There is no more significant historical event in the history of the world than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, Christ’s resurrection not only changed history at a general level – but it also changes the life of every individual believer. In this message from Romans 6:4–11, David Platt helps us see the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection for our own salvation. Because we are united to Christ by faith, His death and resurrection results in our own death to sin and new life with God.
Religion and the Resurrection
If you have a Bible, or even that notes page that I referenced earlier, I’m going to invite you to pull that out, and there on the front of the notes, you’ll see a passage of Scripture that we’re going to read in a second. If you have a Bible and like to look in there, go to Romans 6. I want to…I want to be honest with you. I have really struggled—wrestled—with what to say, what to preach on this morning. To be totally honest, struggled into the middle of the night, even this last night. And some might say, “Well, it’s Easter, bro! You have the message—Resurrection!” And that is, that absolutely is the message.
I thought about, thought seriously about taking time this morning to look at evidences for the reality of the resurrection, evidences, and arguments to show that yes, Jesus really did rise from the grave. And we’ve done that before, and there’s a place for that. But here’s my concern and here’s why we’re not going that direction. My concern is that some would walk away and think, “Hmm, that’s a good case for the resurrection. I believe it,” and then go on to Easter lunch like nothing had happened. And I’m zealous for that not to be the case this morning. That’s routine, that’s what we’re used to doing, you know? Sunday morning, nice clothes, go to church and then carry on with the rest of the day and I’m zealous for this not to just be another day.
It’s like…imagine the difference… Imagine one scenario, sitting in your living room, watching the news on TV. And as you watch the news on TV, you hear a report about pancreatic cancer, one of the most—if not the most—deadly cancers there is. You hear the facts: pancreatic cancer, tough to diagnose, often doesn’t appear until it’s too late, kills 95% of people who have it, usually within six months. Sometimes people die within two or three days after diagnosis. So imagine hearing that on the news and thinking, “What a horrible disease,” and then flipping to another channel to see something else that’s on.
So that’s one scenario, now another scenario. Imagine going to a routine physical and after undergoing the physical, sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting for him to come in after a routine scan. And the doctor comes in, sits down, looks at you across the desk, and says, “I don’t know how to share this with you, but you have pancreatic cancer.” That news strikes you much, much differently. Now notice this: In the first scenario, you believed the facts were true. You accepted them, believed them, flipped the channel, moved on to something else. But when those facts become real and personal, it would shake you at the core of your being. It would shatter your… Suddenly your whole outlook on life. Death.
And so this is what get to I wish for us this morning. Not with…not with bad news, but with really good news—that you not hear it and then flip the channel onto the rest of your day, flip the channel onto the rest of your life. But that you would hear this news of Jesus’ death and resurrection and it would shake you to the core of who you are. It would…it would shatter your whole outlook on life and death and your eternity forever.
How Do You Become A Christian?
So here’s the deal. I want us to look at this question together this morning, how do you become a Christian? And on the surface, that question seems to be a question that revolves around facts, mainly around facts. Believing facts. How do you become a Christian? You believe in Jesus. You believe Jesus died on the cross. You believe Jesus rose from the grave. That’s how you become a Christian. And what I want you to see this morning is that that is not true.
Now a whole host of people in our culture and likely in this room think that becoming a Christian is believing facts, believing Jesus died on the cross, believing Jesus rose from the grave. And think that in believing those things, that they’re a Christian. Not true. The devil believes those things, and he is not a Christian. And so clearly there’s something…there’s something deeper here, something below the surface that is involved in becoming Christian. It’s not just hearing news about Jesus dying on the cross, rising from the grave and believing that, and then flipping the channel and living the rest of our lives. It’s letting that reality soak into the core of your being and change everything about how you think and how you act and how you live and how you relate to others. It changes everything about your life forever.
And so, Romans 6:3-11, I want us to read these words in the Bible. And I think they will help us understand how to become a Christian.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
You Identify with Christ in His Crucifixion
How do you become a Christian? Follow with me here, two simple things here. One: you identify with Christ in His crucifixion. You identify with Christ in His death, in His crucifixion. You say, “What does that mean? What does the Bible mean when it says Christians have been baptized into the death of Christ? Christians have been buried with Him by baptism into death? United with Him in His death? What’s the picture here?” Well, follow with me, stay in your notes there, Jesus died as your substitute. And so this is where the cross and Jesus’ death at the cross becomes to be very personal. He died as your substitute. You know what a substitute is; a substitute is someone who stands in someone else’s place.
A couple years ago I was invited to speak at a graduation ceremony at a college here in Birmingham. And I was pretty honored to be invited to speak at this graduation, until I learned that I was actually Plan B. Plan A was Condoleezza Rice, then serving as Secretary of State, and so they were required to have a Plan B just in case she faced international crisis and couldn’t be in Birmingham. And she did face international crisis and so I go as substitute for Condoleezza Rice. I can see why they would think of me and Condoleezza Rice in the same boat. So there I stood in her place. I spoke in her place. And the whole picture here of Jesus’ death on the cross is that He is doing this in someone else’s place. He’s a substitute. You say, “What do you mean?”
Well, there’s a much grander story here. Story that is familiar to all of our lives, every single one of us in this room, in this crowded room, every single one of us has sinned against God. We have all rebelled against God. We’ve all…it looks different in your life than it does my life, but we’ve all said to God, “My ways are better than your ways. I’m going to do my ways instead.” We’ve all done that. And the Bible says that the payment for sin, penalty for sin before a holy God is death, that the penalty for sin before an eternal God is eternal death (Romans 6:23). That’s the payment for sin.
