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The Quickening of Spiritual Life

God provides spiritual strength to men and women who have faith in him. Those of the Spirit are given an ability that the flesh cannot accomplish—to discern spiritual things.
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Quickened is not a common verb in today’s vernacular. Most modern Bible versions have translated it as “made us alive.” Quickened, however, is a very flexible word. We can use it to describe both a person being revived from near death or a baby starting life. We can also use the word for either physical or spiritual life. While we look forward to the day when the dead will be quickened at the resurrection, we can experience a spiritual quickening today. In this mortal life, we are to experience the quickening of the Spirit.

Jesus and his disciples preached the coming Kingdom, along with the righteousness of God. But the message of the Kingdom was that it was “at hand,” and often Jesus called it the “Kingdom of Heaven.” We all look forward to the Kingdom of God when Jesus begins his righteous reign on earth. But Jesus wanted his followers to know that what was near, about to become accessible, was the Kingdom of Heaven.

In this mortal life, we are to experience the quickening of the Spirit.

The Kingdom of Heaven is the realm believers enter when they are buried with Christ, raised as new creatures, quickened by the Spirit. It is a new life, being planted together with Jesus. As Paul wrote, 

That even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:5-6 NLT).

Our physical quickening will need to tarry until our Lord returns. But life in the Spirit begins now. At present, we are united with Christ, who is in the heavenly realm.

It is common for us to read Romans 6 when we are blessed to have a baptism. This chapter captures the important doctrinal teaching of a new life, a “new creature.” Romans 6 is about a death, burial and revival of a new spiritual life. We have made a conscious decision not to be slaves to sin.

But what is it that provides the strength and the quickening that is required to accomplish this battle? What actually changes when we come up out of the water? How are our mortal bodies quickened by the Spirit that dwelleth in us? 

I can only speak for myself when I say that my view about this transformation has significantly changed since I was baptized 50 years ago. I understood the symbolic death in the waters of baptism, the forgiveness of my sins, and the new creature I could become if I remained faithful to Jesus Christ. But I have come to see that the Scriptures throughout teach about a substantial and powerful change that begins at baptism.

I used to see my spiritual life as about finding the will and personal strength to choose obedience over sin. I was responsible for running the race and doing the best I could. It was about doing more good things and less evil. If I could “extrude” a bit more good works, perhaps the LORD would find me more loveable. Sounds very legalistic, doesn’t it?

As a young man, I thought just maybe I could bear down and beat the flesh, or at least make a strong effort. But as I failed over and over again, I learned that of myself, I could never be successful. The only strength I could depend on was not my own.

At the creation, Genesis describes the world as being in complete darkness. There was no energy, no activity. It was by the command of God that this world was made alive. God created light and formed all manner of life. After forming man, God gave Adam purpose and work to do. The creation was all about what God accomplished and what He imparted to His creation. When God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, He quickened him. A lifeless body was made capable of sensing, thinking, and doing work. God’s Spirit gave Adam life, enabling him to live in harmony with Him.

We need to think similarly about our spiritual creation. Without God, we, too, are lying helpless in darkness. What energizes our new spiritual life is the Spirit of God that makes our transformation possible and prepares us to do the work God has prepared for us. It is God’s Spirit, working within us, that shapes this new creature and leads us to have the mind of Christ. 

Paul wrote about this change:

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Col 2:12).

The “operation of God.” It’s easy to read right over this phrase. The Greek word, energeia, indicates the energy of God, or as we would understand it, His Spirit. In Ephesians 1:18-19, Paul speaks of those whose eyes have been enlightened, knowing the “immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.” 

If a seed does not “die” in the ground, it cannot produce fruit.

In speaking of this rebirth, Jesus used an example all generations could relate to. The Lord spoke of the burial of a seed. If a seed does not “die” in the ground, it cannot produce fruit. Without this burial, the seed dies alone, fruitless.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24).

We are spiritually quickened after our burial in baptism. The transformational process begins, and we can bear fruit.

That ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places (Eph 1:18-20).

Adam was given life to worship his Creator and do work God had prepared for him, such as tending the Garden, guarding it, and naming the animals. Our work is about bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit, the work of the Spirit in our lives. Paul spoke directly to the Ephesian believers about this. 

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:1, 2, 6-10).

We are spiritually quickened after our burial in baptism. The transformational process begins, and we can bear fruit.


Paul made clear that the Ephesians were already quickened. The life they had previously participated in was pursuing the flesh, making them “children of wrath.” They were now part of the Kingdom of Heaven, no longer living according to the “prince of the power of the air.” 

But here’s the point we all need to embrace. We are “created in Christ Jesus” to do good works which our God has “prepared in advance for us to do.” (v. 10 NIV). Our quickening by the Spirit transforms and renews our minds for a purpose–to do the will of God.

In Romans 8, Paul further describes this quickening. He adds, 

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom 8:13-14).

This is a reminder to all of us who are in Christ Jesus. God provides spiritual strength to men and women who have faith in him. Those of the Spirit are given an ability that the flesh cannot accomplish—to discern spiritual things. We are promised strength to mortify the deeds of the flesh and, instead, produce the fruit of the Spirit. He has a personal plan for each of us, preparing us for work He will grant us the privilege to do. Our role is to live lives responsive to His leadership. We are never alone. We “are his workmanship” in Christ Jesus. 

God has a personal plan for each of us

Let us have boundless joy when “led by the Spirit” to serve our Eternal God. Because of His love, we are taken from a world of darkness and “planted” with His son. By His strength, not our own, we bear fruit.

When Paul and Barnabas met with the elders in Jerusalem, they shared the exciting news about the Gentiles’ acceptance of Christ. As they described these wonderful works, they properly noted that it was the work of God, done through them. They “declared all the things that God had done with them.” (Acts 15:4). They declared what “miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” (Acts 15:12). Spiritual minds will always declare that their strength comes from God, through His power, His Spirit, that He executes good works through us.

In the end, this offers one of the most wonderful reassurances believers can ever have. We need not worry about our own inadequacies. The strength for what we must overcome, the work that is set before us, is by the “operation of God.” We are truly “earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not us” (2 Cor 4:7).

Each of us is in our LORD’S hands. We are His work of art. If we have faith, He will work great wonders through us, things we might never have believed possible. His training for work ahead is designed individually for us and our needs.

Often this preparation comes from the wholesome words of Scripture, which makes the man of God “perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3:17). Other times it will be through the practical training within the ecclesia or our families. It could even be through the pain of suffering. When we lie in ashes on the ground, we find our only strength is through him.

This is the unspeakable gift: the Father is lavishing his love on us. 

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:22-23).

Dave Jennings

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