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Raising the Dead

Sinclair Ferguson on Jesus’ live demonstration of monergistic regeneration:


With one command, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43) [Jesus] raised His dead friend.

It is fascinating to notice that our Lord accomplished this by two means: prayer and His word (vv. 41–43). He is the Ezekiel-like prophet who speaks both to the bones and the spirits of those who have fallen prey to the curse of sin. He brings new life to the dead. What the prophets of God did spiritually, the Prophet of God did quite literally and physically.

The emphasis on prayer should not go unnoticed–the apostles certainly grasped it (Acts 6:4). In addition, a pattern is illustrated that is characteristic of Christ’s ongoing activity as the giver of new life: resurrection comes by this new life (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23).

Question: Surely the instrumentality of the Word (to which we actively respond) implies an activity on our part? Do we not, in this sense, contribute something to being born again?

Answer: No more than Jesus’s command implies that Lazarus contributes life energy to his own resurrection. Lazarus comes out of the tomb because Jesus raises him from the dead, not in order that he might be raised from the dead. In him, our Lord’s words are fulfilled: “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” (John 5:25). When prayer to the father and the word of command to the dead come from the lips of Jesus, His voice opens deaf ears and raises the dead.

What was true then remains so now (which is why we join prayer and preaching), and will continue to be at the last, when by his powerful command Christ once again will raise the dead (1 Thess. 4:16). In undiluted Monergism, He called the galaxies into being, and He gives life to the dead in the same way (Rom. 4:17).

—Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life (Reformation Trust, 2007), 70–71.

Posted 2008·07·31 by David Kjos
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Posted in: In Christ Alone · Monergism · Regeneration · Sinclair Ferguson

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