For An Aging Brother in Christ Facing Death
25 Comforting Bible Verses about Death and Dying in Christ
On March 22, 2016, at exactly 12 pm, my mom went to be with the Lord. (Read my tribute.)
While death is no longer an enemy for a believer in Jesus Christ, it remains difficult for the dying and their loved ones.
I’m really going to miss my mom!
Death is the result of sin in the world, and without the hope of a Savior to forgive us for our sins, we are under the wrath of God.
But thanks be to God that He sent His only Son to die for our sins and rise again to give believers eternal life in Jesus Christ (John 3:16). “Oh, the sweet life of a Christian that hath made his peace with God! He is fit for all conditions: for life, for death, for everything.
” Richard Sibbes While we still face the physical consequences of living in a fallen world, death, we can set our hope in the promises of God through Jesus Christ, and rest secure knowing heaven awaits those who die in Christ.
My hope is that the encouraging Scripture passages I share below will lift your spiritual eyes heavenward as you wait to go home to Jesus.
Related Link: 15 of the Best Christian Books on Grief, Death, and Suffering
Comforting Bible Verses about Death for Those Dying in Christ
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:51-57
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.
” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
John 11:25-26Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
1 Corinthians 2:9
What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Revelation 21:4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
2 Corinthians 5:6-9
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Peter 1:23-25
…You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is grass and all its glory the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Comforting Bible Verses about Death from the Psalms
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.
Psalm 55:22Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
Some of the Best Comforting Quotes about Suffering, Death, and Dying in Christ
Never fear dying, beloved. Dying is the last, but the least matter that a Christian has to be anxious about. —Charles Spurgeon
A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears. ― Charles Spurgeon
How awful to die Christ! How blessed to die in Christ! —William Tiptaft
The pain felt upon the departure of loved ones from this life will generally mirror the joy we felt while they remained with us. — Sam Storms
You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. —Timothy Keller
Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny. — C.S. Lewis
Let us consider this settled, that no one has made progress in the school of Christ who does not joyfully await the day of death and final resurrection. – John Calvin
It is in weeping that we learn to contemplate the goodness of God. It is in mourning that we discover the peace of God that passes understanding. — R.C. Sproul
Displaying the glory of the grace of God is the point of suffering. —John Piper
Often we say that Christ will meet us on the other side. That is true, of course, but misleading. Let us never forget that He walks with us on this side of the curtain and then guides us through the opening. We will meet Him there, because we have met Him here. – Erwin LutzerDepend upon it, your dying hour will be the best hour you have ever known! Your last moment will be your richest moment, better than the day of your birth will be the day of your death. It shall be the beginning of heaven, the rising of a sun that shall go no more down forever! – C.H. Spurgeon
God will allow evil only to the degree that it brings about the very opposite of what it intends. ― Timothy Keller
Oh, the sweet life of a Christian that hath made his peace with God! He is fit for all conditions: for life, for death, for everything. —Richard Sibbes
…fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, even when the cross is heaviest. —J.I. Packer
Those who understand God’s sovereignty have joy even in the midst of suffering, a joy reflected on their very faces, for they see that their suffering is not without purpose. — R.C. Sproul
Jesus holds the keys to death, and Satan cannot snatch those keys His hand. Christ’s grip is firm. He holds the keys because He owns the keys. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. That includes all authority over life and death. The angel of death is at His beck and call. —R.C. Sproul
The proper epitaph to write for the Christian believer is not a dismal uncertain petition, ‘R.I.P.’…but a joyful and certain affirmation ‘C.A.D.’ (‘Christ abolished death’). —John Stott
To set your eyes on Christ, I recommend Charles Spurgeon’s Our Savior’s Cries from the Cross.
5 Book Recommendations on Suffering, Death, and Dying
See more recommended books: 15 of the Best Christian Books on Grief, Death, and Suffering
5 Song Recommendations
Song: I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe
Even if the Healing Doesn’t Come by Kutless
Blessed be the Name of the Lord by Matt Redman
In Christ Alone by Keith and Kristyn Getty
Funeral to Birthday by Flame This song has always been very encouraging to me.
