It was as if this man had just awakened from a night's sleep except he wasn't in his bed. He was sitting on the floor of a room with no windows and no lamps. A strange gray light enabled him to distinguish the forms of others sitting there.


"Where am I?" He said to the form next to him.


No answer.


"How did I get here?" Silence.


"This is ridiculous! Nobody's going to dump me into a place like this and leave me! I have some rights! Somebody drugged me! That's it, somebody drugged me and put me here. But why? What have I done? I've always minded my own business, who'd want to do this to me"


"Just yesterday ... I believe it was yesterday ... I said goodbye to my wife and was driving to work along the freeway. Oh Oh! Wait a minute! There was this gaso­line truck. You mean ... I'm dead? But that's impossible! Like when you're dead man, you're dead! You're not in a place like this! You're gone! Your misery's over!"


"Maybe this is all a bad dream, I'll wake up in a few minutes." He looked again at the shadowy forms sitting on the floor of this shadowy room, leaning against the shadowy walls, staring at nothing.


"What's the matter with you people? Why don't you say something?"


"What's there to say?" answered one of them, "We went through all that stuff too when we first came here. You'll quiet down after a while."


"What are we doing here?"




"Waiting? For what?"


No answer.


The shadowy room became silent, with a silence broken only by the sound of weeping and the grinding of teeth. Silence, filtered through smoke and warmed by a heat that told of approaching flames. The man understood that he was dead and that his death in this shadowy world was but a continuation of a death which had begun long long before.


The man understood that he was dead before he ever plowed into the back of that gasoline truck! He was dead when he ate his last breakfast in the kingdom of flesh. Dead when he endorsed his paychecks. Dead when he went bowling with his friends, argues with his wife, cursed his subordinates at work. He was dead for years and years and years. And the reason all those years that man kept looking away from the fact that one day his bodily life was going to end was because he knew in his soul that he was already dead and it scared him.


When Jesus said, "I have come that they might have life," he was talking about those walking dead, those people who breathe,


 indulge their desires,

 vent their wrath,

...but who have no life.


When Jesus said, "The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God," he was talking about those millions who walk the earth with hearts that are absolutely void of all light.


"Let the dead bury their dead."


Many of these dead go to church, read the Bible, some­times say they believe in God, get upset about the issues of the day, talk about love, but inside its blank.


Inside ... where there should be a flame of divine life burning 24 hours a day ... total darkness.


Inside ... where the voice of the heavenly Father should be heard guiding them in the way of truth ...

              only the sound of their own mumbling.


What these poor souls call life is nothing but a pathe­tic game that is played until they plow into the gasoline truck or collapse on the floor. The object of the game is to evade the fact that you are dead by surrounding yourself with wealth,

                         chattering friends, snowmobiles,

                         motorcycles, bowling leagues,

   grass and acid rock,

or, some revolution to get lost in. But as time goes on it gets harder to take the game seriously. After a­ while you just want to give up and jump off the bridge. The whole stupid thing is absurd. The so-called younger generation seems to be aware of the fact that they won't have a normal lifetime to play this game. The end is too near. So they're playing it faster than anyone ever did before. So they reach the point of despair when they're 18 instead of 59.


Meanwhile, God's Spirit broods over the face of this kingdom of dead men, and weeps. Weeps because this pointless, empty, hopeless death-existence is so un­necessary. In unspeakable love God sent his only begotten into this desolate world to take all this death into himself and destroy it by dying. When Jesus breathed his last breath up on that cross the curse of death that hung over men since the fall of Adam broke. When Jesus died, the death principle inside every human being that was ever or would ever be born died with him. So that now Jesus' words literally bring life. When he speaks and you listen, you come to life.


Ever since he stepped out of his tomb, Jesus has been performing one continuous resurrection miracle on this earth. Jesus breathes life into us just as the Father ­breathed life into him.


"It is the Spirit that quiekeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak to you, they are Spirit and they are life."


But this resurrection miracle has two sides: Jesus' side and our side.


- Jesus' side is to speak.


­- Our side is to listen.


Jesus takes care of his side very well. He's taking care of it right now. Jesus raises us from the dead by speak­ing to us.


"Lazarus, come out!"


The dead man came out, his hand and feet bound with bandages, his face wrapped in a cloth. "Unbind him and let him go!"


"Young man, I say to you arise."


And he that was dead sat up and began to speak.


He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me," and he left everything, rose, and followed him. And, as he did he came to life.


And passing along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and follow him. And as they did, they came to life.


"The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God."


"The words that I speak to you, they are Spirit and they are life."


There are people in this gathering who will be hearing the voice of Jesus for the first time today. You will hear him calling you by name and you will know that it is Jesus who is speaking in your heart.


But there's that other side of the resurrection miracle: our side.


Whether the miracle happens depends on whether we listen to that voice we hear.


The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and those who listen shall live.


You listen to Jesus not with the ear, but with the heart and your heart listens in two ways:


1.    That heart is listening to Jesus when it believes what he says....


... when it takes hold of Jesus' words as the only truth in the world, which they are. Not what you think. Not what somebody else imagines, but what Jesus tells you!


"Your sins are forgiven my child, they – are washed away in my blood."            ....That's truth.


But you aren't hearing that truth until you believe with all your heart that your sins are washed away in his blood.


Jesus tells you that the guilt that stained your life is now gone. Will you believe it? The wrong you've done, the vile things you've said, the filth you've wallowed in .... it's forgiven .... atoned for.


Believe it and the curse lifts, the cloud disperses, and his light starts shining in you.


2. Your heart is listening to Jesus when it obeys what He commands.


When Jesus tells you to do something don't just sit there and blink your eyes. Do it! If Jesus is telling you to repent, then repent right now. If Jesus is telling you to humble yourself, humble yourself! If he's telling you to fall on your face before the throne of God, do it. Maybe he's putting his finger on a person, a group of persons, for whom you have no love.


- Love that man!

- Love those people!


There isn't a single one of us, not a single one, who isn't being called at this moment by Jesus to some act of obedience. If you are listening with a heart that is set to obey, you will know what he is telling you to do.


- Some act of love,




           - Some word he wants you to speak to your brother:


- Some self-denial.


And, as you do that thing, you will experience his life in you.


The time to start wondering whether you're dead of alive is not when your spirit finds itself on the other side of the gave. The time to ask yourself whether you are dead or alive is now! There are plenty of people sitting in this crowd who walked into this building, picked up a hymnal, read their bulletin .... but they're dead. You'r0 breathing, your heart beats, but they're dead.


The difference between death and life is not found in religion, or respectability, or morals, or going to church when you feel like it, or memorizing the Bible, ....the difference between life and death is JESUS.


God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life, and he who has not the Son has not life.


You get the Son by listening to his words with your heart. If you listen, you live. If you won't listen to him, you'll go out of this place as dead as you came in. You won't remember a thing he said until you're sitting in that shadowy place on the other side of the grave.


God help us to listen to what our Lord is saying in our hearts this day.


... To believe it.


     ... To do whatever he calls us to do .... now!


That listening to him we may wake up and live this day, and forever.