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He's Alive, We're Alive

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
April 18, 2022 2:00 am

He's Alive, We're Alive

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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April 18, 2022 2:00 am

Join us for worship- For more information about Grace Church, please visit www.graceharrisburg.org.

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Let's turn our Bibles to Romans chapter 6, a very famous passage of Scripture. Romans 6 verses 1 through 7, hear the word of the Lord.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sins so that grace may increase? May it never be? How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with him in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin.

You may be seated. That is a very compact passage of truth that is almost overwhelming. Let us pray. Father in heaven, we thank you for your word. We thank you that this is your word, not ours.

This is your idea. This is your plan from the beginning and before the foundations of the world, that you would save a people for yourself. Father, we thank you that you've delivered us from darkness, from the dominion of sin, from the deceit of sin, and you brought us into your kingdom. You've justified us. You say we're not condemned. We're now saved through the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank you, Father, for this great mercy which we do not deserve, which we could never earn, which we do not still understand, but it is a mark of your love for us.

Thank you, Father. Open our eyes. Teach us. Let us mull over your word and meditate on it. Let us receive it and chew it and digest it so that we might be built up and glorify you. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen. You know, the text teaches that there's a holy nature to the new life in Jesus Christ.

And so my introduction is going to be basically looking at what is the background of this particular text. And, you know, there are only two ways to live. One way you can live is to live in the way of sin and death, or you can live in faith in Jesus Christ and have eternal life. Now, how do we live in Christ? I think the basic thing we're going to see through this is that Paul describes what constitutes a new life in Jesus Christ.

He's going to say that many times. Of course, he continues to talk about that all through the book of Romans. But this new life is empowered by the grace of God and by the work of Christ on the cross. And Paul is addressing a problem here. He is overwhelmed because of God's grace in his own life so that he so strongly preached the grace of Christ that people misunderstood it sometimes, or deliberately so. So back in chapter 5, in verse 20, he says, the law came in so that the transgression would increase. But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. So people said, oh, well, God loves me. Great, I can sin all I want, and I'll get more grace. That's what they were thinking. Now, that was called antinomianism.

Let's get rid of it. Paul was fighting what was called antinomianism because he said we are saved by grace and not by works. And they said, oh, works? Oh, great. We don't have to do anything anymore. We can just live like we want to live, and God would just love us right on into the kingdom. And he said, in verse 2, he says, may it never be. How shall we who died to sin still live in it? So his whole argument here is explaining how we are to be walking with Christ, to be holy with him.

So he points out that this is absolutely not true. You cannot live in sin and have that be consistent with the Christian life. We are redeemed from sin to live a holy life in the presence of Christ.

Okay. He talks about this. What does constitute a new life in Christ?

What is it like? And so the holy life is birth, and it's empowered by grace. It's not empowered by our works, but it's empowered by God's grace. And we cannot live in sin as a way of life if we have truly died to sin and we belong to Christ. They're contradictory.

They're opposites. Lawlessness, hedonism, sinning in order to get more grace is actually opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Denying you need repentance and forgiveness is rebellion against God himself. A sinful way of life and living under grace are totally mutually excluded.

They cannot be the same. So Paul is addressing that issue here. And so that's why he says in verse 20 and 21 that the law came in so that transgressions would increase, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. So we are saved from sin.

Therefore, we are not to live in it. And Christ calls us to be, as believers, to be holy because the Father is holy. And he calls us to be holy ones.

He calls us saints. We are called, we are chosen, we are converted to be conformed to Christ. And he's trying to set that straight in light of the false teaching that he was facing there.

And he was trying to alert the people in Rome that this was the case. So then the question comes, what constitutes a new life in Christ? Well, when we get to verse 3, he says, Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death?

That is a very interesting statement. I always thought, you know, well, maybe we should put up a facsimile of a tomb and you come out of the tomb and then we baptize you. Or maybe we just put a coffin here when you raise up, we just pour water on you. No, that's not, it is not talking about the mode of baptism here. It's talking about the work of Jesus Christ and his death and his promises of the new covenant in his own blood. That's what it means to be baptized into the death of Jesus Christ.

