Crucified with Christ
July 22nd, 1956 @ 10:50 AM
CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-22-56 10:50 a.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message from the latter part of the second chapter of the Book of Galatians. It is a textual sermon; it is a sermon on a text. Most of the times the sermons that are brought cover more than one text, one passage, one sentence, one verse; but the message today is on one verse, Galatians 2:20. And this is the context:
For a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even as we have believed in Jesus, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
In every great mountain range there are some peaks that tower and tower until they pierce the blue of the sky. So it is in the Word of God: in the great mountain ranges of the revelation of God, there are some texts that tower up like a veritable Andes in elevation. And this text is one. One of the great sentences, one of the great verses of the Bible is Galatians 2:20. Most of us learned it when we were children. “For I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
One of the first things I notice when I read the text is the great number of personal pronouns that are in it. It veritably swarms with “I’s” and “me’s.” “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” [Galatians 2:20]. You count the personal pronouns in that one sentence: they number eight; eight times the “I,” the “me,” eight personal pronouns. As I read it, the first observation to be made about it is this: that of all things, and above everything the Christian faith and the Christian religion is a personal faith and a personal religion. The revelation of God in Jesus Christ is the religion of the individual. It is the Christian faith, it is the Christian religion that magnifies the one lost sheep [Luke 15:1-7], the one lost coin, the one lost boy [Luke 15:11-32].
Sometimes by the naked eye you can look into the starry firmament above at night, and there is a great mass of whited way, and here are great groupings in the firmament; and to look at them you’d say, “These are nebulae, they are great masses of indistinct gaseous forms and vapors and collections of matter.” But when you take a telescope and look at those great nebulae, most of the times you will find them galaxies of individual stars. That’s what the Christian faith does to humanity. We’re not masses, and gobs, and bucketfuls, and oceans, and seas of people in the sight of God; but we are individuals. God looks at us one at a time. He calls us by name [John 10:3]; He even says that the very hairs of our head are numbered [Matthew 10:30]. That’s the Christian religion, that’s our God, and that is our faith. In the great broad way, masses of men are indistinct; but in the narrow way, the lone traveler is seen one at a time, as he makes his pilgrimage from this world to the world that is to come.
The Christian religion is a personal religion. We are saved personally and individually [Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10]. A man’s godliness cannot suffice or be imputed to another man. Every man has to be saved for himself. Because I am born in a Christian home or in a Christian country does not make me thereby and therefore a Christian. I must become a Christian for myself; I must be saved for myself. Could I say this facetiously? Because a man is born in a garage, he’s not thereby and therein a car. Or because a rat lives in a stable, he’s not thereby a horse. So it is with a man who is born in a Christian home or in a Christian family: he is not thereby a Christian. The Christian faith is an individual faith and an individual religion. A man must believe for himself [Romans 10:9-10].
The great ordinances teach that. I cannot be baptized for somebody else, nor can anyone else be baptized for me. I cannot take the Lord’s Supper for anyone else, nor can anyone else take it for me. Nobody else can eat for me, or drink for me, or be clothed for me, or sleep for me, or wake for me; I must live for myself. So the great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a personal and an individual faith, or it is nothing at all. I have to die for myself. However men may surround me when my final breath is breathed, I take that long journey alone, and by myself. Someday I shall stand in the presence of God and be judged by myself, for myself; no one can be judged for me. I must stand in the presence of God alone. And if I am saved, if by the mercy and grace of God I someday see the great King, it will not be by proxy; but I shall see the King in His beauty for myself. My eyes shall look upon Him. Job said, “Whom mine eyes shall see, and not another” [Job 19:27]. The great joys of the Christian religion are not proxy joys, but they are personal joys and personal inheritances.
Not only am I saved individually, for myself, if I’m ever saved, not only is it I cannot be saved for somebody else, nor can anyone else be saved for me, I must be saved individually, I must trust Christ, I must make that confession of faith, I must give my life to Him, not only that but my commitment must be a personal commitment. Whether anybody else makes it or not, or stands by me or not, I must make that commitment myself. The Christian religion is a personal religion; it’s not even a family religion in that regard. The head of the house cannot believe for the members of his family, nor can he trust God for all the circle of his home. But each member of that home and each member of that family must trust God for himself. And whether they follow us or not, our bound and duty and our obligation is to give our hearts and our commitment unto God. Athanasius one time began, “Athanasius against the whole world.” Nehemiah, though no one helped him, yet was committed to the building up of the walls of Jerusalem [Nehemiah 2:2-5]. Paul said, “Lord, what wouldst Thou have me to do?” [Acts 9:6]. Isaiah answered the call of God, “Here am I; send me” [Isaiah 6:8]. Our commitment is a personal commitment.
