Sunday Sermon: ‘Alive in Christ’

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Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

I. Our Death In Christ

A. Christ Was Crucified

It is a historical fact that Jesus Christ was crucified. The question is not – ‘Was Jesus crucified? But ‘Why was He crucified?’ Was Jesus a blasphemer as some had said who deserved to die? Was He an innocent victim of the religious leaders’ hatred? Was He crucified because He was an enemy to Rome? Or was it as Jesus said – “No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself”? [1]

The Bible tells us what Jesus was crucified. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3)

B. We Were Crucified With Christ

Notice that Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ…” How could someone who was still living decades later claim to have been crucified with Christ?

Paul was not crucified literally. He was not physically nailed to a cross as Jesus was. Paul was not crucified physically. He was crucified spiritually.

To understand this we must return again to the question – ‘Why was Jesus crucified?’ The Bible says that He was crucified for ‘our sins.’ Jesus had committed no sin of His own that deserved crucifixion. Christ died for our sins.

The Bible says that God made a representative for us. Christ died as a substitute for us.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. NIV

Christ took our place on the cross. He allowed Himself to experience the full wrath of God against our sins.

Years ago there was a song written that said, “When he was on the cross, I was on his mind.” (Florida Boys – When He Was On The Cross ( I Was On His Mind ) Lyrics)

Paul wrote in the book of Colossians that Jesus “…canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14 NLT) Jesus did not literally nail our list of sins to the cross, but in the mind of God, Jesus died for every sin you and I have or ever will commit. John tells us in the book of 1 John that Jesus offered Himself as an appeasing sacrifice not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world.

What are the results of Christ’s sacrificial death?

1. All of our sins have been paid for. Jesus received the full weight of His Father’s wrath against our sins and in the end Jesus could exclaim – “It is finished!” In other words, everything that needed to be done in order to pay for sin has been done. The debt has been paid and the bill can go to the shredder.But there’s more.

2. We no longer live under the obligation to try to fulfill the law. The law has no power over us. The Bible says that the law is good, just, and holy. (see Romans 7:12) Jesus said, “I did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.” However, the law became our enemy. How so? Even though the law revealed everything a person must do in order to be right with God, no one, other than Jesus, was ever able to obey the law. Everyone else has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. (see Romans 3:23) Therefore, the only thing the law could ever do for us was condemn us. All the law could do was point out our sins.

But the crucifixion of Jesus freed us from the bondage of the law. Christ fulfilled the law completely for us. It’s kind of like the entire Jamaican men’s 4 X 100 relay team bragging about how they beat America, when in reality only one of their runners, Usain Bolt, beat America. Up until the last leg of the race, it was pretty much dead even. It was Bolt that took off and decisively beat the Americans. Therefore the rest of the Jamaican team just rode on his shoulders.

When it comes to fulfilling the law, we’re riding on Jesus’ shoulders. He fulfilled the law for us, and then He died for us as our substitute. The fact that Jesus died on the cross is the most amazing thing that has ever happened in human history. The only one who ever fulfilled the law, died as though He had broken every part of the law. There’s also a third aspect of us being crucified with Christ.

3. Christ now lives in us, enabling us to live righteously.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

II. Our Death In Christ

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…

The phrase “I live” is in the Present Tense which means that it is occurring today and every day. I am alive right now because Jesus is living inside of me.

For years I had a very difficult time understanding how Jesus could be living in me, and yet at the same time be in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father. For one thing, how could Jesus be ‘in’ me, and how could He be in two places at the same time?

But then I began to realize that Christ lives in me through the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that when we receive Jesus as our Savior, the Spirit comes to live inside of us. (Romans 8:9) Though you can see Him or touch Him, you can feel Him. He’s there and it is the Spirit that assures us in our hearts that we are a child of God. (see Romans 8:14-16) It is the Spirit that enables a believer to see God as their Father, or as scripture says – ‘Daddy.’ The Spirit makes God real and personal.

