Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 02:- Dead in Christ

. No 02:- Dead in Christ

EXPERIENCING THE POWER OF THE CROSS

DEAD IN CHRIST (Part 1)

 

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (ESV) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Introduction.

In my last sermon we started looking at this very critical topic “dying to live”, where we are looking at the believer’s experience of the cross or the centrality of the cross in the life of the believer. We want to be those who can say with Paul in Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The story is told of Augustine who was accosted one day on the street by a former mistress sometime after he had become a Christian.  When he saw her he turned and walked the other way.  Surprised, the woman called out, “Augustine, it is I".  Augustine as he kept going the other way, answered her, "Yes, but it is not I." Here is the life of a man who has changed. His inner being, his heart, the centre of his life has so been ripped out that he can say “Yes, but it is not I”. This should be true of us all, but as we saw last week we all like Peter can so easily forget who we are and we can end up doing what Paul says we must not do in Galatians 2:21 (ESV) 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Sadly it is true that too many Christians have to be truthful and still say: “It is still I”.

When I look at the mediocrity (averageness) of so many Christians, there can only be one explanation and that is that we do not understand what it is to be crucified with Christ, and therefore we battle to say “it is no longer I that live” and in so doing we have nullified the grace of God and we act as if the cross had no purpose. When you look at many Christians they seem to be addicted to mediocrity, it is like a bad addictive habit that they cannot break free from, like being addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or whatever. The problem in Christianity however is when mediocrity becomes the standard. If we set the bar low everybody is a winner, and we think we all have arrived, but yet nobody excels, but because everybody aims low, we all cross the bar and it seems okay.

I want to through this sermon help us to understand that the cross of Christ was so that we might be victorious as Christians, that we can live in high victory, that we can go to our graves with joy and say with Paul, ‘I have run the race’. Paul’s teaching on the cross of Christ and the implication for the lives of believers is incredible. He understood it, he taught it, but many times we do not grasp it.

So what does Paul mean when he says in Galatians 2:20:  “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” What does he mean when he says in our text of this morning: 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” This very statement from 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 is then followed by an equally important statement in verse 17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Is everything new for you Christian, has your life changed and changed remarkably the day you became a Christian, or are things just the same? Can people look at you and I and say that it is no longer Nicki, Piet, Koos, Sannie etc. but Christ that lives, and can they clearly see that you are living a life of faith? When you look in the mirror, do you see a person who lives their Christian life in mediocrity or do you see a person who lives their Christian life in excellence?

Paul’s life has been radically changed from persecuting believers and from control by the law to excellence in Christ. If you go back to verse 14 you will see that Paul says: For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;…” Now do not miss what Paul is saying here. Paul is not just talking about himself as he uses the word ‘us’, but he makes a major statement that he and fellow Christians are now controlled by the love of Christ. But why are they controlled by the love of Christ, is it because it just came naturally? No look at what he says: We are controlled by the love of Christ: “Because we have concluded this.” There was information, there was knowledge, there was understanding, there was a grasping that brought about this Christ control, and that knowledge or understanding is seated in a very simple statement: “that one has died for all, therefore all have died;…” Christian have you arrived at a place where you understand this? Because in understanding it Paul says that you will see it working out in your life. The love of Christ will be the centre of your life, it will be the well-spring, it will be the constraining factor. Instead of the constraining factor in your life being an addiction to mediocrity it will be an addiction to God and His glory. Paul understood the message of the cross and this changed him immensely.

Now let me just say this. The inner knowledge of the message of the cross and the implications for a believer cannot just be understood intellectually, it has to be understood experientially. The message of the cross cannot merely be a doctrine. It is not good enough to know that when one died for all we all died. The issue is much deeper. So what does it mean to you? How do we see it in your life? Paul says that it is this very message that one died for all and that all died that changed the way he views his fellow man. Look at verse 16: 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.” The way you viewed Christ before you became a believer or before you were born again changed, but the practical outworking of my relationship towards my fellow man changes as well, as I am now according to verse 17 “a New Creation”. Have you changed Christian, because God’s way of revealing that truth is to work it into a man’s experience – wrought out in life? We shall only have Paul’s knowledge of the cross when we have Paul’s experience of the cross.

So let’s fasten our seatbelts as we spend a few weeks in unpacking this message of the cross as we seek to understand what does it mean to say: “because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;…”

This particular sermon on experiencing the cross which is simply one in the series of “dying to live” I am going to break into three points, and we will take how long we need to cover them. So do not miss any part of it.

The three points we will look at are as follows and I want you to memorise them.

Firstly, we will look at the positional death of the believer.

Secondly, we will look at the experiential death of a believer.

Thirdly, we will look at the perpetual death of a believer.

