September 1981

Made Alive With Him

Dan S. Shipley

When the apostle Paul preached the gospel, he preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15: 1-4). And, equally important, he showed how every believer identifies with Christ's sacrifice in order to procure its benefits. Indeed, salvation is made dependent on the believer's fellowship with the death, burial, and resurrection of his Saviour.

Accordingly, there is a death to be experienced by every believer who would live with Christ. "But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him..." (Rom. 6:8). As Paul shows in Rom. 6:2, the Christian is one who has died to sin. None can make rightful claim to being "of Christ" who has not "crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof" (Gal. 5:24). Where else but in repentance does the believer determines to put off the old man with his doings" (Col. 3:9)? Thus, he "reckons" (considers) himself to be dead unto sin (Rom. 6:11) and determines that sin shall not have reign and dominion over him (Rom. 6:12,14). That means no longer living for self and like the world. Christ died for all "that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:14). When Christ and not the world determine how we live, we can say with Paul that "the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Gal. 6:14). In view of such truths it is obvious that a crucified self is no less important than a crucified Christ! The fact that He "died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3) has real significance only to those who are willing to die to sin. Then, as every believer dies with Christ, he must also be buried with Him. Paul shows that this burial is in the waters of baptism and no other place. "Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death..." (Rom. 6:4). As Whiteside says, "We are not baptized into the literal death of Christ, but into the benefits of his death, including the freedom from sin. A person is not completely dead to sin till he is separated from it, and that separation takes place in baptism". (Comm. on Rom., p. 129) The death to sin that is resolved in true repentance is consummated in baptism. Any man who ever put on Jesus Christ is a man who was baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27) and any man who was ever baptized into Christ was buried with him in baptism (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). This burial in baptism cannot be the sprinkling or pouring that some call baptism because the word itself means immersion or submersion.

Finally, the believer who has died and been buried with Christ is also raised with him to a newness of life (Rom. 6:4). This is possible because of what happened in baptism. As Jesus promised, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). Saul of Tarsus was told that his sins would be washed away in baptism (Acts 22:16). Remission of sins is promised to such believers as will repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). With the forgiveness of sins we are made alive together with him (Col. 2:13). This life comes only with this death, this burial and resurrection.