Here’s something else that Paul tells us about the Holy Spirit. Paul calls Him the ‘Spirit of Christ.’ (see Romans 8:9) And Paul says – “…if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10 NIV) It’s the Spirit of Christ that brings to us new life and eternal life. As I sometimes say: God the Father planned our salvation, God the Son purchased our salvation, and God the Spirit produces our salvation.

In order for us to experience the new life Paul was talking about, we must ‘walk in the Spirit.’

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh:and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Though the law revealed to us what righteousness looked like, it never enabled us to perform it. A list of rules won’t make us righteous. It takes God the Spirit bringing to us the life of Christ in order to enable us to be what the Bible calls a ‘Christian’, or Christ-like one. Paul wrote –

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance…

Think about the word ‘fruit’ for a moment. What comes to your mind when you hear that word? Most of us think of something that is good and sweet and alive! The fruit of the Spirit is Christ expressing Himself through us. The fruit of the Spirit is the life of Christ being born through us. Therefore Paul could say –

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

“I am crucified with Christ…”  All of my sins have been paid for and done away with. “Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me…” The victorious Christian life is living moment by moment, day by day in harmony with the Holy Spirit so that He might bear Christ’s fruit in and through us.

God has given us a perfect illustration to help us understand what these truths are teaching us. That illustration is what we often call ‘Believer’s Baptism.’

Water baptism cannot save us. As Oliver B. Greene used to say, “You can go into the water a dry sinner and come out a wet sinner.” The water doesn’t save us, nor does it wash away our sins. Being baptized in water is a symbol of being baptized in Christ.

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also –  should walk in newness of life.

Come with me for a moment and let’s baptize someone.

Step 1 – The Believer is immersed into the water.

There are a couple of reasons why we immerse people into water whenever we baptize them. Reason 1 – the word ‘baptize’ means to immerse. Reason 2 – it is a symbol of us being completely immersed into Christ’s death. This why Paul could say – “I have been crucified with Christ.” Spiritually speaking, Paul was baptized into the sacrificial death of Christ. He died when Christ died and he was buried when Christ was buried.

Step 2 – The Believer is raised up out of the water.

Every person I have ever baptized wanted to be raised up out of the water. No one wanted to be lowered into the water and left there. I’ve had a few people who were worried whether or not I could get them back up out of the water. Why is it important that we raise people up out of the water? The immersing into the water is a symbol of their death with Christ. The raising up out of the water is a symbol of their resurrection with Christ. Paul wrote –

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also –  should walk in newness of life.

Step 3 – The Believer is raised up out of the water.

There is a third step to Believer’s Baptism that we often overlook. Again consider what the Bible says –

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also –  should walk in newness of life.

The third step is when that person gets out of the water, dries off and goes out and lives life. What a person does on the Monday morning after they were baptized is as important as what they did on Sunday morning when they were baptized. Their old man was put to death and buried, so that their new man might be resurrected and begin to walk in the newness of life. Now we understand what Paul meant in –

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

The way Paul originally wrote this indicates that sometime in the past, he was once and for all crucified with Christ. Somewhere in the past his old nature was put to death and was done away with. But the way he expressed the thought of living is in the present tense which means that it’s an on-going action.

Conclusion:

1) Have you been crucified with Christ?

Have you through faith become one with Christ in His sacrificial death? Can you say as Paul said and millions of others that Christ died for ‘your’ sins?

2) Are you walking in the newness of life?

Are you experiencing the new life in Christ each day? Is Jesus alive in you? If not, why not? Are you still trying to crawl back into that old corpse and live in the realm of the dead?

3) Have you publicly declared your new life in Christ by following the Lord in Believer’s Baptims?

Study your New Testament carefully and you will see that those who received Christ were immediately baptized. They didn’t put it off for weeks, months and even years. Many were baptized the same day they were saved.

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