Re:Life: Where It Comes From (Romans 6:1-7)
Topic: Romans Passage: Romans 6:1–6:7
Re:Life: How Resurrection Changes Everything
Re:Life: Where It Comes From
(One Lord: So Great a Salvation)
April 20th, 2014
I. The God of Second Chances?
I don't know about you, but I've often heard God described as, “the God of second chances”. Sounds pretty appealing, right? As we think about certain things we've done, or certain things we've said, certain lines we've crossed, which of us wouldn't want a second chance, a 'do-over'.
But I think that title for God can be very misleading. Why? Because it rests on the basic, but flawed idea that if we just had another opportunity to do the right thing...we would. Here's the problem. Every single day, men and women are given second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh...you get the point...many chances, and they still do what is selfish and safe and socially acceptable.
You see, the true God is not a “God of second chances”. He is the God of new beginnings. And as we'll see this morning, that means something very different than a second chance.
Take your Bible if you would, or the blue Bible we've provided, and turn with me to Romans 6:1-7. For the last two weeks, through these verses, the Apostle Paul has been our guide as we explored the subject of “re:life”, that is, 'resurrection life'; the new beginning God wants all of us to experience.
II. The Passage: “Just as Christ was Raised” (6:1-7)
So look with me, once again, at Romans 6:1-7, and consider what this passage tells us about where this 'resurrection life' comes from. Verse 1, Paul asks...
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin.
So as we've talked about over the past two weeks, we are in desperate need of what Paul calls in verse 4, “newness of life”. And that “newness of life” is not only a newness for the here and now, but the also the promise of life forever in the perfect presence of God.
Having described, in Lesson 1, WHY we need this resurrection life, and having determined, in Lesson 2, WHEN we actually receive it, as I mentioned a moment ago, our goal this morning is to identify WHERE this kind of life actually comes from. And if we look back at verses 4 and 5, we discover the source of this resurrection life. Everything comes back to Easter. Do you see that? No, I'm not talking about bunnies and baskets. I'm talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
III. An Education from the Resurrection
What we need this morning is to receive an education from the resurrection. As we dig deeper into this topic of resurrection life, we need to take what Paul has already told his readers about the resurrection of Jesus and use it to understand what God is doing in your, or what He wants to do in your life. Think with me about these five ideas.
The resurrection of Jesus reminds us that…
1. Resurrection life does not come from what you hope for, but from what happened. (6:4, 5)
If you look back at verses 4 and 5, it is clear that the reality of resurrection with which Paul is encouraging his readers is inextricably connected to the reality of Jesus resurrection. You see, our longing, our desire for a fresh start is not the source of this new life. No, thankfully, the actual source of this “newness of life” is anchored to an historical event; to a fixed fact of what really took place. Jesus was killed, he died, was buried, and on the third day, He came back to life. It is not at all controversial to say that no reputable historian has ever been able to explain away the empty tomb of Jesus.
Does that encourage you? It should. You see, as Paul said in I Corinthians 15, if Jesus had not actually raised from the dead, if it was just a lot of spiritual mumbo-jumbo, then our faith in resurrection becomes pointless. My feelings are a subjective reality. The resurrection of Jesus is an objective reality. I cannot build my life on feelings. Instead, my subjective reality needs to be anchored in objective reality. Therefore, my hope for resurrection life must be grounded in the reality of Christ's resurrection life.
But flip back a few chapters to Romans 1:4. That verse reminds us that...
2. Resurrection life is not rooted in who I want to be, but in who He is. (1:4)
Do you see what Paul says there? He tells us that Jesus (v. 3), was descended from David according to the flesh  and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead...
It's easy when we think about a new life to think about who I want to be, or who I want to become. But have to put first things first. Who I want to be must be grounded in and guided by who Jesus is. Paul tells us here that the resurrection of Jesus was a “declaration” about the incomparable identity of this man.
Who is He? The resurrection confirms that Jesus was and is the “Son of God”. In fact, the Bible teaches us that the Son of God has always been the Son of God, one with and co-eternal with God the Father. But this verse is telling us that the man Jesus, who is God in human flesh, was fully confirmed to be the Son of God through His resurrection from the dead.
We also know that the title “Son of God” was a Jewish title for the coming Messiah. This is based on Psalm 2, verse 7, where God declares, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. And we know from Acts 13:33 that Psalm 2:7 is fulfilled in...the resurrection of Jesus.
How amazing that this “newness of life”, this resurrection life is not only grounded in what actually happened, but more so in the identity of WHO it happened to. Jesus was not just some guy who seemed dead, but really wasn't. Jesus was not some guy who died for 8 minutes on the operating table and then was zapped back to life. No, He was and is the Son of God. Do you know Him? Do you trust Him?
Okay, turn a couple pages forward with me to chapter 4, verses 24 and 25. In these verses about the resurrection of Jesus, we discover that...
