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Proof Positive

20 April 2011 by Daniel

How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. - Romans 6:2b-7 [NASB]

The phrase, "our union with Christ" comes from the language and meaning put forth here by the Apostle Paul. Here Paul describes the new birth as a spiritual baptism - each believer has been baptized (literally: immersed) into Christ, but not like the dunking under water where we go down and come up - this baptism is a never ending union - an immersion that cannot be undone even by death (whether ours or Christ's). Through that spiritual baptism that scripture elsewhere describes as being born "from above" (cf. John 3:7, often translated as born "again"), we remain "in" Christ - united together with Him.

It is this union that put our "old self" on the cross with Christ, a union so profound that scripture describes God as making Jesus, who knew no sin to -be- sin on our behalf (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21a). Most of us allow for the notion that Jesus took our disembodied sins upon Himself on Calvary - but few of us are willing to go as deep as the scriptures and say that our union with Christ made Christ, however personally innocent, nevertheless entirely culpable for our sin. Culpable because by that union, our old self was united with Christ. Like spiritual Siamese twins, our guilty, sinful self was bound to Christ so that though he was innocent, the only way to punish us, was to punish Him also - lest we go unpunished on His account.

Christ was crucified for us, that is, He was crucified on our account. He wasn't crucified for everyone mind you, but only for those who were united together with Him in His death. It was the sin of those who were united with Christ that made Him culpable, not for everyone's sins, but only for the sins of those who were united with Him - even as all the while He remained personally innocent. Christ, because of His union with the elect, drank the cup of wrath that had been set aside for them, and this He did in order to bring about their salvation.

Yet our union with Christ served another, deeper purpose: to provide a way for God's elect to pass through the judgment of death, and be justly raised into life with Christ. "Justly" being the key word there. Christ was our "ark" - we passed through the flood of God's wrath through our union with Christ; through that spiritual baptism that placed us in Christ. Do you understand, dear reader, that it was this same spiritual union that made our resurrection possible? We were in Christ when God raised Him from the dead - this fact declares to us the inescapable reality of our salvation. It isn't that we will be raised - the fact is we have already been raised in Christ. It's a done deal.

Here is where the empty tomb is the victory song of the Christian - that Christ has carried His children through death, and into life through a spiritual union with Him - through the "new birth". We possess a life that cannot be denied us because we were in Christ when God raised Him up from the dead. It is this very raising up of Christ, and us with Him, that demonstrates the inescapable truth that God acknowledges us as righteous. Not that we were righteous in this life, but that God condemned our old self - and now our life (the one that is righteous) is actually Christ's life - the one that we were joined to through baptism into Chirst; the one that was raised from the dead!

Rejoice therefore, all you who are in Christ, for the resurrection of Christ is the proof positive that you are accepted by God - for if you were not accepted, if your sin stain still clung to you - God could not have raised Christ from the dead. The very fact that Christ lives, declares your release!