Sunday, April 20, 2014


Don’t you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
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!  
(Romans 6:3–4)

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus form the core of what we call the “gospel,” or (more accurately) the “Good News.” 

So … what is the “good news” of these events? 
In a word: hope

Paul said that when we are dunked into the water of baptism, we are being “buried with him” (Jesus).  We are re-enacting the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus! 

This is the moment we are “reborn,” according to Jesus (John 3:3-8).  This moment is the beginning of a “new life,” when we become “new creatures,” creatures who are clothed with Christ. 

Some say baptism is nothing but a symbol.  Others treat baptism as if it’s magic.  Sadly many “Christians” see baptism as merely the removal of sins for salvation. 

Baptism is so much more! 

Baptism is when we get what kids call a “do-over.”  Being born again means we get a second chance!  And this time, we are freed from our old masters and can submit only to God and Jesus. Baptism is the gospel re-enacted. 

Those who have not "obeyed the gospel" are without hope (2 Thessalonians 1:8), but those of us who have shared in the gospel - we have the greatest gifts (grace) - freedom & hope!  

Continuing Paul’s message above:
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!  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over him. For the death that he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life that he lives, he lives to God.
Even so:
consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
 Therefore don’t let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and…
…don’t go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness;
Present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
(Romans 6:5–14)
[Note: the Greek word often translated “lust” means really “desire.”  Since “lust” is usually limited to sexual desire in our culture, I change it to “desire” in my bibles, and encourage you to do the same.  Desire for food produces gluttony, desire for others’ things is envy, etc.  All sin comes from “desire,” so consider changing it in your bible]

Remember our lessons on perspective?  Here’s another case where a simple change in perspective makes a huge difference: 

Most people today see themselves as constantly struggling to “overcome” sin, as if it takes great strength, patience and self-discipline. 

But this is not the way Paul taught us to see it.  He said to consider yourselves dead to sin.”  Once we’re baptized we are no longer slaves of our old master (sin).  In other words, we are more than just “guilt-free,” now we are also freed from having to obey our bodies!  We are emancipated!  We don’t have to be beaten down by our old boss-man, getting us to work, worry and feel guilty.  Now we can overcome.  Now we have a chance.

Or in other words:
Your body cannot boss you around anymore, if you want to resist. 

This parallels the exodus.  Remember that in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul wrote that they were led to freedom from their old master (Pharaoh), baptized (in the Red Sea), and then after a time in the wilderness, to a “promised land.” 

We have been freed from our old master and now can move on to our own promised land (heaven) after some time in the wilderness (this life). 

Part of the “good news” is that we no longer have to let sin reign in our bodies. 
  • We no longer have to be lazy in service to God. 
  • We no longer have to eat every single time we crave food. 
  • We no longer have to buy something every time we want it. 
  • We no longer have to be slaves to our own selfishness – but are now free to love others.
  • We no longer have to be victims of our own weaknesses, for God has welcomed into His Kingdom, so that now He is the only Lord we need! 

The day Jesus hung on the cross was the ugliest day in history.  And the hours that he was in the grave were surely some of the most hopeless.  Judas committed suicide and Peter must have come pretty close.  Doubt must have been heavy on their souls. 

But then it was Sunday! 
He is risen!  Death has become life!  Doubt has become strengthened faith!  And now just as Jesus has overcome death, so we can overcome sin! 

We participated in what the world calls “Easter” when we were born again in the waters of baptism.  And every time we repent of sin that again creeps into our lives, we can go forward with confidence because God has promised it, and He is faithful. 

Satan will continue to whisper doubt in our ears, telling us we cannot succeed.  He wants us to return to is rule, and expects that we will.  He lays a lead blanket of guilt on our shoulders and reminds us that we cannot possibly succeed.  But remember this: Satan is a liar. 

God’s truth is simple: you and I can be freed from sin and death.  Jesus led the way.

Be of good cheer all you who are truly born-again disciples of Jesus, for we alone enjoy the hope of the resurrection.  And even when we fail, we can repent.  For as long as you’re alive, there is hope (Ecclesiastes 9.4)!

You have already been raised with Christ, so now walk in your new life, and renew it day by day.  

I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren:
Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 15:51–58)

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