 

In future when you read the epistles of Paul you will see how these concepts jump out at you and how it will aid you in your Christian walk.

 

So let’s get to the first one, and what we will do today is to simply come to grips with the reality of our positional death in Christ Jesus and then next week we will start putting feet to understanding the positional death of the believer.

 

1. The positional death of a believer.

 

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;”

What does Paul mean when he says that all died, when one died for all?

This is critical. While Paul’s love for Christ and his love for fellow saints must have compelled Paul, I believe what Paul has in view here is Christ’s love for him and the way he came to know it is through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.

Christian, may we join Paul and never lose our sense of wonder at the love of Christ. Romans 8:35-39 (ESV) “35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.”

But may we not just never lose our sense of wonder of the love of Christ, may we grow in our understanding and our sense of wonder of the love of Christ. This was surely Paul’s heart desire that is why he can say in Ephesians 3:19 (ESV) “19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” These are remarkably big words. Don’t we all desire the fullness of God? Well then you need to get to grips with the love of Christ, so that with Paul it can control you. Show me a Christian who lives in mediocrity and I will show you a Christian who does not understand Christ’s love for him or her. Christ’s incomprehensible, unbreakable, unconditional, unfailing love overwhelmed Paul, does it overwhelm you? The word ‘control’ comes from the Greek word ‘Sunecho’ which means ‘pressure that produces action’. It is the love of Christ for fallen, wicked, helpless, damned sinners like Paul that pressurised Paul into action to serve God wholeheartedly and faithfully as an act of grateful worship.

Now as I mentioned before in my introduction, the love of Christ controlled Paul because Paul drew certain conclusions regarding the death of Christ and the glorious conclusion he drew is that when Christ died, Paul died. That which failed in the Old Testament in the sacrifice of lams and goats has now succeeded in the death of Christ. Hebrews 10:4 (ESV) “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins,” but the Hebrew writer continuous: Hebrews 10:14 (ESV) “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” So the Hebrew writer says that Christ’s sacrifice perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Paul says that all died. What does he mean when he says that? Paul is talking about the substitutionary death of Christ. He died in my place therefore the wages of sin that was laid upon Him was paid as if I had paid with my own life. Christ died in the place of all who put their faith in Him. Paul puts it in another way in Galatians 3:13 (ESV) “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—“

This which Paul is rejoicing in here was foretold in the Old Testament in various places. Isaiah 53:4-6 (ESV) “4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” So the moment my iniquity was laid upon Jesus Christ it is counted as if I had died for my own sins.

We all understand this in legal terms. Let’s say I was speeding and incurred a traffic fine of R 1000. Now who is responsible to pay this fine? Me. Who is guilty of this trespass? Me. Now let’s say Tom pays the fine on my behalf, is the fine then paid? Yes. Was Tom guilty? No. Now how does the law reckon the whole issue? They treat it as if I had paid the fine, even thought it was paid in my stead.

Church family, this is the heart of Christian theology. Christ’s death fully satisfied God’s justice and propitiated (appeased) His wrath, for all those who put their faith in Him. We were not guilty of a trespass as small as a traffic fine that demands R 1000. Sure I will be grateful if Tom paid my R 1000, but I am not going to feel I owe him my life. However when Christ died in our place, He died to set me free from eternal damnation in an eternal lake of fire. The gratitude that is demanded is a little bigger, don’t you think? No it should actually be much bigger and control our whole living.

To further understand the concept of all died. Just as we are all sinners in Adam, we are now in contrast dead in Christ. Romans 5:19 (ESV) 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Who is the ‘many’ that will be made righteous? It is all those in Christ Jesus. The atonement is only substitutionary for those who by grace through faith died in Christ.

Now, all of this is a backdrop still of where we are going. As from next week we will see just what we died to in Christ Jesus.

My prayer for this morning is that we all will put away any addiction to mediocrity. Remember Christ died for a reason and it is in our text and we touched on it in the introduction. 2 Corinthians 5:15 (ESV) “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Are you living for Christ, and not just any Christ, but the risen Christ? I think you will all agree that the Christian life is made difficult because of sin, Satan, the flesh, self, the world, and our continuous inclination to try and attain righteousness by the law. So from next week we are going to see how we died to these things. Do not miss it, these are life changing stuff.

Let me end with a quote of John Stott: The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified. So the community of the cross is a community of celebration, a Eucharistic community, ceaselessly offering to God through Christ the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving. The Christian life is an unending festival. And the festival we keep, now that our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us, is a joyful celebration of his sacrifice, together with a spiritual feasting upon it.”

In the next sermon we continue with the point on the positional death of a believer.

 

Amen.

Logos Community Church: - 17 March 2013