Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | May 14, 2006

Buried With Him

This Lord’s Day we are continuing a series on basic Christian Doctrine, which we began about a month ago by examining the Apostles Creed with the aid of the Heidelberg Catechism.  We began this series due to the ignorance and confusion that exists among the contemporary Christian Church.  Although many disdain or hold in contempt efforts such as this to promote orthodox doctrines, the Scriptures do not promote this flippant attitude toward theological truths.  Much of the New Testament was written to address theological errors or heresies, which had crept into the Church.  Certainly, if a significant portion of the New Testament is dedicated to the topic of theological truth then we in the Church shouldn’t avoid discussing it.

Currently, there is a movement emerging from a high profile Evangelical leader advocating a new Reformation in the Church.  The only problem with this noble task is that the emphasis for the new Reformation is summarized in the slogan “deeds not creeds”.  This presupposes that the emphasis of doctrinal orthodoxy is detrimental to walking in a holy lifestyle.  On the contrary, the testimony from history and the experience of my own life refute this presupposition.  During the 17th and 18th centuries the Protestant Church was theologically astute and renowned for its piety, hence the label Puritan.  Furthermore, in my own life I have found that understanding theological truths has only assisted my sanctification as a Christian.

It is a rather odd either/or dichotomy that is imposed by those who advocate life transformation yet deny the importance of the supporting doctrinal truths that allow it.  Suppose for the sake of argument the popular What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) movement did not concern themselves with the doctrines of the Trinity or vicarious atonement.  If they were not focusing on the right Jesus (i.e. the Mormon Jesus, the Muslim Jesus, the Jehovah’s Witness Jesus, etc) then their works would then be in vain.  In the future we will explore this odd reality further, however for now we will continue on our journey through the Apostles Creed with Question 43 of the Heidelberg Catechism:   

Q. What further advantage do we receive from Christ's sacrifice and death on the cross?

A. Through Christ's death our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with him, 1 so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us, 2 but that instead we may dedicate ourselves as an offering of gratitude to him. 3

1 Romans 6:5-11:  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 with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin… Colossians 2:11-12:  …and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raise Him from the dead.
2 Romans 6:12-14:  Therefore do not let sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God…
3 Romans 12:1: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  Ephesians 5:1-2:  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. 

When the Spirit of God makes us alive and grants us faith in Christ as Savior we become identified with Him. This identification is not only signified spiritually, but signified in the sacrament of baptism.  In this sacrament we are identified with His death, burial and resurrection and when faith is exercised this sign is brought to full realization.  As a result, we are called to turn away from our former lives and the sin that so easily entangles us.  Although, we will not stop sinning until we reach glory (as noted in our last post) if our faith is genuine we will exhibit changes in our lifestyle.  John Calvin discusses this concept in his Institutes in the following:   

We confess that while through the intercession of Christ’s righteousness God reconciles us to himself, and by free remission of sins accounts us righteous, his beneficence is at the same time joined with such a mercy that through his Holy Spirit he dwells in us and by his power the lusts of our flesh are each day more and more mortified; we are indeed sanctified, that is, consecrated to the Lord in true purity of life, with our hearts formed to obedience to the law.  The end is that our special will may be to serve his will and by every means to advance his glory alone.  III.XIV.9

We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, however it is not a faith that is alone.  Our faith will be evidenced by a changed lifestyle, which produces good works.  These works are not meritorious, but performed in gratitude to the grace that has been shown to us.  Understanding doctrine does not negate our ability to transform our lives.  Rather it should help us to comprehend to a greater extent the mercy we have been shown by God the Father sending His Son to save us. 

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, my wide and grandmothers you have all been a great blessing to me.

 

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