As of Yet Unburied Corpses

Ephesians 2:1 – At one time you were corpses; animated by a false life, driven by a counterfeit force, and self-justified by a contrary worldview.


Individual Redemption: Cause and Effect (2:1-10)


Separated from God we are “corpses” (yet unburied) by reason of the weakness of our flesh and our guilt of opposing (so-called) truth. It is not that we were once alive and our sins made us dead, but that our sins are the evidence of our death (Rom. 5:12). As a contrary worldview, there is a cultural order to this present age (Rom. 12:2) – we are imprisoned in death and operate out of a principally dead “system” and, ironically, do not know we are dead (2Cor. 10:4b-5). In this place and age, accordingly, there is a ruler with the capability and rite to exercise dominance in the substance that “fills the space between the earth and the dwelling of the moon.” Paul claims that this ruler is the pneuma (spirit; breath; air) that is now filling the “walking corpses” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2Cor. 4:4; Rev. 12:7-9). The lifestyle of this system centers on living in and out of self-will that is driven by the “wind.” Destroying reason and pure thought, the “germination” of our descent from Adam (Rom. 12:5) sets all humanity on a headlong course to destruction (Rom. 2:1 – 3:20).


However, not because of, but rather, in spite of who we are – because of God’s “active compassion,” because of God’s immeasurable “unconditional love,” which “love God poured out on us to pour into others;” by means of an absolutely free gift (and thereby expecting nothing in return) we exist “safe and delivered from danger and destruction.” We have been raised with Christ, now in the presence of God (the immediate and direct results of God’s act of grace – 1Cor. 15:2-23), far above “the space between the earth and the dwelling of the moon” and beyond the “counterfeit culture of this age.” Through faith, out of and through persuasive volition, not of any merited act on our part, but by a “sacrificial gift-offering” of God (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16) have we been rescued. Neither God’s rescuing act (salvation) nor the intentional volition to believe (faith) originate in works. There is no “self-congratulating,” because we are Christ’s “result/product;” we are His “work of art.” God “pre-fitted” this worldview for God’s church and the church for this worldview (Rom. 8:29-30).


Corporate Reconciliation: Cause and Effect (vs.11-22)


Gentiles (the “uncircumcised”) were aliens, de facto; culturally (by not being Jewish) and spiritually (by being separated from God). Jews were “far off” from God by means of their God-counterfeit religion. Both were without hope, and as of yet “unburied corpses.” We were “’made’ in the flesh by human hands” [this Greek term, in the Old Testament Septuagint (LXX), is used to describe the making of idols]. Those Aliens and strangers, and those “far off” have, now, been reconciled to God and one another by the Christ Event (Rom. 5:8-10; 2Cor. 5:18-21; Col. 1:19-23). He, Himself, is our peace. Ironically, His violent death destroys that which killed the “circumcised” and kept the “uncircumcised” far away from God. His Resurrection Life fuels our live for living, together, as a corporate body. The two opposing peoples are made into one new person – “something completely unlike what it was beforehand.” All cultures have become one people – the church – through “the killing cross of Christ” (Rom. 10:12-13; Gal. 3:10-13; 28). Through this unity of diversity alone, the indwelling divinity gives access to all, in and of faith, to God the Father (Rom. 8:15-17; Gal. 4:6-7; Heb. 4:16).

We are no longer strangers and aliens, and known as “those far away,” but we are “fellow citizens,” in the church, God’s household. This household is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets (both speaking forth God’s worldview) [the Christian First Principle], with Jesus Himself as the cornerstone of the household. We are being fitted together (often painfully), growing into the full expression of Christ on the earth; a “permanent home” of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19-20; 2Cor. 6:16). In Trinitarian Formulation Paul concludes, “Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Sprit.” [VS 22]


The Logic of Resurrection

2 Timothy 2:15 – Make an effort to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker, who doesn’t need to be ashamed but is one who interprets the message of truth correctly. (CEB)