And our testimony must always be a personal testimony. Not what God has done through somebody else, not that God answered prayer a thousand years ago, not that God wants some great transformation in some other man or in some other soul and changed some other life, but if our testimony has any power and meaning at all, it has to be personal. Has God ever answered my prayers? Has God ever saved me? Has the church meant anything to my heart and to my life? Does the reading of the Bible mean anything to my soul? Does the living presence of Jesus mean anything as I walk my way and as I live my life? If I am a Christian, there is a testimony that I have, that none other has. Nobody has just exactly the same experience of his neighbor or his friend; but each one of us is different. No two snowflakes are alike, no two men are alike, no two anything is exactly alike; God makes it individually, and our religion and our faith is an individual religion, and it is an individual faith. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” [Galatians 2:20].
Now as I look at the text, it starts off with an unusual thing: “I am crucified with Christ” [Galatians 2:20]. What an unusual message, and what a strange extraordinary way to write a passage, “I am crucified with Christ.” As I read through the apostle Paul, he had an unusual way of constantly addressing his fellow Christians as being “dead,” dead. “Now ye are dead in Christ, and your life is hid with Christ in God” [Colossians 3:3]. Three times in Colossians [2:20], 2 Timothy [2:11], and in Romans [6:8], does he start off like this, “Now, if we be dead in Christ, then so and so…” Here in the Book of Galatians, he will say in a later chapter, “We are crucified in the flesh” [Galatians 5:24]; this life is killed, it is dead, it is nailed to the tree, it is crucified. In the last chapter of the same Galatians, he will say, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world [Galatians 6:14]. I am crucified, dead, slain with Christ.” What an extraordinary way to speak.
The nail that pierced the hands and the feet of the Lord [Psalm 22:16; Luke 24:39], and the spear that opened His side [John 19:34], the instrument of crucifixion that took away the life of our Lord takes away our life also. And what Paul meant by that is this: that we are crucified to the world, we are dead to the world. The spear and the nails and the cross has taken us away from the world; we are in it alive, but we are dead to it [Galatians 6:14].
Could I illustrate that by the Holy of Holies? The high priest entered before the mercy seat and the ark of the covenant [Leviticus 16:14-17], and when he entered the room, he left the sun of the world outside. There was no window in the Holy of Holies; but it was dark, dark, black. And the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies, and when he did so, he shut out the world. But, there before him was the light of the glory of God, called in the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures, the shekinah glory of God. He shut out the world, he shut out the sun, he shut out the physical, that he might open his eyes to the glory of God. So it is in the life of the Christian. The physical is the opposite of the spiritual [Galatians 5:17]. Faith is the opposite of sight [2 Corinthians 5:7]. The love of this world is the opposite of the love of God [James 4:4; 1 John 2:15]. Hope is the opposite of experience. We close our eyes in prayer, that we might open our eyes to the great vision of the spiritual. We look not on the things that are seen, that we might look upon the eternal things that are not seen [2 Corinthians 4:18]. We fast from bread, that we might feed upon the Word of God [Matthew 4:3-4]. “I am crucified with Christ” [Galatians 2:20]; Paul says that our life in this world is a slain life, it is a crucified life, it is a dead life [Galatians 6:14].
Could I speak of that further? To be crucified, what does that mean with regard to us? Three times the Lord says in the Scriptures, “Take up thy cross, and follow Me” [Matthew 16:24; Mark 10:21; Luke 9:23]. And now the Holy Spirit adds to it another phrase, “crucified with Christ” [Galatians 2:20]. Well, it means this: not the bearing of trials and troubles, not that at all, a cross was an instrument of death, it was a thing, a rude, crude, harsh, cruel thing to die on. So when we see Christ carrying His cross, incidentally it was a burden, just concomitantly it was a heavy, staggering load [John 19:16-17]. Mainly it was to die on, purposely. It was to be crucified on; it was an instrument of death. Now when that word is applied to us, it refers to the fact that we are to die in ourselves [Luke 9:23; Ephesians 4:22-24]. Vanity, ambition, selfishness, worldliness, all of those personal things that enter into our lives, we are to die to them.
