Intro: The story of the magic moving walls: There was a family that lived out “in the sticks”, far from civilization. One day the family made their first trip to the “big city” and visited a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and back together again. The boy asked his father, “What is this, father?” The father (never having seen an elevator) responded, “Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don’t know what it is.” While the boy and his father were watching wide-eyed, an rather weathered old lady with a walking cane approached the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened, and the lady walked between them and into a small room. The walls closed, and the boy and his father watched small circles of light with numbers above the wall light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction. The walls opened up again and a beautiful 20-year-old woman stepped out. The father turned and said, “Son, go get your mother.”
Sometimes things or people change right before our eyes. We may or may not understand how or why the change occurred. Sometimes what we experience or come to understand changes everything. Sometimes one thing changes everything. The Bible says a lot about change. God specializes in changing people. In fact, the gospel message is presented to the world by Jesus and the apostles as the ultimate change agent.
As the NT opens up, and the promise of the Kingdom is beginning to be fulfilled in the preaching of John the Baptist, and Jesus the Messiah, the proclamation is a call to change – Repent, for the kingdom of God is near” (Matt. 3:1, 4:17) The kingdom is prefaced by the need of every person to repent. When we view the gospel message from this perspective, it is not so much something to be accepted, but obeyed. It is a message that does not just change what we know, but changes who we are.
I. A Complete Makeover: How does the gospel impact people? What type of change occurs? The nature of the change that God makes in us is described in the most comprehensive terms in the Bible.
A. Being Recreated: 2 Corinthians 5:17 – 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. The Greek word for new here is kainos – kahee-nos’) which indicates something that is new in relation to form, type or quality (not like the old one);
• Col. 3:10 – have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator.(HCSB) uses the other Greek word for new (neos) to describe the new man; who is recently new, or new in time, who is being renewed (anakainoo – an-ak-ahee-no’-o) a derivative of kainos) which means to renovate. Both words together describe the comprehensive change that God accomplishes through the gospel. The old man is replaced by a new person at the time of conversion, who is then constantly being made new in the image of Christ.
• Titus 3:5-6 – 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior
B. Being Born Again: Jesus spoke privately to a well educated religious leader and focused on the necessity of a complete change in his life. John 3:3– 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus may not have understood how it was t happen, but he certainly understood the extent of the change that Jesus was referencing – “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4)
C. Being Transformed: 2 Cor 3:18 –8 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. In both of these verses the word transformed (metamorphoo)means to change form one form to another, or form one thing to another.
1. Christian fail in their marriages, just as others; Christians fail as parents; they speak like the world; aspire to the goals of the world; and seek the things of this world. Where is the change? How can we claim that Jesus will make a difference in the lives of others if He makes no difference in our lives?
2. The implication of the gospel message is that we all have a need to be recreated or changed into something we are not. Do you believe this? Some find the gospel message irrelevant or even offensive because they view themselves as good enough. Many Christians are not serious about spreading the gospel because they view their neighbors as good enough.
There is one image of change that truly indicates that Jesus changes everything for the Christian.
II. Alive from the Dead: Have you ever witnessed a resurrection? It is mind-boggling to contemplate a true resurrection from the dead. There are some things that you might categorize as “maybe’s” – even though they are highly unlikely, they could happen (It could snow here next week; the cancer might disappear) but when you go to the funeral of a close friend, you do not even contemplate the possibility that he might come back to life. Death depicts its own finality. So it is significant to notice that the Bible describes the effect of the gospel as a resurrection.
• Eph 2:1-6: And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
A. “Even When We Were Dead…” Obviously the deadness here is spiritual, not physical. Spiritual death or separation from God is the result of our sinful conduct.
1. Do we sense the helplessness that our deadness in sin portrays? Without the resurrecting power of Christ, our sin is as final and hopeless as the scene at the funeral home. We cannot anticipate that somehow we could have recovered on our own, or that our situation would have gotten better (not even if we stopped sinning).
2. But out of His great love, He exercised rich mercy and saved us by grace (as a gift).
3. Just assuredly as we were completely and irretrievably dead because of our sins, God has made us who are Christians, alive again! It was, and is not, the nature of God to leave us dead.
B. “Made us alive Together with Christ” – But how has God given us life again? Wherein is the force of our resurrection?
1. “Saved by “syn” – In these verses, and elsewhere in his writing, Paul, through the Holy Spirit, utilized and perhaps coined, a variety of compound verbs beginning with the Greek preposition syn (meaning together with) in order to communicate our identification with Christ in our own salvation. We are saved through our connection with Christ.
