Death and Life Everyday
There are two great principles at work in the lives of Christians. The two principles are death followed by resurrection. Death came as a result of Adam’s sin whereas resurrection is the result of Jesus’ redemptive work.
The two principles function in different ways in our lives. When I was fifteen I had a major death experience in my life. My mother was rushed into hospital with pneumonia and meningitis. She was given less than twenty-four hours to live. It was a shattering experience. She recovered but was paralysed from the waist down and blinded in one eye. For thirteen years she lived not really coping with what had happened.
Despite praying daily for her healing, she did not recover. Now there was nothing wrong with my belief that God was loving and could heal her. She died never having come to terms with what had happened to her. It wasn’t until many years later I saw how God brought resurrection into this situation. Whilst in Canada I had an experience that in the past people would have called a vision. In it, I saw my mother in heaven and she was dancing before the Lord with great joy. My prayers had been answered but far better than I could have imagined. God does not bring sickness, paralysis and death but He does bring resurrection. His timing is different from ours and therefore sometimes we struggle to understand what is going on.
Ultimately we will all die unless we are alive at the return of Jesus (Hebrews 9:27).127 Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this, judgment, We will all know resurrection when that last enemy is brought into subjection to Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:26).226 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. These principles also operate on a day to day basis in the lives of Christians. As we choose to lay down our lives for God in different situations so we receive resurrection life in those issues (Matthew 16:25).325 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. There cannot be resurrection without death. Resurrection always follows death. God moves in the death situations of our lives and brings wonderful life. For example, when we give to God He returns much more than we have given (Mark 10:29, 30).429 Jesus said, “Most certainly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land, for my sake, and for the sake of the Good News, 30 but he will receive one hundred times more now in this time: houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life.
These principles are pictured by baptism.
1. John baptised (Matthew 3:1-12)
The word baptism means to be immersed, it was used for sunken ships. Baptism is a picture of death (Romans 6:4).54 We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. Implicit in baptism is also resurrection, an old life ends but a new life begins and that is why repentance (Matthew 3:8) is linked to baptism. Repentance emphasises an end with old ways and thoughts and the beginning of new ways and thoughts.
2. Jesus was baptised (Matthew 3:13-17)
It was appropriate for Him to be baptised because it demonstrated His death and resurrection. It is only in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ all righteousness can be fulfilled (Matthew 3:15). In being baptised, Jesus was being identified with sinners even though He is sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21).621 For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Moreover He was numbered amongst the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).712 Therefore I will give him a portion with the great.
He will divide the plunder with the strong;
because he poured out his soul to death
and was counted with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sins of many
and made intercession for the transgressors.
3. Christians are baptised into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).819 Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
The nature of the action ‘baptising’ is a tense, in the original Greek, that demonstrates a continuous action. Water baptism is a one-off demonstration of a principle that is operating continuously in the life of a Christian. We are identifying with the one-off sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross and His resurrection. We are also in a continuous sense identifying with the principle of dying daily and coming into the resurrection power of God in our lives. There is, therefore, a taking up of our cross daily and following Jesus (Luke 9:23, 24).923 He said to all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake, will save it. Water baptism is, therefore, a demonstration of something we have to live each day, death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:31).1031 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
4. After Jesus came out of the Jordan the Holy Spirit came upon Him (Matthew 3:16).
This demonstrated that after the death and resurrection of Jesus that the Holy Spirit would come upon His disciples in power. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that John spoke of (Matthew 3:11). We saw this demonstrated on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17).1117 ‘It will be in the last days, says God,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.
Your sons and your daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions.
Your old men will dream dreams.
Note that the baptising in fire is referring to the outpouring of the judgement of God in the last days (Revelation 20:14, 15).1214 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. This is further brought out by what John says in (Matthew 3:12).1312 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.
5. Christians today long for the resurrection power of God and for encounters with the Holy Spirit.
However, before resurrection power, there has to be death with the suffering that is implied with this. We would know more of resurrection power if we embraced the sufferings of the cross more (Philippians 3:10).1410 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death,
6. Christians need to realise that both suffering and joy are their portions upon earth.
We should not be surprised when we suffer (Ecclesiastes 7:2 – 4)152 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men, and the living should take this to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the face, the heart is made good. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. There is often an unspoken belief that following God somehow removes us from the normal troubles of life. As we get older life has a way of teaching us that this is not so. Sadly sometimes when this unspoken belief is shaken by experience it can make people question their faith and the goodness of God. Jesus actually promised there would be trouble in this world for His followers (John 16:33)1633 I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble, but cheer up! I have overcome the world.
7. There is an ultimate literal fulfilment of death and resurrection in the life of every Christian (1 Corinthians 15:42-45).1742 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown perishable; it is raised imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body.
45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
Let us never forget that every death experience in our lives, including the ultimate experience at the end of our lives, God redeems with resurrection. This is one reason why the resurrection of Jesus is so wonderful. Without His resurrection, there would be no resurrection in our lives (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).1812 Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. 14 If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. 15 Yes, we are also found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn’t raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead aren’t raised, neither has Christ been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. 18 Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.
How do we die daily?
What does resurrection look in the lives of Christians?
How should we handle suffering in our lives when we experience this?