Related Article: J.I. Packer’s 10 Tips for Grieving the Loss of a Loved One
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Bible Verses About Death: 20 Comforting Scriptures Quotes
One of the most difficult things to deal with in life is the death of a loved one. Even for the Christian, death is a part of life.
Un they that do not believe, the Christian has a blessed hope – that is the return of the Savior Jesus to catch up His Church and bring them to eternal life with Him and God the Father in Heaven.
Here are some scripture quotes about death that I hope will comfort you .
As He Promised, He Will Do
John 14:1-4 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.
And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Because of Calvary, We Live
2 Samuel 12:23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (King David speaking of his infant son who died)
John 11:23-26 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
In His Time, He Will Do
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Philippians 1:23-24 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 John 3:1-2 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be him, because we shall see him as he is.
Revelation 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Safe In His Arms, Now and Forever
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them the Father’s hand.” (Jesus speaking)
Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
Christian Quotes About Death
“They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies.” ~ Williams Penn
“When the time comes for you to die, you need not be afraid, because death cannot separate you from God’s love.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
“It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth.” ~ Ignatius of Antioch
“He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.” ~ Matthew Henry
“Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” ~ C.S. Lewis
25 Bible Verses About Love
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
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Ex-Muslim who planned to kill Christians and faced death for becoming one tells her story
A Pakistani soldier keeps guard at the Friendship Gate, crossing point at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan, March 7, 2017.
| REUTERS/Saeed Ali Achakzai/Files
A Pakistani convert to Christianity who nearly blew herself up in the name of Allah says a spiritual journey that began with a dream transformed her from being a jihadi-minded teen into a devout Christian who's making disciples for Christ.
Born in 1982 to strict Muslim parents in a 97 percent majority Muslim nation, one of the things Esther (a pseudonym used for security purposes) ever wanted was for her father to accept her. But that acceptance never came.
Even though she did well in school, Esther and other women in her community were not allowed to pursue a high school education unless they had approval from their fathers or closest male relatives.
But the only way Esther’s father would approve of her going to school was if she agreed to join a socially conservative Islamic political organization whose goal is to turn Pakistan into an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law.
That organization, which her father had joined about three years earlier, is Jamaat e-Islami.
“When I first joined, they taught us to do everything Allah commands you. One day … they said whoever will give his or her life for Allah, Allah will repay that fully and also their parents will get into Heaven,” Esther told The Christian Post in a phone interview.
“My intentions were to make my father happy because he didn’t accept me. I thought, this way, I could show my father that because of a girl, he will get to Heaven. That is why I raised my hand to be a volunteer to go for Jihad.”
Although Esther was set on being a suicide bomber, killing herself and murdering a few Jews or Christians all to please Allah, as she recounts in her new book Defying Jihad, a dream completely altered the trajectory of her life.
Since the book’s release on June 2, it has become the No. 1 new release on Amazon’s religious intolerance list. The book comes not long after Pakistan was ranked as the fifth worst persecutor of Christians in the world, according to Open Doors USA's 2019 World Watch List.When Esther joined Jamaat e-Islami in high school, she told CP that she believed at the time the organization was out to do good in the world through its social work and providing education to those who can’t afford to go to school.
But as she got more involved in the organization, Esther said her eyes were opened to the reality of what Jamaat e-Islami was out to accomplish.
“Whenever they were teaching, they always say Christians are the enemy and Jews are our enemy,” Esther recalled. “So we have to make this Earth clean by killing them or make them give tax or make sure they accept Islam.”
While Jamaat e-Islami won't admit that they have an affiliation to terrorist entities, Esther was adamant that the group does have ties to terrorists.
“They support them and do all kinds of stuff,” she asserted.
When Esther went home to tell her parents that she had volunteered to go for “jihad,” her parents were happy to hear the news that their teenage daughter was going to kill herself for the glory of Allah.
