************ Sermon on Colossians 2:12 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 8, 2005
"Buried and Raised With Christ"
I want to complain to You, God. I want to complain because some of Your demands seem unreasonable. I want to complain because You expect too much of us. I want to complain because You want us to do what we cannot possibly do.
For instance, You tell us not to be angry with our brother or sister; but sometimes we can't keep it in any longer and just explode. You tell us that it is wrong to lustfully look at or think of another man or woman; but how can we not do that when there are so many men and women flaunting their bodies? You tell us to honor our marriage vows; but what if we are no longer in love? You tell us to keep our word; but sometimes situations change. You tell us to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile; but then everyone will walk over us. You tell us not to covet and be materialistic; but everyday we are urged to buy, buy, buy; greed is the engine that drives our economy so what can we do?
I want to complain to You, God. I want to complain that You are unreasonable.
What do you think? Do you think God is unreasonable? Do you think God expects too much of His children? Do you think God want us to do what we cannot possibly do?
Look at the Ten Commandments. You have heard them a thousand times. You know what our Lord expects of us. Look at the demands our Lord makes in the Sermon on the Mount. Look at the demands He makes in our Bible reading from Colossians 3. Look at what He says in Romans 12 & 13 or Leviticus 19 or Ephesians 5. The fact of the matter is, none of us can live up to any of this. None of us. Yet, God wants us to keep His Word.
I want to complain to You, God. You are unreasonable.
This morning Paul assures us that our God is not unreasonable. He tells us that there is a way we can live up to God's law. He tells us how we can make a beginning in living the kind of life the Lord wants us to live.
How? What's the secret? We can make a beginning in living up to God's Word:
-when we are born-again
-when we are converted
-when we are regenerated
-when we die to self and live to Jesus
-when we are buried with Christ and raised with Christ
The British Evangelist, George Müeller, spoke about this. He talked about the day he started to live up to God's so-called "unreasonable" demands. He said,
There was a day when I died, utterly died, died to George Müeller and his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame of even my brethern and friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.
My brothers and sisters, God wants us to be able to say what George Müeller said. For it is only when we die to ourselves that we can live to God. It is only when we die to ourselves that we can make a beginning in keeping God's law.
The Good News of the Gospel is that with Christ we have been buried and with Christ we have been raised. Or, to put it another way, with Christ we are able to make a beginning in living out God's so-called "unreasonable" demands.
I When Buried and Raised With Christ
A I need to ask two questions: First, "When is it that I was buried with Christ?" When did this happen?
One may give three answers to this question. The first is, "I died on Golgotha when Jesus died and was buried with Him." This is what Paul had in mind when he says in our text that we were "buried with him" (cf Rom 6:8). He means that we died, really died, on Calvary in and with the person of Christ, and that with Him we were buried in Joseph's grave.
The second answer one might give to the question "When is it that I was buried with Christ?" is "I was buried in my baptism." This answer is also correct. We were "buried with him in baptism" says Paul in our text (cf Rom 6:2,3). Our baptism is not only a sign of Jesus' death for us, but it also seals or guarantees to us that we died and were buried with Christ. This morning, as you know, we are having baptism by immersion. Paul compares going into and under the water to going into and under the dirt of the grave. Keep this in mind as you witness this morning's baptisms.
The third answer one might give to the question "When is it that I was buried with Christ?" is "I was buried when I was converted." This answer is also correct. It is true that when we are converted we bury "the sinful nature with its passions and desires" (Gal 5:24).
The truth of the matter is, all three answers are correct, and none of the three should be stated without the others. We were buried with Christ in the grave. His burial is guaranteed as ours when we are baptized. And we personally taste this burial only when we are converted.
B There is also a second question I need to ask: "When is it that I was raised with Christ?"
First, it is completely accurate to say "I have been raised with Christ at the grave." That appears to be the sense of Colossians 3:1: "you have been raised with Christ" (Cf Eph 2:4-6).
Second, in answer to the question "When is it that I was raised with Christ?," it is completely accurate to also say, "I have been raised with Christ at my baptism." In our text he says,
(Col 2:12) having been buried with him (i.e. Christ) in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. (Cf Rom 6:4)
Notice, Paul compares coming up out of the water to coming up out of the grave. Keep this in mind as you witness this morning's baptisms.
Third, in answer to the question "When is it that I was raised with Christ?," it is completely accurate to also say, "I have been raised with Christ at my conversion." That's why the apostle can say to us,
(Col 3:1-3) Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Cf Rom 6:11-13)
When, then, were we raised with Christ to a new life? We did rise with Christ at the grave. His resurrection is guaranteed as ours when we are baptized. And we personally taste this new life only when we are converted.
C The Apostle Paul takes seriously our union with Christ. Whatever happened to Jesus also happened to those who are "in" Jesus. Thus, the New Testament teaches not only that we died with Him and were raised with Him but also that we were exalted with Him in His ascension and are seated with Him at God's right hand (Eph 2:6). Furthermore, when Christ is revealed in glory we also will be glorified with and in Him (Col 3:4).
We too, congregation, should take with the utmost seriousness our union with and in Christ. Baptism shows that what he has, we have, because we are in Him. Baptism shows that what He underwent, we underwent, because we are in Him. Baptism shows that when He died and was buried we too died and were buried. Baptism shows that when He arose from the grave we also arose.
