A Miracle-Working God
What a great and wonderful transformational blessing, it is when someone has gone from death to life.
Christ declares: “I am he that liveth, and was dead” (Revelation 1:18, first part).
As for me, when I was entrenched in the world, I wrote a song that said, “I was dead and I am alive.” It was the cry of my heart. I said “dead” because of my worldliness, but now I am “alive” because of what God has done for my life. The transformation that people can see after my conversion has been a big miracle. From looking like a gangster, I became a preacher of righteousness.
What a great and wonderfully transformational blessing it is to understand this subject! Let us consider death and life in various dimensions:
There are two typical definitions for the word “death”:
1. Helplessness in life; the state of a being, animal or vegetable, in which the organs of movement and life have ceased to perform their functions and have become unable to operate.
2. Lifeless; inanimate.
In the Bible, there are various examples of people who died and then lived again.
Let us consider the death of Moses:
“Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even on them who had not sinned after the similarity of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him who was to come” (Romans 5:14).
Because of the power of Christ, death need not have power over men. This is illustrated in the resurrection of Moses.
We read in the book of Jude 1:9, “Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” even though Moses had been buried.
As we can see in the book of Matthew chapter 17, an amazing miracle had taken place: “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matthew 17:1–8).
“During His ministry Jesus raised the dead to life. He raised the son of the widow of Nain and Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus. But these were not clothed with immortality. After they were raised they continued to be subject to death and decay. But those who came forth from the grave at Christ’s resurrection were raised to everlasting life. They were the multitude of captives who ascended with Him as trophies of His victory over death and the grave. . . .
“These went into the city, and appeared unto many, declaring, ‘Christ has risen from the dead, and we be risen with him.’ Some were terrified at the sight. They bore the most undeniable evidence not only of their own resurrection, but of the resurrection of the crucified Redeemer. After His resurrection, Christ did not show Himself to any save His followers, but testimony in regard to His resurrection was not wanting. It came from various sources, [including] from the five hundred who assembled in Galilee to see their risen Lord. This testimony could not be quenched. The sacred facts of Christ’s resurrection were immortalized.”—Christ Triumphant, p. 286.
“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) . . . After that [Jesus] saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. . . . Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. . . . Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:1, 2, 11, 14, 38–44).
“Christ’s crowning miracle—the raising of Lazarus—had sealed the determination of the priests to rid the world of Jesus and His wonderful works, which were fast destroying their influence over the people. They had crucified Him; but here was a convincing proof that they had not put a stop to the working of miracles in His name, nor to the proclamation of the truth He taught. Already the healing of the cripple and the preaching of the apostles had filled Jerusalem with excitement.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 661.
“The time of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem was the most beautiful season of the year. The Mount of Olives was carpeted with green, and the groves were beautiful with varied foliage. Very many had come to the feast from the regions round about Jerusalem with an earnest desire to see Jesus. The crowning miracle of the Saviour in raising Lazarus from the dead had a wonderful effect upon minds, and a large and enthusiastic multitude was drawn to the place where Jesus was tarrying.”—Christ Triumphant, p. 253.
The experience of spiritual death was understood in the history of our parents as soon as they sinned in the Garden of Eden. Even before physical death, Adam and Eve had already begun the process of decay and degeneracy in the sight of God—leading, of course, to death. Because of sin, they were estranged from their Maker, and their works were not perfect before Him. The Lord describes an interesting situation:
“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God” (Revelation 3:1, 2).
“But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth” (1 Timothy 5:6).
As we saw earlier the miracle of reversing physical death in the case of Lazarus, the same goes for the spiritual.
In the book of Ezekiel chapter 37, God shows us the marvelous transformation that we can experience when the Spirit of God comes upon us:
“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:1–12).
This great miracle occurs every day. When someone in a weak spiritual condition begins to receive the light and power of the Holy Spirit, we soon see the transformation that follows as a result.
David had this experience. He was dying spiritually—then when he became aware of his situation, he asked God:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Psalm 51:10–12).
“Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved” (Psalm 80:7).
Turn us back, O God of the hosts and make your face shine; And we will be saved.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, we are reminded that we are all subject to death—but not everyone knows that some of us will undergo a second death.
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. . . . And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:6, 14, 15).
Just as we can be restored both to physical and spiritual life, so can we be delivered from the second death if we follow the only way to have victory.
In order for our name to be written in the Lamb’s book of life, we must be in the hand of the Lamb. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27–29).
Referring to the New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven we read: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).
This is what we need to avoid the second death. When you accept Jesus as your personal Saviour, your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. It is essential to continue to walk with Him that it may be retained there. “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Colossians 1:21–23, first part).
Christ explains: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). And in prayer to His Father, He declared: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. . . . I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word” (John 17:3, 6).
My dear brethren, we are close to the end of the history of the world and one of two ways await us: Eternal death and eternal life. Which will be yours?
In receiving Jesus, we can have eternal life. Therefore we must believe.
As “Jesus saith unto [Martha], Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:40, 25, 26, first part).
“We are assured that the greatest gift that can be given to us will not be withheld. Christ says, ‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?’ But ask in faith, nothing doubting. It is because of unbelief that so many of our church members are weak. Christ said to Martha at the grave of Lazarus, ‘If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God.’ ”—Christ Triumphant, p. 54.
My prayer is that each of us reading this article will decide to see this great miracle of transformation!