Views from the Branch: On Death and Life with Key Scriptures


Lord’s Library contributor Jared Helms offers views from a branch on death and life with key Scriptures and commentary that moves you. Check out Jared’s YouTube channel and two blogs: A Light in the Darkness and Blind Faith Examples. Lord’s Library’s Ministry Leaders Series is a collection of contributed articles written by ministry leaders on key Christian topics.

Ministry Leaders Series BadgeEphesians 2:1: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:”

It is very hard to wrap one’s head around this notion of being spiritually dead. We walked around before we were saved, we did things, and we had things. So, it appears to us. And it causes us problems in understanding and appreciating the Gospel message. We cannot know anything about our rescue till we know what we were rescued from.

So, let us get right down to the critical definition, dead means dead. It does not mean nearly dead, or mostly dead; it means totally and completely dead. What does it mean to be dead? Well, being dead you cannot do anything. So, all that we did before redemption was only a parody of living. Being dead you cannot have anything.

You might have physical things near you, but what use are such things to one who cannot do anything? The important implication is that dead people have no purpose, place of real belonging, no passion, and nothing of value. Being dead has no rights, or entitlements save what they granted by the living.

The Gospel

Death and Life Scripture

Perhaps the reader will object at this point, but think on your former state, what was it that occupied you? Was it the search for something you did not have? You sought to have things, but no matter how much you piled up the discontent remained. You sought to do things, but it did not matter what you accomplished it; never satisfied. You sought to have rights and privileges, but no matter how you advanced there was still so much further to go. Why didn’t all the searching ever bring you to what you were looking for?

Simple, you were dead.

Thus, it did not matter what you did, or acquired, or were it all amounted to nothing more than a dream of life. Perhaps this dream was a short one, or perhaps it lingered on for decades; it doesn’t matter it is not life.

Ah, yes; but then you did nothing, you couldn’t have as you were dead. You gave nothing and received everything. Paul’s inspired language makes this clear even in translation. See Ephesians 2:4-10:

  • Ephesians 2:4-10: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

God did it all, He made you alive when you were dead. He helped you when you were totally incapable of helping yourself. He gave you everything when you had nothing at all. And He did without regard to your contribution, or lack thereof. He has done all of that, and He continues to sustain this life He gave you. It is a wonderful truth that fills the heart with gratitude, confidence, joy, and above all a love of God. All attributes that make for a life worth living.

You became alive for the first time and discovered that all of life was new to you. It might have been that while you had been on the Earth a long time, you now found yourself less mature than those who spent much less time on Earth. It can be infuriating, disorienting, and for some unbearable. However, God is so great a Savior that when He brings you to life, He brings your past with you. It is not wasted, and in Ime its value becomes clear to us as we see it with living eyes and a living mind.

When we are brought to life, we find that we have eternal possessions. When we are brought to life we are enabled to do things. When we are brought to life, we receive rights and privileges as living citizens of the Kingdom of Life by the only True and Living God. All that we lack is suddenly ours. If we remember that we had nothing previously we will cherish our possession as we should.

Yet an uneasy thought lingers in the back of our minds, for if we were dead then what of all the unbelievers around us? They are still dead. We live in a dead world, outnumbered and surrounded by walking corpses. We have nothing to fear from them, their bites can not rob us of our God-given lives. However, they can diminish our lives by pulling us back into the old ways of pretending to live. We may also be used of God to bring their souls to life. If we know them to be dead, we will be open to seeking their rescue.

The more awful realization is that the disease that killed us is still inside of us. The major operation is complete, and recovery is sure, but it is still a difficult road with more painful procedures ahead of us before we are fully free of the illness that is sin. We can refuse the medicine provided to us, and live out our days a sickly invalid barely distinguishable from the walking dead. We can drink deeply of the curative and find ourselves revived time and again to a fuller life than we had known before. If we recall what this terrible illness had done to us before we will treat it with all the more urgency.

If we know that we have no life, and have no life except by the grace of God we will appreciate life to the fullest, and live it faithfully. If we think we were only made more alive in Christ, only given a better sort of life everything about Christianity will fall flat before us. We must like Paul account for everything that was without Christ’s doing, for such it was. Everything of value is in Christ alone. Everything of life past, present, and future is in Christ. To God be the glory forever. Amen.

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Jared Helms
Jared Helms

Jared Helms

Jared received his Bachelor of Arts from Bryan College in 2012, and his Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2017. He has pastored churches in Kentucky and Tennessee. Most importantly, Jared has walked with Christ most of his life. His interests extend from theology to church history, but he is particularly passionate about ecclesiology and homiletics.

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