Raised For Our Justification
Christ Delivered
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 20a 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 saw in our previous study that Abraham believed in God. He believed in Him not merely as a set of propositions. He believed in him as the sovereign living God. In particular, he believed in Him as God who has promised salvation in the Messiah. The Scriptures tells us that Abraham’s faith was imputed to him for righteousness (v. 22).

But Paul reminds us that this truth was not written for Abraham’s sake alone (v. 23). It is also written for us. It is written for all of us who are reading and hearing Paul’s letter.

It is not written for all us equally or for the same reason. Some of us, suggests Paul, will be imputed with the same righteousness that Abraham was imputed with. Who are these? They are those who believe on God who raised up Jesus Christ our Lord from the dead.

We saw this truth generally in the last study. We must believe in God if we are to be saved. We must believe Him particular as God who has delivered Christ for our trespasses or offence and raised him up again.

But Paul’s inspired words in these two verses are so carefully chosen that we must not pass them by too quickly.

In this study, therefore, the Lord helping us, we want to consider what Paul is saying.

In a sense, most of what he is saying was already spoken about the previous 5 studies. These two verses, after all, is really a concluding summary of what he has begun speaking about from the middle of chapter 3.

Paul, you will remember, begins his treatment of the doctrine of Justification with a splendid 7-point summary. But he is now concluding with the doctrine in a nutshell.

I believe that as we study this concluding summary, our thinking about justification in Christ will be further clarified. And I believe it is important for us to be clear in our thinking about this doctrine. If we are not clear about it, we may either be deluded about our salvation, or we may doubt our salvation unnecessarily.

Let’s look at our text by answering three questions: (1) What does it mean that Christ was delivered for our trespasses? (2) What does it mean that Christ was raised for our Justification? (3) What does it mean to believe on Him?

First, let us ask what Paul means when he says that that Christ was delivered for our trespasses?

1.  Christ was Delivered
for our Trespasses

a.   Paul tells us in verse 25 that Christ was delivered for our trespasses. What does that mean? To be delivered is to be handed over. To be delivered for a trespass is to be handed over for punishment. John the Baptist was “cast into prison” (Mt 4:12). The Greek word translated “cast into prison” is the same as the word translated “delivered” in our text. He was delivered into prison by King Herod for offending his illegitimate wife.

Our Lord was delivered unto cruel death on the cross. Who was it that delivered Him? Read the Gospels accounts and you will see that Judas Iscariot delivered him. He betrayed Him to be crucified (Mt 26:2) with 30 pieces of silver. The word “betrayed” is the same as the word “delivered” in the Greek. Again, we read that the Jewish Sanhedrin delivered the Lord unto Pontius Pilate that He might crucify Him (Mt 27:2). Then we read that Pilate, after he had Him scourged, delivered Him to be crucified (Mt 27:26).

Was it Judas, the Jews or Pilate that Paul had in mind? No, no; none of these. It was not man but God who delivered Christ to die. Our text says that He was delivered for our trespasses. Man did not deliver Christ for our trespasses. They delivered him out of greed, jealousy and fear. Christ was delivered for our trespasses.

It was God who delivered Him for our trespasses or offences. In Romans 8, Paul makes it very clear when he says that God “spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Rom 8:32). It was God who, according to His determinate counsel (Acts 2:23) delivered up His Son.

b.   But why was He delivered? He was delivered for our trespasses. What did we trespass? We trespassed God’s Law. Christ was delivered for our violation of God’s law. Why was He delivered for our violation of God’s law? So that He might pay the penalty for our offences. Why is it He can pay for our offences? Because our offences were imputed to Him. The prophet Isaiah puts it most clearly when he says concerning the Lord Jesus:

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him;… and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:5-6).

Our iniquity, our sins, were imputed to Christ. Now, the apostle Paul does not say directly that our sins were imputed to Christ. He says that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (v. 23, 24). But we can have no doubt that he has in mind that our sins were imputed to Christ when he tells us that Christ was delivered for our offences. He says elsewhere that Christ was “made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal 3:13).

But what does it mean that our sins were imputed to Christ?

What does it mean to impute something to someone? It is to count it as belonging to him. To impute wealth to someone is to bestow wealth that the person. To impute honour to someone is to declare that the person is honourable and is to be respected.

What is it impute sin to someone? It is to declare him a sinner and regard him a sinner. It is to count sin against him. Paul teaches us that our sins have been imputed to Christ. This is what he is saying,—in chapter 3, v. 25,—when he asserts that God has set Christ Jesus to be a propitiation. A propitiation is a sacrifice to turn away God’s wrath. Christ stood in our place to be punished for our sin.

When He was dying on the Cross, God was dealing with Him as a sinner. He had no sin himself. But the sin of His church was imputed to Him. He was counted guilty for every sin that His church ever committed and would ever commit.

Did you offend God since getting up this morning? Did you drag yourself to family worship reluctantly, therefore demonstrating disdain for God’s Worship? Did you sing the psalms half-heartedly? Did your thoughts wander off during prayer? Did you not believe what is taught in the Word? You have sinned against God even if you feel not any guilty pangs.

But if you are a child of God, all your sins,—all your sins, past, present and future,—were imputed to Christ on the Cross. He was regarded by God to be the vilest and most despicable sinner who ever lived. This is why God turned His face from Him, and the Lord cried out, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

c.   That “Christ was delivered for our offences” means that He was imputed with our sin and counted a sinner in the sight of God. He was being punished for our sin. He had to be punished with death because He was worthy of death. He was bearing our sin and unrighteousness. The wages of sin is death. Christ was guilty. He had to die.

He was delivered for our offences. He died in our place to pay for our sins. He died as a sinner who had never sinned. 

But thank God, He did not remain in the grave. He rose again the third day. He “was raised again for our justification” says Paul (v. 25).

But what does it mean that Christ was raised for our Justification?.

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim