And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2. The secret. What is the secret of the wonderful reversal of the order of nature that is seen in the spiritual transformation from death to life? The power is put forth by the grace of God, and the method of its influence is through union with Christ.
I. THE POWER THAT TRANSFORMS FROM DEATH TO LIFE IS THE GRACE OF GOD.
1. The power is Divine.
(1) Men cannot quicken themselves. The dead can never rise from their graves. Silent, stiff, and cold, dead souls will never shake off their lethargy and begin a new spiritual life.
(2) Men cannot quicken one another. Before life is extinct, by chafing the chill limbs, by giving cordials and other remedies, the fast-ebbing vitality may be restored to the dying man. But when the last breath is breathed, and the heart has ceased to beat, and the patient is really dead, science and love are both baffled. We can galvanize the corpse into a shocking mockery of life, but that is worse than useless. Now, nothing short of death has come upon those who are under the power of sin. They are too far gone for human restoratives such as education, social influence, reward and punishment, exhortation and rebuke.
(3) God alone can and does effect the great transformation, because he is the Source of all life, and because this return from death to life is a pure miracle.
2. The power is put forth by the grace of God. He might leave the dead to bury their dead, and concern himself only with fresh new lives. But he has infinite pity even for the dead. Nothing but grace could inspire such pity. For we have no claim upon God after we have become" by nature children of wrath." We must look for the motive in the love of God alone. But that love is so great that it is a very treasure-house of mercy. God is "rich in mercy." Then our very helplessness appeals to his compassion. The more dead we are the more will God desire to quicken us.
II. THE MEANS THROUGH WHICH THE GRACE OF GOD TRANSFORMS FROM' DEATH TO LIFE IS UNION WITH CHRIST.
1. All through the history of the wonderful process, St. Paul traces, step by step, the progress of the Christian, in the very experience through which Christ went.
(1) We begin in death as Christ stooped to die for us.
(2) We are "quickened together with Christ," and have fellowship with the resurrection of Christ.
(3) We are exalted in the likeness of Christ's ascension (ver. 5).
(4) And we look forward to sharing in his future glory. Thus we are not merely to receive the benefits of the death and resurrection of our Lord; we have to enter into his very experience and pass through it ourselves spiritually. Then his life and his victory become ours.
2. This experience is realized by our union, with Christ in faith. It is vain and hopeless to attempt to follow Christ by painfully attempting an exact imitation while we are going alone and in our own strength. The way is too dark, too steep, too rough. And this is not what is expected of us. But if we trust Christ our faith unites us to him, and by the influence he puts forth over us he carries us along with him; so that through him we receive the gift of life from the grace of God. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;