The Doctrine of Co-Crucifixion Pastor A.W. Weckeman
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live…” (Gal. 2:20).
Spiritual realities are, in many respects paradoxical; contrary to logic and reason, nevertheless true. For this cause, certain biblical doctrines present as enigmas; jig-saw puzzles made up of fragmented pieces; concealing a picture which only comes into view after prayerful Spirit-led scrutiny aided by time and experience. Such is the case concerning the deeper spiritual realities of the second birth. As a new believer, one of the first verses of scripture I chose to memorize was Gal. 2:20 “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.” Unbeknownst to me, at that time, I was only seeing the shell of the oyster, so to speak, having no knowledge or understanding of the priceless pearl within. It wasn’t until many years later when, the Holy Spirit opened the shell, exposing the vital, liberating spiritual realities encapsulated in this enigmatic verse, that I finally understood the depth and significance of Colossians 3:3 “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” How is it possible to be alive and yet dead at the same time? I pray this lesson may be used of the Lord to enlighten all who take the time to carefully consider the marvelous, liberating truths within.
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom.6:3-4).
The baptism spoken of in the above verse does NOT refer to water baptism! There are several baptisms mentioned in the Bible, some physical and some spiritual, consider, (Acts 1:5) “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost…”
It is impossible for sinners to enter the Body of Christ by being immersed in water. Sin is an internal problem, a problem of the heart. No amount of water applied to the exterior can change the interior. Believers water baptism is symbolic; a picture of a spiritual transformation, an outward manifestation of an inward spiritual reality.
The second a sinner acknowledges his sin, repents and accepts Christ as Saviour, he is supernaturally removed from Adam’s family and placed “in Christ.” This is a spiritual operation accomplished by the Holy Spirit, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” (1 Cor.12:13).
Three Elements of the Saviour’s Sacrifice
Most believers readily understand that they have been resurrected into a new life by trusting Christ for salvation “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)…yet very few seem to fully understand how that was accomplished; nor do they comprehend that resurrection into a new life is only one part of a three-part reality. Remember, baptism has three elements; death, burial, and resurrection.
All born again believers, are in fact, not only resurrected into a new life (made spiritually alive) “in Christ” but also baptized (or placed into) HIS DEATH at Calvary. Thereby uniting us with His death, burial, and resurrection, so that ALL He experienced on the cross (and that which followed) is imputed (accredited) to us. As will be explained: In reality, we are as DEAD as Christ was because we were in Him when He died!
As far as God is concerned, the body of flesh (our “old man”) HAS BEEN crucified with Christ (co-crucifixion) “For ye are DEAD, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Col. 3:3-4) [Emphasis added].
The Spiritual Revelation
“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor.2:10). In Romans 6:3-7, the apostle Paul provides a detailed explanation of “the deep things of God” concerning the believer’s death “in Christ” ” 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.” [Emphasis added]
The Transforming Spiritual Reality
This vital doctrine reveals the inner workings and subjective experience of co-crucifixion. In this key chapter of Scripture, we are exhorted to, “reckon [by faith realize it to be true] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom.6:11) [Emphasis mine]. Reckoning ourselves to be dead doesn’t mean we (in the present) need to somehow mentally convince ourselves to be dead. The exhortation involves a “spiritual understanding” (revelation) of what has already happened in the past. The deeper reality of our oneness with Christ…” knowing this” (v.6); the FACT that when He died we died. “Apart from dying with Christ, there is no other way to put the old man to death.” Nee
The Cross involves Liberating Spiritual Truth
We must, by FAITH in the power and authority of God’s word, believe the spiritual reality that our “old man” has indeed been crucified with Christ on Calvary (Rom. 6:6) and the “new man” (“Christ in you, the hope of glory…” Col.1:27) is ready and able to supply the necessary power to overcome temptation, sin, and self. When we yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit, He “…is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Eph.3:20). We are dead in the sense that we, in and of ourselves, are unable to accomplish anything of eternal worth. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…”(Rom. 7:18). Our flesh is irredeemable and totally corrupt. Herein lies the meaning of Paul’s declaration “by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly then they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was in me.” (1 Cor.15:10).
Faith is the Catalyst which Transforms Knowledge into Experience.
The promise of the necessary power to live the Christian life involves more than intellectual understanding. FAITH in what Christ has accomplished for us through His death, burial and resurrection are central “…yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom. 6:13). We were saved by FAITH when we believed what God’s Word said about us (sinners) and His Son (Saviour); as a result, a supernatural event occurred…new life was imparted. The same is true regarding the process of sanctification (spiritual growth); when we by FAITH believe what God’s Word says about us; (“dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”) a second supernatural change begins; not a one-time event but a life-long process which brings into operation a powerful, liberating counterbalance to the “flesh”; which enables us to “walk in newness of life” (Rom.6:4) also (Eph.5:8).
“Spiritual understanding” (Col.1:9) is very often “paradoxical”…not attained by the wisdom of the natural mind; knowledge must be quickened by the power of the Holy Spirit; intellect, logic, and reasoning are inadequate. The Spiritual understanding veiled in Gal.2:20 and Rom. 6:1-14 animates doctrine…provides the comprehension necessary to breathe life into biblical concepts. When the positional reality (dead in Christ) becomes a practical experience, then and only then, are we said to be walking in the Spirit.
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (2 Cor.4:10).
The fact that we are new creatures “in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17) initiates an inner conflict, an “identity crisis” of sorts. A necessary struggle which causes us to realize that: “Our identity is no longer based on our physical existence, but in Christ.” This is what the apostle Paul meant when he declared “I die daily…” (1 Cor. 15:31). Concerning spiritual development, patience is essential…there is no substitute for time. The “spiritual understanding” crucial to growth is incremental, involving a daily dying of self. A process of surrender in which the outward man gradually dies (in the sense of power and influence) while the inward man is renewed day by day (2 Cor.4:16). Thereby making us “conformable unto his [Jesus’] death” so that what’s happened on the inside becomes manifest on the outside.“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).
Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). To pick up our cross daily means to acknowledge every day that we belong to God; we are no longer our own “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Surrender is the currency of freedom and spiritual power; submission which unleashes “the power that worketh in us.” Faith isn’t faith until it has been tested and power isn’t power until it has been exercised.
The Power of His Presence
A most important truth, which has greatly helped me over the years, is to remember that Jesus Christ HIMSELF actually lives inside of you in the person of the Holy Spirit, “Christ liveth in me…”(Gal.2:20). Compare, (Gal.4:6, Rom.8:9 & Phil.1:19) “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” is one of the titles of God the Holy Spirit. No matter where you go, or what you do or say Jesus Christ is present…you are never alone. “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13:5) Continual awareness of our oneness with Christ…the reality of His literal presence changes everything. If you have a GENUINE DESIRE to follow the Lord and live above sin and self, God has made it quite possible to do so. For the WILLING HEART, Romans 6:11-16 paves the way to freedom.“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are death to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom.6:1-2).
The doctrine of co-crucifixion is meant to be a life-changing truth:
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom.6:4). Doctrine isn’t merely meant to be a transfer of spiritual principles from one mind to another…doctrine is designed to renew the mind and change the heart! In order to comprehend spiritual truth, you must first have a heart for it: “Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it? (Prov.17:16). A humble heart which is willing to be changed by truth, (Ex.35:5, 21, 22, 29). An obedience heart which is rooted in love and gratitude for the Saviour, “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). “Being then made free from sin…” As we obey from the heart, freedom from sin becomes a practical reality.
“The Cross we preach to others should first crucify us.” Nee
“Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (2 Tim. 2:7).
See the next Lesson: “The Doctrine of Standing vs. State”