His feet were crucified. His hands were crucified. His heart was crucified. A dead man has no feelings. What about you? All around there you are with feelings on your sleeve, and there you are in the choir, and here you are in the pew, and here I am in the pulpit just as sensitive as I can be. “If they don’t call on me, if they don’t exalt me, if they don’t elect me, if they don’t follow me, if they don’t put forward me…” Now, I’m not preaching to you—I’m preaching to myself. I’m not worthy to stand here and say that like the apostle Paul says it. I am as sensitive as I can be. And I am conscious of slights. And when people hurt me, I nearly die on the inside. But I tell you at the same time, I am that way because I am that much lacking being a true Christian. If I were crucified with Christ [Galatians 2:20], I’d be dead to ambition, I’d be dead to vanity, I would be dead to the world, I would be dead to all else except what shall please and glorify my Lord.
Oh, oh, oh, how I would to God that our choir would come to the place in their personal lives where they had no other thought, no other dream, no other ambition, no other hope except just to glorify God with their singing. Nobody trying to demonstrate before the audience, “What a beautiful voice I have,” or, “What fine training in my background”; nobody hurt because, “Somebody didn’t call on me,” or, “I wasn’t given such and such part.” But that we might grow in grace until we came to that place where we never thought of self, never thought of anything but the glory of God, to lift up Christ our Savior. Oh that this preacher who preaches these words this morning might come to that place in his Christian life where he was dead to all of the vanities of the world, absolutely untouched by any word of either condemnation or of commendation; but that what he did, he did honestly and sincerely and truly as a servant of God, who alone is to judge him and to whom alone he is accountable. Oh, oh, oh, would to God that we had a great host of members in the church who were crucified to the world, and dead to its emoluments and its attractions and its vanities, and who came down here with no other thought and no other purpose but to glorify the Lord, “The gifts that I bring, they’re for Him. The talents that I have, they’re for Him. What little I might be able to do, it’s for God.” All of our efforts, all of our dedicated work and life and love and gifts, all of it just for Him. Not looking to worldly commendation, not looking for the praise or glory of men, I am dead to that; I am crucified with Christ [Galatians 2:20]. That life died; it is away, and away, and away. It’s not to be thought of; no longer I, but Christ.
I have never known, nor have I ever heard of a man who was close to God, who was not also a deeply, deeply humble man. Somehow pride and selfishness and vanity and personal aggrandizement, somehow the thing doesn’t go in the presence of our Lord and King. But the good man, the Christian man is always the humble and the self-effacing man. President James A. Garfield said to his pastor, “Sir, when I’m in the church, I’m just plain James A. Garfield.” William Carey, our incomparable first missionary, was eating lunch with the governor general of India, and a petty officer was overheard saying, “That Carey there, wasn’t he a shoemaker?” And Carey overhearing it answered, “Sir, just a cobbler, just a cobbler.” When the Iron Duke of Wellington was kneeling at the communion table receiving the elements of the Lord’s Supper, there came up a common laborer by his side and knelt down with him in the way they take the Lord’s Supper. And the minister of the church started to brush the common man aside, “Don’t you realize whom you’re kneeling by?” And the Iron Duke, who saved England, said to the minister, “Leave him alone, leave him alone, leave him alone. The ground is level at the cross. Leave him alone, leave him alone.”
Oh, that we might empty ourselves of us, that there might be less of I and nothing of I, and that it might be all of Christ. And that’s what he says: “Nevertheless I live; but I do not live, it is Christ that liveth in me” [Galatians 2:20]. I know, you’re just as I am, you draw back and shrink from such a text as that. “O Lord, how could I ever do it? How could I ever achieve it?” Listen friend, there’s something else, there is something more: when you die to the world [Galatians 6:14], and die to vanity, die to selfishness, die to you, and I die to me, there’s a marvelous thing that happens. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and it dies; but there is a marvelous thing that happens: that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [John 3:6]. I die to me, that I might live unto God [Romans 6:10]. The old Saul dies, but the new Paul is born [Acts 13:9]. There’s another life, there’s another day, there’s another sun, there’s another glory, there’s another triumph, there’s another victory. That’s what you call regeneration [Titus 3:5]. That’s what you call being born again [John 3:3, 7]. That’s what you call receiving the Spirit [John 20:22; Ephesians 1:13]. That’s what you call becoming a child of God [John 1:12]. Not of the world, but of God. That’s the abundant life, the full, rich life in Christ Jesus [John 10:10].
