Without a doubt, my favorite movie as a child was The Sandlot. It tells the story of a group of boys who play baseball together in the summer of 1962. On an especially hot day, they go swimming. One of the boys jumps into the deep end although he can’t swim. He does this in order to kiss the lifeguard while she gives him CPR.
CPR is an emergency procedure administered when someone’s heart stops beating. It uses chest compressions to pump the heart so blood and oxygen will continue flowing to the brain. It may also require mouth to mouth resuscitation which is when the rescuer breathes into the receiver’s mouth.
This is a picture of what God does for us in Jesus. Paul says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
In our sinful state, we are nothing but lifeless spiritual corpses – we are “dead in our transgressions and sins” (2:1). But through the converting power of His Spirit, God performs divine CPR on us. He enlivens our dead hearts and breathes into us spiritual life.
Divine Heart Transplant
The Bible takes this analogy further. It doesn’t say God merely compresses our chest to keep our heart pumping. It says He performs a heart transplant! He promises unrepentant Israel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
Notice how strong the imagery is. The Bible says our hearts were stone. There is no life in a stone – no blood, no oxygen. This reinforces how helpless we are in sin. We will never come to life spiritually unless God replaces our stony heart with a fleshy one, one that is inclined toward Him.
Divine Mouth to Mouth
The Bible pushes the analogy even further by saying God performs mouth to mouth resuscitation on us. His promise to Israel continues, “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:27). In the Bible’s original languages, “spirit” is the same word as “breath.”
This is vividly portrayed when God brings Adam to life. Moses explains, “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). God breathed physical life into Adam.
Likewise, He makes us alive in Christ by breathing spiritual life into us. In our sin, we are as spiritually lifeless as a mound of dust. But God breathes His Spirit into us so we might live eternally with Him.
God’s Choice Not Ours
The theological term for divine CPR is “regeneration.” When God regenerates us, He imparts to us spiritual life. This is the next step in the “plan of salvation.” First, He chose us to be saved. Then He provided for our sins by sending Jesus to die on the cross. Now He begins to convert us by regenerating us.
We must remember that regeneration is God’s decision. In our sin, we are not capable of “making a decision” for Jesus. We cannot ask to be regenerated any more than someone whose heart has stopped beating can ask to be resuscitated. Our conversion is God’s choice. We don’t ask for it; He simply does it according to His saving plan.
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