Thursday, May 07, 2009

The determining factor of my existence is no longer my past. It is Christ's past

Being a Christian isn’t a lifestyle choice, or Jesus helping us to live a better life. The shape of the Christian life is modelled on Jesus. The shape of the Christian life is death and resurrection. It’s about his past no our past. We call this ‘union with Christ’ – it’s about us being joined up with him. John Murray calls it the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation. John Calvin - as long as Christ remains outside of us and we are separated from him all he has done for us is of no value to us…. But, by the Spirit, we come to enjoy Christ and all his benefits.
Galatians 2:20 – "I have been crucified with Christ, the life I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me." AIn the words of Left Ear in the remake of The Italian Job, hearing how much gold they've got: Say it again! Say it again!
We die in him. We live in him. Read Romans 6 which says much the same thing but will help us see where baptism fits in. V3-7: V5. United with him in his resurrection and V5. Crucified with him in his death, so that
V3 – who are we baptised into? we’re baptised into Christ Jesus
V3 – what we we baptised into? baptised into his death
V6 – which part of us has been crucified? Our old self
V6 – why does it need to die? To free us from sin
V4 – what are we able to do now? Live a new life

It’s not that baptism does this. Jesus does it through his death and by giving us faith.
Our baptism expresses this. It’s a visual aid of the gospel. Baptism says:

1. My old life is dead with Jesus.
Jesus died for me. My faith isn’t in me: he’s the object of my faith. When we doubt this we’re putting faith in something else, usually our own view of ourselves. We put our faith on Jesus and so we share in his death. Our sin punished in his death, our sin dying with in his death, our past no longer defining us. We're plunged under the water as a visual aid of this.

2. I’m living a new life in Jesus.
Jesus didn’t stay dead, on the third day he rose again.  He lives a resurrected life.  In him so do I. My plans don’t define me – his plan does.  So, we don’t leave you under the water – you come up into new life.

3. I’m following him.
Romans 6:11-14…. V 11. We’re dead to sin. We’re alive to God in Christ Jesus. V12. Don’t let sin reign by obeying its desires… and v13 don’t offer your body to sin… instead offer yourself to God as “those who have come from death to life” Sin isn’t our master – that life died with Jesus. Law isn’t our master – Jesus is. We live not under sin or under law but under grace!!!!! We don’t come to Christ to sort ourselves out but because he gives himself to us – we have him, his life, his abundance.

And so, Galatians 3:27baptised with Christ… clothed with Christ… we wear new clothes, and have the Spirit living within us, so that instead of worrying about sin and law we look to follow the footsteps of the Holy Spirit, to keep in step with him. So, baptism isn’t something for super Christians, but for Christians. It’s a visual aid of our death with Jesus and our resurrection in Jesus… The Ethiopian asked, Why shouldn’t I be baptised? Same question to us.

Sinclair Ferguson writes, "The determining factor of my existence is no longer my past. It is Christ's past" (Christian Spirituality: Five Views, Zondervan, p.57) cited by Michael Horton in his article at Theology Network.

Adapted from part of Session 2: The ID Course, Frontiers Church Exeter by Andy Arscott.


  1. Say it again! Say it again! Yes!

  2. brilliant! I spoke at Salford CU on Monday on Romans 6 and it thrilled my heart again.