When we think and speak about the resurrected Christ – the reality of Resurrection Life – we should have in mind the source of all power in creation generally and the church specifically (Rom. 1:3; 2:16; 16:25; 1Cor. 15:1, 4, 12-20; 2Cor. 11:7; Gal. 1:11; 2:2; Phil. 2:5-11; 1Tim. 1:11). The logic of resurrection is not simply a competing notion, an ideology over against contrary ideologies, but the actual, factual resurrection of humanity in Christ as the reconciling factor of God’s worldview (vs. 8). The Resurrection Event is not a power struggle or a battle for control between competing religions, but it is truth that cannot be housed, held captive, or otherwise contained by any human power-base (vs. 9-10).

This saying is reliable: The Logic of Resurrection (vs. 11-13) – this reconciling event – is based on the faithfulness of Christ, not on the high and low tides of human religions (including pseudo-Christianity). If we have died together with Him, we will also live together with Him. If we remain together with Him in the life supply of Resurrection Life, we will also reign together with Him. If we contradict the logic of His Killing Cross and Resurrection Life with our religious notions, He will also contradict the logic of our perversion and idolatry. If we are without the logic of faith (but only have a counterfeit religion), He remains full of faith; for he cannot contradict the logic of Himself.

Human religions have failed miserably to reconcile creation with God. Thus, God moved toward us in the faithfulness of Christ – His Cross and His Resurrection. In fact, our human attempts (still) divide us from God and God’s worldview. Paul uses medical terminology to describe the conflicts inherent in counterfeit religions (vs. 14-17): “They are like gangrene, gnawing and eating, spreading like an improperly treated disease, from the place originally infected consuming the neighboring parts of the body and, at length, destroying the whole body.” It is the Logic of Resurrection – the faithfulness of Christ alive in us; life for living – that “makes straight cuts, dissecting correctly the logic of truly truth;” separating the truth from the perverse lie for the reconciliation of creation.

Vision for Death

2Timothy 4:8 – At last the champion’s wreath that is awarded for righteousness is waiting for me. The Lord, who is the righteous judge, is going to give it to me on that day. He’s giving it not only to me but also to all those who have set their hearts on waiting for his appearance. (CEB)

William Morris said, “Death have we hated, knowing not what it meant.” Bacon exclaims, “Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark.” Hamlet expresses human fear when he says, “That dread of something after death.” Shakespeare, in Measure for Measure, makes Claudio say: “Death is a fearful thing!” Robert Burns laments, “But oh! Fell deaths untimely frost that nipt my flower so early!” And even some of the Hebrew Scriptures have accounts of hopelessness when it comes to that great stone of death (Eccl. 3:19-21). .

In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul speaks of his own mortality. Sensing that he would not be freed from his second Roman imprisonment, Paul casts a Vision for Death with Timothy. He expresses how he is already being poured out like a sacrifice to God (2Tim. 4:6). And, naturally, death is the end result of sacrifice. Paul understands his impending death as the completion of the sufferings of Christ for the faith of His churches (Col. 1:24; Phil 2:17-18). He explains, literally, that he has “agonized the good agony, finished the race, and held a firm grasp on faith” (2Tim. 4:7; Col. 1:29; Phil. 1:27, 30). Then Paul states, literally, that, “what remains for me is a reserved victors crown of right-standing-with-God, which the Lord – the one in right-standing with Himself – will award to me when we walk in the cool of the day; but also to everyone who has God-loved humanity as God loved humanity when He appeared (and will appear, again) in Christ.”

Nearly 2,000 years ago the great stone of death was forever removed by the Resurrection Life of Jesus Christ. Death as a dead-end has been invalidated. Death as the end of life has been proved inaccurate. The notion that for this life only have we been made has been found untrue. As birth was a passing from one form of life into another, so death is simply another passing from one form of life into the final form. Death has been swallowed up by a victory (Is. 25:8; 1Cor. 15:54). Where is your victory, death? Where is your sting, death? (Hos. 13:14; 1Cor. 15:55-56) Live well. Die well. Live well, again!

