“Alive Together with Christ”
Intro: 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 (Bengals could win the Super Bowl next year, 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 tells us something about our predicament when the apostle describes those people outside of Christ as “dead in their trespasses” – Return to Ephesians 2, to the same verses we studied last week.. Eph 2:4-6 – 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), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” These verses depict a real resurrection. It is one that you and I have not only witnessed, but perhaps even participated in. Every Christian has risen from the dead.
- I. “Even When We Were Dead…” Obviously the deadness here is spiritual, not physical. As we have studied in the past weeks, spiritual death or separation from God is the result of our sinful conduct.
- A. 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 ). We were dead.
- But out of His great love (which we spoke about a few weeks ago) He exercised rich mercy and saved us by grace (as a gift; as we spoke about last week).
- 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.
- II. “Made us alive Together with Christ” –But how has God given us life again? Wherein is the force of our resurrection?
- A. “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.
- in our text Paul uses a rapid fire sequence of 3 verbs with the syn – prefix to stress our association with Christ.
- We are made alive with Christ (synezoopoiesen, v. 5)
- We are raised up together (with Christ) (synegeiren, v. 6)
- We are made to sit together(with Christ) in heavenly places (synekathisen, v. 6)
- Consistently Paul describes the Christian as one who has been joined to Christ in the very events of Jesus’ life. He…
- …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”
- …dies with Christ – Rom 6:8 – “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”;
- …is buried with Christ – Rom 6:4 – “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism“
- …is raised with Christ – Col 2:12 – “you also were raised with Him through faith”
- Lets take a moment and connect these passages together in a picture of our salvation;
3. The sequel of events in Jesus’ life is easy to trace.
- Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a Roman cross as a divinely appointed atonement for every sin. Jesus died.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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,
4. 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.”
5. 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,
- Christians have been “buried with him (syntaphentes) in baptism”
- “raised with him (synegerthete) through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead”
- 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.
III. Newness of Life: 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). But as Ron Edwards pointed out, 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.
A. 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 the sin (body of sin is done away) when we
- die (with Christ) to sin,
- and are buried (with Christ) in water baptism;
- and we are resurrected (with Christ) to live a new life, apart from the practice, or dominion of sin.
1. 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.
2. This profound picture of my salvation also places baptism in its proper order. I am buried in baptism, so that I can resurrect to a new life. The new life that forgiveness provides comes after, not before baptism. Baptism portrays a death and burial scene for at least two reasons:
- First it reminds one of and is a confession of faith in the death burial and resurrection of Christ.
- Second, it signifies the death of the person who has come to Christ. The old person has died and being disposed of in a watery grave. In this sense it points precisely toward a new consecrated life. It is my connection to the life of Christ.
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.
- Ex. – I have something dead in my pocket. It was once alive. It will come back to life before your eyes. It is a leather glove. It was once a live cow. But the cow is now dead and I cannot bring this glove back to life as a cow. But can I bring it back to life at all?
- will commands do it? Command the glove to live again. Still dead.
- How about threats – “Come alive or I will throw you in the fire” – still dead.
- Now let me place my living hand inside the glove. It responds and moves. It can do productive things. It is not the old life of cowness, but the new life of handness.
Do you see a similar idea in the words of Paul?
- The Christian is called to live a new life – a life animated by Christ, who lives in Him.
- 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.
- After the New York Journal prematurely published his obituary Mark Twain has been credited with saying, “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Does that apply to you? Have you truly died to sin, or does your new life look a lot like the old one? Are you still dead?
Conclusion: (Blank screen) There is so much to say about this new life we have been given through Christ. You have seen a resurrection – maybe several. In them all we see the power of God in Christ Jesus.
Get connected with Christ.
- Die to sin (He died for you)
- 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.)
Next: The nature of the new life