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Buried and Risen with Christ

• Greg Boyd

In a section of his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul speaks about the Kingdom of God and how human life is shaped by that Kingdom. This is emphasized in the way Paul uses baptism in his discussion. He encourages his audience to look upon their baptism experience to recall who they really are and to whom they really belong. Our baptism actively demonstrates the burial of our old lives without Christ as well as the renewal of our lives in Christ.

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In a section of his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul speaks about the Kingdom of God and how human life is shaped by that Kingdom. Part of his concern specifically relates to how Christians should relate to sin and sinful behavior.

Paul says that people who choose to align themselves with Christ actually experience something similar to Christ’s death and resurrection. When we are in Christ, we die to our compulsive desire to sin and, in turn, we die to our old sinful ways of living. When this death happens, we also become truly free to live for God’s Kingdom. We reach a point of life-renewing transformation where we no longer have sin and judgment holding us back. At this point, our renewed lives become our new identity. We are no longer to be associated with our former sinful behavior because it’s not who we are anymore.

All of this is emphasized in the way Paul uses baptism in his discussion. He encourages his audience to look upon their baptism experience to recall who they really are and to whom they really belong. Our baptism actively demonstrates the burial of our old lives without Christ as well as the renewal of our lives in Christ. Just like a wedding ring can be used to help remember one’s marital identity, baptism can be used to help us remember our identity in Christ and what that means.

Paul’s belief about baptism directs the way that he talked to his Roman audience about them changing some of their behavior. Instead of using a “shame approach” that linked bad behavior directly to personal identity, he speaks to affirm the renewal of the Romans’ personal identity and show how that identity is inconsistent with how they are behaving. Essentially, Paul reminds his audience that, because they are in Christ, they are “better than” some of the sinful things with which they are struggling. He encourages them to get consistent with what they know about themselves and, in so doing, live in the freedom they already have in Christ.

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Topics: Baptism, Identity in Christ

Sermon Series: Baptism


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 3:3

    He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins

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