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What the Bible says about Crucified with Christ
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 10:34-39

Here, Jesus explains that there is a cost to following Him and that it will cause separation from those closest to us. When we reckon ourselves as dead and completely surrendered to the One who is giving us a new and superior life, our decision creates division, putting us at odds with family and friends who have not yet been called. They will continue worshipping in the way that seems best to them, while our surrendering to God constrains us, instead, to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

If we are to be worthy of Christ, our love for Him must be greater than our love for our parents and children. If God requires something of us that does not make sense to them, we must remember that we have already died and that eternal life comes with a cost. In Galatians 2:20, Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ; 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.” When we accept Christ as our Savior, we, too, are symbolically crucified with Him, which means our lives now must conform to His.

For Matthew 10:39, various paraphrases render it as “he who clings to his life” or “whoever tries to gain his own life.” In other words, we cannot serve two masters. We will either pursue life on our own terms and lose out on eternity, or we will give up our claim on our lives and trust whatever God does with them. The life God wants for us is incomparably richer than anything this world has, but if our focus is only on our current circumstances, that priceless life will not mean much to us.

I Kings 18 recounts the showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, in which the prophet asked the people of Israel how long they would falter between two opinions. They knew there were benefits to worshipping the God who had delivered them from Egypt, but they were also attracted to Baal-worship. The people would not commit to follow one or the other, opting instead for an unholy mixture of beliefs, leading to the adoption of rank paganism.

This principle is especially relevant for us in the end time. In the letter to the final church in Revelation, Christ's charge is that the Laodiceans are neither cold nor hot. They claim to love Him, but their lifestyle reveals their worldly infatuations. They do not reject God completely, nor commit to Him wholeheartedly—because of the great price. They are still clinging to their lives, because surrendering completely and bearing their crosses are too costly. Yet, trying to have it both ways, they are losing out on eternal life. They are unwilling to lose their lives for His sake, and are thus unworthy of the life of Christ.

David C. Grabbe
What Does It Mean to Take Up the Cross?

Matthew 10:38

Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow His example. This call is not so much a call to martyrdom as a command to deny self or, crucify the flesh, even to the point of death. We must be prepared to die, if that is where the course of events leads, but in most cases it is not so much literal martyrdom as it is to have the attitude of self-denial that is willing to give up all. Christ's disciples live to serve God, not self. Paul admonishes us to put off our former conduct and put to death our sinful actions.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 5): Self-Denial

Romans 6:4

The word "with" will be the focus of our attention as we seek to understand more thoroughly our identification with Christ. The scripture says we were buried "with" Christ. Jesus was literally buried in the heart of the earth in a tomb because He was dead. The apostle Paul states in Romans 7:9, "For I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died." Like Paul, we are buried "with" Him by means of baptism.

We tend to take the word "with" for granted because we use it so commonly; it is a little preposition we stick in front of another word and hardly notice. But what does it mean? It means "in the company of." Every time we see the word "with" preceding Christ in a context that includes us, we are "in the company of" Him. According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, the preposition "with" has 27 other usages, among which are "a member or associate of," "characterized by" and "possessed of."

Romans 6:6 adds to being baptized with Christ, "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." We are not only baptized with Him, we are also crucified with Him. Christ became sin to pay for our sins, suffered crucifixion, and died. We die when God reveals to us the knowledge of sin and we repent, accept the blood of Christ, and commit ourselves to be His disciples.

Our relationship with Christ is so close that we are perceived as sharing with Him His experiences. His experiences were literal and physical, and ours are every bit as literal and individually meaningful to our fulfilling God's will but are spiritual. Each "with Him" statement shows we are on the same path in His company.

The relationship is of such closeness that Paul describes it in Galatians 2:20 as, "I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me."

Paul expands further on this in Colossians 2:12-13:

[You were] buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.

Thus, resurrection with Him is added to the experiences we share as members of Christ.

However, all of this places us under certain obligations. Paul continues with this theme in Colossians 3:1, "If you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God." Becoming new men in and through Christ, we are charged with making the Kingdom of God our top priority in life. Even in this, though, we seek the Kingdom in His company.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Eight): Conclusion (Part One)

Colossians 2:12-13

Symbolically, our baptism imitates what our Savior did for us, and therefore, by our participation in it, we show our desire to be united—at one—with Him in both His death and resurrection (Romans 6:5). Paul writes in Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me." This is what our decision to be baptized tells our Father in heaven.

Being put into the water represents the death of the "old man" with his sinful way of life. Being completely covered by water symbolizes burial, and being raised from the water pictures a resurrection to "newness of life." After baptism we consider ourselves dead to sin, that is, we have completely divorced ourselves from living a sinful way of life (Romans 6:11). Once baptized, we are to give our lives to God and use our time to become "instruments of righteousness to God" (verse 13).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Basic Doctrines: Water Baptism

Hebrews 9:27

Apothnesko is the Greek verb rendered “die” in Hebrews 9:27. Its first use is in Matthew 8:32, in reference to a herd of pigs dying in the sea through drowning. Hence, apothnesko clearly can refer to biological death. However, apothnesko is also the verb the apostle Paul uses six times in his discussion of baptism in Romans 6:1-11. To understand the implications of Hebrews 9:27, we need to consider this passage.

What should we say, then? Should we go on sinning so that grace may increase? Of course not! How can we who died as far as sin is concerned go on living in it? Or, don't you know that all of us who were baptized into union with the Messiah Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, through baptism we were buried with Him into His death so that, just as the Messiah was raised from the dead by the Father's glory, we too may live an entirely new life. For if we have become united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old natures were crucified with Him so that our sin-laden bodies might be rendered powerless and we might no longer be slaves to sin. For the person who has died has been freed from sin.

Now if we have died with the Messiah, we believe that we will also live with Him, for we know that the Messiah, who was raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has mastery over him. For when He died, He died once and for all as far as sin is concerned. But now that He is alive, He lives for God. In the same way, you too must continuously consider yourselves dead as far as sin is concerned, but living for God through the Messiah Jesus. (International Standard Version)

Three times (verses 6:2, 10, 11), Paul uses the term “as far as sin is concerned,” signaling that he understands that, by using the verb apothnesko, he is not referring to biological death. He is referring to another species of death, one related to our separation from sin, not life. We could say he is delineating his use of apothnesko to refer to the specific sort of death he is discussing in the passage.

Romans 6:7, often mishandled by translators, nails down the understanding that Paul uses apothnesko metaphorically: For the person who has died has been freed from sin.” This is the only passage in the Scriptures where some translators render dikaioo with the verb “free[d].” In virtually all other instances where dikaioo appears, translators render it as “justify” (or a similar word).

The Disciples' Literal New Testament properly renders Romans 6:7: “For the one having died has been declared-righteous from sin.” Plainly, Paul is not speaking of biological death, the result of which is not justification, not being declared righteous. The translators of this version recognize that Paul is not referring to biological death but to the death Christians experience at their baptism.

Their cue is verse 3, where Paul rhetorically asks, “Don't we know that all who are 'baptized into Christ Jesus [are] baptized into His death?'” In verse 7, as in all Romans 6, the apostle uses the verb apothnesko to refer to the first part of the act of baptism, the lowering of a person into the water, symbolizing death (that is, a burial).

Clearly, when Paul refers to Christians' being “crucified with” Christ (verse 6), he is neither talking about literal crucifixion nor literal death. Rather, he is talking about death as the first part of the act of baptism, the descent (burial) into the water. Consistently in Romans 6, Paul uses apothnesko (“to die”) in this sense.

Charles Whitaker
Dying—Once in a Lifetime (Part Two)


 




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