11th Jan 2015

Crucified with Christ

By Stephen Bones

CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST

Introduction

Last week Andy shared on paupers in the palace, and how some Christians can live like paupers though they are princes, of royal priesthood; how they live thinking they have £1,000 in the bank, when in fact they have £1m.  Why?

The title of my sharing today is ‘crucified with Christ’, which is based on Galations 2:20

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Notice the past tense – ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live’.  Do we live like that is true for us? I want to go back and remind ourselves of some truths in the Bible.

How we should be living – a new creation!

Jesus said;

Matt 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (NIV)

Do you find being a Christian is easy?  Are you at rest?  Do you ever feel weary and burdened? I certainly do!

So is what Jesus said not true?  As my experience is not in keeping with the Bible, is the Bible not true?  However, if the Bible is true, then how do I explain my experiences?

Last year Mark Stanbury shared on the ministry of reconciliation that we have been given, and covered three facets of what it includes:

·         Redemption

·         Restoration, and

·         Release.

We all understand ‘redemption’, that we have been bought with a price by the blood of the lamb, that our sins have been forgiven, we have been redeemed.

However, what about restoration, that Jesus reversed the effect of sin in our lives, that he has ‘restored the years the locusts have eaten’ (Joel 2:25)? 

2 Cor 5:17-18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (NIV)

Do you believe you are a ‘new creation’ since you became a Christian?  Has your ‘old self’ gone?

Rom 6:6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin (NIV)

Gal 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (NIV)

Are we still slaves to sin? 

Rom 6:17-18 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (NIV)

Sin is not just what we do, it is the ‘sinful nature’ that we were born with, the ‘spirit of falsehood’ (1 John 4:6). Otherwise how could it be our master? Consider the following:

Gen 4:2-7 Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

Does sin here sound like an ‘action’ or a ‘thing’?

When we were first saved, our sins were forgiven and we were cleansed.  However, if we still have that spirit of error, then we will carry on sinning!  Has God also set us free from this ‘spirit of error’, and if so how?

Crucified with Christ – what died?

Now let us return to our key verse for today:

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

What was crucified with Christ?  Indeed, what was also buried with Christ?

The Bible teaches us we are composed of three items (as we are made in God’s image):

·         Body, our flesh

·         Soul, our emotions, heart, mind

·         Spirit, our ‘sinful nature’ or ‘spirit of error’.

Rom 6:2-4 We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 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. (NIV)

Is water baptism just an outward sign of our conversion?  I believe not!  I believe that when we by faith turned to Christ, we were redeemed and set free from the spirit of error we were born with, we were ‘born again’ with the Spirit of God, and then by water baptism our old sin nature was buried with Jesus and we are now a new creation. Makes sense of Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus:

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. (NIV)

We are no longer slaves to sin but can now choose what to do, hence

Rom 6:12-14 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (NIV)

Our body is the same, our soul is the same, it is our spirit that has changed – the Holy Spirit is now our master.  Consider Adam, before he ate the fruit God said ‘the day you eat of it you shall die’ (Genesis 2:17).  But he didn’t die physically that day, Adam lived to be 930!  What did ‘die’ that day was his ‘spirit’ and he now had the spirit of error, and the decay started physically!  Hence we all have the spirit of error the day we are born (Psalm 51:5, Romans 5:12-21).  When we are ‘born again’, we have the Holy Spirit!

Do we believe we are a new creation now?

Now the crunch question – do we believe this, even if do not fully understand?

·         We believe we were saved,

·         We believe we will spend eternity with Jesus,

·         .............but what about in between?

Do we believe we will see Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, King David, etc in heaven? Hebrews 11:40 suggests we will, as Andy said recently I believe.  So if God can save people by faith after they have died, why cannot he also do things in advance i.e. we go back by faith and are crucified with Christ 2000 years ago?  After all, God is outside of time!  

Heb 4:2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

On Thursday we heard a lady, Kathy, speaking from last year’s Spring Harvest.  She was talking about how the Holy Spirit can be controversial.  For example, Peter’s vision of unclean food before Cornelius’ invites him to speak to gentiles. She posed the question – are we missing a movement of God in our lives today because we are so fixed on our views and previous experiences? I would encourage you to keep open minds and not rely on our current views and experiences, but let the Lord speak to us through the Bible.

Self-sufficiency

Let’s return to another verse that we may find challenging in our experience – ‘my yoke is easy and my burden is light’ (Matt 11:30).

Does Jesus find this live challenging?  Does he grow weary? No.

Galatians 2:20 states ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’.  So if Jesus is living in me, why do I get weary?  Why do I feel weak, after all the Bible says ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Phil 4:13.  But note again, it is ‘through Christ’!

I believe one of the biggest problems we Christians have today is surrendering to Jesus, and letting him live through us.  Self sufficiency is a big challenge for us all, as it was for the prodigal son’s older brother which Andy shared on last week – he wanted to earn his inheritance.  Having begun our Christian walk by putting our faith in Jesus, we then try and earn our salvation by doing good works.

Steve Brady put it this way ‘we are too preoccupied with ourselves’.

Paul put it another way:

Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? NKJV

Jesus said the following:

John 15:4-5 No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV)

Do we believe this, that apart from Christ we can do nothing?  All our efforts, though perhaps good, will not yield fruit if we are not remaining in the vine, dependant on him. Instead we will be burnt out! Is this why so many Christians are weary and tired?

We need to repent of our self-sufficiency, which is a form of pride first demonstrated by Eve who wanted ‘to be like God’, and our response should be as follows:

Rom 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (NIV)

What it the most precious gift we can give Jesus?  Money? Things?  I believe it is our time, not time doing works, even good works, but time alone with God.  Our natural thinking is that this is a waste of time as there is so much to be done, but John Wesley knew the secret of this giving – the more he had to do, the earlier he got up to spend longer alone with God (rode 250,000 miles, preached 40,000 sermons: 2-3 a day!).  Jesus in fact had the same approach – Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16!

Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (NIV)

Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (NIV) – shared by John Rankin on 29 November 2014!

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