Esther said her parents told her that everyone is going to die someday and the way she would be dying is considered a “privilege.”
The light man
But about two days before Esther was set to go on her suicide mission, she had a dream where she sat in a dark graveyard. The dream came after she fell asleep during her early-morning Muslim prayer.
“I was in a graveyard. Everywhere was darkness. I was looking for a way the darkness. … As I was looking to come out from that graveyard, I saw a light appear,” she recounted.
“And the light has arms, hands and face. I asked, ‘Is this a man made of light?’ I have never seen a man made of light. If it is an angel, there should be wings behind it.
But there are no wings, just a man made of light.”
Esther said she called out to the light man, who responded with the words: “come and follow me.”
However, Esther told the man that she didn’t want to follow. At that point, the light man called out: “Esther, come and follow me.” Esther again refused, and for a third time the light called: “My daughter, come and follow me.”
“It was , He had a connection with my thoughts. He started to walk. As he started walk, all the bushes and stones were moved off the path,” Esther said.
“I saw the light he made on the path. I started to follow the path. He stopped at one grave and he said to someone who was dead. He said, ‘Come out.’ And the person came out. I said, ‘Who are you giving life to dead people? He said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’ These words, I never heard in all of my life. I said please help me to come out from this graveyard.”Esther said she was then brought into an “amazing place” with a golden wall and tons of natural light. At that point of the dream, she woke up.
“I couldn’t sleep afterward. I was thinking about who was the light man and why did he call me Esther?” she asked. “Why did he say I am the way and the truth and the life. Why didn’t he call me by my name?”
She told a classmate at school about her dream the next day. The classmate turned out to be Christian but Esther refused to accept prayer from her. Growing up in Pakistan, Esther was taught that Christians and Jews are “infidels” and that she was not to mingle with them.
The next day, the classmate gave Esther an audio cassette and two books. One book was the Gospel of John and the tape featured a reading of the four Gospels. Esther destroyed the materials.
On the third day after her dream, Esther met a Christian man named John when she took her mother to the hospital for a checkup.
When John didn’t greet her with the traditional Muslim greeting, she found out that he was a Christian. She asked him why he wasn’t a Muslim.
“He asked if Islam could give you salvation. I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘I think you didn’t read your Quran,’” Esther recalled. “He said, 'Did you read in Quran where Allah said to Muhammad to say to your followers, ‘I don’t know what will happen with me and what will happen with all of you.’”
Esther said she thought that John had created his own version of the Quran to lead her astray. So she went home to look up that surah in her own Quran. But John was proven right by her own Quran, she said.
“I thought that if the leader didn’t know what will happen with him, what about the followers?” Esther said. “This was the point when I went back and started reading the Bible with John.”
When she learned about Esther in the Old Testament, she asked John to interpret her dream with the light man.
“He said Joseph had a dream and that dream has meanings,” Esther explained. “Similarly, God gave me the dream. John said, ‘You are not here because of my effort. You are here because of God’s plan.’ He opened the book to John 14:6: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’”
At that point, Esther was reduced to tears.
“I was such a bad girl and God came to save my life,” she said. “I was going to kill His people but He came to save my life and my soul too.”
Esther said that she lived as a Christian secretly for a few months until her parents wanted her to marry a man of their choosing. But she refused and told her mother that she wanted to marry a Christian man.
After telling her mother about her new faith, Esther said her mother beat her. Esther's mother waited a few months before telling her more radical father. After the father was informed, he told people at the mosque about his daughter’s new faith.
At that point, Esther said people had gathered to kill her.
“Every day, I was thinking that today was my last day then I will be in Heaven with the Lord,” she said.Esther said she even participated in debates with Muslim scholars at her house. She boasted that none of the scholars could stump her because she was just a vessel through which God was speaking.
Esther eventually married John, but the couple was forced to go into hiding because her father felt so dishonored that he spent much of his time and effort trying to find and kill the couple.
After two years on the run in Pakistan, the couple and their daughter escaped as asylum seekers to Malaysia.
