In 1 Cor. 15:1-4, Paul presents the wonderful news of what Christ has done. His life, death, and resurrection have done for us what we could never do for ourselves. By His righteous life He fulfilled the righteous requirements and reached the Holy standard we could never hope to achieve on our own. Each one of our sins have made us deserving of death and eternal punishment in hell. Our sin has separated us from the Father and cut us off from the blessings of fellowship with Him. There’s nothing we could do and no amount of good we could be to earn, achieve, or receive this position from Him or work our way to Him. Yet, God, by His grace made the way through His Son. Through Jesus we have the sacrifice which satisfies the Father’s holy wrath against our sins, through Him we have the payment for the punishment we deserve, forgiveness from the Father is ours, the certainty of eternal life to come, and the way to fellowship with the Father forevermore is secured. By grace, through faith in Jesus, our salvation has been won. We stand firm in this truth. Through this good news, God invites us to rest freely and fully for life in the person, work, and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ but He also calls us to something else. Yes, the Gospel tells us that God is fully committed to our living (John 3:16, God sent His Son, “that all who believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life”) but just as much as God is committed to our living, He is also committed to our dying. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him to come and die.” Our life is in and through Christ but so is our death.
In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus instructed, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” If we want to live then we must die (2 Tim. 2:11). Christ died, that this would be so. 1 Peter 2:24, “He Himself bore our sin in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…”. When Paul spoke of his own salvation and the good news of what Christ had done, he discussed his own crucifixion. Gal. 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” At the cross our old self was slain (Rom. 6:6), our flesh with all its sinful desires was killed (Gal. 5:24), and we have died to this world (Gal. 6:14).
So, what does this life and death mean for us as believers? Paul teaches in Rom. 6:11, “…consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” As Christians we must remember our life in Christ but also our death. So, when our selfishness seeks to reign in us, we remember our own death. When lust longs to have its way, we die to that way. When anger demands the suffering of others, we don’t allow that to live. And when our will fights for precedence, we lay it down. This is the way Christ has gone before us, the way He has shown us, the way He calls for us to follow Him in, and the way He enables us to live by His Spirit within us. This is the way of life. Let’s follow Him…in life and in death.
To Live Is Christ And To Die Is Gain, Pastor Rudy