3. Resurrection life is not first about doing what is right, but about making me right. (4:24, 25)
Again, it is very easy to slip into a purely subjective mindset when it comes to new life: “Who do I want to be?” “How should I act?” “What will keep me focused? What will feed my spirit?” But look at what we read in these verses:
Paul tells his readers that, like Abraham, our faith will be counted [counted as righteousness] to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,  who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:24-25)
Why was Jesus raised from the dead? Paul gives us one answer here: He was “raised for our justification”. What does that mean? It means He was raised to life in order that we, the guilty, might be acquitted before the High Court of Heaven. Just as the death of Jesus makes it possible for that old, guilty me to die, so too does the resurrection of Jesus make it possible for a new me to declared innocent because of Christ's innocence.
Sound like wishful thinking? No, my acquittal by God is just as much an historical fact as the resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact. At a fixed time in the past, God really did declare me innocent, because at a fixed time in the past, God really did raise Jesus from the dead. Therefore, my desire to do what is right must be rooted in the reality that I have been made right, before God, through the resurrection of Jesus.
Okay, let's go back to Romans 6. There are a couple of other ideas that God, through Paul, wants us to learn, as we get an education from the resurrection. These last two points actually come from verses that come after our main passage.
Look with me at verse 9 of chapter six. We learn there that resurrection of Jesus reminds us that...
4. Resurrection life is not only powerful, but permanent. (6:9)
Look at what discover in that verse...We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. (Romans 6:9)
Isn't that wonderful! Because Christ was truly raised from the dead, and because of who He is, the “Son of God”, we can be confident that His victory was a total victory. He defeated death once and for all, therefore, He can never die again.
And if the resurrection life available to us is patterned after and empowered by His resurrection, then we can be sure that the “newness” we have received, and the “newness” we will one day receive, is permanent. I love how another Apostle of Jesus, the Apostle Peter expressed this same idea...
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. (I Peter 1:3-5)
We don't have to worry that God is running some kind of 'fly by night' operation, or that anything could overpower God or separate us from His love. Christ's resurrection gives us that guarantee. God will complete what He's begun.
But if we look at the next two verses, we find one more lesson to be learned from the resurrection of Jesus. We learn there that...
5. Resurrection life is not a redemptive do-over, but a redemptive make-over (6:10, 11)
For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (6:10-11)
See the way Paul connected the two halves in verses 10 and 11? If Jesus, because of our sin, came under the authority of sin on the cross, and thus, died in our place, then His resurrection life is, once more, a life of freedom under the authority of His father. That's the first half. But if that's true, and if it's true that our resurrection life comes from Christ's resurrection life, then we also have been set free to live under the authority of the Father.
You see, I don't need, you don't need, a second chance. Why? Because it's not about a chance. It's about a change. It's not about you getting your act together. It's about God raising you together with Jesus. It's not about a do-over. It's about a divine makeover.
Do you see now why it is so important that we know WHERE this “newness of life” comes from? Our message is not an invitation to some kind of vague, subjective, new-agey, power-of-positive-thinking, self-help, visualization, seven-step kind of higher life. No, our message is an invitation to the reality of Jesus Christ: to His victory, to who He is, to what He accomplished for us, to His permanency, and to the singular vision of His resurrected life.
IV. The Key to a Resurrection Rescue
In light of all this, I think there are two questions remaining. The first is, “How...how can I receive this resurrection life?” And the second is, “If I have received this resurrection life, how do I walk in it?”. Next Sunday, we will tackle the latter question. But today, I want to leave you with an answer to the first question. And that answer comes straight out of this same letter, from Romans 10. Turn there and look with me at verse 8-13. Paul asks this about the Old Testament...
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13)
Have you ever heard anything so amazing? So beautiful? The reality of being “saved”, of being rescued by God from the 'oldness of life' and all its horrible consequences, and being given “newness of life” and all its wonderful consequences, that reality is not based on anything you or I could ever do. The reality of receiving resurrection life is based solely on trust. Faith. Faith in what?
First, as we see in verse 9, faith in the fact that “Jesus is Lord”. To declare “Jesus is Lord” is to declare that Jesus is supreme, that He is, and therefore should be first, top, central in everything. To declare “Jesus is Lord” is to admit that I am not; that I am His subject, His servant.
But closely connected to this, second, Paul urges faith in the fact that “God raised him from the dead”. As we've already seen, the reality of His resurrection confirms the reality of His lordship. But trusting in the reality of His resurrection form the dead is also a belief in the fact that He died, which assumes faith in the purposefulness of His death.
Additionally, when you put those two things together, when you take verse 9 in its entirety, Paul is calling us to trust that Jesus Christ is a living Lord. He is not some ancient ideal. He is not some spiritual force. He is a man, and He is just as real right now as you and I are. But He is also God, He is “the Lord”, and because He is, we can trust Him with every single thing; we can confidently bring every single thing under His loving leadership.
Are you ready this morning to follow Jesus through the forgiveness of the cross, through the power of resurrection life? Do you feel the deadly weight of that 'oldness of life'? Are you hungry for “newness of life”? Trust Him. Talk to Him this morning.
Are you already walking in “newness of life”? If you are, go back...go back to the Empty Tomb. Go back to the reality of your risen Lord. Remember what His victory means for you. Remember where that “whole new you” comes from. Remember, He is the God of new beginnings.