Death Comes Before Life

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)

In the above verse Paul is writing of his personal experience and testimony concerning resurrection life. Resurrection life by definition demands that death has first taken place. Jesus could not rise from the dead if He did not first die and we cannot experience resurrection life unless we first die to ourselves. When a person says they are “trying” to live the Christian life it may be that they do not realise that they must first die. It may also be that some of us presume that we are living resurrection life just because we are Christians.

In the above verse it is clear that Paul is not saying that he has experienced bodily death and bodily resurrection and neither is he speaking merely of identification. Further, he is not speaking solely of a past experience. He is speaking of a present reality.

When a person comes to Jesus for salvation there are two essential aspects that occur. On our part we must die and God’s part is to give life. The life that Jesus gives, which I have called resurrection life, is a continuance of those aspects. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

He also said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). To take up one’s cross is a deliberate act from choice to die to my ambitions and all things self-centred. This is not a once off act but obviously there is a starting point. It is a continuous choice that is reasonable and logical flowing out of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Resurrection life is one of absolute surrender to Jesus Christ to do with me as He pleases. The imagery of the Potter and the clay comes to mind. The clay has no idea of the process or end product that the potter has in mind. In connection with this Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Who can live the Christian life? The only Person who is able to live the Christian life is Jesus Christ. This is why Paul wrote “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), John wrote, “This is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11, 12) and Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Prior to the cross Jesus said to the Father, “not as I will but as You will” and in the model prayer that He gave to His disciples He said to pray, “Your will be done.” When we can say from a fully surrendered heart, “Your will be done,” with no reservations or conditions, then we are experiencing resurrection life. Resurrection life is Jesus living His life through us with our voluntary, continuous and willing consent. It is another way of expressing “being filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), “fellowship” with Christ (1 John 1:3, 6) and “abiding” in the Christ (John 15:4).

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