An excerpt from the book PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace:
God’s plan has always been to multiply the fame of his own name by giving new life to the spiritually dead (Ephesians 1:4–2:5). The price that this plan required was nothing less than the slaughter of a perfect substitute—a gift too great for anyone but God to give, with a price too high for anyone but God to pay. And so, God the Son became flesh, and his sinless body was stapled to a wooden beam. There, the Son died the death that the living dead deserve, but God refused to let death speak the final word. Three days after the Son released his final breath, a spike-torn hand twitched. A blood-crusted eyelid opened, and the living Lord checked himself out of his own tomb, alive and well.
The Good News: The Gift of God’s Grace Is Free for the Asking
Ever since that first resurrection day, all the goodness of Jesus himself has been available as a free gift to every person who will submit to the reign of the crucified king—and that’s good news for us all! (Romans 10:5-15). Nothing remains for us to do to earn God’s favor, because Jesus has already delivered everything that God’s justice demands. Joined with Jesus in his death, our zombie selves are laid to rest (Romans 6:4-7). Through faith in the risen and reigning Christ, we are raised with him to endless life (Colossians 2:12).
The Bad News: Left to Ourselves, No One Will Choose the Gift That God Offers
But there’s bad news in all of this as well—very bad news. The bad news is that we are spiritual zombies and, left to ourselves, none of us will ever claim the gift that God has provided. This isn’t because human beings are incapable of making choices! Every person possesses, in the words of pastor-theologian Jonathan Edwards, “liberty to act according to his choice, and do what he pleases.” We make our choices on the basis of what we most deeply desire—and that’s precisely the problem. We are all spiritually dead on arrival, and the reign of the risen Lord Jesus will never be the deepest desire of the spiritually deceased.
The spiritually dead don’t choose the gift of God for the same reason that prison escapees don’t show up voluntarily at police stations. It isn’t because convicted felons are incapable of locating their local law-enforcement agency. It’s because the police represent everything the convict wants to avoid. Ever since our expulsion from Eden, every human being has been a convicted corpse on the run from God’s reign. Apart from God’s singlehanded gift of resurrecting grace, no human being will ever seek God, because a death-defeating King who demands that we find our greatest joy in his Father’s fame is repulsive to the spiritually dead (John 3:19-20; Romans 3:11).