Why is union with Jesus so important? You will never have a changed life unless you are united with Jesus. You will never be able to live as one of God's children unless you are united with Christ in His burial and resurrection. You will never be able to live up to God's so-called "unreasonable" demands unless you have been buried and raised with Christ. St. Augustine is a good example of the difference union with Jesus makes:
Subtopic: Examples of
Soon after Augustine's conversion, he was walking down the street in Milan, Italy. There he met a prostitute whom he had known most intimately. She called but he would not answer. He kept right on walking. "Augustine," she called again. "It is I!" Without slowing down, but with the assurance of Christ in his heart, he replied, "Yes, but it is no longer I."
Augustine was buried with Christ and raised with Christ. In Christ he was a new person. In Christ he was a changed man.
II Live It Out
A Baptism shows that you have been buried with Christ and raised with Christ. The Bible teaches us to not only confess this but also to live it:
(Col 3:5,8) Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry ... (8) rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
(Col 3:1-3) Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
(Col 3:12-14) Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (13) Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (14) And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Our union with Christ in His burial and resurrection, my brothers and sisters, is both a doctrine to be believed and a command to be obeyed. I cannot emphasize this enough. We need to do more than simply be baptized. We also need to live out our baptism.
B Baptism shows that we have died with Christ and been buried with Christ. "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature ..." How do we do that?
Our age is soft on sin. We tend to explain and excuse impurity, lust, and greed. We have isolated a gene that makes a person vulnerable to alcoholism, so alcoholics are no longer held responsible for their drinking. We are looking for a gene that makes a person lean towards homosexuality, so gays are not held accountable for their behavior. We probe into a person's past and dredge up abuse, too much discipline, too little discipline, and a lack of love to explain why someone is a psychopath. Nowhere do we hear that gays are to be celibate, that alcoholics are to be dry, and that psychopaths are responsible for their present life.
We Christians, on the other hand, should not be soft on sin. We don't try to explain away and excuse sin. Rather, we fight and resist it at every turn. Like Joseph, we would rather flee from sin then fall into sin. Remember what Joseph did? He decided to run into the street in his underwear rather then sleep with his master's wife.
Do you want to destroy the power of evil in your life? Then read the Bible regularly, meditate upon its truths, and actively do God's will. Sinful appetites can't survive in such spiritual heights.
Title: Come Up Higher
A pilot was flying his small plane one day, when he heard a noise which he recognized as the gnawing of a rat. Wondering what its sharp teeth were cutting through, he suddenly realized with horror that it might be an electric wire. Then he remembered that rodents can't survive at high altitudes. Immediately he began climbing until finally he had to put on his oxygen mask. Soon the gnawing sound ceased, and when he landed he found the rat -- dead.
To put to death our old man, to live out our baptism, we must live on a high spiritual plane.
C Baptism shows that we have been raised with Christ. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" (Col 3:1). And, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility ... (Col 3:12)." Again, we are to live out our baptism. How do we do that?
First of all, we need to be like frogs. You heard me right. We need to be like frogs.
As a young boy, one of my favorite pastimes was hunting frogs along the banks of a pond near our home. While stalking those green leapers, I was unaware of their unique visual powers which enabled them to elude me so easily. Later I learned that the frog's optical field of perception is like a blackboard wiped clean, and that the only images it receives are objects that directly concern him -- such as his natural enemies or the food he needs for survival. Therefore these amphibious little creatures are never distracted by unimportant things, but are aware only of essentials and whatever may be dangerous to them.
We can learn from the frog. In the Christian life we frequently become preoccupied with the vain things of the world. We allow our lives to become so cluttered with materialistic and insignificant concerns that we lose sight of "things above."
Paul is not telling us to ignore this world and meditate on heaven. His point is that our present life makes sense and has meaning only when it is focused on Christ.
"Set your hearts on things above." Live out your baptism. What should be most important in our lives is the kingdom and its righteousness.
William Kelly was an outstanding student of the Bible whose scholarship and spirituality made him a real power for God in Great Britain at the close of the 19th century. Mr. Kelly helped a young relative prepare for Trinity College in Dublin, and in this way came to the attention of the professors there. They urged him to take up work at the college and thus distinguish himself. When Mr. Kelly showed a complete lack of enthusiasm, they were surprised.
One of them asked in exasperation, "But Mr. Kelly, aren't you interested in making a name for yourself in the world?"
To which Mr. Kelly quickly replied, "Which world, gentlemen?"
We would have to say that he set his mind on "things above."
Do you remember how I started out this sermon? I want to complain to You, God. I want to complain because some of Your demands seem unreasonable. I want to complain because You expect too much of us. I want to complain because You want us to do what we cannot possibly do.
The fact of the matter is – as baptism shows – because we have been buried with Christ and raised with Christ, we are able to make a beginning in obeying's God's will.
I need to stress, though, that it is only a beginning. Says Paul, "your life is now hidden with Christ in God" (Col 3:3). It is not always apparent that we have been buried with Christ and raised with Christ. It is not always apparent to the world. It is not even always apparent to ourselves. We have not yet fully experienced the life that is already ours in Christ. But God knows who we are. He knows His children.
However, "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory" (Col 3:4). Then, it will be obvious to ourselves and all others that we have been baptized – that we have been buried with Christ and raised with Christ. Then, it will be obvious to all that we are born-again, converted, regenerated. Then, it will be obvious to all that we have died to self and live to Jesus.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed ChurchBack to Index of Sermons Page