Yesterday at Woodstock Road Baptist we had our first Sunday in temporary venues whilst building work takes place in our usual premises for the next six to nine months. There are one or two things that we need to tweak for future weeks but, for the most part, I was thankful for how it went.
I really enjoyed preaching on the first half of Romans 6 even if the acoustics were slightly different to normal. The passage picks up the theme of our union with Jesus in his death and resurrection. As I have posted before this is something of a theological hobby horse for me. I am convinced that in striving for simple Gospel outlines our thinking about the Christian life has become inadequate. (It is actually one of the reasons why I loved this video which does outline union with Christ as part of the Gospel). The change that has happened to me at conversion- symbolized in baptism- is so much deeper than being forgiven. I am a whole new person who has died to sin with Christ and is raised to life with Him. For the New Testament authors this is the vital truth to grasp as the basis and power for Christian living. It is why I made the slightly provocative point yesterday that if you don’t grasp Romans 6 you probably haven’t understood the Christian life. And whilst I am wary of a Christianity that stays in the mind alone it does seem to me that the battle here is to think rightly- I am to think of myself (count myself) dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Most of the above I said yesterday morning. Various things landed on the cutting room floor before this sermon- principally quotes from worthy Christians emphasizing the importance of this doctrine. The last time I wrote on this subject I mentioned the impact of the truth on Hudson Taylor. Here are a few others:
J.I.Packer argues this in his book A Passion for Holiness:
“The root of holiness is co-crucifixion and co-resurrection with Jesus Christ.”
Or here is Lloyd-Jones talking about the importance of Christians grasping what has happened to them in union with Christ:
“Christians are people who know where they are, what they are and what they have got.”
More recently Paul Tripp has written this in his book How People Change:
“We base our lives on the fact that because Jesus lives in us, we can do what is right in desire, thought, word and action. Our potential is Christ.”
And this quote from him seems to me to bridge the gap between Romans 6:11 and 6:12:
“Good theology has power when it is applied to daily life.”
And finally here is Calvin talking about all that we have in union with Christ. It is a long quote- but I hope it is worth it:
“If we salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that he possesses it…if we seek redemption we shall find it in his passion, acquittal in his condemnation, remission of the curse in his cross, satisfaction in his sacrifice, purification in his blood, newness of life in his resurrection, immortality also in his resurrection, the inheritance of a celestial kingdom in his entrance into heaven and protection, security and the abundant supply of all blessings in his kingdom. In short, since in him all kinds of blessings are treasured up, let us draw a full supply from him, and none from any other quarter.”
All of the above is ours through union with Christ- so why ignore this doctrine and trust our own efforts to live the Christian life?
Meanwhile next week at Woody Road we’ll continue to look at this idea- this time in John 15 for our Harvest All age service. Though I suspect that it is more likely to be illustrated by me chopping up plants than a quote from Packer…