“Therefore 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 6:4 (NASB)
In a very real sense spiritually, all who have truly believed in Jesus Christ have been united with Christ by faith. His death and burial become ours and we are saved from ever experiencing our own spiritual death. Even physical death becomes for us a temporary stay until the resurrection of believers. God our Father chose us for this by his mercy. What the Son of God, made real He did out of His own love and will. By God’s grace we walk in newness of life because in Christ we died and were buried with Him, and we have also become one with Him in His resurrection. Paul uses the word “baptized” in a figurative sense; in the same way we might say someone was immersed in his work or when someone experiences a hard test of their character, we might say they underwent a baptism of trials. We experience a new quality and character to our lives, and live according to a new principle of life. As Christ’s burial shows that He actually died, a Christians’ “burial with Christ” shows that they in fact died with Him to their former sinful ways of living.
“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:3; 16:24 (NASB)
Our verse today from is included twice in Proverbs. Both chapter 14 & 16 were compiled by Samson so this truth must have been important to him. It is also an important warning to us. It’s a promise that warns of death. In WW2 the crew of a B-24D plane ignored their instruments which didn’t seem right by their senses. The plane flew past their base until it ran out of fuel and crashed in the Sahara desert. All 9 crewmembers died trying to find their way out of the desert. In Matthew 7:13 Jesus also warns us to not trust what might only seem right. The wide gate may look appealing but many are led through it to destruction. It’s the narrow gate that Jesus directs us to. Both the narrow gate and the wide gate are assumed to provide the entrance to God’s kingdom. Two ways are offered to people. The narrow gate is by faith, only through Christ, constricted and precise. It represents true salvation in God’s way that leads to life eternal. The wide gate includes all religions of works and self-righteousness, with no single way, but it leads to hell, not heaven.
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” John 12:32-33 (NASB)
Many of Jesus’ teachings during the days just before his crucifixion were given to His disciples. Other things He told the crowds of people. Today’s verse is found in John’s record. Jesus said that His soul was troubled because of the impending weight of what He was to do. God the Father in and audible voice confirms the glory that will result from the obedience of His Son Jesus. John records how Jesus was revealed the kind of death He knew He was going to suffer and what effect it will have on those who learn of it. Well, isn’t it true that when we heard about Jesus dying on the cross for us it drew us to Him and we believed in Him as our Savior? And even today when we think of Him dying on the cross doesn’t it draw us to Him in love. Let’s think of Jesus dying on the cross. Let’s think of Him often these days especially and each time we think of Him let’s allow Him to draw us closer and closer to Himself. That was His desire the day He died. It is His desire today.
“If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.” – Psalm 139:9-10 (NASB)
Just as it is impossible to hide any thought or deed from our omniscience God, it is impossible to find a place to hide ourselves from Him. There is nowhere our omnipresent God is not. We wish to be totally alone sometimes and we can do that for a season but not from God. Even those who live a self-sufficient life eventually have contact with others. But, if our desire is to be apart from God, that will not happen. Wherever we go, God is there, His presence is in every place we can possibly go. The highest heavens above or the depths of the realm of the dead below, are used as extreme contrasts of locations from one another in this psalm. If we could ride the ‘chariot of the breaking light of dawn,’ which comes rabidly from the utmost reaches of the seas’ eastern horizons, even then we will cannot escape the presence of our Lord God Almighty. Perhaps, it’s good to know that those who reject the work of Christ for salvation through their life and death will live in total darkness and separation from all others and without God for God will accommodate them afterlife.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” – 1 John 3:14 (NASB)
How is your love-life? No, not the way we normally use those words. This ‘love-life’ is more according to the teaching of the Apostle John and the words of Jesus Himself. It’s the love we have in our life for one another. John calls us brethren because we are in the same family. We have God as our Father and by grace we have been saved and born again in Jesus Christ. It is most important that we understand the promises in our verse today. How do we know we have salvation? How do we know that death no longer has claim on us? We know because we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible says that we are saved by faith but that we must love people in order to finally be saved. That means our faith in God’s promises must be so real that it produces a love that proves the reality of the faith. Conversely the lack of love proves otherwise. The next verse says that hating our brother is equal to murder in consequence and proves the lack of eternal life. It is a serious matter – love, don’t hate our siblings in Christ.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)
Every person who by faith believes in Jesus Christ is fully justified and formally adopted by God, our Father in heaven. That is a promise given to all true Christians. At first we knew nothing of these promises and now they are ours forever. We once did not believe this but now we do believe and God’s Spirit is our witness that we are children in the Family of God. Our new birth in Christ came at a tremendous cost; but we did not have to pay it. Jesus Christ paid the cost for us by sacrificing Himself to die on the cross. Our sin caused the death of God’s only begotten Son. Now, we are adopted sons and adopted daughters and heirs with full rights in the Family. In fact we’re fellow heirs with God’s only begotten Son, Christ Jesus. It’s good news for us because by the faith given to us, we are not on the outs; we are in God’s will in more ways than we know. He included us so, we have an inheritance as heirs – that’s a forever promise. Let’s live our lives today with respect to what God has given to us.