Now, let's talk about that for a minute. Our being in Christ means that we are in union with Christ. We are connecting with him. Our faith is in him because he died for us. We're trusting in him to take away our sins. And so in baptism, we see that there is a washing and a cleansing, but we know we need that.

And death is also, however, associated with Adam and Eve because they sinned and they died and then so we die physically. But there is a key way to look at this in the illustration here that because before Christ died, the shedding of blood and the death of the flesh was also illustrated. How was that illustrated? Well, we see it illustrated in the new covenant in baptism, the sign of baptism, but it was also illustrated in the old covenant in the sign of circumcision.

What did that entail? It meant that there was cutting of the covenant, literally, the covenant sign, and there was the shedding of blood and there was the death of some of that flesh and skin. That was all pointing to Christ and what he was going to do on the cross. Just like the sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed to the shedding of blood of those animals, they died, you cut them, and then they were destroyed, their flesh was destroyed there on the altar. So it was the cutting, the shedding of blood, and the death of the flesh, all foreshadowing all that Christ was going to do on the cross.

And now we look back to what was there. We look back to Christ's work on the cross. So the purpose of, and when we look at baptism, we are baptized into the death of Christ. So Paul is being very accurate. Now, as a Jewish man, he really understood this, and some of the Jews in Rome would understand this because they understood the symbolism of the Old Testament covenant and now the New Testament covenant in Christ's blood.

They understood that. So the sign changed, but the meaning is still the same. The meaning is that you're trusting in the shed blood and his dying in the flesh for your life. But it also meant that there was a cleansing associated with the blood. Let me read a couple verses here for you.

For example, in Colossians chapter 2, verses 9 through 12, I'll read verses 11, 12. It says, In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. That clearly tells us that there is association of death and shedding of blood and the cutting of the flesh and discarding of that flesh that is related to baptism. When you get to Hebrews chapter 9, verse 13 and 14, it says this, For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been sanctified and sanctified for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. So when he talks about being baptized into the death of Christ, it's pointing to the shed blood of Christ. It's pointing to that symbolism in the Old Testament. It's pointing to the death of the flesh that is discarded and buried. It is also pointing to the cleansing of the blood in the Old Testament. But now, why don't we circumcise as the sign? Because when Jesus died, that was the end of blood sacrifice.

It was final. It was finished on the cross. And so now the sign is baptism with water, which still represents the cleansing, but we forget sometimes that it also represents the blood and the casting off of the old way of life of the flesh. But that's why Paul says you were baptized into his death. It's reminding us of what Jesus did. Now, as we go through this, we need to remember that Paul wants us to remember that we were baptized in his death, and this points back to the cross, but it also, from the Old Testament point of view, it points toward the cross, the foreshadowing of what Jesus was going to do. Now, people were sometimes confused about that and about the baptism, and we get sometimes confused about baptism because we focus on the mode when we shouldn't be. We should be focused on what it signifies. In the book of Acts, there is a passage of Scripture.

I want to get it here. In Acts chapter 19, Paul is in Ephesus, and he's been talking to Apollos and others, and there's a little bit of confusion because the people there say, well, wait a minute. Paul asked him, he said, have you been baptized? Into what then were you baptized? And they said, oh, into John's baptism. And Paul said, well, John's baptism was the baptism of repentance. And he was telling the people to believe in him who were coming to Jesus that they should come and follow Jesus. But when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Why was the change? Because the baptism of John was preparatory for people to come to faith in Christ. But the baptism of Christ is a baptism into his death, looking at his purpose and his death for us on the cross. It's a different kind. It's a different commitment.

It's a different profession. Your faith is in that promise of God and the fulfilled covenant of God in Christ's blood. So that was rather startling to some of the people as they realized that they were trying to follow Christ, but they didn't really understand what his baptism signified. So what really constitutes the new life in Christ?

Well, let's go down to the next verse. Verse 4 says, Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. So this again is pointing to our relationship to Christ. We are buried with Christ. We are baptized in Christ. We're identified with Christ. It's our union with Christ because we are trusting in Christ to save us and our faith is in him alone.

