Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Introduction: Paul is still refuting the belief that one should continue in sin, that grace may abound. Every believer renounced sin when Christ was accepted. The man who embraces Christianity does so for the very reason of desiring to turn from his sin.
This truth is symbolically portrayed in the ordinance of baptism. The immersion of a believer in water pictorially teaches the renunciation of sin. It is a public manifestation of a previous inner experience.
Romans 6:4a “Know ye not, that so many of us as
were baptized into Jesus Christ were
baptized into his death?”
As one stands in the water to be baptized, he pictures Christ upon the cross. It is a testimony that one desires to be numbered with the crucified Savior rather than with those who crucified Him.
The believer identifies himself with the crucified One, and thereby pictures his belief that at Calvary Jesus finished the work of removing the sin debt. The baptismal candidate has identified himself with that death, and as a result partakes in the benefits of it.
Jesus’ death for the world has become a death for “me.” His righteousness has been imputed to “my” account. And since I have benefited from that death, I want to picture in my life all that that death involved. And that means yielding myself totally to God for the destruction of sin.
Jesus was renouncing all selfish interests and pouring out his life to end sin. Even so must we lay down our own desires. This is the crying need of the hour. We need to learn what it means to die to ourselves.
We are hindered in our Christian growth because we are concerned about “our” will, “our” convenience, “our” ease, “our” plans. We need to learn what it means to die to ourselves.
There is always much talk about the abundant life, but that life grows solely out of death. As our old self dies, our new life grows. As we say no to ourselves, we more and more say yes to God. What makes it possible for Paul to be stoned to the point of death at Lystra, and then get up and head to another city for more of the same? It was not something he enjoyed. He had just learned what it means to die to self. What made young Daniel strong in his determination not to defile himself? Surely he loved wine and meat more than vegetables and water. Nevertheless, he had died to himself. His old desires and selfish attitudes had been buried.
When you received Jesus, a portion of you should have climbed the old rugged cross and died there. A missionary once sailed from Liverpool for the African coast. As his ship approached the fever-infested spot where he would pour out his life for the Lord, a trader protested, “If you go to that place you will die!” The man of God replied, “I died before I left London.” That is the secret of being baptized into his death.
Romans 6:4a “Therefore we are buried with him by
baptism into death:”
As the baptismal candidate is lowered into the water, another great spiritual truth is presented. We are buried with Jesus due to our death with Him.
Burial is the final proof of death. It gives conclusive evidence that life has ended. Interment certifies that a person is really and completely dead.
Unfortunately, people are sometimes buried alive. This is true physically, as in the “Arizona” at Pearl Harbor, and it is also true spiritually, when a lost person is baptized. We bury many people in baptism who have not died with Christ. However, these exceptions do not negate the intended message.
Burial proclaims that all relationships in the previous world have ended. When the body is in the grave, it is finished with this world. Once Jesus died for our sin, He was dead to sin. It could touch him no longer. He was separated forever from the reign and rule of sin.
When we identify with Christ’s burial, we are confessing our belief that the everlasting consequences of sin can never again be brought against us. When Jesus was buried, He was totally separated from the reach of sin’s tyranny. Even so, when we believed, we were removed from its dominion over us.
Here is a beautiful picture of eternal security. Believers are just as much separated from the realm of Satan as a buried corpse is from the realm of this world.
Before we leave this discussion regarding burial with Christ, let me offer two brief, pithy suggestions:
1. A corpse is not welcome very long in his old world. Even so the believer should be poor company for old companions.
2. Jesus was buried in a tomb, and we need to find a grave for our own sins.
Romans 6:4b “. . .that like as Christ was raised up from
the dead by the glory of the Father, even so
we also should walk in newness of life.”
Fortunately, the death and burial of Jesus resulted in a resurrection. Even so, in believer’s baptism, the candidate identifies with the death, the burial, and then also with the resurrection of Jesus. This is pictured in the candidate’s coming forth out of the water.
Christ died, was buried, and rose again physically; we do so spiritually. We identify with Christ’s death that we might partake of His powerful resurrected life.
The believer receives a new kind of life. He does not just die and then get his old life back again; He gets a life that is new because it springs from a new source. The same power that lifted Christ from death has lifted us from death. it is that power which now animates us.
The past is renounced and forgotten. And as Christ’s resurrection was the natural consequence of His death, even so a holy life will be the natural consequence of our dying with Christ. Christ’s resurrection was proven by what happened in His body; so is ours.
We should “walk” in newness of life. Walking implies habitual behavior, and progress from one place to another. The purpose of Jesus’ death was to reveal the power of God through the dispensing of a new life. The same should be true of our death in Christ. The life we are living now should be a demonstration of the power of God to overcome evil.