Along with Sri Lanka and Thailand, Malaysia is a popular destination for Pakistani immigrants fleeing persecution.
The family spent about eight years in Malaysia where they were accepted as refugees.
In Kuala Lumpur, the couple served with one of the megachurches there to evangelize to non-Christians.
“We were just telling the truth through their own books, just John used the Quran to tell me the truth,” Esther explained, adding that the couple has helped bring 10 Muslims and one Sikh to Christ during that time.
In 2016, Esther and John were given the approval to resettle in the United States, where they were eventually given green cards.
In the U.S., the couple serves a mission-sending agency called Globe International to evangelize to non-Christians settling in the U.S.
“We are working with international communities from Morocco, Iran and Iraq. We are working among migrants, refugees and students who are here to study,” she said. “We invite them to our home and we host them. We prepare meals for them. We let them see that we care for them. We are trying to make a bridge for them.”
Follow Samuel Smith on : @IamSamSmith
or : SamuelSmithCP
United with Christ in Death and Life, Part 1
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the ness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the ness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to 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. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
If you found last week's message practical and helpful inmatters making soup instead of feasts and roasts, or pushingcars that have dead batteries, or not putting up hypocriticalfronts in your small groups, then think of today's message as goingback to chapter 6 for the foundations of those applications inchapter 12. Chapter 6 is all about becoming that kind of authentic,Christ- people. But Paul is laying very deep foundations forour lives. He is not building on sand. I plead with you to learnfrom him here.
Pragmatists and Puritans
We Americans are pragmatists to the max. We want results. And wewant them yesterday. We want them simply. We want them without toomuch pondering and too much pain. And in the church, we havedeveloped all kinds of Christ-coated remedies that are shallow andshort-lived. We are not, by and large, the deeply grounded saintsthat some of our forefathers were.
J. I. Packer compares the old English Puritans who lived andsuffered from 1550 to 1700 with the Redwoods of California.
Theywere giants whose roots were incredibly deep in the Bible, andwhose branches reached to the heavens, and whose trunks were sostrong and durable they could endure forest fires that scar thembut don't kill them.But then Packer looks out over the pragmaticAmerican landscape of our quick fixes for life's problems and ourimpatience with depth and complexity and pain, and says, «Affluenceseems for the past generation to have been making dwarfs anddeadheads of us all.»1
Here's the difference between the pragmatists and the Puritans:pragmatists do not have the patience to sink the roots ofhospitality and brotherly kindness and authentic love in the deeprock of Romans 6-8. We want to jump straight from justification tothe practical application of chapter 12.
Just give us a list. Tellus what to do. Fix the problem at the immediate surface level, soit goes away. But the Puritans were different. They looked at thebook of Romans and saw that life is built another way.
Being asage, being a Redwood, being unshakable in storm and useful intimes of indescribable suffering – that does not come quicklyor easily. Romans is not two chapters long. It is 16 chapters long.It does not skip from chapter 5 to 12.
It leads us down deep intothe roots of godliness, so that when we come up, we are not peoplewith lists, but people with unshakable life and strength andholiness and wisdom and love.
So come with me into Romans 6 for a few weeks now.
Sin So That Grace Abounds?
Verse 1: «What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin sothat grace may increase?» That is, are we to go on in the patternof sin because forgiveness is guaranteed and we have right standingwith God by faith alone? His answer in verse 2 is «May it neverbe!» Absolutely not! Don't go on sinning that grace mayincrease.
Why not? His answer comes in a question (verse 2b): «How shallwe who died to sin still live in it?» That is, since you have diedto sin, you can't go on living in it. Now, this answerposes two questions that I want to try to answer this morning.
1)What does «You have died to sin,» mean? 2) What does «You can't goon living in it» mean? Or to ask the questions another way, 1) Inwhat sense have we died? 2) In what sense are we beyond sinning? Wehave died. And we cannot therefore go on living in sin.