So buried and then baptized into his death, that is our union with Christ. And so our relationship now is that we now have power to resist sin, not because we in our own strength can do so, but because we are committed to Christ. And so one person said, Well, this is a complete break with sin, our sinful past.

When you die, that's a complete break with a lot of things. So we were done with that sin. We are done with that lifestyle of sin. We break the ties and we break the identity that we had with that way of sin and life and our union is now with Christ. So we resist the old way that we lived and we are enthused about the new life in Christ because we know that sin does nothing but destroy. Okay, so why did Jesus go through this sacrifice? It's because he loved us and we are still learning what that love means and what it means for us, but he loves us then and he loves us now, we who believe in him.

So, William Hendrickson talked about that, the great love of Christ. So the purpose of Christ's death is seen not just in his burial, but also in his being raised. The burial, you know, you can't be alive until you, you can't rise up from the dead unless you're dead, right?

You can't, you have to be buried first before you come out of the grave. So, but when he does that, he goes back sometimes to look at some of the other passages of scripture in Romans chapter five, because he says, you know, when you're, before you're a Christian, you're identified with Adam because you're a child of Adam, descendant of Adam and you were under the condemnation that Adam had because he brought sin into the world as our first parent. But when you become a believer, now you are in Christ, you're under grace, you're under Christ. And so he goes back and he looks at, look at chapter five, verse 18, he says this, so then as through one transgression, there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness, there resulted justification to all men. So that offer of salvation is made there. But if you're, if you're still an Adam, you're under condemnation.

If you're in Christ, you receive grace and your pardon. And he's pointing that out that our identity with Christ and being buried with him, our identity with him being raised with him is very crucial. So when we are raised, it means that we are spiritually raised.

We have come, been raised by the majestic power of God the Father. Do you remember how excited people were when Lazarus was raised from the dead? They saw that Jesus had the power to raise people from the dead or the widow's son in name who was taken off the cot that was carrying him to the graveside and he was raised up and people saw that.

But there was something more than that. When, when Lazarus was buried, Martha was very clear and she told Jesus, don't you know that when you open that grave, there was going to be a horrible odor coming. And what did Jesus say to her? He said to this, did I not say to you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God.

That's what Paul is saying here in this verse, verse four. He says, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, through the majesty and power of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. So how are we raised spiritually? Through the same power that raised Christ, through the same power, this resurrection power of God, through the glory and majesty of God almighty, our heavenly Father, we are given a spiritual life. So where does this come from?

What is the result? What constitutes this new life? Well, we are raised to a new walk in life. And that's the purpose of our resurrection. So Matthew Henry says, those who were literally buried are cut off from all interaction with the living.

So to emphasize death, I want to use an illustration. You know, Italy is where Paul's writing right into Rome. So I might have made a transition. I thought, well, that's related to the mafia in Italy, right? So I remember this scene from the movies. I don't remember what movie it was.

It's been so long ago. But it was rather graphic. There was a poor man.

I guess he's poor, but he's poor then. He was lying in state in a Catholic church. Coffin was open. And down walk a few people and they look in the coffin and they go sit down. Another man walks down. He sits down. Another man walks down and looks down.

Finally this big huge guy, great broad shoulders, probably about 50, but man, he was fit. He kind of walks in beautiful suit and tie. He walks into the coffin. Man's laying there like that. He looks over him. There was a pin out of his lapel.

Sticks in his hand. Man doesn't respond. He says, yep, he's dead.

He turns around and he walks out. Dead to sin. Dead to the way of life. He was cut off from the land of the living. And that's what Paul is saying here. We are sealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are cut off from sin. We're cut off from the power of sin to have dominion over us. We're cut off from the principle of sin controlling us.

We're empowered by the Holy Spirit to live for Christ and to resist sin. And so this whole thing of being buried with Christ, the thing that we need to remember is that what is signified in our baptism, what is signified in the death of Christ, what is signified in our burial, we're cut off from that life of long ago. Baptism signifies Christ's burial and Christ's resurrection, which was once and for all, and it was forever and is forever.

It's done. Now, once we are buried and raised with Christ and once we are in union with Christ, we are forever living a new life. It never ceases. If you're in Christ now, your life in him will never end. We are forever holy ones.

