Apr 15

Making Dry Bones Live

“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.” (Eze 37:7-8)

The last eight years have been an exciting ride for our family, full of wonder, amazement, and deep interest as we have observed God at work building Cornerstone Baptist Church. In line with the particular gifts, personality, and burden which God has given to me, I have endeavored to preach the Word of God clearly, consistently, and constantly to our growing congregation. As I have preached, God has gathered people one by one, family by family, from pagan backgrounds, and from the spiritual graveyard of dead or aberrant Christian churches. Our organization has steadily increased with an enlarging membership, new ministries, bigger facilities, growing budgets, busy activities, and increasing visibility and influence in our community. But it is just now that I am finally beginning to understand what it all means; this noise is only the rattle of dry bones.

This public deprecation is not intended to minimize or detract from what God has accomplished here. Even this much could never have been achieved by mere human effort. Nor is this a display of self-pity due to discouragement, or bitterness because of disappointment with people, or ministry burnout. But I have erred in misconstruing activity for life. When I thought that I was listening to beautiful music, I suddenly realized that I was hearing the “Danse Macabre.”

What is lacking at Cornerstone is breath, life, spirit; what it needs is revival. We have held firm to our Baptist and biblical principles which insist on a converted membership. But an honest appraisal of the spiritual condition of our congregation reveals a low level of commitment to Christ, His Word, His Body, and His Great Commission. It is the condition lamented by Paul who said, “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Php 2:21).

Only one thing can make a difference. God must blow the wind of His Spirit on the dead bodies that they might live. In Ezekiel’s vision, the dry bones represented the nation of Israel (Eze 37:11-14). God promised to regather the people of Israel from the nations to their ancestral land while yet in their sinful unbelief (v. 12). We see this amazing process taking place in our own generation. Bone is joined to bone; flesh, sinews, and skin are even now coming together to recreate the national existence of God’s earthly people in the land of Palestine. At last, God will breathe spiritual life into the Jewish nation: they will repent, believe, and acknowledge their Messiah, Jesus, when he returns to establish his Millennial Kingdom. God will place his Spirit in them and the dead bodies shall live (v. 14).

This promise to Israel is what theologians call the New Covenant (cp. Jer 31:31-34; Eze 36:24-28). Although for the Jews this still awaits a future fulfillment, Christians right now enjoy the benefits of this New Covenant (Heb 8:6-13). It was inaugurated by Christ’s sacrificial death; it was empowered by his resurrection; it was authorized by his elevation to the Father’s right hand; and it was demonstrated by his sending of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of his New Testament people (Gal 4:6).

Since all true believers are indwelt by the Spirit of God, it is strange and tragic that any Christian should ever be characterized as (in some fashion) without life. But like the pleasure-seekers of whom Paul warned Timothy, there are many who are dead while they live (1Tim 5:6). It is the Spirit that gives life. Christians must willingly and consciously choose to “Walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:16). It is at this mysterious interface of human responsibility and divine pro-activity that believers are animated with divine life and power by the Spirit of God and enabled to live for Christ and others.

The morbid spectacle of an army of lifeless corpses, like terra cotta warriors of some dead Chinese emperor, is a freakish curiosity; it holds little attraction for those of us who desire to promote God’s glory through the changed lives of living souls. We can enjoy no peace, no rest, no satisfaction until such a goal is fully achieved in the lives of those we lead (Gal 4:19). Since this is a work that only God can do, I am extending a general invitation to all of our supporters and prayer partners to join with us in requesting God to breathe the Spirit of life and revival into our congregation. That includes me.

  1. We need a revival of love for Christ as the Preeminent One in our lives.
  2. We need a revival of personal Bible study.
  3. We need a revival of prayer.
  4. We need a revival of self-sacrificing service to Christ, our brethren, and the lost.
  5. We need a revival of humility, repentance, and holiness.
  6. We need a revival of life in and by the Spirit.

“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.” (Eze 37:10).

Imagine what such a troop of living, Spirit controlled individuals could accomplish!

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