Grace, Jesus, Life
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From death to life – the incredulity of grace

© October 12, 2018 | Schulter Etyang

Jesus, in the book of John, introduced us to this symbiotic relationship that he had with his Father. (John 5:17-47 NKJV) The Greek word pater, is the equivalent to the Hebrew word Abba, for father. Jesus was, of course, speaking in Aramaic, and he would have used Abba in reference to his Father. The Jews heard this phrase and instinctively knew he was making himself equal with God and that made them mad. Mad is an understatement. They made plans to kill him. 

Jesus, then, described this symbiotic relationship he had with his father. And in his long discourse, he made this shocking and improbable claim.

John 5:25 (NKJV)

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

What? No way. How can the dead hear? Imagine that someone close to you is lying in a casket, do they hear when you cry and call out their name in distress? Do they even acknowledge that you exist? Absolutely not. So yes, this is a shocking claim. Absolutely bonkers. 

Dead? Who is dead? All of humanity is dead. Dead? Yes, spiritually. We were all dead because of what Adam did. His rebellion against God and subsequent judgment sentenced all of humanity to the same predicament. He died so, we all died. (Romans 5:12 NKJV)

So Jesus says that the dead will hear his voice and live. This is what grace does. Grace only deals with the impossible, audacious, and out of this world stuff.

Do you know what it took for Jesus to save you? Save someone who was already dead? Salvation is a miracle. It really is. Your dead spirit heard the voice of the son of God and lived. Salvation, then, has got nothing to do with us. It is all the work of God. Paul Zahl in his book, Grace in Practice: Theology of Everyday Life writes, “the denaturedness of human beings requires saving, but the conditions for the saving do not lie within the situation that requires saving. The soteriology required must be an operation of grace, which is one-way love.”

Our salvation did not originate from us because as a matter of fact, we were dead. Dead people cannot initiate their own resurrection. Our salvation had to be from outside ourselves. Someone apart from us had to save us. Our salvation is an operation of grace.

Our salvation did not originate from us because as a matter of fact, we were dead. Dead people cannot initiate their own resurrection. Our salvation had to be from outside ourselves. Someone apart from us had to save us. Our salvation is an operation of grace.

This idea that we who were dead heard the voice of Jesus also boggles our mind, as Christians. We really don’t know how this thing works. We don’t have all the answers. All we know is that we were dead, and Jesus raised us to life. And yes, our faith has aspects of it that are rational. We do not just believe blindly. Our faith, nonetheless, has aspects of the supernatural, mysterious, irrational, unscientific, inexplicable – things that don’t make sense to the rational mind, things beyond us. Being raised from the dead is one of those.

Jesus used the word life seven times in his discourse. It seems that in his discourse, Jesus started with a concept that they all could grasp, zoopoieo, but then ended up with a climax, zoe.

The first two times he used the word zoopoieo. Zoopoieo means to cause to live, make alive, give life. He then used the word zoe five times. Zoe means of the absolute fullness of life,…life real and genuine… a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last forever.

Christians haven’t just been made alive. No! We have more than that. We have the absolute fullness of life. A life that is real and genuine. A life that is active and vigorous, devoted to God and blessed. More good news? We will have zoe life in the next world (another absurd idea we believe) with more perfect bodies. Mr. Universe, watch this space, bro. Alphaville in their song, Forever Young sang it well

Forever young

I want to be forever young

Do you really want to live forever?

Forever, and ever

We will live forever, young.

In the story of amazing grace, how we receive this zoe is even more inexplicable nonetheless true. The Son of God who enjoyed a wonderful symbiotic and loving relationship with his Father, gave up his place of zoe, and took our place of death, so that we could have everlasting zoe. He died like us and died for us. Our zoe came at a huge price – the death of the Son of God.  

Hey, world, we Christians have only one boast – I was dead but now I am alive. This is our only swagger. This is our only claim to fame, really. 

That’s what grace looks like

This entry was posted in: Grace, Jesus, Life

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Schulter Etyang leads The Life Place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Schulter is one whom Jesus loves. He loves his wife, Jenny, and enjoys reading, travelling, cooking, running and playing squash. He also enjoys conversations with friends about Jesus and about life.

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