What dothose two amazing assertions mean?Be careful here. Are you starting to check out and think, thisis too heavy, too deep, too complicated? This is not where I live.Just tell me about the soup and the battery and brotherly kindness.I guess I am a simple pragmatist. To which I say, Don't let ten ortwenty or fifty years of self-assessment define you. Let the Bibledefine you.
Paul is on his way to Romans 12 – the soup, thebattery, and the brotherly kindness, but he will not skip overchapter 6. If you try, do you know what you are doing? You arechoosing to be a cattail in the swamp instead of a redwood by theocean. Why are there so few redwoods – sages – in ourchurches? Because we are so impatient with Romans 6.
If you are willing to sink some roots, I am too. Let'stry
The first question is: What does Paul mean in verse 2 by «wedied to sin»? The «we» here is Christians – that is,believers. We know that because in verse 3 the «we» is those whohave been «baptized into Christ Jesus.
» Baptism is what youexperience when you become a Christian, and so he is talking aboutChristians, believers, in verse 2: «How shall we [baptizedbelievers] who died to sin still live in it?» (We will talk moreabout the meaning and the role of baptism next week.)
We Died to Sin
So our question is: What does it mean that all believers havedied to sin?
Probably the most important verse to explain this is verse 5:»For if we have become united with Him in the ness of Hisdeath, certainly we shall also be in the ness of Hisresurrection.» What Paul says here may be outside our categories ofthought. So let's add a category.
What he says is that forbelievers there is a union with Christ – note thewords, «we have become united with him in the ness of hisdeath.» There is a union between Christ and Christians so that whathappened to Christ is counted by God as happening to us. His deathis our death. God establishes this union. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says,»But by [God's] doing you are in Christ Jesus.
» Godestablishes a union between believers and Christ, in a way thatmakes it fitting for him to count Christ's death to be ourdeath.
So when verse 2 asks, «How shall we who died to sin, still livein it?» it is referring to our death with Christ when he died. Thisdeath is something historic and once for all. It isapplied to us now through our faith, but since Christ diedin history only once, and verse 5 says we were united to that, ourdeath happened, in God's way of seeing things, on the day Christdied.
Now let's confirm this with a few other verses. Verse 6:»Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him.» This isanother way of saying that we died (verse 2) or that «we havebecome united with Him in the ness of His death» (verse 5).
Notice that while verse 6 says the «old self» (=old man)was crucified, verses 2 and 5 say «we died» and»we were united to him in the ness of his death.» Itake this to mean that my «old self» is me – but differentthan I have become. The «old self» is the me that was rebelliousagainst God, and insubordinate to God's law, and blind to God'sglory, and unbelieving toward his promises.
Verse 6 says the «oldme» was crucified with Christ. (See Galatians 2:20.) When Christdied, God counted the old sinful me as dying with him.
For another confirmation look at verse 8: «Now if we have diedwith Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.» So hereagain Paul makes it explicit that the death we died in verse 2 is adeath with Christ. «We have died with Christ.» (See also Romans 7:4and 2 Corinthians 5:14.)So the foundational teaching of these verses is that there is aunion between believers and Christ. That's the point of verse 5.This should sound familiar to you if you were with us during thesix messages on Romans 5:12-21.
There we saw that God established aunion between Adam and his people, and a corresponding unionbetween Christ and his people. Condemnation came through our unionwith Adam. Justification comes through our union with Christ(Romans5:18).
Now in Romans 6:5, Paul makes that union explicitand relates it to sanctification as well as justification.
That's Paul's answer to the first question: What death does Paulrefer to when he says in verse 2, «How shall we who diedto sin still live in it?» It was our death with Christ because ofour union with him.
You Can't Go on Living in Sin
Now the second question is: What does Paul mean that «you can'tgo on living in sin»? Verse 2: «How shall we who died to sinstill live in it?» That is, if you have died to sin, youcan't go on living in sin. In what sense are we beyond sinning? Wehave died. And we cannot therefore go on living in sin. What doesthis amazing statement mean? Is Paul teaching perfectionism –that once you are converted you never sin any more?
