Raised For Our Justification
Believing On Him
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 20c of 83


23  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was reckoned unto him; 24  but for our sake also, unto whom it shall be reckoned, who believe on him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25  who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:17-25).

[We have seen how Christ was delivered for our sin in that our sin was imputed to Christ. And we saw how Christ was raised from the dead because our sins have been sufficiently paid for. However, we also noted that we are not justified subjectively or made aware of our justification until we receive it by faith. Faith is believing. In this concluding article of this study, we must consider what is it to believe on ChristJJL]


3. Believing on Him

Paul tells us that God’s righteousness is imputed to those who “believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

We saw in our previous study that to believe in God is to believe in Christ. And to believe in Christ is to believe in God. But what does it mean to believe in Christ? Does it mean believing that Christ is the Son of God? The devils believe that too. In fact, if you check the Gospels, you will see that the devils were the first to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God (Mt 8:29; Mk 3:11; Lk 4:41; 8:28)!


Then, does believing in Christ mean believing that Christ died for sinners? No, it cannot be, for again the demons would know that Christ came to die for sinners. In the same way, it is possible for a self-righteous person to believe that Christ died for sinners. But the Lord tells us that he did not come to save self-righteous persons. So a person may believe that Christ died for sinners and yet not be justified.

What about believing and confessing that Jesus rose from the dead? Did not Paul say that if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved? Let me say that again: Did not Paul say that if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved?

No, no, he did not say that. You got to be careful when quoting Paul. If he said that, then indeed, anyone believing and confessing that Jesus rose from the dead would be saved. Then all Roman Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons would be saved. But Paul did not say that if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raise Jesus from the dead, you will be saved.

What then is it to believe in Christ? Our text indicates that it is to “believe on him [i.e. God] that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” Take note that it is not “believe on him that raised up Jesus from the dead.” No, that will be equivalent to saying that if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. Paul says, rather, that to believe in Christ is “believe on him [i.e. God] that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

“Our Lord,” that makes the big difference between intellectual historical faith and saving faith! I am a believer if I “believe on [God] that raise up Jesus [my] Lord from the dead.” In Romans 10:9, which we misquoted earlier, Paul says the same thing:

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Ro 10:9).

To confess the Lord Jesus is to confess that Jesus is your Lord. We are not righteous in Jesus. We are righteous in Jesus our Lord. I am not righteous in Jesus; I am righteous in Jesus my Lord.

To believe in Christ is not merely to believe that Jesus was delivered for sinners and was raised again. To believe in Christ is to believe that OUR Lord Jesus was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification. 

The first person pronoun makes all the difference. As soon as you can say sincerely: “I believe in God who delivered my Lord Jesus for my offences and was raised again for my justification,” you have the assured knowledge of saving faith. The man or woman or boy or girl who can sincerely make this confession has received the righteousness of God.

Are you able to make this confession? You cannot make this confession honestly unless the Holy Spirit first works in your heart. Paul says elsewhere, “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor 12:3). But if you are making this confession, you know that you are righteous before God!

Yes, you will still see yourself as a sinner. But faith is looking away from yourself and looking to God. Look away from yourself, therefore, and see that you are righteous in Christ! Faith is believing God. Do you acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord? God has said; it has been written; that God justifies the ungodly in Christ and such as believe in Him shall be accounted righteous. Do you believe that?

“If [you] believe on him that raised up Jesus [your] Lord from the dead,” then His righteousness has been imputed to you, as your unrighteousness was imputed to Him.

A little girl once asked: Mummy when can I be a real Christian? Now you know the answer: Do you believe that Jesus is your Lord? Are you willingly submitting to His kingly rule? Do you believe that He died for your sin and rose for your justification? If you do, you are a real Christian. It does not matter what you think of yourself. It does not even matter what your mummy or daddy thinks about you. What is important is what God thinks about you. And God has revealed to you what He thinks of you if you believe Him that He delivered Christ your Lord for your offences and raised Christ your Lord for your justification.

Are you righteous before God for Christ’s sake? Now live as a son or daughter of God.

Conclusion

We asked three questions this trench of studies:

·  We asked: What does it mean that Christ was delivered for our offences? We learned that Christ was imputed with our sin and regarded as a sinner, and that He died as a sinner in God’s sight.

·  We asked: What does it mean that Christ was raised for our Justification? We learned that Christ rose from the dead because He had completed paying for our sins. We were justified in God’s sight, and therefore Christ rose as a sinless man.

·  We asked: What does it mean to believe on Him? We learn that to believe on Him is to believe that Christ is our Lord, and that He was delivered for our sins and that He was raised for our justification. As soon as I believe these truths, I know I am just before God.

What do we say to these things?

Again, let me give a couple of brief words in conclusion.

·  First, are you a believer? Unless you are living lawlessly without any regard for God, you do not need to doubt your salvation. Look to Christ. Know that your righteousness is in Him, not in you. It depends on Him, and He had completed the sacrifice, and God has accepted it.

·  Secondly, are you a covenant child who has been baptised? You too can look to the Cross. Do you confess that Jesus is your Lord? Are you seeking to be obedient to Him? Do you believe that He died for your sin and rose again for your justification? If you do, you must no more live like an unbeliever. You must confess your faith in Christ and you must live as a saint. You must live for Christ.

· Third, are you still an unbeliever? Are you still unconvinced? Only the Holy Spirit can convince you. But you must know that if you remain in sin you will one day have to pay for your sin. Oh will you not repent of your sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ! He will not cast out anyone who comes to Him calling Him Lord and confessing that he is a sinner in need of salvation. Amen.

—JJ Lim