The Quadrilateral

2 Timothy 1:9-10 – God is the one who rescued and equipped us with a holy calling. This wasn’t based on what we have done, but on his own gracious worldview that he gave us in Christ Jesus before time began. Now his grace is revealed through the appearance of Jesus Christ. He destroyed death and brought life for living into clear focus through the Good News.

These verses can be viewed as a summary of the Gospel of Paul; the Good News to humanity. Like bookends, standing on either side of this summary are Memories, a Maxim, and a Model. In 2 Timothy 1:1-14, then, we have the use of Tradition, Reason, and Experience to bring to life the truth of God, and the reality of God’s worldview, in the Scriptures – the Good News.

Paul uses Memory language (vs. 3-6) to speak to Timothy about the Scriptural Traditions of history, specifically Timothy’s mother and grandmother. For Paul, the Church (and Israel) should honor the Tradition of a good conscience, where the core of a person is not clouded with and confused by personal corruption; where the community lives out an authentic faith. A corrupted conscience carries a counterfeit religion of hypocrisy and pretense; a misleading appearance that conceals the brokenness rather than exposing it to healing.

Paul uses a Maxim (vs. 7) to express the Scriptural Reason of God and God’s worldview in humanity. Clearly, God did not give us a thought process that is driven by a weak, selfish character of fear and cowardice. That kind of thinking comes out of a corrupt conscience and a counterfeit religion. But God has given us a thought process out of God’s dynamic power and love, and the ability to think according to God’s Vision. If reality flows from God’s worldview, then our obsessive insecurities are not a rational perception of reality.

And Paul uses himself as a Model to be mimicked (vs. 8, 11-14). Scriptural Experience is a sharing of the sufferings for the Good News – the joint-suffering of discipleship. We are invited to experience the call of joint-service with another. You (personally) have been rescued by God, according to God’s worldview, to live a life of faith with others (corporately) as the Body of Christ. We are called to experience the faith of Christ lived out jointly in each other. Likewise, experience dictates that God guards the deposit He made in us. We (jointly) guard the treasure of life lived according to God’s worldview through Scriptural Tradition, Reason, and Experience.

Contrasting Prototypes

1Timothy 1:15 – This saying is reliable and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – and I’m the biggest sinner of all. (CEB)

Notice the contrast: I thank Christ, who has given me strength, because he considered me faithful and has appointed me to service (vs. 12); even though I used to speak against him, attack his people, and I was proud because I acted in ignorance and without faith (vs. 13). He considered me faithful (vs. 12), not because of my ignorance and pride, but because his own faithfulness and love were poured all over me (vs. 14). The King of the Ages, the Immortal, the Invisible, the only God (vs. 17) has come into the world – visibly, in human form – to rescue those missing the mark, of which I am the prototype (vs. 15). I am the example, not of God’s wrath, but of God’s grace; I have been shown mercy so the endless patience of Christ could be shown to all (vs. 16).

Now, we have confidence through Christ in the presence of God; not because we have done anything to give us the confidence to stand before God, but that God in Christ has qualified us to stand in confidence (2Cor. 3:4-5). God has qualified us as servants of a New Testament, not based on works of stone but on the Spirit, because our works kill us, but the works of the Spirit in us brings a life of faith (2Cor. 3:6). This is the Good News that has been spoken into all creation under heaven (Col. 1:23). Solely through the exercising of God’s own power we are all servants of God’s New Testament (Eph. 3:7). And it is the power of God that works in us, that strengthens us, to be faithful in all things and not count on ourselves (Phil. 4:13).

Faith is the power of Christ’s strength at work in us (Eph. 6:10) as faithful servants in the service of reconciliation (2Cor. 5:18). As God was in Christ reconciling creation to himself – not counting all its faults – so the faithfulness of Christ is in us to empower the fullness of the Good News (2Tim. 4:17); trusting us, prototypes of those who miss the mark, with the Good News of Christ’s endless patience and grace (2Cor. 5:19) as an example for all.

