The 1995 Western “The Quick And The Dead” had the tagline: In this town you’re either one or the other. The story revolved around a quick-draw competition, and took its title from the King James Version of the New Testament. The old English word “quick” means alive or living, and for the film was used as a play on words: the quickest man will be the one left standing. To be quick is to be alive!

    In 1 Peter 4, the Apostle admonishes those who put this world before the Kingdom of God and who live after the flesh rather than pursue the things of the Spirit of God, declaring that “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the [quick] and the dead.” 

    In the passage Peter points us back to the cross of Christ, reminding us of His suffering on our behalf. He goes on to say that we are to adopt the mind-set of Jesus, for in doing so we learn to deny our sinful nature and cease from our sinful habits. Peter says if we learn to think like Jesus, we will find ourselves naturally seeking God’s will rather than living for our own selfish and sinful pleasure. The old fisherman states plainly that we’ve spent enough time in sin already, we were dead long enough, and now it’s time to live!

    Peter reminds us that judgment is coming, that we all must stand before the One who will judge between the quick and the dead, between those who are spiritually viable and those who are spiritual corpses. He says this is why the gospel was preached to us in the first place, that we who were once dead in sin might live for God in the Spirit.

    Live in the Spirit, what does that mean? Peter goes on to give us the answer: “Be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another...As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God...If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

    In other words, believers who are truly alive in Christ will be engaged in the Church, part of the Church, active in the Church, going to Church, praying with the Church, growing in the Church, and never forsaking the Church...and in all these things Christ is first in their lives, Christ is glorified by their lives!

    Living or dead? In the Church you’re either one or the other.