Stand Up, You Dry Bones Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Stand Up, You Dry Bones (adapted from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon)
TEXT: Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. (Ezekiel 37:9)
To be read before Sermon: Ezekiel 37:1-10
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live, and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.-Ezek 37:1-10 (KJV)
There are many interpretations of the scripture which I just read, but for my purpose today, I want to use these verses to give you an explanation of how lost men and women are saved, and brought to live by the power of the Holy Spirit.
But first, I want to say, WE ARE NOTHING WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT.
I believe that there may be some here who carry a heavy burden for a child or grandchild who is without Christ or perhaps they are saved, but not living as a Christian should.
I confess that I have children and grandchildren who may be lost.
Maybe, you have come to realize as I have, that despite all your efforts to bring them to faith in Christ that the fact is, it is impossible for you to do it.
We can, with God’s help, tell them about Jesus, but that doesn’t save them.
At times it seems like we are talking to dry bones, or to the wind.
But we are not afraid to appear foolish to them because we know that, when "the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."
But when we tell them about Jesus and the love of God, and as a result we expect them to be saved, and to give us evidence of their salvation, we are stopped, because it just doesn’t happen.
They are still in darkness, even though we feel a great burden for them to receive the light that brings salvation.
We cannot make them believe.
There are a great many things that we can do, but as far as birthing a new Christian, we are unable to enter into the realm of miracles, where the Lord Jesus Christ reigns supreme.
It is God’s prerogative to give life and to take it away.
We know from experience, that apart from the Spirit of God, we can do nothing.
If the Holy Spirit doesn’t come and drive home the Word of God in the heart, we might as well save our breath.
But how should the fact that we are powerless to affect us?
Should we just fold our arms and give up?
We can’t do that because it’s our heart’s desire to see them saved.
We cannot set still.
We can’t command the Holy Spirit to use His mighty power and we can’t direct where He should use His great influence, but we can make use of Him because even though we are unable to save anyone, we can turn to God and lay hold of His power.
Then, what should we do?
We have come face-to-face with a loved one who is spiritually dead, and we are helpless to do anything about it.
And we know that only the Holy Spirit can bring life to dead souls, so what should we do?
Well, there are certain ways in which we can act properly toward God; and there are certain attitudes which it would be well for us to take up; and from these, we may gain the approval of God and get His help with our case.
First, we must feel deeply humbled, and then we must be emptied of self-centered thoughts.
I may stand up here and preach the gospel to the best of my ability, but no matter what I say, it’s not enough to raise those who are spiritually dead.
There’s another voice that must be heard.
There’s another power, which is greater than my thoughts and persuasion, that must be brought to bear, or nothing will happen.
No matter what you or I do, nothing will come of it, if the effort stands by itself.
Only the Spirit of God can bless men and women, and He will do it through you.
No matter what experience or ability you have, it is the Spirit of God that must bless your witness.
Therefore, never boast about what you can do, or believe that you have any power in yourself because if you do, you will prevent the Holy Spirit from working with you or through you.
I hope that you will never think much of me or of anyone who preaches to you.
If you ever believe that any preacher is so blessed by God that he can bring your loved one to believe in Jesus, you are attributing something to a mere man, which only belongs to the Son of God.
I am nothing and they are nothing.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts,” is a message that should make us lie down in the dust, and realize that we can’t do anything in and of ourselves.
We need the power of God.
Next, because we need the Holy Spirit, we must give ourselves to prayer, before we tell others about Christ, and also afterward.
I will never attempt to preach to you without first going to God in prayer and seeking the help of the Holy Spirit.
Anyone who preaches or teaches God’s Word should pray over every sentence, and ask for wisdom to rightly divide His Word, and ask for the hearts of the hearers to receive it with understanding and faith.
But that’s only the beginning because when he is finished, he needs to pray some more.
He will pray that those who are without Jesus will eventually believe; he will pray for those who are already Christians that they will live for Jesus, and he will pray that God will anoint him to preach effectively.
And if you believe what I just said, you will always pray for the preacher; never let him go to work, without your prayers.
And I implore you to always pray before you do anything for God.
Make it your habit to begin any service for God with prayer, and to pray when you are doing your work, and pray when you are done; ask the Lord for his Holy Spirit to make your work effective by His almighty power.
Since everything depends upon the Holy Spirit, we must be very careful to be the type of men and women that the Holy Spirit can use.
We are not to judge others, but I know that you have met men and women whom the Holy Spirit can bless with saving faith.
If a man or woman is self-centered, can’t the Spirit of God bless them?
If they are proud and boastful, can’t the Spirit of God bless them?
If a man or woman curses God, or commits adultery, or is a liar, or is a thief, or if they are guilty of any one of a thousand sins, don’t you think that they may need to repent and be saved.
So, tell them about Jesus, but pray for them first, and for yourself.
And what about us?
If we become proud, will God continue to bless us?
If we become glum and have little faith in what we preach or testify to, will the Holy Spirit use us, or will God bless us?
Listen to this.
If we are to be a vessel fit for the Master’s use we must be very clean.
Our vessel doesn’t need to be made of silver and gold, it can be of common clay, but it must be very clean because our God is a jealous God.
He’s aware of everything we do and say, and He can spot even the tiniest sin.
He will not use us if we have been used for our own selfish interests or if we have allowed the world to use us.
This is not a small thing; we must be clean in what we do and say.
Our blessings depend upon it.