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but 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 15:58 (NASB)
Our promise today is found in the last verse chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians. It continues the instructions Paul gave in the first verses of the chapter (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Where we are is spiritually depends on what we are taught and learn and believe. The gospel Paul had preached in Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:1–2) had not changed; but he feared that along with the declension in the church concerning the message of Christ crucified and its implication for believers, the same was happening with regard to the message of Christ resurrected. False teachers who work for the enemy to turn people away from the truth of Jesus’s resurrection. The proof Christ is who He claims to be is His resurrection. So the enemies will always attempt to deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul had clearly stated the case for Christ’s resurrection and that if He did not rise from the dead our faith in Him would be useless. But it is true. Christ did not say in the grave. He conquered the sting and power of death for all who believe. He secured our victory over death so that what we do for Christ’s Gospel is not in vain.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ” – Psalm 23:4 (ESV)
In Psalm 23, which most people call the “Twenty-third Psalm,” we find our Good Shepherd being our protective shield wherever we go. Some of us have been where our lives have been at risk from nature and/or mankind. Others have faced a different kind of threat and have felt are deep in and under the shadow of evil forces, evil people. There is a valley of shadow for many who suffer from depression. David does not write ‘When’, he says “Even though I walk..” He knows because it is the way of life on this earth. David chooses and determines to NOT fear evil. The promise from God is that He is with us. He protects us from evil and the evil one with his rod. The rod was a club used by a shepherd as a defensive weapon. The staff was for guidance and a help in hilly, rocky areas. It was also a comfort to know it could be a defensive weapon as well as used to carefully control the sheep which had a tendency to go astray. God is fully able to keep us safe from evil and comfort us in all situations.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
Paul is so thoroughly convinced; he is willing to throw down a challenge. He challenges heaven, and earth, and angels, and men, and principalities and powers; and not only that, but all things past, present and to come; all creatures, internal or external, including ourselves; all states, death or life, height or preferment, depth or dungeon, prison or stripes. There are no exceptions in this affirmation. Any thought that anyone of us who truly believe will ever be able to sever our unbreakable union with Jesus, our Savior, is misunderstanding this truth. It is absolute. It is Jesus who paid the price to purchase our lives from eternal damnation and secure our lives with Him for eternity. Jesus never has and never will and cannot go back on His promises. When we have times of doubt, we should at that time recall this promise. We have not been separated; we cannot become lost again. The regenerated cannot become unregenerated. Some who think they have managed their salvation by their means will find themselves still lost, not lost again. God’s promise is so strong and unbreakable that we are kept for eternity by that promise.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)
The “Crown of righteousness” can mean either that righteousness itself is the crown or reward, or that this crown is the reward for righteousness. We can read how the Bible speaks of the death of a believer, especially in the New Testament, we notice how the word “departure” is used rather than death. Jesus, Paul, and Peter all spoke of their physical death as a “departure.” Apostle Paul lived for about 60 years. When writing his second letter to Timothy, he knows then, for certain, his death is very near. But it was not the end of living, it was his time of departure from this world to live with God’s in heaven. Paul was one of untold number of Christians who Emperor Nero’s aggressive persecution killed, blaming them for the burning of Rome – which Nero had done himself. Paul speaks of it in this passage in very positive words. He does not fear his departure and he knows that His Lord has prepared a reward. Paul was not the only one to receive this Crown of Righteousness but all who love Christ’s appearing are promised the same reward on ‘that day’ which is the day of Christ’s return.