We are saints. We are raised from the dead to live a life of faith in Jesus Christ. This is the nature of what it means to belong to Christ.

So then let's go on a little further. What constitutes this new life in Christ? Let's look at verse five. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection. So one of the key focuses here is on the middle word, certainly, because it means not just, oh, in the future we're going to rise from the dead when Christ comes back.

No. This is talking about the certainty of the present, the certainty to these people who live in Rome, the certainty to us as believers that we now live in Christ if we are raised with him. You know, there are only two ways to go in life. We are spiritually dead and facing an eternal death, or we are spiritually resurrected and have already begun our new and eternal life in Christ.

There's only two ways. This is the new union that we have with Christ, a new life. And our union with him is a loyalty to Christ, is it an allegiance to Christ to our resurrected Lord, to our resurrected Messiah? But here's what it is not. It is not an allegiance. It is not a loyalty to sin or past sins or ways of sin. It's not an allegiance to our old way of life.

And it's not recalling, oh, how wonderful it was to be a rounder and a wild person. It is not that at all. There is no allegiance there at all.

There is no badge in that. There is no glory in what we once were before we became a believer. No, we're leaving all that behind. We are a new creation in Jesus Christ. And so it says in Colossians 3 that, for you have died and your life is hid with Christ in God. He overcame, Christ overcame. He demonstrated to the world, especially to believers, that sin, death, and the devil are defeated.

They're defeated for us. We still fight, but he is defeated. A death and a resurrection like his points to the source of our new life. The likeness in death refers to our personal relationship to Christ. It's the same is true as our relationship to him. It refers to our lightness in the resurrection. It refers to our personal relationship to him. So the Holy Spirit, whom Christ the Father sent, now lives in us and leads us in following Jesus Christ.

That's just the way it is. Now, if you take your book, Bible, and look down at verse 13, it kind of reiterates the same thing. It says, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of righteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness of God. So this is that call to holy living because you're following the Lord Jesus Christ.

You belong to him. And then he goes on in verse, in verse six, he drops on down to talk more about what it is to walk in this newness of life. And so in verse six, we asked the question, what constitutes a new life in Christ?

We could, there's several statements there, and I think we could summarize them by making this point. We are united to a new Lord. We're not slaves to sin.

We have a new Lord. And you look at, look at this passage of scripture. It says, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with him in order that our body of sin might be done away with so that we no longer live as slaves to sin. We are not slaves to sin, but we're united to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are changed at conversion. We are born again and we have a new, we're a new spiritual creation, special and spiritual creation in Jesus Christ. You know, there are only two ways in life, the old way of serving under the master of sin or the new life united to faith in Christ.

That's the only two ways that exist. But our old self, now what does that mean? It uses the word anthropos, which means old man, and we don't like to talk about the old man. But anyway, what it means, it's our human nature apart from grace.

That's what William Henderson says. It's our human nature apart from grace. That is the old person that we once were before we were saved. Another combinator puts it this, our old selves is this way. It says, all that we were in our old unregenerate condition before union with Christ, that is the old self, whatever we once were. And so this explains Galatians 2 20, helps us understand it. I have been crucified with Christ and is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.

The life which I now live, I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. What a glorious verse. Paul is emphasizing the grace of God, not works, and not antinomianism, not relativism, no and he's not saying they're not absolutes, there are absolutes, but he's saying there is a new life in Christ, a new holy way to live in reverence to Jesus Christ. And he talks about the body of sin in that verse, sixth verse, to be done away with, to be gotten rid of. And so some say that this refers to the whole person being controlled by sin and now believer has new desires. When you were totally controlled with your body, your thoughts, your mind, your emotions, your personal will was controlled by sin, that is what is the body of sin of the flesh that is done away with and symbolized in the death of the flesh of Christ. So now a believer, the new desire is to be free from the power of sin. Our new nature as Christians is to love God and to love his commandments because we know they're not our way of salvation. We know that Christ is our way of salvation. Therefore we are dying to our sinful selves. We are repenting of our sins and we are mortifying the desires of our flesh. You know, sin is an evil task master. It is deceitfully says, oh, you need to try this.

