Oh, oh, oh, I know this one, I know this one: No.
Of course not, it is a ridiculous idea that a dead person could ever choose to be alive. Why then am I asking this question? Have I grown so tired of my blog I’ve taken to asking self evident questions in the hope that someone will try and block my site for abusive content again?
Not quite. But there are some in the church who maintain that dead people can indeed choose to come alive. Here, let me explain:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
Ephesians 2 v 1
We see Paul repeating a common theme that non-believers are dead in their sins. By this he doesn’t mean physically dead but spiritually dead. As if to reinforce his point Paul says a few verses later:
“Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”
Ephesians 2 v 12
In these two verses and in many more throughout scripture (leave a comment if you want a full list) we see the first principle of what is called the Doctrines of Grace. This principle is known as Total Depravity.
You’ve lost me
According to the Bible man has a total inability to love God. He is utterly unwilling to do so. As such even though he does acts of good he does not do them for the right reason (out of love for God). He can only choose between evil and lesser evil. If an act of good is not done out of love for God it is worthless. As it says in Isaiah:
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Isaiah 64 v 6
If you do not believe in God even in a good act you sin by omission. You sin by not loving Jesus Christ your Saviour.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Hebrews 11 v 6
And as Jesus says:
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
John 3 v 19
The free will of man is an illusion. Imagine a bird with a broken wing, technically it has the free will to fly, what it lacks is the capacity. Or indeed, imagine a dead corpse. It has the free will to choose to live what it lacks is the ability to do so. So it is with the sinful man. He has the free will to come to God but because he is a sinner he cannot. As Paul says:
“the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.”
Romans 8 v 7
Man is blinded by sin and cannot understand the light. His free will is a sinful free will and is therefore unable to choose to love God and keep God’s commandments. The truth of the Bible, God’s revelation in creation and all spiritual truth are lost on him.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,”
Romans 1 v 18
The unconverted man will always choose to suppress the truth rather than accept it. As Paul writes:
“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
1 Corinthians 2 v 14
All this goes to underline my starting point: Dead People Cannot Choose to Be Alive.
Unbelievers cannot choose spiritual life. The spiritual dead cannot choose to live.
But wait, you’re a Christian, how did that happen?
If all people are dead in their sins and cannot understand God how then can there be Christians? In a land of dead men walking how can there be those who are alive? How can people understand? How can people seek God?
Having humbled man to the dust, having Biblically proved that man cannot choose God for he does not want to we now move on to one of the glorious truths about God:
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2 v 4 – 10 (emphasis added)
The amazing, mind blowing truth is that God saves us! He comes and makes alive those who were dead. And this act is totally and completely an act of grace.
What is grace?
Grace is simply undeserved mercy. And it is because of this love and mercy that God has chosen to save some of the human race. God has chosen his people (or his elect).
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
Ephesians 1 v 4 – 6
So are you saying that you’re better than others because you’ve been chosen?
No, not all. I am a sinner, a wretched, despised, filthy sinner. Not a day has gone by when I haven’t broken one of God’s law. Not a hour passes when I don’t love God as I should. I am constantly reminded that I am 100% deserving of eternal punishment in Hell.
God chose me because out of his love, his grace, his mercy he decided too. Not because there was anything special about me, not because I was ‘clever’ or ‘good’ by human standards but out of his love for me.
Isn’t it unfair? Why does God still blame us? Why…?
In Romans 9 Paul answers all these questions:
“What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory
Romans 9 v 14 - 23
I will echo the question Paul asks: who are you, oh man, to talk back to God?
When we fully grasp the truth of the deadness of man in sin and the act of grace that makes man alive in Christ then we see that man is humbled and God is exalted above all. The truth of the doctrines of grace is a great encouragement. For all around us are souls predestined to be saved. Dead men walking who will one day be made alive. What greater encouragement can we have to go out and proclaim the gospel?
To all who still disagree with me I ask with Paul:
“So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
Romans 11 v 5 – 6
Salvation is by the grace of God not by the work of man. And that work includes the ability to make oneself spiritually alive. It cannot be done. It requires an act of God.
“Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4 v 1 – 6
God shined his light into our hearts so that we might understand. Dead men cannot choose to be alive. God however brings the dead to life.