2. In our text Paul uses a rapid fire sequence of 3 verbs with the syn – prefix to stress our association with Christ.
a. We are made alive with Christ (synezoopoiesen, v. 5)
b. We are raised up together (with Christ) (synegeiren, 6)
c. We are made to sit together(with Christ) in heavenly places (synekathisen, 6)
3. Consistently Paul describes the Christian as one who has been joined to Christ in the very events of Jesus’ life. He…
a. …is crucified with Christ – Gal 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”
b. …dies with Christ – Rom 6:8 – “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”;
c. …is buried with Christ – Rom 6:4 – “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism“
d. …is raised with Christ – Col 2:12 – “you also were raised with Him through faith”
Let’s take a moment and connect these passages together in a picture of our salvation;
4. The sequel of events in Jesus’ life is easy to trace.
a. Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a Roman cross as a divinely appointed atonement for every sin. Jesus died.
b. God provided a clear verification of Jesus’ claim as the Son of God by bringing Him back to life after 3 days in the tomb. He was raised from the dead.
c. After His resurrection the Father also exalted the ascended Christ to the highest place by seating him at his own right hand. He was raised to sit in heavenly places.
d. Christ’s saving work was finished, and his victory over sin and death is attested for time and eternity. 1 Cor. 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
5. Christians are identified with Christ in all these events. As these historical physical events were real, our corresponding participation in these events, though spiritual in nature, is also real. As F. F. Bruce writes: “If the raising of Christ from death to sit at His own right hand is the supreme demonstration of God’s power, the raising of the people of Christ from spiritual death to share Christ’s place of exaltation is the supreme demonstration of His grace.”
6. Paul’s words in Colossians is an excellent commentary on the text we are examining. Like our text, it is littered with syn- words which stress believers’ identification with Jesus.
a. In Colossians 2 the apostle makes the clear connection between our faith and God’s provision of grace. Col. 2:12-13 – 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
b. Christians have been “buried with him (syntaphentes) in baptism”
b. “raised with him (synegerthete) through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead”
c. Our spiritual resurrection with Christ is the beginning of a new life, depicted in the Ephesians text as sitting with Him in heavenly places. Although this terminology may be variously understood, when we connect it with the words of Colossians it seems most naturally to suggest a quality of life, as opposed to a place. We are called to live spiritually in a God-oriented existence rather than a life which is dominated by worldly pursuits. Paul says it this way in Colossians 3:1 – If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
C. Being made alive with Christ is the central point of Paul’s argument for personal holiness in Romans 6. We are often familiar with these verse because of their teaching on the subject of baptism as immersion. (buried in the water). The apostle is arguing more from baptism than for it here. Read Romans 6:3-9 – Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
1. Our connection to Christ in the events of His death, burial and resurrection is unmistakable in this passage. The picture is powerful and profound. We are delivered from sin (body of sin is done away) when we
a. die (with Christ) to sin,
b. and are buried (with Christ) in water baptism;
c. and we are resurrected (with Christ) to live a new life, apart from the practice, or dominion of sin.
2. To ignore or disallow any of my actions of faith through which I connect to Christ’s work is to devalue His work in my behalf. As Paul said in the Col. 2 passage, I am “raised through my faith in the working of God…” It is God, not me, who is at work when I die to my sins and allow myself to be immersed in the grave of water, just assuredly as it was God who was at work in the events of Jesus’ life.
3. Newness of life: Paul’s focus is that the same power that brought Jesus back to life gives spiritual life to the Christian. This is not the language of mysticism. It indicates the method through which God animates dead sinners. It is the spirit that gives life. The Christian becomes a new person when he is forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus. His sins are removed as far as the east is from the west; they are remembered no more. After he is forgiven he experiences the renewal of the Holy Spirit as he allows the words of the Spirit to guide and empower his actions. He is living a new life, animated by Christ who lives in him. (bring a leather glove back to life – the life of the hand, not the cow)
• John 14:19-21 – 9 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
• John 15:4 – Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
• Galatians 2:20 – 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Our baptism was a beginning, a rebirth, a resurrection.
Conclusion: So you see you have seen a resurrection – maybe several. If you have not joined with Jesus, you are still in dead in your sins. But Jesus changes everything. Get connected with Christ.
- Die to sin (He died for you) repent
- Be buried in baptism for the remission of your sins (He was buried)
- Resurrect to a new life (through the power of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead) Be made alive with Jesus!