I think if a survey were taken, I’d not find much support for my title. Everyone wants to be a part of a living, vibrant, growing church. So why am I proud to be a part of a dead church? When we stop and consider the matter, before the church or any of us can be living, vibrant, and growing, we must first be dead.
But dead to what?
Dead to sin
I am proud to be a part of a church that teaches we ought to die to sin. Paul explained this in Romans 6:2, 4: “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? . . . 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.”
Before there is new life, death must occur. Only when we are united with Christ in His death can we rise up, truly alive, vibrant, and growing in Christ. This is the gift of life that God grants us each day. We must value and appreciate it.
If we have died to sin, then we already know that sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). We serve a God who wants us to know how we can avoid displeasing Him. If we’ve experienced this death, then we can rejoice that we are no longer sinners; God regards us as saints (Romans 8:27, 29; 1 Corinthians 6:2, 11).
This is explained clearly in Romans 6:17, 18: “But God be thanked, that ye were [note the word were] the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
God wants us to know how He regards us, His feelings toward us. We have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20); we are valuable to Him. So He calls us His saints — saints of God. That should give us a feeling of great worth. Praise God!
Dead to self
I am also proud to be part of a church that teaches we ought to die to self.
As we go through life, some choices we alone can make. Whom we will serve — God or ourselves — is one of them. This is one choice God cannot make for us. Joshua posed this decision to Israel: “choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Joshua was well aware that this is a personal decision that cannot be avoided. There was no hesitation on his part: “Whatever you decide, I will serve the Lord.”
The choice to serve God is no small decision. Paul says that if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but because of righteousness, the Spirit is life (Romans 8:10). You see, we have to die to self — our desires, our plans, our hopes; Christ is first. Our desires, plans, and hopes are secondary, and they must not conflict with serving and representing Christ in our life.
This is so important: “we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (vv. 12, 13). Some feel that the most important thing is to accept Christ as Savior. This is most important, but remember what that means: being united in Christ’s death and, through the Spirit, crucifying self. “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” (6:6).
Jesus gave a good analogy of this as He taught the people in John 12:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bring-eth forth much fruit.” So it was with Christ and so it is with us. We bury the old man in baptism, and new life comes forth. Miraculous! Not the death but the new life. From that moment, it is not we who live but Christ who lives in us.
We cannot please God unless by faith we are willing to put to death the old man (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9). Paul says the carnal mind is hostile toward God. It cannot, and will not, submit to God’s law (Romans 8:7). That is why so many say, “Man cannot keep the law of God.” True. But by being born again, with Christ living within us, we can (v. 4). This is the new covenant. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). He does not ask us to do something impossible.
Dead with Christ
Finally, I am proud to be part of a church that teaches we are dead with Christ. Normally in death and burial humans are alone. But in the spiritual death and burial, we share our death with someone else. Paul explains it in Galatians 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.”
We should never feel that we are alone or forgotten. Christ is in us and we in Him. Because of this, we need never fear what Satan can, or will, throw at us. John assures us “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
We’ve been given a promise: “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (Romans 6:8). This is a promise for our future. Just think, Paul says if we are dead with Christ now, we can be sure that we will live with Him throughout eternity.
Sadly, this is hard for some to believe. Some say, “I have repented, been baptized, but I am not sure whether I’ll be saved or not.” If you feel this way, read 1 John 5:13: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life. . . . ” Cast away every doubt. We do not have to wonder or be unsure. Be assured, if you are dead with Christ, you have a home with Him in the kingdom.
Dead to sin, dead to self, and dead with Christ: This is why I am blessed and proud to be part of a dead church.