Dying and Rising with Christ

Preaching and Worship Resources about Dying and Rising with Christ

A major Pauline theme, dying and rising with Christ consists of 1) belonging to the new humanity of which, as second Adam, Christ is the head, so that when he died and rose as the head, the body did too; 2) going down into baptism and coming up to new life; 3) the mortification of our old self and the vivification of our new self; 4) physically dying while in union with Christ and being physically raised in the general resurrection after the second coming of Christ.

In Scripture

We Will Be Changed "For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. . . . It is written `the first man, Adam, became a living being'; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. . . . The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. . . . For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed" (1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45, 47, 52).

Life for All "Therefore just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous" (Rom 5:18-19).

Dead to Sin and Alive to God "How can we who died to sin go on living in it? . . . Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. . . . For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. . . . So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:2, 4, 5-6, 11).

Crucified with Christ "I have been crucified with Christ;[ ]and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:19-20).

Together with Christ "But God, who is rich in mercy . . . made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places" (Eph. 2:4-6).

In Baptism "When you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col. 2:12)

You Died with Christ "If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?" (Col. 2:20).

Seek the Things Above "So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is. . . .You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. . . . Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). . . . Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator" (Col. 3:1, 3, 5, 9-10).

Points to Ponder

The four ways (see definition above) in which believers die and rise with Christ are tangled together in Paul's writing, and especially in Romans 6. Still, with a little sleuthing they may be disentangled.

The key to the first way is Paul's confidence that Adam and Christ are parallel heads of the human race. They are the first and second Adams (1 Cor. 15; Rom. 5), in whom the whole race of human beings is represented or even compacted. So their actions affect all people, whether for death or for life. Because believers are the body of Christ, because they belong to the community formed by the major events of Christ, because they are "in Christ" — when Christ died and rose so did his body. The head does nothing without the body. "Our old self was crucified with Christ," Paul writes in Romans 6.

Were You There? This adds great poignancy when we sing: "Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

We died and rose with Christ in A.D. 29. That was the first time.

We did it again when we got baptized. Paul twice says (Rom. 6, Col. 2) that we were "buried" with Jesus Christ in baptism. Baptism means going down into the Red Sea and coming up on the other side. Baptism means going down into death and coming up into life. Jesus' death and resurrection are the second exodus. And so our baptism is exodus all over again.

Symbolism in Baptism The symbolism of going down and coming up seems better represented by immersion than by sprinkling. Greek Orthodox Christians immerse even infants.

Keep on Dying and Rising We died and rose with Christ when he died and rose. We did it again in our baptism. And so, says Paul in Colossians 3, since you have died and risen with Christ in these ways, now keep the rhythm going. Keep on dying and rising with Christ.

Put arrogance to death and let humility arise. Put greed to death and let gratitude arise. Put malice to death and let kindness arise. Put wrath to death and let forgiveness arise. In traditional Christian theology this double move is called "mortification and vivification." It's central to the conversion and ongoing sanctification of a human being.

Family Uniform Colossians 3:12 ff. uses the image of clothing for the new self: "clothe yourselves with compassion. . . ." This is almost certainly a baptismal image, suggesting that a Christian emerging from baptism will don the virtues that now fit somebody who has been raised with Christ. These virtues are the family uniform of the followers of Jesus.

A Rehearsal for Physical Death and Physical Resurrection These three ways of dying and rising with Jesus Christ just described are rehearsal for physical death and physical resurrection. All our dying and rising are practice for the day when the shadows lengthen, the evening comes, and we close our eyes for the last time. One day we will physically die, but for us Christians who die into the heart of God, it will be nothing new. We've been practicing dying and rising all our lives.


Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.