Going down the streets of Paris, first time I was there—and it’s been a long time ago—going down the streets of Paris, I met a group of American soldiers. They had just come into the city, and they had just arrived from a leave of several days from one of our great camps in continental Europe. And I talked to them for a moment, and visited with them for just a little while. They had just come into the city. You know what they said? They said, “We have come to see life, to see life. And we’re going to look at it tonight, and we’re going to share it. This is Paris, and we’ve come to see it; the life.” Oh! I knew what they meant. You know what they meant. You had as well look into the tombs at the corrupting dead as to find immortality in the brothel, and in the clubs, and in the winery, in drunkenness, and in uncleanness, and filthiness, and harlotry. Life, they had come, “This is Paris, this is life!” Oh, my soul!
Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ . . . and the life that I live I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” [Galatians 3:20]. On that cross, the old Saul died. The thrill of all of the burlesque, and all the tawdry cheapness of Paris, it died. On that cross all of the drunkenness, all of the revelry, the orgies of this life, it died. On that cross this world and its kind and its type and its frame, on that cross it died. And Paul was born a new man, a new love, a new commitment, a new dedication, a new glory, a new walk. “Crucified with Christ, yet I live: but not I, it is Christ that liveth in me” [Galatians 2:20].
That old life doesn’t die easily. Paul said:
Born a Hebrew of the Hebrews, of the tribe of Benjamin, touching the law, blameless, in zeal a Pharisee, but all these things that were of profit to me, these I count it as dung, as refuse, as offal, that I might have Christ. Nothing! The old Saul nailed there to the cross, he is dead. Pride of life dead, pride of birth dead, all of those things for which I reached as a youth and as a young seminary student in the rabbinical school of Gamaliel [Acts 22:3], all of it is dead. Everything by which I thought to be of personal reputation, all of it dead, and nothing left but the life in Christ. Christ who liveth in me.
[from Phil 3:5-8]
Like the vine and the branches: the same life giving strength, the sap of the vine is in every tendril of the branch, all through it; just the same the life of Christ in you, in us, with Him [Galatians 2:20].
“I now live in the flesh” [Galatians 2:20]; it’s not a maimed life, it’s not a mutilated life, it’s not turned to morbid asceticism. All over this world, over there in the Orient, those great Buddhist monasteries, and all over this Christian world, great high walls, and on the inside of those high walls and those locked gates, there are those who say, “We are crucified to the world, and we are shutting it out. We are monastic in our life and committed in our spirits.” Oh no! Not a maimed or a mutilated life. “The life which I now live in the flesh” [Galatians 2:20], I could not conceive of Paul behind a high wall on the inside of a locked enclosure; it is unthinkable to me. Paul dead to the world, given to Christ, but living in it. Paul making tents with his hands, selling tents to make a living while he preached the gospel [Acts 18:3]; Paul picking up sticks for the fire [Acts 28:3-6]; Paul in the ship [Acts 27:14-25], in the marketplace, upon Mars’ Hill [Acts 17:22], before King Agrippa [Acts 26], in the house by the seaside [Acts 28:30], in Caesar’s household, in the Praetorium [Philippians 1:13], Paul the preacher of Christ, the great Christian emissary. You are the salt of the world, coming in contact with it [Matthew 5:13]. You are the light, set it on a hill, set it on a lampstand, not under a bushel, not behind a high wall; living in the flesh, right there where you are [Matthew 5:14-16].
Every once in a while somebody comes to me and says, “Pastor, down there where I work, oh, that vile and loathsome group, what shall I do?” Well, if you could find a fine and better job, excellent. But the chances are when you leave that office and go to that other office, you’re going to find some of the same vile language and some of the same unutterable, indescribable dirt. We’re not to pull away thereby. What we’re to do is to live the Christ life right where you are, clamping at that machine, or clerking at that counter, or working in that office, or guiding the destiny of that crew. Not out of the world, but in it; not running away from it, but standing true to Christ right where God hath given you your lot and your testimony. “In the flesh, the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” [Galatians 2:20]. That’s the secret of the motive that lies back of a true Christian dedication: “The Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me” [Galatians 2:20].