It is so good for you. And then it comes and destroys you or that area of your life. That's what's the master of sin does. We are new creations in Jesus Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin. The language Paul uses here is vivid. It was extremely vivid to the people who lived in Rome. Because did you know, as those Christians gathered there in Rome, they were at the center of the Roman Empire, that empire that kept its coffers filled because they kept conquering new lands and they kept conquering new people and enslaving people. 30 to 40 percent of the Roman population were slaves. So when Paul uses this illustration, these people understood the scars of slavery. There were several major ways a person could become a slave in Rome. They could be a captive of war, some raid, whatever, and they could be kept by their captors or they could just be sold for a profit. There were those who were enslaved because of their debts, and that's gone down through history a lot of times, the debtor's prison. There are those who were born into a slave family.

That's just the way it was when they were a kid. They've always been a slave. But however, there were some people who willingly gave their lives to their master and they put a hole in their ears and marked them that they agreed that I'll be your slave for life because they somewhat liked the master or they wanted the security that was there in that job. There are all kinds of slaves in Rome. But we are no longer slaves.

That phrase made sense to the Roman audience that was reading this text. Believers in the spiritual battle that we are in and the spiritual wars that we are in, there is Satan there who wants to take you captive into sin and to never let you go. But you are no longer under Satan's control. You've been set free by the Lord if you're a believer. Believers there is the sin debt that we all owe, but you are no longer a slave to sin because Jesus has paid all of that debt. Believers, we were born into sin. We were born under Adam, but we have been freed because we've been, by God's grace, adopted into the free family of God. Believers, we were once given into slavery, slavery to sinful passions, but now we're free from those fleshly desires and strains and deceits and we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Lord, not sin. Slavery to sin is a horrible death. And if you don't get out, it's an eternal death. Jesus faced that death on behalf of us.

He suffered for those who were in union with him by faith. Maybe you've seen the pictures. I've seen some of them.

They're horrible. When you look at the back, when photography was in and you see the results in slaves of the past, even in America, you look at the welts and the scars on a slave's back. They've been beaten by a horrible master. Well, Jesus, Jesus himself took the lashes on his back for your sins and mine and he was wounded for our transgressions. You know slaves are beaten, they're cursed, they're spit upon and yet Jesus took the slaps and the beating there in the Praetorium and then he stood there and he hung on the cross and he listened to the jeers and the cursings of his own name. But Jesus did all that for you and I on our behalf. And you know a slave owns nothing.

A slave owns absolutely nothing. And there as Jesus hung on the cross, they gambled for the last piece of ownership that he had, the cloak that he wore. But Jesus, Jesus has given his life and everything for us. He's taken us as his spiritual children and he's borne our sins for us. We are free. Why are we free? If you turn and look at verse 7, it gives you the answer to that.

If I can find it again. For he who has died is freed from sin. That is part of the answer to the question in verse 2. How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Well, we don't because we're redeemed from it by Christ. So he says, for he who has died is freed from sin. If you turn over to chapter 5 verse 1, it says this, therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The word justified and the word freed in verse 7, it's the same word. It could read, you have been justified from sin.

And that's what we should remember. Christians, we are absolved from guilt because we died to sin in Jesus Christ. We leave behind that body of flesh and passions because we are united to Christ by faith. We live because we are united to Christ in our spiritual resurrection. We are truly free in Christ. We are a new creation which parallels the first creation which fell and fell in sin. But we are more free and more free to live because we can live now with the work of the word and the spirit in our lives to live the life that we were designed to live. We have found true life in Jesus Christ.

What constitutes the new life in Jesus Christ? We are acquitted. He is alive and believer.

You are alive. Let us pray. Father, we thank you for the mercy that you've shown us in giving your life for us and continuing to sustain us in life by the work of your word and spirit. We are totally unworthy and yet you, you have done all of this for us. You have shown us a new life constituted by a relationship with you. Father, we thank you for the fact that you moved in our hearts and caused us to believe. We thank you for your love and for your grace that is with us every single day. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-30 13:34:11 / 2023-04-30 13:46:40 / 12

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