There are several reasons from the context that make me thinkPaul does not mean that.
1) Notice that what Paul denies is not that you can never commita sin, but that you cannot «live in it.
» «How shall we who died tosin still live in it?» «Living in it» corresponds to the questionin verse 1: «Are we to continue in sin so that grace mayincrease?» The idea in these two phrases, «continue in» (verse 1)and «live in» (verse 2) is that when we have become united withChrist in his death, we cannot go on with an unchanged pattern ofsin in our lives.
2) Another pointer to Paul's meaning (not perfectionism) is inverse 6, «Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that ourbody of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longerbe slaves to sin.» Here the effect of being crucified withChrist is that we are not «slaves to sin.
» It is possible to fallinto sinful attitudes and actions without sin being youroverarching slave master. As verse 14 says, «For sin shall not bemaster over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
» Beingfreed from the mastery or enslavement or dominion of sin is not thesame as being sinlessly perfect.
3) The third support for this view (that Paul is not teachingperfectionism) comes from the commands in verses 11, 12, and 13. Inverse 11 he says, «Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin.»In verse 12 he says, «Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortalbody.
» In verse 13 he says, «Do not go on presenting the members ofyour body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.
» If there is noongoing battle with sin in the Christian life, then why thesecommands? I think they imply clearly that, even though we have diedto sin, and therefore cannot «live in» or «continue in» sin, we cansin, and we do sin and we must lay hold on the reality of what hashappened to us in our union with Christ and confirm it in our dailylives. «Reckon yourselves dead . . . Don't let sin reign . . .Don't present your members to sin.»
Our Death With Christ, Our Freedom From Sin
So here is my conclusion on these two points: our death withChrist and our freedom from sin.
1) In Christ – that is, in our union with Christ that Godestablished, according to verse 5 – we are dead to sin,meaning this: In our truest position and our truest identity we arecompletely and finally dead to sin – both its guilt and itspower. This is decisive, unrepeatable, and unchangeable. This isthe foundation for all our warfare against sin, and all ourprogress in holiness.
2) The Christian life is an already and a not-yetexperience of this sinless position and identity in union withChrist.What happened to Christ Jesus historically and finally andunchangeably – and to us in him – is appliedto us not all at once in its fullness, but some now completely, andsome now progressively, and all fully in the age to come.
We arealready fully forgiven and acquitted and declaredrighteous and justified in our union with Christ by faith alone.And we are already delivered from the slavery to sin, thatis, from the power of sin as the defining direction of our lives.And we are already able by faith to grow more and moretriumphant over sin in our daily life.
But we are not yet perfected in our daily, earthlyexperience. We must fight the fight of faith and become inexperience, by faith, what we are perfectly in our union withChrist.
Paul put it this in Philippians 3:12, «Not that I havealready obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press onso that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of byChrist Jesus.» You see the already and not yet. Christ has laidhold of Paul for perfection and everlasting blessing.
That securesPaul. Now Paul confirms that great work of God in Christ by layinghold of that for which he was laid hold of by Christ.
Conclusion: Underneath the call and the freedom to dohospitality with soup and Styrofoam bowls, and to push dead carsfor a stranded friend, and to be real with each other in smallgroups – and everything else beautiful that displays Christ– is a deep and glorious foundation of what happened once forall for you when Christ died, and what is happeningprogressively in you by faith.
In sum: If you are a Christian, God created a union between youand Christ, as verse 5 says. Because of this union, you died withChrist, when he died.
Because you died, you are now free from theguilt and power of sin in your fullest and truest identity, thatis, in your union with Christ.And because of this unshakableposition and identity, you are already justified, and you are mostcertainly being sanctified, but you are not yet perfected.Therefore, confirm this great transaction by reckoning yourself tobe what you really are in Christ.
How you do that is what we will look at next week.
1 J. I. Packer, Quest for Godliness (Wheaton:Crossway Books, 1990), p. 11-12.