February 13,2024

Good morning Church family, 

Yesterday was an amazing gathering of worship. I can’t express how awesome it was to me. The Gallos, the testimonies and the baptisms all illustrated the redemptive work that God is doing in the world, oversees and near by in the hearts of our own people. We can expect God to continue to change lives by the power of His Gospel and yesterday provided a sneak peek into what God will continue to do as we heard about what He is doing. I was reminded of this phrase from one of my favorite local Churches called “Imago Dei” in Raleigh NC: “We desire to see lives changed by the Gospel.” And we are. May God continue to grant us transformation as we see people “conformed into the image of Christ” (Rom. 8:28-29), for that is God’s goal for us. May it be ours too! 

Last night, I found myself during the Superbowl jumping up with excitement & declaring “We did it! We scored!” And then we lost in the end! But nevertheless, I was immediately reminded of Romans 6 (my mind never turns off after preaching God’s Word. I always find myself wanting to preach the same massage again):

“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.” -Rom. 6:1-4

Allow me to explain in Superbowl language what this means for us: 

As the 49ers scored, I acted like I was on their team because I said, “we scored!” Of course, I’m not on their team, but I identified myself with them. They were “my team” and as such, when they scored, I scored, when they lost, I lost, and my emotions went up with their touchdowns and down with their defeat. How amazing is it that an athletic competition in Las Vegas, thousands of miles away, can have such an effect on my mind and emotions while sitting on my couch? 

It’s because of the reality spoken of in Romans 6—a baptism reality. When you place your trust and faith alone in Christ alone to save you from your guilty status and save you from the death penalty that all sin deserves, God unites you to team Jesus in death and resurrection so that what Jesus did, die for your sins, becomes your glorious defeat. You died with Christ even though it was 2000 years ago in the land of Israel, yet it’s counted towards you. Just as my 49ers suffered defeat thousands of miles away from me and “we lost,” so also as Jesus suffered the death payment for my sins on the Cross, so also “we lost,” I died with Christ (That’s Romans 6:3). 

Furthermore, when Jesus rose from the dead to prove His victory & justification over my sin, so also I won with Him. Just as He rose a new person, so also I have risen a new person because I’m on His team by faith.  It’s just as by faith millions of folks considered themselves a part of the Kansas City Chiefs team, and so “they won” with them! Their touchdowns were their touchdowns! And they identified with the same emotions of victory as the Chiefs. 

And this is the reality for the Christian (you) as we’ve been baptized into Jesus. Colossians 3 says it like this: “you have been raised with Christ and are seated with Him in the heavenly places.” How could that be? I’m down here and He’s up there? Well, the Chiefs won the Superbowl in Las Vegas and here we are in Lancaster County. But thousands of Chief fans are still saying “we won.” 

And in a more real and true sense, what happened to us thousands of years prior and thousands of miles away, has also happened to us, Church: we have been crucified with Christ and risen with Him. His victory over sin is our victory and His defeat over our sin is our defeat! 

And by the way, those who “won with” the Chiefs and “lost with” the 49ers, did absolutely NOTHING to win with them except identify with those teams. So it is with us. We become a part of God’s victory and our sin’s defeat through faith and not by works (Romans 4). Jesus did all the work and we receive His win by faith as we let Him do it all as we stay on the sidelines. 

Now in Romans 6, that reality of baptism—our union with the Gospel (we’ve been synced to the Gospel!)—is meant to help us stop sinning. That’s the purpose of baptism with Jesus. His death and resurrection are ours. And the reality of how Christ’s win is our win and His defeat over our sin is our defeat is meant to help us stop sinning. Now continue with my football analogy to understand this: 

If you identified with the 49ers or if it’s the Eagles or Cowboys for you, and when they win you win and when they lose you lose, then how ridiculous for you to score against your own team? If you rejoice in victory for your team, then you would never want to score against your own team that you identify with. 

In Romans 6, Paul is saying the same thing to help us stop sinning. He is saying in essence, “don’t score against your own team” and that can only happen insofar as you “reason/”know” (v3, 6, 9) that you’ve “died with Christ to sin and risen with Him.” You are on team Jesus, and your win is that Jesus defeated your sin (touchdown against your sin), and your victory is that Jesus rose from the grave and you are a new person. 

Now don’t score against your own team! And we essentially try to do that when we sin. But how crazy is that? What would lead us to score against our own team? We’re no thinking straight. We’ve stopped identifying ourselves on team Jesus. So we need to begin identifying our life with Jesus just as we do with our sports teams. That’s the message of Romans 6! 

Sincerely with love in Christ, 

Aaron

From Pastor Aaron

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