The View from the Cross

Luke 14:27 – Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (CEB)

The point that Jesus has come to rescue all humanity is not at issue here. The fullness of God’s love is found fully in the face of Christ. The question is, of the large crowds “traveling with” Jesus (vs. 25), who “comes to follow” Him (vs. 26)? The issue at hand concerns the contrast between human religion and the faith of Christ; in taking everything we can get and giving everything we have to give; church as a self-serving point of view or as a self-sacrificing worldview (vs. 27). It is the religious nature in us which causes us to ignore (or, to be ignorant of) the fact that we will even attempt to use Jesus for our own self-satisfaction (vs. 28-33). The point is that all humanity (whether we know it or not) “travels with” Jesus, enjoying the benefit of His life. But who “comes to follow” Him, reaping the benefit of His life supply for living?

In 1Corinthians Paul points out an obvious contrast between, what he terms, “fleshly” and “spiritual” Christians (3:1-3a). Both sets are “Christians” (3: 12-15) but, for Paul, one set is human religion built on the death-altar of the human-self and the other is the faithfulness of Christ built on the killing Cross of Christ (3:3b-11). Likewise, Jesus states that you had better calculate carefully to make sure that you can complete the construction of the tower you are attempting to build (vs. 28). Otherwise, when it becomes clear that you can never reach God with your own religious efforts, the fallacy of your building project is self-evident (vs. 29-30). The view from the cross is a finished worldview; a completed tower between heaven and earth.

Paul continues to explain that humanity is the temple of God; the church, emptied of its self-religion and filled with the faithfulness of Christ, owning everything because everything belongs to Christ and Christ belongs to God (1Cor. 3:16-23). Likewise, our human religion is faced with a superior force. We need to send a representative to discuss terms of peace before it is too late (vs. 31-32). Representing humanity Christ has brought peace with God. The terms: Surrender of our own religion, being supplied with the Faith of Christ; owners of everything, belonging to Christ as Christ belongs to God. This peace is unconditional. However, enjoying this peace is conditioned by our own view from the Cross of Christ (vs. 33).

Positioned for Plenty

Jeremiah 2:5 – This is what the Lord says: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that made them wander so far? They pursued what was worthless and became worthless. (CEB)

As Israel was to be the expression of God on earth, so the Church exists to express the love of God in Jesus Christ in all creation. Israel abandoned the faith required (and, therefore, supplied) by God and pursued their own religious ambitions, ambitiously striving for worthlessness. According to the evidence (vs. 14-37), on which path does the Church walk today?

Christ has brought us up from the place of slavery to bondage. Who desires, now, for Him to lead? Are we following Him through the land of no return, the place of shadowy death? —- They didn’t ask, “Where’s the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us through…a land…where no one survives” (vs. 6)? —- The Church has been positioned for plenty; opportunity to lavish God’s worldview over the land. Has it sought to serve itself, plentifully in its own religiously human worldview? —- …but you ruined my land; you disgraced my heritage (vs. 7). —- To where are the leaders of the Church leading? Do they know God? Do we value knowing exactly where God is moving today? —- The priests didn’t ask, “Where’s the Lord?” Those responsible…didn’t know me; they rebelled against me…going after what has no value (vs. 8). —- We are positioned for plenty, but plenty of what?

The issue does not lie in the fact that the gathered were a nation called Israel, or a people called Church, but that those gathered are people. Humanity’s glory is its expression of God. Has the Church, like Israel, distorted that expression; blurring it with its own corrupt humanness, exchanging the required (and, therefore, supplied) faith of Christ for our own religious human expression? —- Has a nation switched gods, though they aren’t really god at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glory for what has no value (vs. 11). —- As Israel mistakenly elevated stone, mortar, and gold, has the Church mistaken itself for brick-and-mortar and money? Have we, too, buried the Spring of Living Water? With broken fingernails are we making ourselves waterless wells? —- My people have committed two crimes: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water. And they have dug wells, broken wells that can’t hold water (vs. 13). —- Regardless, God has not abandoned Israel or His Church, but stands with outstretched, crucified hands ready to welcome us all back into the glory of His worldview.