This past Tuesday morning, my father-in-law entered the hospital for bypass surgery. He anticipated three bypasses: the main artery, along with two others. Fortunately, that was only a portion of the surgery that would be completed some eight hours later. By the time the surgeons began to close him, he had required five bypasses, the replacement of an aortic valve and the replacement of the aorta itself.
Once underway, the distinguished group of doctors noticed areas of blockage not previously identified. What was anticipated as three, became five bypasses instead. All went well. The heart restarted, and the heart pump was de-activated. Expecting to see what would fall into a doctor's realm for normal, the surgeon inspected the blood flow and realized that the aorta's valve was not closing behind the discharge of the chamber as the heart pressed blood into the body. Under the strain of fighting back-fill from the discharged blood, as well as the new blood flowing into the chamber, the heart had enlarged itself over time as it compensated under the added strain. Exactly how long this condition had existed was undeterminable. But the condition necessitated a second surgery: the replacement of the aorta's valve.
To enter the heart and reach the location of the valve, the aorta itself had to be severed. This revealed large deposits that had formed near the mouth of the aorta. Though rarely seen in such a location and in such size, the "debris" in the aorta itself now presented a problem. With the presence of this debris, any release of the clamp used to cut off localized blood-flow during the bypass surgery would most certainly release portions of it into the blood flow. The aorta itself would have to be replaced.
This third procedure, as I understand, required that they lower the body temperature and still the brain activity so that the blood flow could be stopped. No heart beating, no heart machine pumping, no blood carrying oxygen to the brain. Clinically speaking, the patient is dead. To achieve minimal brain activity, a drug is used, along with the lowering of the body's temperature. Though a patient can survive this condition for up to forty-five minutes, any amount of time presents the danger of a stroke or seizure. My father-in-law was "dead" for seven minutes, clinically speaking.
The surgeon explained that it could be 24 to 48 hours before the patient would recover sufficiently for them to know if either a stroke or a seizure had occurred from the stilling of the brain and the stopping of the blood flow. It was only ten hours after closure that he was alert enough to sit up in bed and ask for a glass of milk. We are all very thankful to the Lord. But, this made my mind ask: How many of God's children are "dead," clinically speaking?
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God which, of course, is Christ: Jesus is the express image of God and the brightness of God's glory [Heb. 1:3]. And, all are born into this physical life "dead in trespasses and in sins" [Eph. 2:1]. This is why Jesus came: to seek and to save that which was lost. This is why Jesus spoke of a new birth: a spiritual birth into the family of God by redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins [Col. 1:14].
Many of God's children are clinically dead. Their spiritual temperature has been cooled down, and their brain activity has become minimal. They have become "slow of heart" to believe all that the Scriptures have spoken [Luke 24:25]. They may have reached a point "past feeling" [Eph. 4:19], walking as this world walks because their understanding has become darkened. They do not think as they had been taught by the Spirit of Christ [Eph. 4:20]. They neither receive the things of God, nor reflect his Spirit. They have given themselves over to their habits, letting greed guide their actions.
In such a condition, they risk a spiritual stroke or seizure: they have been angry for so long, they may not be able to forgive. Their bittterness has run so deep, they may not be able to root it totally out. In such a "deadened" condition, their communication shows more corruption than conscience. Their greed is a source of grief to the Holy Spirit of God. Is there a remedy for such a condition? Yes. The spiritual "body" can be brought back to its normal temperature, and the spiritual "brain" can be made to think clearly again: a child of God can be renewed in the spirit of his mind [Eph. 4:23].
As children of God we are to put off the "dead man," which is corrupt according to its deceitful lusts, and revive the "new man," which is created after God in righteousness and true holiness [Eph. 4:24]. We can do this by letting all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from us, with all malice. In their place, we can be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. We can forgive one another even as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us. Let me ask you: "Are you spiritually dead, clinically speaking?"