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In his documentation of Jesus’ raising Lazarus—as shown above—the Holy Spirit twice notes Lazarus had been in the grave for four days. “Martha said . . . by this time there will be a stench” (John 6:17, 39). Before God comes to you to raise you with Christ’s resurrection in His miracle of Baptism, you are also dead and spiritually “stinky” to God. “You were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

JOHN 11:43

The painting on this page depicts the Holy Spirit’s documentation of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11). “But,” you might say, “I don’t see how this painting of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead can help me understand God’s definition of ‘faith.’ I don’t see the connection.”

Here is the connection: Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, so also, through His gift of faith, God raises you from spiritual death to spiritual life!


On July 25, 2011, a Johannesburg, South Africa, newspaper announced that, after an asthma attack, a man’s family called the undertaker to take the deceased to the morgue. But after 21 hours, the “dead” man awoke and found himself in a very cold room in the morgue. He started yelling. At first, the morgue workers ran away in fear. Then, they returned and took the man to the hospital, where the doctors pronounced him well.

Some might claim that the same thing happened to Lazarus—that he was not actually dead, but only unconscious, or in a swoon. However, the Holy Spirit records the following: When Jesus came, He found that Lazarus “had already been in the tomb four days” (John 11:17). Later, when Jesus said, “Remove the stone,” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Jesus: “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days” (John 11:39). It is not by accident that the Holy Spirit twice repeated this fact: Lazarus was not sleeping. Lazarus was not unconscious. La­zarus was dead long enough for his body to decompose and begin to smell!
In this situation, Jesus the Christ, true God, stepped forward and, with a loud voice, said: “Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43).


It is no accident that the Holy Spirit says that before God came to you in His living and life-giving Word in His miracle of Baptism, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). EVEN AS LAZARUS WAS PHYSICALLY DEAD, YOU ARE/ WERE SPIRITUALLY DEAD

Furthermore, Scripture teaches that you have no more free will to come to Christ than Lazarus had to get up out of the grave on his own. “You were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

Thus, when a pastor—at Christ’s command—repeats Jesus’ life-giving Words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” an amazing event occurs: This is as if Jesus stands before your spiritual tomb and says to you: “Come forth!” Through God’s miracle of Baptism, you are given God’s gift of faith and made spiritually alive. You come forth into a new life! “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Co­rinthians 5:17).

Just as the Spirit recorded, in Scripture, Christ raising Lazarus from physical death, so also He records, in Scripture, how Christ raises you and gives you the gift of faith in Baptism: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him [in Baptism]” (Ephesians 2:4–6).


Because smell and stench indicates certain death, the illustration on this page shows many holding their nose as Jesus is about to raise Lazarus from death to life. Therefore, it would not be wrong, at the Baptism of a newborn or adult, for people to hold their noses—thereby showing a Scripture truth: Before Baptism, spiritually, a person is like a dead and rotting corpse.

For further discussion and Scripture references showing how Jesus meets you, with your spiritual stench of death, to bring you back to life in His miracle of Baptism and keep you spiritually alive, go to the Bible study beginning on page 38.

O Holy Spirit, thank You for showing me how, just as Jesus raised Lazarus from physical death, so also, in His miracle of Baptism, He raises me from spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1) to a new spiritual life. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). O Lord, let it be so! Amen!… 

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