You’ll never do this because the church asks it of you. You’ll never do this because it’s the creed or because it’s the faith. You’ll never do this because it’s in the sermon. You’ll never do it because of admonition or hortatory appeal. There’s only one way that a man will ever truly commit himself to the Christian life, and that’s out of love for Christ our Savior, “who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” It pleases Him. It’s according to Him. It’s as He would have it. It’s Christ’s will.
One of these North American Indians, speaking about the preachers that came, he said, “There came a preacher, and he told us about the God of the white man. And we told him to leave, to go. There came a preacher again, and he told us, ‘And you ought not to steal, and you ought not to lie, and you ought not to get drunk.’” And he said, “We paid no attention to him. We didn’t even listen to him.” But he said, “There came a preacher, and he told us that the Lord of heaven and earth loved us, and came down among us to show us the way to God, and that He died for us, that He gave Himself in our behalf” [Galatians 2:20] And the Indian said, “And I couldn’t forget that message. I couldn’t forget that God.” Nor can we. “Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
If there’s any hope, it’s in Him [1 Corinthians 15:19; Titus 2:13]. If there’s any way, it’s in Him [John 14:6]. If we’re ever saved, it’s by Him [Acts 4:14]. If we ever see the face of God, it’s through Him [John 1:18]. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh,” this life, “I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” [Galatians 2:20]. May we pray?
O Lord, it is not as a Pharisee, as one “better than thou,” who stands here today and says this sentence, and preaches from this text. O Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord, there are none who are weaker than we, none more sensitive, none more filled with himself. But dear Jesus, we plead Thy help and Thy mercies; that we might die to ourselves, that we might live unto God [Romans 6:10-11]. Dead to vanity, dead to pride, dead to self, but, ah! the miracle of the gift of God in Christ Jesus, quickened, made alive [John 3:16; Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:5]. Like the high priest shutting out the world that he might see the shekinah glory of God, emptied of self that we might be filled with the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 5:18], O Lord, help Thy people, help me, help the deacons, help the singers, help the staff, help the Sunday school teachers, and Training Union leaders, and the men of the Brotherhood, and the women of the Missionary Union. Bless, dear Lord, all of the fellowship of this congregation, that we might bury ourselves, that we might die, that we might be crucified with Christ, and that out of that tomb may live the resurrected life in the holiness and power and triumph of Christ Jesus; none of self, none, and all of Thee. And our Lord, as we sing this hymn of appeal, some this day who will cease looking to themselves for salvation and will look to Jesus and be saved [Numbers 21:8-9; John 3:14-17]; some who humbly will place their lives with us in the fellowship of this precious church; may God give to us this day His harvest. Thank Thee for answered prayer and for Thy Spirit working with us, to the glory of Jesus our Lord, amen.
While we sing our hymn, somebody you, give your heart to Jesus, take Him as your Savior, trusting Him, would you come? Somebody you, a family you, putting your life in the fellowship of the church, while we make appeal, while we sing the song, would you come? A family, one of you, however God shall say, shall lead, you come. On the first note of the first stanza, into that aisle, down one of these stairwells, here to the pastor, “Here I come, preacher, here I am. This is God’s day for me, and here I come,” while we stand and while we sing.
I. Eight personal pronouns in the text
A. The Christian faith
is a personal faith(Luke 15:3-32, John 10:3,
consecration and commitment is to be personal(Nehemiah
2:25, Isaiah 6:8, Acts 9:6)
testimony must always be a personal testimony
II. Crucified, yet alive
refers to his hearers, readers as being dead(Romans
6:8, Colossians 2:20, 3:3, 5:24, 6:14, 2 Timothy 2:11)
The cross has cut us off from the world, joined us to God
windows in the Holy of Holies(Leviticus 16)
2. If we would know and
see God, we must shout out the world
times Jesus says “Pick up your cross and follow Me” (Matthew 10:38, 16:24, Luke 14:27)
cross means death
a. The Christian is
dead – to self, to ambition, to vanity, to egotism
No walking around wearing feelings on sleeves
Christian a humble, crucified man
a. James A. Garfield
b. William Carey
c. Iron Duke of
introduction to another life, a resurrected life(John
Old life doesn’t die easily (Philippians 3:5-8)
the love of the Son of God
North American Indian’s testimony