One of the Kindle books I am currently reading is Dan Phillips’ The World-Tilting Gospel; Embracing a Biblical Worldview and Hanging on Tight (Kregel, 2011).
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been pleasantly impressed with its content and message. I am a couple of chapters into it and find it soundly biblical, edifying, and challenging.
I know I promised something more from Chapter 1, (“Knowing God and Man”), but today I want to quote from Chapter 3 (“, where Phillips treats the fallenness of man and his total sinful depravity.
Soundly and biblically, Phillips grounds this in Adam’s fall and the orthodox teaching on original sin (Adam’s representative headship, etc.). But the author does not use old cliches to describe our total depravity. His section on man’s spiritual deadness will demonstrate that.
Here is what Phillips has to say:
This is how Paul describes our spiritual condition: dead. The Greek word for ‘dead’ means ‘D-E-A-D.’ It doesn’t carry any special, technical, secret nuance detectable only by professional lexicographers. It is used many times – in the NT of sleep-diver Eutychus after his fatal plunge from the third story (Acts 20:9), or in the Greek translation of the narrative about Sisera, after Jael nailed his head to the ground (Judg.4:22)
What do these all have in common?
They’re all dead! As dead as Moses. As dead as King Tut. As dead as Marcus Aurelius, Confucius, Augustine, and any other dead person you can name.
Do you really believe it? All Christians who say they believe the Bible have to say they believe this verse [Eph.2:1]. But do they? I wonder.
I thought I believed it, once, as a younger Christian. But I also thought that I was saved by exercising my free will, by my deciding to choose Christ, by bringing something that made God’s offer of salvation work, by coming up with the faith through which I was saved. Yet at the same time, I did have a vague notion that it was all of God… but then, there was my part.
A dead guy’s part.
I was confused. I think a lot of Christians are confused.
But Paul says dead, and dead is what he means. In fact, ask yourself this: If Paul had meant to paint man as spiritually dead and absolutely powerless to help himself or move himself toward God in any way – what stronger word could he have chosen? What is deader than dead?
Isn’t that a powerful – and humbling – description of all of us? Have we forgotten this? It is time we remember. And then listen to this at the end of this chapter (part of Phillip’s “world-tilting” application):
We must deal with the fact: The Gospel is offensive to human pride. If what we preach as ‘Gospel’ is not offensive, we’re doing it wrong. An unoffensive Gospel is a false Gospel, a damning Gospel – because the only Gospel that saves is the Gospel that offends (1 Cor.1:18, 21, 23; 2:2; Gal.1:10; 5:11; 6:12,14).