After Christ had died and been buried, He rose again (3 days later), proving that He really was God. As Acts 17:31 states, “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” During and after Jesus’ death, His followers thought it was all over. Most of them ran away or said they didn’t know Him! But after Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to several hundred witnesses, those same cowardly followers became bold teachers, teaching about the risen Christ! And they really believed in what they were saying! Eventually, almost all of them were killed as martyrs because of their belief that the Christ was the Son of God. No one would die for what they knew was a lie…these men were really convinced in the truth of Christ’s resurrection.
Christ’s resurrection is important to anyone who wants to become a Christian. In God’s plan of salvation, a believer must first “die” with their representative, Jesus Christ, and then can be “resurrected” and enjoy life in Him. Remember that Jesus came to earth as the Lamb of God to offer Himself as a sacrifice to take away sins. In order for someone to be a true Christian, they need to be connected to the sacrifice of Jesus. And the Bible describes that “connection” process as “dying with Christ”. A Christian isn’t just someone who dies for Christ or because of Christ; a Christian is someone who has died (and then been raised!) with Christ! You can see this in the following Bible passages:
- “If we died with Him, we will also live with Him.” (2 Timothy 2:11)
- “since you died with Christ” (Colossians 2:20; Romans 6:8)
- “you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3)
- “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20)
Here are 3 main points to remember about the Bible verses above:
- They are addressed to Christians – people in Christ.
- They are talking about the point where the people actually became Christians.
- A Christian is someone who has died with Christ and now lives with Him!
Dying with Christ is Important!
We’ve learned that God is holy, that sin separates us from Him, and that the price for sin is death. We know Jesus came to pay the price for us, and that by dying with Him we can have our sins removed, and we can get back into a good relationship (or “new life”) with the holy God! Dying with Christ is so important. It’s the ONLY way to get to the life available in God. So there’s just one question left: How can I die with Christ?!
How Can I Die With Christ?
Let’s look at the the answer in Romans chapter 6. Some of the Christians in Rome seem to have had the idea that once they became Christians, they could just sin as much as they wanted and God’s grace would just cover all the sins. The apostle Paul explains why that’s a terrible idea, and in the process he clearly explains how someone can die and then live with Christ:
Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” The people in Rome had the silly idea that God’s grace gave them permission to sin as much as they wanted. That was ridiculous because they had died to sin! When did that happen? Read on.
Romans 6:3-7 “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” The Christians in Rome died to sin when they were baptized! That’s how they connected with Christ’s death – and died to sin themselves. Baptism is the act of faith that puts people into Christ. After baptism, a person has new life. Why? Because when a person dies with Christ, their sins are removed and their life is changed in a big way! In other Bible verses, this is sometimes called a “new birth” or “new creation”. (2 Corinthians 5:17, John 3:3)
Romans 6:8-11 “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” When we are baptized, God views us as dying with Christ, dying to sin. Don’t let the importance of this escape you. The entire purpose of Christ coming to earth was so that He could be the sacrificial Lamb of God and pay the price for sin, and so that we could die with Him, have our sins removed, and get back into a good relationship (true life!) with our Holy God.
Romans 6:12-14 “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Now we get to the main point of what Paul was telling the Christians at Rome – stop sinning! Because a Christian has died with Christ and had their sins removed, a Christian will have a different attitude toward sin. A Christian has had all the evil cleaned off of them…they don’t want to go crawling back into it! Paul reminded the Romans of what Christ had done for them when they were baptized into His death, and then explained that they shouldn’t want to be slaves of sin anymore! This is the definition of ‘repentance’ – a changed life and a changed attitude.
We’ll look at just a few more verses from this chapter:
Romans 6:17 “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.” Here is where Paul reminds the Christians that it was by obedient faith, from the heart, that they were saved. Baptism isn’t important because the water has special powers or because doing that one action is somehow good enough to save a person. Baptism is important because of the faith of the one being baptized. When a sinner hears about Christ’s way to remove sin and believes it enough to do it, his sins are removed. It’s as simple as that!
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” At the end of the chapter, Paul reminds the Romans that that hadn’t earned God’s grace or mercy. By believing in Him and being baptized, they had just accepted the free gift Christ offered them…a free cleansing by faith.