But God so loved us that He sent His Son to live the life that we could not live, a life of total obedience to God. No sin in Him. That’s part of what Isaiah 53 was talking about read earlier, no sin in Him. As a result of no sin, no payment for sin to pay, no penalty to pay. The penalty for sin is death; Jesus obeyed completely and so had no penalty to pay. We say, “Well what…Easter all revolves around His death on Good Friday. So if He had no penalty to pay, had no death that He warranted, then why did He die?” I am glad that you asked. He died as a substitute. He took the payment due your sin and my sin upon Himself and He stood in our place. Now you see…starting to see how this is more than just facts, this is realizing that on the cross the judgment of God being poured out on sin, that is what you and I deserve.
So now we’re brought into the story, to identify with Christ in His crucifixion. He died as our substitute, and when we believe, when we trust, that Jesus has taken the payment of our sin upon Himself, that He died as our substitute, then we die—follow this in your notes—you die to your sin. You realize… When Romans 6 talks about dying to your sin, you realize that all your sin, all the payment due your sin, all the penalty due your sin was put on Christ. He paid the price for your sin. To become a Christian is to know, to realize that Jesus has taken all the guilt and all the shame of your sin, my sin upon Himself.
Oh, that rocks you at the core of who you are because you realize there’s no more guilt for you to pay, there’s no penalty for you to pay! This is not casual, intellectual, routine, religious adherence; this is religious affection! Christ has taken all the penalty of our sin upon Himself. We die to our sin, we turn from ourselves. You turn from yourself. Follow this—this is where Christianity is so radically different than every other religion in the world. Every religion in the world, every religious teacher in history, comes on the scene prescribing a path to follow, rules to obey, people to care for, things to do in order to achieve, attain salvation, or whatever the description would be. Do these things. Jesus comes on the scene and His message is totally different, totally unique. Instead of “do these things, follow these rules, prescribe this, this, this and you do these things and you will be saved.” Instead of that, Jesus comes on the scene and says, “You do nothing. I have done everything for you. I have lived the life you could not live, and I have died the death you deserve to die.”
And so you turn from yourself. To become a Christian is to turn from your every attempt to cover over your guilt before God—to turn from your every attempt to cover over the shame of your sin before God and to trust that Jesus has taken it all upon Himself. You turn from yourself and you trust in Christ as your Savior. That’s what it means to identify with Christ in His crucifixion. This is you in the cross and me in the cross, not just news that Jesus died 2,000 years ago, but you realize He died in my place. Let that shake you to the core of your being!
You Participate with Christ in His Resurrection
Not just that, though. As if that’s not enough! You identify with Christ in His crucifixion, and you participate with Christ in His resurrection. Here’s the good news. Jesus did not stay in the grave for long—keep going in your notes there—He rose as Lord over the grave. He rose as Lord over the grave. This is the significance of resurrection; Jesus has not just died for your sin, He has conquered sin for you. Translation: this is a very good substitute. He experienced the full payment due sin, death and He rose in victory. Who else has done that? No one in all history has done that. It’s hard to flip your channel on.
Keep pressed in here. He rose as Lord over the grave which means—follow this—when you become a Christian, yes, you die to sin and you rise to live with God. If Jesus has taken…think about this, if Jesus has taken all of your sin upon Himself, all of your rebellion against God, your disobedience toward God upon Himself, if Jesus has done all of that, if He has conquered it, then are you then going to live your life as a slave to sin? No, He saved you from it! You’re not still in the grave, giving yourself to the same sin that you once gave yourself to; you’re alive! The victory over sin.
That’s why when people say that they believe in Jesus’ death on cross and believe in Jesus’ resurrection from the grave but they continue to live in willful, continual sin, clearly they have not become a Christian. Because it’s impossible to thrust your life and to believe your sin has been thrust on Christ, all the payment and penalty due sin. You’ve identified with Him in His death; you’ve died to sin. It is impossible to live the same way any longer. You’re alive now to God. You are now free from sin. You don’t keep going back to that which you’ve been saved from. Jesus died, rose from the grave so that we might rise with Him to live! This is what it means to be a Christian. Now see it! To live so you know, Romans 6, you know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, you have been raised with Him, and—don’t miss it—since Christ has been raised from the dead, He cannot die again, Romans 6 says. Death is permanently shut up in the presence of Christ.
Which means that not only as Christians are you now free from sin, but you have no fear of death, because if you’ve been united with Him, like this in His death, you will be united with Him in His resurrection. To live with God now and to live with God forever so that—now follow with me, come back full circle—so that you get… So that tomorrow you get the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and you hear that news. When you hear it you’re sad and sorrowful; you and others around you. But at the same time, in the midst of sadness and sorrow, there is no fear. Because you are united with Christ and pancreatic cancer has nothing on Him; He has conquered death itself. Whether you have days, months or years to live, you know this is just a short time anyway and you have life forever. Oh, that’ll rock your world!
And you know… You can’t just flip the channel on that and go on with life; this changes everything! Everything changes when you participate with Christ in His resurrection, so my question is, “Has this happened to you?” Have you identified with Christ in His crucifixion, died to sin, trusted in Christ as your substitute, all the payment of your sin put upon Him, trust in Him as your Savior? Turn from yourself, and trust in the Savior. Have you done that? And have you participated with Him in His resurrection to live to God?
How can we apply this passage to our lives?
How do we identify with Christ in His crucifixion?
According to the sermon, why do we need religious affections rather than religious adherence?
What does it mean to participate with Christ in His resurrection?
According to the sermon, what is the significance of the resurrection?
How does the resurrection alter our understanding/fear of death?
How Do You Become A Christian?
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:4–11).
- You identify with Christ in His crucifixion.
- He died as your substitute.
- You die to your sin.
- You turn from yourself.
- You trust in Christ as your Savior.
- You participate with Christ in His resurrection.
- He rose as Lord over the grave.
- You rise to live with God.
- You are now free from sin.
- You have no fear of death.