we want is to achieve some "sales," so those saved would become another "statistic" demonstrating how effective the project is.

  5. They were using "spiritually dead" with reference to Christians???

    That's 100% wrong. The living cannot be dead - period.

    Praise the Lord for your words on evangelism.

  6. Pearlie,
    I think we need to be discernful when to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ through our mouth and when to be just silent to show Christ's action to point them to know Jesus. I still believe in proclaiming Christ and challenged about the good news even if the person is a stranger especially when the conversations is opened to it. Surprisingly,there are some strangers I know, accepted Christ through just propositions of good news. Some are amazed with the good news. Some wants to come for bible study through that. and some finds it difficult to be true. I think in Romans 9 -"How beautiful are those who bring good news", .."and how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him". So, we still should converse depending on the context.

    Kar Yong,

    I dun think the COH is in the spirit of treating people as objects. I think their intention is to win more people to Christ through proclaimation (1 method)and in the spirit, to challenge the silent church to be bold in proclaiming Him to their friends. Even we treat them as objects though it's not the right thing to do, as long as they have the chance of hearing the gospels, isn't that still good news !! (Phil 1&2 - Paul opposed those evangelists who have wrong motive of preaching Christ, yet he affirmed at least people had the chance to hear good news!!)

  7. Kar Yong,
    My church is on it too - Matthew and Friends.

  8. Codepoke,
    No they weren't though I am not too sure about the bible study material whether it did, I think it was silent.

    But what about those who are Christians only by name - James is very clear about it: James 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

  9. Chee Keat,
    Yes, I agree - there will be times when one must speak, when the Spirit leads.

  10. Pearlie,

    I'm just now firming up my beliefs in this area.

    > But what about those who are Christians only by name

    I am reaching the possibly harsh conclusion that there are those who appear to be alive but are not. They are the ones where the seed landed in rocky and weedy soil. Their appearance of life fell away after a time. The truly living ones bear spiritual fruit.

    My recent rereading of 1 John makes James look like a nice guy. John lists ~20 ways to be sure you are saved, but alongside practically every one of them is a way to be sure you are yet damned - no matter what you may believe.

    So, I am closer and closer to believing that the rocky and weedy seed were spiritually dead all along. And if that's true, then there's a legitimate way to declare that church members should fear being spiritually dead, while yet holding that once alive always alive. There's false spiritual life and true spiritual life. And our need is to discern between the two. 1 John and Jesus and practically every book says you can identify each by its fruit.

    This all gels well with the puritans, and that gives me a feeling of confidence.

  11. Pearlie, I think my conclusion was that John 15 was less about discernment of spiritual fruit or life and more about remaining in Christ and letting God produce the fruit. It talks to me about sanctification - that it requires remaining in Christ.

    It also seemed to say to me that what we perceive about ourselves' and others' spriritual fruit can be very inaccurate. Like you, this was the subject that brought me discomfort. It said to me that God prunes back even fruitful branches to produce more fruit - so that for a time, it may appear dead and must sustain growth before bounty.

    Is it not the skill and intent of the grower that determines the quantity of the fruit, and the vine that determines the type? After the words on obeying His command to remain in Him, Jesus simply says in vs. 17 to "Love each other." Nothing more than that.

    When I talked about this, I got a "hmm.." but not much further discussion.

  12. Codepoke,
    I know where you are coming from. But this is where our differences lie - I do not hold on to "once saved always saved" :)

  13. Missy,
    My bible study was almost a replay of yours - because I said the same things, then it was a "hmmm" and they went on discussing other things! haha

    I like your highlight on "love each other" command after His command to obey and to remain in Him. We need to find out if there is a specific reference to the "each other" - whether it refers to the disciples or all mankind. Either way, coming back to the subject of evangelism, is what we need to do. If speaking to another person is genuinely showing love, then speak. If doing something else is genuine love, then that need to be done rather than speak.

  14. Thanks for the post. It says a lot about what I believe about this matter as well.



  15. Thanks Bob K for dropping in.
    And blessings to you.

  16. > I do not hold on to "once saved always saved" :)

    A Calvinist does not, either. A Calvinist believes in "perseverance of the saints." A saint could lose his salvation, but won't. The saint must persevere to be saved. The false saint starts down the road and fails. It's a bigger difference than it sounds at first to be.

  17. Codepoke,
    I thought it is one of Calvinist's that when one is saved, he is always saved? Doesn't "a saint could lose his salvation, but won't" say the same thing? A false isn't a saint in the first place.

  18. I hear you, Pearlie. And I said from the beginning that it's a fine distinction. A "once saved, always saved" advocate says no sin matters to God once you've said the magic incantation. A believer in perseverance says you must work out your whole salvation. A Calvinistic believer in perseverance says God makes sure that all His own work out their salvation. The distinction is no Calvinist believes God saves apart from works, while a once-saved'er believes exactly that.